cool is this? KCDZ's Gary Daigneault gets a pretty neat
wouldn't like to be called A BIG KID :)
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).