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Boston mayor opposes putting Olympics bid to voters

January 21, 2015

BOSTON (AP) — Boston Mayor Martin Walsh opposes putting the city’s 2024 Olympics bid before Massachusetts voters, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Opponents of bringing the Olympics to Boston have raised the possibility of collecting enough signatures to place a question on a statewide ballot. The soonest that could happen is 2016.

Walsh strongly supports the city’s Olympic dreams, having helped make Boston’s pitch to the U.S. Olympic Committee. The city was selected to be the American nominee for the 2024 Summer Games.

″(Walsh) looks forward to engaging in a robust community process and having a two-way conversation with all neighborhoods as we move forward,” spokeswoman Laura Oggeri said in a statement Tuesday. “Should the public decide to collect signatures for a referendum, that is a right of the people that the mayor fully supports.”

Evan Falchuk, chairman of the United Independent Party and a failed 2014 candidate for governor, has said he’s exploring the possibility of putting a question on the ballot. He worries Boston and Massachusetts taxpayers will be on the hook for Olympics-related expenses.

“I’m a sports fan and enjoy the competition of the Olympic Games. Yet we cannot avoid the reality that the Olympics are a business, and one with a track record of massive cost overruns where taxpayers end up stuck with a huge bill,” Falchuk said in a written statement Friday.

Gov. Charlie Baker said he supports the ballot initiative process but is unsure how opponents would frame a question.

Massachusetts has a robust tradition of ballot questions.

The state last year rejected a ballot question that would have repealed a 2011 law allowing casino gambling in the state while approving another ballot question allowing workers to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time in a given year.

But there are limits on what kinds of questions can make the ballot in Massachusetts. The state constitution, among other topics, specifically excludes questions that relate to religion, the courts and “specific appropriations.” It’s up to the state attorney general to decide if a question passes constitutional muster.

That’s just one hurdle supporters will have to clear.

A more daunting challenge will be to collect the tens of thousands of needed voter signatures to secure a ballot spot. Activists often set a goal of at least 100,000 signatures to guarantee a spot.

On Wednesday, organizers of Boston’s Olympics campaign plan to release their “bid book,” which will give new insight into their proposal.

Boston will face competition from other cities across the globe before a final decision is made in 2017.

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