Annals of G8 summits:
* 2011: "Deauville transformé en forteresse pour le G8 des 26 et 27 mai" ("Deauville will be tranformed into a fortress for the G8 on the 26th and 27th of May")
* 2010: "'This might be the most expensive 72 hours in Canadian history,' Liberal MP Mark Holland said."
* 2009: "But there have been complaints that resources have been lavished on preparing the military barracks-style venue to receive the world leaders at a time when people remain homeless."
* 2008: "Harried bureaucrats are fretting, media and non-governmental organisations are complaining bitterly, and smaller delegations are despairing about the daunting logistics of this year’s G8 summit in the far north island of Hokkaido."
* 2007: "The barrier is 14 kilometers long (8.7 miles) and is planned to cost some 12.4 million euros ($16.3 million) to erect."
* 2006: "Running the G8 summit cost Russia 10.7 billion rubles ($397 million), according to official data, Interfax reported."
* 2005: "Finance minister Tom McCabe is expected to pin most of Scotland's pounds 52 million bill on police overtime. Last year, the total overtime bill for police in Scotland was pounds 43 million."
On the other hand, the 2004 G8 summit on Georgia's Sea Island seems to have gone swimmingly, at the modest cost of $25 million—in part because, as an island of rich people, it's a natural fortress:
These days it is not much of a place to experience average America, but it is a fine locale to shut out the rest of the world, view conspicuous architectural consumption and walk beaches that have little or no public access.
The Secret Service shut down the entire island, erecting fences by the causeway, patrolling the coast with Navy and Coast Guard vessels and keeping military jets overhead. Residents were allowed to stay as long as they got security-clearance cards, but the abundance of fabulous summer homes meant plenty of places to rent for leaders, staff members and even reporters.
In retrospect, it's a bit surprising that the G8 organizers agreed on Chicago at all; it would have been the first to be held in the center of a a major city since the infamous 2001 Genoa summit (the 2006 summit was held at the Constantin Palace, outside of St. Petersburg proper). So their line that they're looking for a "more intimate discussion" at the new location, Camp David, is entirely plausible. That's from Crain's, which seems to have put together the definitive piece on the G8 pullout. I'll also buy this:
Some sources were saying Monday that the city never fully overcame the late start — particularly on the security side, with endless bad headlines here about protests and other woes to come.
Security folks felt the city was "overwhelmed," one congressional source said. Even in the South Loop federal complex, building officials still have not been fully briefed on what to expect and how to prepare.
The bad headlines haven't been limited to protests. Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke of the Reader have followed who's supposed to pay for what and when they were supposed to do it—always a contentious issue with G8 summits—and what they found was not exactly confidence-inspiring:
Believe it or not, it briefly came up in the City Council when 31st Ward alderman Ray Suarez, hardly a frequent dissenter, asked police chief McCarthy who's going to cover the summit expenses.
"That has not been determined," McCarthy replied.
That deviation from the script seemed to confuse Suarez. "In our briefings we were led to believe that the federal government will cover the cost of this thing," he said. "Now you're telling me something different."
So now we're left with NATO… and basically all the same issues that we had before yesterday, only without the feckless coffee klatch that's the G8. (If NATO wants some place isolated and difficult for protesters to access, how about Hegewisch? Plus it's the "ideal workingman's community," and that would play well.) Which seems to be the G8's role in world affairs: big news, immaterial effects.
Related: I still think this post I wrote on the "neglected right of assembly" was pretty interesting.
Photograph: Simone Ramella (CC by 2.0)