Mayor Rahm Emanuel opened the door Thursday to compensating businesses affected by security restrictions during the May G-8 and NATO summits, but the mayor's office and the city's host committee later said there are no such plans.
The confusion came as Emanuel sought to reinforce his message that the gatherings of world leaders present an economic development opportunity that will burnish Chicago's global reputation. But he also faced another round of questions about possible disturbances and business closings because of demonstrations involving thousands of protesters and security needs for dozens of world leaders.
McCormick Place convention center could recover lost profits, he responded: "The host committee is working on that. They have a process for that."
Pressed on whether businesses might receive compensation if they close, Emanuel would only say, "We're going to address this issue."
Asked to expand on the mayor's remarks, a spokeswoman for Chicago's G-8/NATO host committee, Jennifer Martinez, said, "There is no plan to reimburse businesses; the plan is for all businesses to remain open."
A spokesman for the Secret Service, which is in charge of security for the events, said agents "don't foresee any business needing to close."
"The Secret Service as an agency does not ask businesses to close," said spokesman George Ogilvie.
Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said there was no contradiction between the mayor's comments and the host committee's response. "We're not reimbursing businesses because the city is open for business during the summits," Hamilton said.
Emanuel and his allies on the host committee have sought to play down the inconvenience of potential large protests and security restrictions, but have been faced with a steady dribble of announcements about closings or postponements related to the May 19-21 overlapping meetings.
On Thursday, DePaul University officials confirmed that in addition to relocating its law school commencement that weekend, it would close its Loop campus from Friday, May 18, through Monday, May 21.
Noting that the summits "are extraordinary events for Chicago that will attract thousands of extra visitors to downtown," the university sent out an email to faculty, staff and students explaining the decision was made "as a precaution against potential logistical issues that may arise."
The meetings have prompted other organizations — including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra — to reschedule events.
Also Thursday, a spokesman for the Cook County sheriff's office clarified earlier remarks about considering a shutdown of the Daley Center courthouse, which overlooks a key demonstration site. Frank Bilecki said that there is no plan to close on the Friday or Monday of that weekend but that officials would take into account security zones, traffic flow and the ability to get to the building during the events.
"Then, if it made sense for safety reasons that could be something we would consider," Bilecki said.
Emanuel, speaking after an unrelated news conference, once again emphasized that the bulk of the summits will take place over the weekend when they are "least disruptive." He said inconveniences would be outweighed by the benefits for the city.
The mayor also was asked about an Associated Press story that said the New York Police Department spied on Muslims in Newark, N.J., when Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was chief there.
Emanuel expressed confidence in McCarthy's leadership and said Chicago does not perform such intelligence-gathering on its residents.
"We don't do that in Chicago, and we're not going to do that," Emanuel said. "I can't speak to why or anything associated with what happened in Newark or New York City. But I can speak to what we do in Chicago, and there's a clarity of what we're doing here in Chicago."
Tribune reporter David Heinzmann contributed.
Door opens to business compensation for G-8, NATO, then quickly shuts
'The plan is for all businesses to remain open,' host committee says after Emanuel's remarks
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