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From the Field
How cool is this? KCDZ's Gary Daigneault gets a pretty neat honor! Who
wouldn't like to be called A BIG KID :)

The Olympics:
A View from a TV reporter in Salt Lake City
By Bill Gephardt

It is supposed to be "for the athletes," but the Olympic organizers seem clearly more interested in making money than serving the competitive spirit. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, but to preach to us one thing, and do another is rather difficult to swallow.

For Los Angeles, which hosted it's own Olympic games a few years ago, that may come as no surprise. But in this much smaller community, some of us are beginning to feel the crashing wave of money and spirit overpowering some of the individual hardships. This involves both locals and visitors. The people of Salt Lake City stand to make huge bucks by simply renting out their homes. And, most important, I have been doing stories about middle income tenants being evicted from their apartment homes just from mid January to mid March. The landlords can get thousands more for their apartments for that short period.

In the meantime, families with children who go to neighborhood public schools are being told to get out for the Olympics. Further, the poorest in Utah are also being forced out onto the streets. AND THERE IS NO PLACE ELSE TO GO!!! While these hundreds or thousands are being forced out, there clearly is no other place to rent reasonably because those other landlords are also forcing people out. And the Olympic committee itself is actually scalping tickets!!!

They deny the word "scalp," of course. But a few months ago, the controversial (bribery scandal) Salt Lake Olympic Committee found they still held a bunch of high-demand tickets for various venues. Rather than sell them for the advertised price, they put them on the internet, and they went to the highest bidder. The business made big bucks (they won't say how much), and ordinary Olympic fans were the big losers.

And then there's the whole security thing. We all expected huge security anyway. But post 9/11, there are all sorts of plans for increased security. It's to the point where people will have to plan on 3, 4, or 5 hours to get into a venue. Imagine standing outside in February, in the show, at an altitude of seven thousand feet with your bundled up family. You will wait. You'll wait to get onto a bus at the bottom of the hill. Then, you'll wait with maybe 20-thousand other people outside to clear security. Do you suppose everyone with a metal zipper will set off the metal detectors?

However, Salt Lake City, Park City, and all of Utah are to reap the benefits of the Olympics when they leave town. For several years now, we've watched hundreds of millions of dollars worth of government funded roads, mass transit, and light rail trains installed in preparation for the Olympics. Thank you taxpayers in Virginia, Maine, Louisiana, and everywhere else for re-building Utah's roads.

As for visitors who have not made plans to get here, find a not-greedy friend in Utah with whom to stay. There are no rooms. And if one becomes available at a hotel or a private home, rest assured it will rent for about a thousand dollars a day. Supporters call it a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of the Olympics. I hope as the games draw closer, there will be some good news for Olympic fans on all this.

About the Author
Bill Gephardt has been an investigative/consumer reporter for the past two decades. He worked for KCAL TV in Los Angeles from 1989 until 1998. He presently works for the CBS owned television station in Salt Lake City (KUTV).