The Codcast: No Boston Olympics, revisited

It was just two years ago that the Greater Boston region was in the thick of a high-stakes showdown over whether to proceed with a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. In January 2015, Boston was designated the US entry in the global competition for the 2024 Games.

It was all downhill from there.

The bid’s boosters seemed to do just about everything wrong, from adopting a secretive approach to bid documents in a city that demanded everything be put on the table to the mayor disparaging residents with the nerve to ask tough questions as a tiny group of naysaying cranks — “10 people on Twitter.”

By July, it was over and the bid was withdrawn. It was an astonishing fall given the set of Boston political and business power brokers lined up behind the effort. In the end, the public was widely skeptical of the idea, which would have put the city and possibly the state on the hook for any cost overruns. No one did more to plant those doubts than No Boston Olympics, a small group of 30-something-year-old Bostonians who became convinced of the folly of the Olympic pursuit.

One of the group’s co-founders, Chris Dempsey, has now authored an account of the drama together with Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist. No Boston Olympics: How and Why Smart Cities Are Passing on The Torch is a great telling of a still-fresh piece of Boston history. They came in to talk about the book for this week’s Codcast.

The book’s arrival has not been warmly greeted by all, with Mayor Marty Walsh, who does not come off looking very good in its pages, this week calling the authors “a couple of opportunists.”

Dempsey, mustering considerable restraint, calls the comment “a little bit unfair.”

Zimbalist is less circumspect. “I think that it’s very disappointing to have the mayor of Boston engage in these childish ad hominem descriptions of us, or of anybody else. It’s just inappropriate. He basically blew it,” Zimbalist says of Walsh’s handling of the Olympic bid. “He threw democracy out the window.”

“This is not a moment in history he should be reliving,” Zimbalist adds, offering a bit of advice to the mayor that seems to be the consensus around town.

The bigger context for the Olympic debate has been the question of whether Boston is simply the “city of no,” as WGBH’s Jim Braude asks in the foreword to the book.

“To me we are definitely not the city of no,” says Dempsey. “I think Bostonians have a proud history of embracing new ideas, whether that’s the first public school, the first public park, the first subway, or even in modern times things like marriage equality… So we say yes to good ideas, but we say no to bad ideas. … I think it’s very important to separate a big idea from a good one.”

Dempsey and Zimbalist will read from their book at a launch event tonight at 7 p.m. at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge.



Shirley Leung asks why the state budget is perpetually running into the red. (Boston Globe)


Boston Mayor Marty Walsh appears to be abandoning plans to rebuild the Long Island Bridge. (CommonWealth)

The former CEO of the failed IndyCar race is suing Walsh’s top environmental aide for $15 million, charging that his failure to notify race backers of the need for a flood zone permit Is responsible for the collapse of the venture. (Boston Herald)

The New Bedford City Council chose not to act on a proposal by Mayor Jon Mitchell to put a moratorium on retail marijuana sales in place until September of next year. (Standard-Times)


The House scrapped plans for a second attempt at a vote to repeal Obamacare after a headcount indicated GOP support for President Trump’s latest version continued to come up short. (New York Times) John McDonough and William Seligman say there is a Republican path to reform of the Affordable Care Act — if the party is willing to back sensible fixes to the law. (CommonWealth)

Trump’s proposed tax cuts would mostly benefit the wealthiest people and their heirs, shifting trillions of dollars into the pockets of the nation’s already uber-rich. (New York Times)

Trump says being president is harder than he thought it would be. (Reuters)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she’s troubled by a $400,000 fee former president Barack Obama will receive for a speaking engagement. (The Hill)

US Rep. Stephen Lynch wants a House committee to subpoena White House documents related to fired national security adviser Michael Flynn. (Boston Herald)

Meet John Arnold, a wealthy retired executive who is funding most of the research on what’s wrong with the pension systems covering public employees. (Governing)


Former loyalists to Deval Patrick are now dividing their support among Democrats looking to reclaim the corner office. (Boston Globe)


Some very profitable Massachusetts companies paid little or no state taxes last year, according to a new report. (Boston Globe)

The president of the board of the privately run Fall River Office of Economic Development alleged that Mayor Jasiel Correia tried to sever the organization’s ties to the city because of a letter from the group that may have triggered a federal investigation into Correia’s administration and his former consulting business. (Herald News)

Any thoughts of building a soccer stadium for the New England Revolution on land owned by the University of Massachusetts Boston in Dorchester were officially put to rest by a university spokesman. The idea had drawn strong opposition from area elected officials. (Boston Globe)


A new report says high-poverty schools should serve breakfast at school to gain higher participation rates. (State House News)

The Pittsfield school system preps for 76 layoffs to help balance the city’s budget. (Berkshire Eagle)

The UMass Boston nursing program coulld be left without a home because of the complicated construction goings-on at the campus. (Boston Globe)


Brigham and Women’s Hospital is offering buyouts to 1,600 employees as the hospital contends with a financial squeeze. (Boston Globe) Meanwhile, the hospital and its parent company, Partners HealthCare, agree to pay $10 million to settle allegations of wrongdoing in connection in with securing federal grant money. (Boston Globe)

A new study finds drugs surpassed alcohol found in drivers’ systems in fatal crashes. (U.S. News & World Report)


Chuck Tanowitz of the N-squared Innovation District reports on the challenges of transportation in the suburbs. (CommonWealth)


A jury rejected a suit against the town of Falmouth brought by residernt whyo claimed one of the town’s two wind turbines was a nuisance and caused physical and emotional harm. The turbine remains shut down, though, pending another suit by town officials against a Zoning Board of Appeals order. (Cape Cod Times)

There has been a surge in humpback whale deaths along the East Coast, but scientists aren’t sure why. (Boston Globe)


Andrew Nikonchuk, a Central Catholic High School administrator who was fired earlier this week, is under investigation for drugging and raping a student in 2006. (Eagle-Tribune) Two other Central Catholic staffers were suspended for improper behavior. (Eagle-Tribune)

A former Wellesley high school special education teacher and  track coach was arrested on federal charges of swapping child pornography with other men he met through Craigslist. (MetroWest Daily News)

Fred Weichel, who has proclaimed his innocence in a Braintree murder for the 36 years he’s spent in prison, was released on bail after a Superior Court judge overturned his conviction and life sentence when newly discovered evidence indicated another man may have committed the murder. (Patriot Ledger)


In an unusual revelation of internal politics at the embattled Fox News Channel, conservative host Sean Hannity tweeted “somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE” is trying to get the network’s co-president, Bill Shine, fired as a result of the ongoing sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandals. (New York Times)