In the latest Scrum, former gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuck has harsh words for the Grand Prix of Boston, saying the Indy race that's coming to South Boston could cost taxpayers "millions." (You can catch his comments starting at 31:59.)
That elicited some sharp pushback from Kate Norton, a political consultant at CK Strategies (and former spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh) who's representing race organizers.
"There are absolutely no facts or figures to substantiate any claim that this event will cost millions in taxpayer dollars; it's simply not accurate," Norton told WGBH News in a statement. "The agreement with the city is clear, and we've asked them to make an investment in this event with an expected return of millions in revenue. We are working hand-in-hand with state agencies to identify infrastructure needs and costs, and we've been clear that we are NOT asking MassPort to pay for these improvements. And we're not asking for any taxpayer dollars for security across the board. Mr. Falchuk hasn't asked us for any information at all, so I don't know where this claim is coming from."
To be clear, Norton doesn't dispute that the event would cost taxpayers something. She expects the total cost to the city of Boston to run, as she puts it, "in the hundreds of thousands of dollars." But she adds some costs, like street paving, "may already be accounted for in … current budget plans," and that any expenditures the city does make would be rewarded by "millions in … hotel taxes, meal taxes, and so on."
I ran Norton's objections by Falchuk, who provided a statement of his own in response. (Note: Norton disputes Falchuk's assertion that the city struck a deal with race organizers "with no public process," saying there were several community meetings before the deal was made.)
"The agreement Mayor Walsh already signed with promoters of this race — with no public process — is a blank check to set up a race course and provide other services for the race," Falchuk said. "There is no cap on the city's financial exposure — and doing things like fixing up roads and welding shut manhole covers to meet the very high standards of an IndyCar race is going to be very expensive."
"The fact that the race promoters are working hand in hand with government officials on this is exactly the problem," Falchuk continued. "Where is the public? Why do things like this need to happen behind closed doors instead of out in the open?"