Friday, July 08, 2005

Olympic Post-Mortem

Jim Rutenberg does an excellent job at capturing some of the essential ingredients of the city's failed Olympic bid. For us, the key point is the failure to develop a real grassroots support for the games. Dan Doctoroff, the chief promoter of the bid, exemplifying Thorsten Veblen’s analysis of “trained incapacity” simply did not know how to do this, even if he could have understood its necessity. As a result the support for the bid had more of an Astroturf than a grassroots quality.

As Rutenberg mentions:

Polls show that the West Side stadium was a considerable drain on public support for both the Olympics and Mr. Bloomberg. The blasé reaction back home to the loss made it clear that whatever support the bid may have won among the city's elites, the populace had not caught City Hall's Olympic fever.
This Doctoroff style of bypassing all but the most elite extends beyond the Olympics. With projects like the Bronx Terminal Market the process is being fast tracked to such an extent that the community is essentially shut out. No one in the South Bronx knows what’s going or has been consulted and, in Doctoroff’s view, such knowledge would be unnecessary. The vision of his billionaire friend Steve Ross is perfectly suitable and the community will of course love this top-down imposed project just as New Yorkers supposedly should have been enamored with the opportunity for the Olympics. In the Doctoroff school of development, there is no need for community input because he already knows what's best for it.

Though Bloomberg claims he wants Deputy Dan back if he should win a second term we believe that the man behind the Olympic failure and BTM boondoggle needs to be tossed aside. We need a Deputy Mayor for Economic Development whose first priority isn’t cramming grandiose projects down peoples’ throats and enriching his friends but working with communities, small businesses and developers to truly enhance the city’s economic potential.