TIME

Boston Will Be Better Off Without Olympics

The gamble just wasn't worth it

The people got this one right. Boston’s Olympic bid, which came to an abrupt end on Monday, never attracted high enough approval ratings in Beantown. Both the United States Olympic Committee and Boston’s political leaders realized that moving forward in the face of widespread public opposition to the bid would embarrass everyone long-term. Might as well cut bait now. It was a mess, but at least now it’s over.

Boston joins cities such as Oslo, Stockholm, Lviv, Ukraine and Krakow who have all recently reconsidered Olympic bids — and then dropped them. (These international cities all bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be awarded on July 31 to either Beijing or Almaty, Kazakhstan). Many people, it seems, have wisened up to basic sports economics: the Olympics are just as likely to produce eye-popping cost overruns as they are canoeing medals.

“There’s a lot of evidence that people are Olympics and World Cup weary,” says Andrew Zimbalist, author of Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting The Olympics and World Cup. The book includes ample academic research showing the gamble, indeed, is a losing one. “Billions of dollars are spent on a giant party, and the public gets nothing back,” says Zimbalist.

Zimbalist studied the Boston bid, and is convinced that both the city and state of Massachusetts are better off without it. “I don’t think it made a lot of economic sense,” Zimbalist says. Other cities will still compete with one another to convince the International Olympic Committee to award them the 2024 Summer Games: Hamburg, Rome, Paris and Budapest have all announced intentions to bid. Toronto, fresh off hosting the Pan American Games, may jump in.

Will another U.S. city emerge to replace Boston by the Sept. 15 bidding deadline? All eyes are now turning to Los Angeles, a city with a built-in advantage: L.A. has hosted the Olympics twice before, in 1932 and 1984. In ’84 Los Angeles did not have to dazzle the International Olympic Committee with a sparking, and expensive, bid book. Tehran dropped out, so L.A. had enormous leverage since the city was essentially bidding against itself. According to Zimbalist’s book, the ’84 Games produced a $215 million surplus (and not coincidentally, landed the organizer of those Games, Peter Ueberroth, on the cover of TIME as 1984 Man of the Year). The city’s existing Olympic infrastructure could defray some of the cost. “It’s not unthinkable that Los Angeles can do it the right way,” says Zimbalist.

Still, predicting the cost of an event that will place almost a decade from now is a very tricky business. If recent history is any guide, Los Angeles should take a pass too. It’s already got plenty going for it. Why bother with such a gamble? If a city like Paris feels the need to go all in, well…Paris sounds nice enough in summer.

 

 

TIME olympics

Boston Bids Farewell to 2024 Olympics

The Boston attempt was met with poor communication, low public support and an active opposition group

Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics is over.

A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Monday that the U.S. Olympic Committee has severed ties with Boston. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not yet been made public.

The Boston bid soured within days of its beginning in January, beset by poor communication, low public support and an active opposition group.

The USOC board decided via teleconference after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced he would not be pressured into signing the host city contract that puts the city on the hook for any cost overruns.

The deadline to officially nominate a city is Sept. 15. If the USOC wants to stay in the race, Los Angeles would be its likely choice.

TIME

Boston Mayor Threatens to Drop Olympics Bid Over Budget

at UMass Campus Center on March 22, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Paul Marotta—Getty Images Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh hosts a Municipal Strategies for Financial Empowerment, a public forum at UMass Campus Center on March 22, 2015 in Boston.

“I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away"

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh threatened Monday to drop the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games if the U.S. Olympic Committee demands a guarantee that would require Boston taxpayers to cover budgetary shortfalls.

Walsh said that while he believes the Olympics could benefit the city, he vowed not to sign an agreement without knowing there are taxpayer protections in place, Boston.com reports.

“I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away,” Walsh said at a news conference. “I refuse to put Boston on the hook for overruns, and I refuse to commit to signing a guarantee that uses taxpayers’ dollars to pay for the Olympics.”

The host city contract with the U.S. Olympic Committee would require the city to agree to cover any financial shortfalls in building the massive infrastructure around the 2024 games. Massachusetts’ governor, Charlie Baker has also expressed skepticism of a bid that shifts the burden of paying for Olympics infrastructure too heavily on Boston taxpayers.

The USOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

[Boston.com]

TIME weather

The Last Snow from Boston’s Nightmare Winter Has Finally Melted

Worker digs a path through the large snow mounds on Beacon Street during a winter blizzard in Boston
Brian Snyder / Reuters A worker digs a path through the large snow mounds on Beacon Street during a winter blizzard in Boston.

The last snowflake from Boston’s record-breaking winter snowfall has officially melted, according to Mayor Marty Walsh.

Walsh tweeted that a contest he had held to guess when the snow pile would melt had been won. The winner, who remains unnamed, is the lucky recipient of a meeting with Walsh.

The stubborn residue of snow was located on Tide Street. As recently as July 7, the pile — which had, at one point, towered 75 feet high — had garnered commentary from The New York Times, which marveled at its resilience: “… What the mound has lost in stature, it has made up for in sheer endurance,” reporter Katharine Q. Seelye wrote on July 6. “Few predicted it would last this long.”

Alas, a series of 90 degree days won against the snow pile.

The final tally on Boston’s brutal snowfall clocked in at 110 inches.

Read next: The Unsung Heroes of Summer: Beach Bulldozers

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TIME Massachusetts

Millions Online Seek Answers in Case of Baby Found in Boston Harbor

Girl Found Dead
Suffolk County District Attorney/AP This flyer released on July 2, 2015, includes a computer-generated composite image depicting the possible likeness of a young girl, whose body was found on the shore of Deer Island in Boston Harbor on June 25, 2015.

The Massachusetts State Police released computer-generated image of what the deceased child may have looked like alive

As authorities work to identify a young girl whose body was found on a Massachusetts beach last month, millions of people are immersed in the mystery on social media.

The girl, whom authorities believe was about 4 years old and refer to as “Baby Doe,” was discovered on June 25 by a woman walking a dog on Deer Island in Boston Harbor, officials said. Her body had been stuffed into a trash bag and was in the early stages of decomposition.

The Massachusetts State Police, with help from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, posted to Facebook a computer-generated image…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Science

Boston Museum Stands By Equation Fact Checked by 15-Year-Old

Exhibit Error Joseph Rosenfeld
Jeff Taylor—AP In this June 23, 2015 photo, John Handley High School sophomore Joseph Rosenfeld, poses for a photo at the school in Winchester, Va.

"Less common — but no less accurate — way to present it"

(BOSTON) — A Boston science museum that praised a teenager for catching a mistake in the golden ratio at a decades-old exhibit now says it wasn’t an error after all.

The Museum of Science released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying the equation in the 34-year-old “Mathematica exhibit” with minus signs instead of plus signs is actually the “less common — but no less accurate — way to present it.”

The museum had initially written 15-year-old Virginia high school student Joseph Rosenfeld a letter acknowledging the error and saying it would be fixed. He noticed the minus signs June 4 on a family visit to the museum.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Emeritus Arthur Mattuck tells the Boston Globe that the two formulas are equal. He says Joseph presented the fraction upside-down.

TIME society

Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger Pens Remorseful Letter to Teen Girls

Apponequet Regional High School students, Mollykate Rodenbush, Brittany Tainsh, and Michaela Arguin (from left), hold the handwritten reply from Whitey Bulger.
David L. Ryan—The Boston Globe/Getty Image Apponequet Regional High School students, Mollykate Rodenbush, Brittany Tainsh, and Michaela Arguin (from left), hold the handwritten reply from Whitey Bulger.

"If you want to make crime pay, go to law school"

James “Whitey” Bulger, the Boston crime boss who was convicted of 11 murders, has penned a letter to three 17-year-old girl in which he admitted he “wasted” his life.

The girls wrote to the now 85-year-old, who is serving life at the federal penitentiary in Sumterville, Florida, as part of a National History Day competition on leadership and legacy – but they never thought he would answer. “It wasn’t what we were expecting at all,” said Brittany Tainsh, one of three who wrote Bulger.

In the letter, dated Feb. 24, Bulger offered the three teens advice. “My life was wasted and spent foolishly, brought shame + suffering on my parents and siblings and will end soon,” he wrote in the note, which was excerpted in The Boston Globe Saturday.

“Advice is a cheap commodity some seek it from me about crime – I know only one thing for sure – If you want to make crime pay – ‘Go to Law School,'” he continued.

