3.10.09

MOVING ON. Chicago Tribune columnist Dennis Byrne wrote, last Tuesday, If we end up losing ...

Keep the name -- Chicago 2016 -- signaling the community's intent to create a bright new city, without the motivation of securing the Olympics. Prove that Chicago is the kind of global city that Daley apparently thinks we're not (he keeps saying we need the Olympics to prove that we're a world-class city).

Imagine if the same levels of skill and determination were put to use raising bushels of cash for the things that Chicago hasn't been able to afford. Money for cash-strapped civic and charitable institutions. Money for badly needed new ones. Not only would these institutions no longer have to worry about their own revenues from charitable contributions getting gobbled up by the Olympics, but also they would enjoy additional funds from the New Chicago 2016 effort.

Instead of waiting around for federal and state funding, raise money to put the CTA in shape. The idea will appall some of you, but where is it written that private money can't be raised to set the CTA on the right track? Money for repairing sidewalks and repaving streets in some of the worst neighborhoods. Money for crime prevention and safety. Money for hospitals and schools and elder care and kid care.

Speaking of schools and crime: The violent young male population in Chicago that is responsible for so many of the recent killings and beatings is the consequence of generations of boys being raised without fathers and significant male role models. To give them what they truly need, send every public school male to all-boys high schools staffed entirely by men to replace the grossly failed coed schools. Get these boys into an environment that provides a clue about how real men should behave. One that allows those who want a quality education to get it without interference from bullies and gangs.

He doubts we'd see the same level of civic involvement in such projects. I'm imagining the pushback from the school establishment and the colleges of education if anybody seriously proposed including gentlemanly ways in the curriculum.

A Think Progress essay suggests that the U.S. immigration service might have been the bureaucracy that sank the Olympic bid. The headline attempts to pin the responsibility on President Bush and his homeland security initiatives. Some changes in visa policy were likely no matter what party was in power in the wake of those student visa renewals issued to a few dead September 11 terrorists. But the current treatment of tourists by immigration is shameful. I discovered a new procedure in place on my last sojourn to England. Passengers holding other than U.S. passports now receive a green form with their boarding pass, that they surrender to the gate agent at boarding. KGB knows they don't have to track those subversives anymore. What's next, a two-part paper visa so our Border Guards Directorate doesn't have to stamp passports? On my return, I was apologizing and teasing the British passport holders at the same time, suggesting that they'd still be standing in the customs line by the time I was halfway to Schaumburg. It might have even been true.
The average wait for a US visa has risen to about three months. Brazil, which will host the 2016 Olympic summer games in Rio de Janeiro, has a reciprocal visa policy with all countries. US tourists are required to have a $130 advance visa before entry into the country and are fingerprinted and photographed upon arrival — matching US requirements for Brazilians.
Perhaps by 2016 we will do better.

The New York Times Weekend Opinionator has a roundup of the more reasonable give-and-take on the politics of presidential pitches for entertainment events.

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