Host Committee Chair: Serious World Issues Prompted G8 Move

The head of Chicago’s NATO host committee says the city lost the prestigious G8 conference, because "there are some very critical and serious issues in the world going on in foreign policy right now."

Lori Healey was head of Chicago’s NATO/G8 Host Committee until Monday, when the organization’s title was shortened after the Group of Eight meeting was pulled from the city for the more serene setting of Camp David, Maryland.

After that sudden development Monday, Healey refused all interviews, and finally broke her silence Thursday night, accompanied by a live marching band on stage at the “Chicago Live” show, sponsored by the Chicago Tribune at The Second City theatre.

Healey suggested the president chose to take his fellow leaders to the Maryland retreat to talk about those "critical and serious issues" in a quiet setting away from the hundreds of staffers who would have accompanied them to McCormick Place.

"There’s some very important foreign policy and world issues that these guys, men and women, are dealing with," she said.

At the same time, Healey chose a security heavy hitter Thursday to try and quell worries about mass demonstrations during the NATO summit. The firm Hillard Heintze is headed up by former police superintendent Terry Hillard, and Arnette Heintze, the former special agent in charge of the Secret Service here in Chicago.

She would not discuss the terms of that contract, which she says is private. The company will begin holding weekly briefings with Chicago’s business community, many of whom have expressed fears that chaos in the streets will lead to business shutdowns, or even damage to their establishments.

"They’re working with us as third party validators to go out and calm everybody’s fears and say, look, Chicago can do this," said Healey.

Heintze met with members of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Thursday and urged everyone to take a measured tone.

"There are things you can do to prepare yourself," he said. "But don’t board up your windows. That’s certainly the wrong message that’s saying, you’re scared, you’re concerned, and you shouldn’t be."

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