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Emanuel Declares NATO Summit A Success

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 22, 2012 3:30PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago First Lady Amy Rule greet President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at O'Hare Airport Saturday Night on the eve of the NATO summit. (© 2012 City of Chicago, photos by Brooke Collins)

The expressways are once again open for traffic, the lakefront from Museum Campus to 31st Street is free for cyclists and runners and downtown businesses are open again after the NATO summit. Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference at the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications to declare the summit, and the city's coverage of it, a success.

Or, as both the Sun-Times and Tribune wrote in today's papers, we survived.

With many businesses in the Loop closed on Monday and people avoiding downtown, and with the images of Sunday's scuffles between police and protesters still fresh the mayor, in characteristic Emanuel-speak, stayed on message that the summit was good to Chicago.

"By hosting NATO and the NATO summit, we have reinforced, reaffirmed and revitalized Chicago's role on the world stage," Emanuel declared Monday, his first public comments in four days. "While Chicago has the title of second city, because of the NATO summit, we've shown the world that we are a world-class, first-class city."

“If Seattle in 1999 was a lesson of what not to do, I think Chicago will be a lesson of what to do,” the mayor said. “Our police department did a tremendous job over four days, and they handled themselves with incredible discipline and professionalism.”

Emanuel parried criticism of what he called the "inconvenience" the summit was on local businesses as long-term investment in Chicago.

"But in the perspective of time, he will come off looking rather well in comparison to the mayor of Seattle, who lost his re-election bid because of disturbances” tied to the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting, said former independent alderman Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“We were able to host world leaders. It came off well. It heightens Chicago’s image and shows that we have come out from the cloud of 1968. It looks like we’ve grown up past that period of confrontation in our history.”

I'll have final thoughts on the summit later today.