The letter is the first hint of remorse the defiant crime boss has ever shown since being convicted of involvement in 11 murders in 2013. He was caught after spending 16 years on the run. Even at his trial, Bulger showed no emotion as he was handed two life sentences plus five years.

In the letter, Bulger added that he “took the wrong road,” calling his brother William, a former president of the state Senate and of the University of Massachusetts, “a Better Man than I.”

“Don’t waste your time on such as I – we are society’s lower, best forgotten, not looked to for advice on ‘Leadership,’ ” he concluded.

Bulger is the subject of the upcoming film Black Mass, which stars Johnny Depp as the notorious crime boss.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME LGBT

Boston’s City Hall Is Getting Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

“Today marks a historic moment in Boston,” Mayor Martin Walsh said

Employees and visitors of Boston’s City Hall will be able to use gender-neutral bathrooms in the building.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh signed an executive order on Thursday to immediately establish the restrooms on the fifth floor, outside Walsh’s office and the City Council chamber. In a statement, the city said Boston was among the first City Halls to do so in New England.

“Boston thrives on diversity, and is an inclusive city,” Walsh said in the statement. “This change will foster a safe and welcoming environment for employees and visitors, and will go a long way as we continue to work towards improving the lives of those who love and call Boston home.”

And following up the statement with a tweet, he called himself #WickedProud to make this happen.

Read next: States Battle Over Bathroom Access for Transgender People

MONEY Sports

This Is Probably Why Boston Doesn’t Want to Host the Olympics

sb10064484a-001
Travelpix Ltd—Getty Images Boston's Faneuil hall, cafes and Quincy market.

Half of Massachusetts doesn't want to host.

In early 2015, not long after Boston was selected as the U.S. Olympic Committee’s bid to potentially host the 2024 summer games, a poll indicated that locals were kind of meh about the prospect. In a survey by Boston NPR station WBUR, nearly half (48%) of Bostonians said they were “excited” about the possibility that their city could host the Olympics. Still, 43% said they were not excited.

When the issue was phrased slightly differently, 50% of Boston residents surveyed said they “support” the city hosting the Olympics, while 33% said they “oppose” them.

So while the locals may not be quite as excited as the Olympic Committee might have hoped, at least the people want to host, right? Maybe not. In the latest survey from WBUR—this one statewide rather than being limited to the Boston area—only 39% are in favor of the city playing host to the games. Slightly less than half (49%) of Massachusetts residents are opposed.

The survey didn’t explore the reasons why people are pro- or anti-Olympics. But it’s a safe bet that money is a big factor. Olympic host cities routinely wind up spending far more than they originally budget to prepare for the games. For instance, organizers of the London 2012 summer games estimated that the city would drop $4 billion in order to host, and in the end the city’s bill was in the neighborhood of $15 to $20 billion. Critics also say the economic upside of being host, through increased tourism and such, is often overstated.

Research from No Boston Olympics, the opposition group with a self-explanatory name, indicates that Boston organizers have already estimated that the city would spend $14.3 billion to host. That’s before any cost overruns. And there are always overruns, typically around 200% or so.

No wonder the folks up in Massachusetts aren’t welcoming the Olympics with open arms.

TIME Terrorism

Family of Boston Terrorism Suspect ‘Unaware of Any Radicalization’

Usaamah Rahim was killed Tuesday after authorities said he lunged at them with a large knife

A lawyer for the family of a man killed by terrorism investigators in Boston earlier this week said Thursday they were shocked by accusations that he was radicalized by extremists and were under no suspicion that had been the case.

Usaamah Rahim, 26, was shot and killed Tuesday after authorities say he lunged toward them with a large knife that he bought on the Internet. An FBI affidavit filed Wednesday stated Rahim had initially planned to behead someone outside Massachusetts, but later changed his mind to “go after” the “boys in blue” instead, a reference that officials took to mean police. The document states Rahim discussed his plans with at least two people, including 26-year-old David Wright, who was charged Wednesday with conspiring to conceal or destroy evidence.

Earlier on Thursday, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told NBC that Rahim was allegedly plotting to behead conservative blogger and anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller. But Evans called the idea “wishful thinking.”

“The family is unaware of any radicalization,” Ronald Sullivan, an attorney for Rahim’s family and a Harvard Law professor, said during a news conference. Sullivan said the family is ready and willing to “enter into a joint relationship with investigators to get to the truth.” Rahim’s private burial was scheduled for Friday.

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