"It's like inviting somebody to dinner," McNichols said. "You just can't tear up the invitation."
Another ill-advised campaign move was the DOOC's effort to discredit its foes by circulating a
story that darkly described CCF's organizers as "a small but artful band of tenacious young political activists who have filtered into Colorado over the past two years." The story omitted the fact that one of the key CCF leaders mentioned, 24-year-old Meg Lundstrom, was born in Colorado. "And our people didn't filter here," she added. "They come here." The DOOC leaflet also did not mention the fact that, on the other side, Chairman Goodwin himself became a Coloradan only when Johns-Manville moved its headquarters from New York last year.
In its final effort to save the Olympics, the DOOC stubbornly stuck to its $35 million cost estimate, and argued that the Games, far from being environmentally harmful, would produce valuable land-use planning for Colorado. This was a point that DOOC Vice-President Eric Auer, a Swiss-born engineer, was still making as late as Election Eve when he and Lamm met for a debate ("The Olympics: Boon or Boondoggle?") in a chemistry classroom at Denver Community College.
Auer, an embattled figure amid the Bunsen burners and element charts, was eloquent in behalf of boon. "The Olympics will bring together state and federal environmental planning in Colorado for the first time," he promised. "They'll be the catalyst for land use."
But next day, when the votes were counted, it was all boondoggle. The anti-Olympic amendment swept virtually every part of Colorado except the ski country around Vail and Steamboat Springs—and it lost in each of those communities by only a handful of votes. Insofar as the issues were money and environment, the outcome was reminiscent of public rejection of another big project, the SST. But the competence of the DOOC leadership also was in question, and the message for a crisis-ridden Olympic movement seemed clear: the excellence and fair play routinely expected in Olympic competition are no less necessary in the back rooms where the Games are actually organized.
This was the first time that an already approved venue had ever turned down an Olympics. Yet it was not a vote against the Olympics per se, nor a vote against sport. But it was a vote against sporting facilities that cost taxpayers millions of dollars and work against essential conservation attitudes in the area concerned.
As for other lessons, Lamm suggested a couple while celebrating at the CCF's Election Night party. "We have shown that we don't need circuses in Colorado, we need solutions to problems." At their wake elsewhere in Denver, pro-Olympic troops were finding comfort at a well-stocked bar. The CCF made do with inexpensive California wine and great quantities of Olympia, a beer popular in the West. Lamm, in his wisdom, may have found that brand inappropriate. He was drinking Budweiser.