A three-member provincial commission in Montreal has been conducting hearings since last September into the cost of the 1976 Olympics, which was budgeted at $120 million but soared to $1.27 billion. The commission, headed by Superior Court Justice Albert Malouf, was supposed to have finished its work by Dec. 31, but it became bogged down and the inquiry has been extended until next fall.
The Malouf panel has established that Gerard Niding, who used to be Mayor Jean Drapeau's righthand man at City Hall, wound up owning a sumptuous country home built and financed by a contractor to whom he steered Olympic business. However, rumors of other improprieties, including bribery and influence peddling, are proving hard to check out. Records of contributions to Drapeau's Civic Party might have helped, but these are forever unavailable. Testifying before the commission, Drapeau casually disclosed that such records were destroyed—for space reasons, he said—shortly after the Olympics.
The hearings have confirmed that Drapeau, Montreal's mayor during 22 of the past 25 years, tried to run the Olympics as a one-man show. Under his lofty, almost imperial, direction, construction began far too late, creating deadline pressures that put planners at the mercy of onerous labor demands. The Games nearly bankrupted Montreal. Nevertheless, it will take testimony of a far more damaging nature to discredit Drapeau with Montreal voters, who admire him for bringing to their city major league baseball and Expo 67, as well as the Olympics. Last November, at a time when the Malouf inquiry was in full swing, Drapeau received 62% of the popular vote to win reelection to another four-year term.
Rod Carew took a moment during his spring-training debut last week with the California Angels (page 24) to acknowledge a historical debt. "The guy all of today's baseball players should thank is Curt Flood, who got the whole thing started," Carew said in an interview with The New York Times' Dave Anderson. "I wanted to bring Curt to my first press conference with the Angels and thank him publicly, but I couldn't find him."
It happens that Flood is fairly easy to find these days. He is in Oakland, awaiting word on whether Charley Finley intends to retain him as color commentator on A's broadcasts, a job he held last year. But Flood appreciated Carew's gracious words all the same. It was Flood who first challenged baseball's reserve system in the early '70s. He was unsuccessful, but others, emboldened by his action, eventually won the battle, resulting in the lucrative contracts recently signed by Carew and other stars.
"All around the league last season people were expressing appreciation to me in the same vein, and I always answered, 'Hey, that's cool,' " says Flood, who stopped playing in 1971. "And I meant it. I don't resent the big money these free agents are getting today. But I'm astonished by the amounts. If the owners think they can afford salaries in the millions, that's only further proof that we were right in going to court. I know some people think I could be bitter, but I'm not. I'm getting along."
In his book Even Big Guys Cry. Alex Karras writes of having paid a recruiting visit to Florida State as a high school senior. Karras says he was greeted at the Tallahassee airport by a line coach who "must have been 6'9", weighed close to 300 pounds and had great big muscles on his arms."