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Shirley Leung

Boston sounds off on demise of Olympic bid

It has been a week since Boston gave up the pursuit of hosting the 2024 Summer Games. Admit it, you miss beating up Boston 2024 — and me trying to keep the Olympic flame lit. But today, it is not about me. It’s about you. Since the bid died, readers have tweeted and flooded my inbox to sound off on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the region’s short-lived Olympic dream.

Here are highlights, starting with the good:

“Boston too often wears its heavy gray shawl and tells the world: ‘Don’t push me, don’t come onto my turf, don’t tell me what to do.’ The city lives with its culture of old wrongs. Only occasionally does the City put on a bright and colorful cloak as when the City celebrates the Pats, the Sox or dresses up for the 4th of July. The City shone when it came together after the horror of the Marathon bombing — but has not been able to extend that extraordinary civic spirit. Too many people thrive in this grayness, and the city punches well below its weight.

“I am a city planner who has worked with Olympic and Expo planning in Asia and Europe where cities took on these events with pride and prudence — it made them a much better place.”


—Michael Joroff, researcher, MIT Department of Urban Studies

“I know there are groups that believe it would have been a distraction and taken money away from more important things, but I, for one, am disappointed, as I know that city improvements, important infrastructure, better traffic patterns and transit will only happen with a BIG deadline looming. The Olympics gave us that BIG deadline. Now we don’t have it, and nothing will get done. Boston politics disappoint me.”

—Kyle Ingrid Johnson, Dorchester


“Boston will move on. And in 2024, when LA or Toronto hosts the Summer Olympics, people will say, ‘We could have done better.’ And they’ll be right.

“As Chicagoans are fond of quoting, architect Daniel Burnham once said: ‘Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.’

“That hasn’t been our culture or mindset perhaps since we put a man on the moon. Now everyone’s first (and prevailing) reaction is, ‘Think of all the ways this could go wrong.’

“Maybe a viewing party in 2024 near the still-undeveloped Widett Circle will make everyone feel better. Or worse.”

—John Lynch, Chicago (formerly of Charlestown)

“Boston can be and is provincial in many ways. Some people may call it traditional, but there is a big difference. If some of the people think that now they are going to get better school lunches and a better transportation system now that there are no Olympics on the horizon, well what can I say. No vision. They’re not mutually exclusive.”

—Lynda Fatalo, Manchester

And now from the many readers who thought I got it wrong keeping an open mind on the Olympics.

“I am convinced you are in the wrong profession. Since when are the Olympics a ‘novel’ idea? They have been ongoing for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and since when is it a bad idea to not subject the taxpayers to more expense and traffic trauma? Have you forgotten the fiasco of the Big Dig and the horror of the Marathon bombings? The terrorists salivate on large crowds.”


 —George Gliga, Everett

“Why is Boston and the so-called ‘nay-sayers’ the ones to be blamed for the failure in the Olympic bid negotiations? If the ‘old Boston’ means protection against private contractors poaching on the public purse, then I am glad that the ‘old Boston’ remains the ‘old Boston.’ Considering the lack of funds for public schools and limited services in Boston, asking the city to guarantee cost overruns is unconscionable and akin to writing a blank check.

“If the developers are so keen on bringing the Olympics to Boston, let them make a realistic budget and stand by it by taking on the risk themselves. That’s what true businesses do all the time. Taking on the Olympics at public expense is not the way to be ‘new Boston,’ and I think you are short-sighted in thinking so.”

—Margaret Woo, Jamaica Plain

“Even after the people have spoken — democracy at its best — you’re still shilling for the fat cats and insiders and peddling this entirely false narrative that Boston is a city that can’t get anything done.

“Can’t get anything done? Have you looked at Kendall Square lately? Or the Seaport? All products of a vibrant private sector.


“This victory of the people over the powerful proves that Boston is not always the fiefdom of The Vault, nor are its people the abject servants of the one-party machine politicians, nor are we in thrall to the unions.

“Your writing on this subject has been and continues to be reprehensible. I can’t recall ever reading opinion pieces by someone so obviously in the tank. Too bad Boston 2024 now won’t be around any longer to pay you for your efforts by handing you that cushy job you were no doubt promised.”

—Jerry Brecher, North Andover

For the record: I was never a paid consultant for Boston 2024. — Shirley Leung

“I am a big sports fan. I love the Boston teams and have watched or attended countless games over my 50 years. I love the Olympics and have watched them since 1972 when Mark Spitz ruled the Games. But I also applauded when the Red Sox and Patriots were denied public money to build new stadiums. Last I checked both franchises did pretty well doing their renovations without taxpayer money.

“If this had happened, Boston would have been in the spotlight for three weeks. Politicians would have slapped each other on the back and praised each other for a job well done, but the taxpayers of Boston and the surrounding area would suffer greatly.

“I, for one, will take world class universities, hospitals and businesses over years of construction overruns. You should too.”

—Jim Siteman, Walpole


Shirley Leung is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at shirley.leung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @leung.