From my own experience, I can tell you all what a great opportunity Chicago has missed out on. In 1983 Caracas, Venezuela hosted the Pan American Games. Like Chicago, Caracas had an over abundant supply of poor people and a shortage of quality housing.
Voila! The Pan American Games gave them the opportunity to help change all that. An “Olympic Village” needed to be constructed for all of the athletes — with modern facilities — a shining example of what the future could hold for the people of Venezuela.
Like the Olympic Games, the selection process was years in advance — Caracas as six long years in which to build their facilities. Six months before the games were to take place — virtually nothing was begun, beyond a few foundations poured and a few walls erected.
Enter the Venezuelan Army and their Corp of Engineers who took charge, razed what had been begun, and build an Olympic village in a matter of weeks. They almost completed the entire thing before the games began.
I say almost, because, while the paint was drying on the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremonies, the living quarters for the athletes from all across the Americas, was only about 7/8 complete. The six and eight story cinder block buildings were mostly finished on the outside — well, there was glass in the windows on the first couple of stories — but the insides were not yet finished.
Each dormitory suite had an outside door, that locked, but the inside doors separating the bedrooms and the bathroom, were not yet installed. There were working showers in the bathrooms, and running water in the bathroom sinks, but the kitchen hookups — including sinks — were not yet installed.
The block buildings had stairways on both ends — an important feature since, in order to save money, the elevators either stopped at 1,3,5,7 or 2,4,6 and 8. They saved money in elevator doors, but you often found yourself either having to walk up or down a flight of stairs to use an elevator that did not stop at your floor.
The entire Olympic village was built upon an old garbage dump, and because regulations in Venezuela are not as stringent as some regulations in the United States, odors and strange liquids oozed up through the ground, leaving a most unpleasant smell at night.
The moment that the Pan Am Games were over, and the athletes left, the high rise apartments were turned over to poor families — a new government sponsored housing. Of course, the fact that the individual apartments were not complete — [see kitchen above] did nothing to hinder their use, as I came to understand that 7/8 complete is about as good as it gets in South America.
So why do I relate this story of third world Venezuela in a piece about Chicago? The parallel is obvious. Stinking slums — many owned by friends and supporters of President Obama — could have been torn down to make way for a new Olympic Village for the athletes. I feel certain that those plans had already been finalized and the appropriate palms greased.
As soon as those athletes left — following their two weeks of glory — those Olympic apartments could have been turned back into housing for the poor. I mean, two weeks of use would hardly have been long enough for the second-rate materials sold at first-rate prices — built by union contractors with ties to the right people — to have begun to deteriorate.
This was the prime opportunity for the right people to once again get rich — and to be lauded by the urban poor for their generosity — while once again fleecing same. Valarie Jarrett must be crying in her Chardonnay all the way home.
And it must be such a long trip — having failed the citizens of Chicago once again.