The same day U.S. Olympic Committee leaders jetted into Boston to discuss the faltering Boston 2024 bid, activists filed language for a 2016 ballot question: No state taxpayer money of any kind to build or run a Boston Olympics.
The initiative petition is a joint venture of United Independent gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk and anti-tax activists like state Representative Shaunna O'Connell, a Taunton Republican.
"It's a great day for the taxpayers because this is the day that we're telling them: we're paying attention to them," O'Connell said. "Boston 2024 is not going to protect them. An insurance policy is not going to protect them. The Legislature is not going to protect them. But what will protect them is the ballot question that we are going to be working very hard on."
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"This ballot question is verification that all of the talk about 'we don't want to spend taxpayer dollars' is backed up by cold, hard, written law that protects the taxpayer," said Marty Lamb of Tank Taxes for Olympics, a successor to the group that successfully fought to repeal automatic gas tax increases through a ballot question last November.
"The plan for building Olympic venues and operating the Games relies on private financing. It also includes safeguards to make sure tax dollars are not put at risk," the USOC and Boston 2024 wrote in a joint statement after .
The ballot question would all Bay State voters to vote that "notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary ... no state agency or official, state authority, or other state entity created by the Legislature shall, directly or indirectly, expend any funds other than funds received from the federal government or funds for which the federal government has committed to reimburse the state, issue any bonds, enter into any guarantees, issue any tax credits or tax incentives, incur any liability, indebtedness or obligation, or take any private property by eminent domain, to procure, aid, or remediate the effects of, the 2024 Olympics."
Boston 2024 had no comment on the ballot question, but did address its discussions with the USOC chairman and CEO, who were visiting from Denver.
"Today we reviewed the progress that Boston 2024 has made over the course of the last two weeks and confirmed that the Brattle Group [a consultant group hired by Gov. Charlie Baker, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo] is working diligently on its assessment of the financial viability of the new bid plan," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, according to the joint statement. "We’re pleased to have the support of the Mayor and look forward to working with Steve Pagliuca and the entire team at Boston 2024 to make this bid a success."
Falchuk said it was pure coincidence they launched this campaign the same day as the USOC's high-stakes visit.
"We had planned this day some time ago, and I first saw that they were in Boston last night," said Falchuk.
Chris Dempsey of No Boston Olympics said if he had had the chance to talk to the USOC leaders, he would have told them: "The polling is now very clear that voters in Massachusetts do not support this bid and in fact, the more they learn about this bid, the less they like it."
With videographer Marc Jackson