Reporting Jay Levine
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Officials planning the NATO and G8 summits have launched a campaign to convince Chicago residents that the upcoming meetings will be more than worth the inconvenience they might cause.
There were two briefings Tuesday; one for officials of the Chicago Public Schools, the other for executives of museums, concert halls and theaters.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine talked with some of them as they left the briefings, which seemed to ease at least some of their fears. Though as they say, the devil is in the details. Security details have not yet been revealed to them, or anyone else; not even organizers determined to put their best face on what could be a historic event.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us to be a truly global city and to carry this off in a truly global way,” said Lori Healey, executive director of the host committee.
Reporters weren’t allowed in to the briefings for museum executives, theater directors, and concert promoters. Healey answered their questions as best she could, telling them:
“Our commitment is to communicate with you on an ongoing basis, so that you know when we know how things are gonna be working in the city.”
Healey acknowledged the host committee doesn’t know all of the security details yet.
“We don’t really know. All I know is, like I said, we’ve got a commitment that we want to minimize the impact,” Healey said.
But images from past NATO and G8 summits have people jumpy.
Earlier this month, Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said, “quite frankly on May 17th, people outta leave. If you’re in the perimeter, find other ways. I’m hearing it from everybody left and right in the ward that they’re saying they’re gonna leave town starting probably Wednesday or Thursday (before the summits) and come back on the Tuesday.”
But Healey’s briefing had cultural industry leaders singing a different tune.
“I don’t think any of them should be concerned. I think they should look at this as an opportunity to showcase their institutions and our city to the world,” Museum of Science and Industry President and CEO David Mosena said. “Because they’re coming and you can either be afraid of it or take advantage of it.”
Eileen LaCario, vice president of Broadway in Chicago, said she believes business will increase at Chicago’s theaters, rather than be scared away by the summits.
“I think the city of Chicago has assured us that business is going to be as usual and they’re going to do everything they can to make sure that happens,” she said. “Will there be some delays? You know, when the president came into town, our show went up about 10 minutes late, but everybody came in and was excited they were stopped by a motorcade, and business went on as usual. So we hope that that’s the way we see things.”
Of course, with world leaders from 70 nations in town for the summits, you can multiply the presidential motorcade by 70 to get an idea of what it’ll be like during those three days in May, when, for better or for worse, the eyes of the world will be on Chicago.