City Pushes Back on G8/NATO Info

Several administration officials gathered in front of reporters at City Hall Thursday afternoon to update the press on the city's planning for the coming G8 and NATO summits.

The briefing, held on background -- meaning no official would allow their name attached to the information --  took place in a city hall conference room and carried a dual purpose: to inform the press on the methodical build-up to an historic event, and to correct the record on planned security measures. 

"It is not correct about locking down the city," an official with the G8 and NATO host committee said, in response to a Chicago Sun-Times article about security measures for the event. "That's just not the case."

The officials said they simply don't know what security measure will be applied to the city when leaders from 80 nations -- with more than 7,500 officials and 2,500 press -- descend on Chicago between May 19-21.

Both events, which are distinct and separate, have been classified as designated National Security Special Events, which means the Secret Service will decide on security procedures like designated protest zones and security at various Chicago hotels where officials will stay.

"Between two to four weeks from the summit is when security and travel restrictions will be issued," the official said, noting that she could not "speak for Secret Service."

The Secret Service released a released a statement shortly afterward.

"The Secret Service is working diligently with a wide array of partners in preparation for the G-8/NATO Summits," said Frank P. Benedetto, Special Agent in Charge.  "Our goal is to develop and implement, with the numerous participating agencies, a seamless security plan that will create a safe and secure environment for our protectees, other dignitaries, event participants, and the general public while at the same time minimizing disruption to the local community. ...

At this point the process of designating official venues has not been finalized.  Once this process has been completed, security assessments will be conducted and security perimeters established in agreement with all federal, state and local partners.  Information relating to security measures that could potentially impact the general public such as road closures and parking restrictions will be released when those details have been finalized.  In the past these details have been released two to four weeks prior to the event," according Frank P. Benedetto, Special Agent in Charge.

What is known locally: the city will seek new ordinances designed to provide greater powers to authorities, increase fines on disorderly protesters and demonstrators, and adjust the processes by which the city can accept procurement bids.

Officials from the City's Corporate Council said they planned to walk back a number of items in an ordinance governing parades.

They had planned to ask the council to 1.) Increase fines for non-cooperative parade participants from a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $1,000 to a minimum of $200 and a maximum of $2,000. Now they plan to ask for an increase in the minimum only, they said.

2.) Officials planned to include language that would have required one Parade Marshall for every 100 participants. They will no longer pursue that change.

3.) Officials wanted to decrease the amount of time from 2:15 to 2:00 that parades could operate. They will no longer pursue that course.

Administration officials said the still plan to pursue a policy of expanded police powers for Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Again, speaking on background, the officials said a plan to provide the police superintendent with the ability to deputize out-of-state authorities is a necessary step that will allow the police department to make all necessary preparations for the event. The officials said McCarthy currently could not even engage in conversations with other law enforcement agencies from out-of-state.

There would be no need for McCarthy to deputize law enforcement officials from other Illinois municipalities because they all meet an Illinois training requirement, the officials said.

Deputized law enforcement officials would be paired with current Chicago police officers during the event.

They will have the ability to detain individuals who are not in compliance with the new ordinances. Fines for resisting arrest will likely increase, under the new ordinance, from $25 to $500 to a minimum of $200 to a maximum of $1000 -- the same as the proposed fines the updated parade ordinance.

Rahm Emanuel will likely gain expanded contract authority. Another provision aimed at making the city more nimble in reacting to needs of the summits will come in the form of a change to the procurement policies of the city. Emanuel's administration will seek the right to grant quick turnaround contracts to bid companies. For most products and services, the city will require at least three bids for different companies and automatically award the contract to the lowest bidder.

Unless they don't.

Some products and services, officials said, won't have three vendors. Under that scenario, the city can choose to do business with whomever or whichever business can support their needs.

Prior stipulations said the city would need to advertise a request for proposal in a media outlet.

These expanded contract powers, should they be granted by a reportedly recalcitrant city council, would expire on July 31, 2012, officials said.

Big Price Tag

Officials said they expect the cost of the event to range between $40 million and $65 million but promised no city tax dollars would support the cost. Rather federal funding and private donations would pay the tab.

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