Yesterday I attended the City Club of Chicago’s public policy luncheon at Maggiano’s.
On the menu, mushroom ravioli and Lori Healey.
I went with my friend Anna Klocek, two-time aldermanic candidate in the 45th ward.
The other people at our table were from Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital.
I thought Lori was going to talk about security again. But no, this time she was blathering on, I mean delivering a speech, about the economic benefits of the NATO summit to Chicago.
It seems a group of consultants put together a NATO version of the Chicago 2016 Olympic economic nonsense. (Lori Healey was President of Chicago 2016, the failed Olympic bid.) They figure 21,200 people will be coming to the summit and will generate 49,300 hotel night stays.
By comparison the International Home and Housewares Show at McCormick Place attracts: 60,000 professional attendees, over 2,000 exhibitors - from over 30 countries, over 15,000 buyers from the United States, and more than 6,000 international buyers from 100 countries on 6 continents: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. (Chicago lost a bunch of conventions after Richie Daley dug up Meigs Field. Daley destroyed the general aviation airport that fed the convention business while our competitors Las Vegas and Orlando spent millions to upgrade their general aviation airports.)
And when the regular non-NATO conventions are at McCormick Place the Feds don’t have to create a “Red Zone”, wear battle dress, and have guns that shoot beanbags. And the Secret Service doesn’t have to use tax dollars to buy/rent security equipment like 20,000 linear feet of concrete barriers, high-security vehicle barriers, crowd control barricade systems, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
The economic forecast for the NATO is definitely rosy. And it just barely mentions that if some kind of problem occurs, the projections could be faulty.
I did not know until Lori’s speech today that the NATOnians were going to be schlepped all around Chicago.
They’re going to the Crosstown Classic (Cubs vs. White Sox) at Wrigley Field. That, it turns out was why the hospital folk were at the event. They are the closest hospital to Wrigley so if something goes catawampus they are the ones who will have to deal with it.
NATO is going to a kite flying festival at Montrose Harbor.
The NATO wives are visiting a children’s hospital in Hyde Park.
NATO, the people who carry out wars all over the world will be here having a fun-filled weekend while we the taxpayers/residents of Chicago prepare for marchers and protesters and possible hooliganism in the streets.
The more I think about this summit the weirder it is. Why can’t NATO just have meetings in Brussels?
And my suggestion for enhancing Chicago's international reputation is to focus on the families of the tens of thousands of foreign students studying in Chicago.