Only a handful of the 50 aldermen voted against giving Emanuel the authority, citing concerns the new ordinances would stifle dissent.
If the emotions displayed by demonstrators at City Hall are any indication of what the city can expect May 19-21, it may prove difficult to confine protesters to the new limits. The protesters who packed City Council chambers and dozens who were left to listen in the hallway said the mayor's new rules amount to telling them to "sit down and shut up."
During the roll call, protesters chanted "we vote no." Several were led out of the room as other protesters in the second floor gallery yelled "boo," flashed thumbs-down signs and raised middle fingers at the mayor and aldermen below.
"It's a good thing that people feel passionate about one of the most important rights you have, the First Amendment, and you don't tread lightly on dealing with it," Emanuel said. "I never thought that change … was going to be easy. But I do think it's important and necessary."
Emanuel sought to update Chicago's parade permit rules to address a federal judge's opinion that criticized police for arresting people during a 2003 anti-war protest partly because of confusing ordinances governing such events.
To deal with criticism from aldermen and civil rights groups, the mayor scaled back proposed ordinances for all future public demonstrations in Chicago, including a large boost in fines for violations. Emanuel wanted to increase the current minimum fine of $50 for violating the parade ordinance to $1,000. He dialed back the proposed minimum penalty to $200.
The mayor also proposed shortening demonstrations by 15 minutes, to two hours total, but later dropped that request. And the city eliminated a requirement that demonstrators supply a parade marshal for every 100 participants.
In addition, Emanuel kept intact the fine for resisting or obstructing a police officer at a range of $25 to $500 after aldermen said hiking the fine could have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights.
Satisfied by Emanuel's retreat, aldermen voted 45-4 to approve the parade limitations and 41-5 to give Emanuel blanket authority through the summer on contracts related to the events.
Ald. Leslie Hairston, who voted against both ordinances, said the city's regulations may potentially inhibit a spontaneous assembly.
"I still have concerns about freedom of expression and civil liberties," said Hairston, 5th. "These are subjective; people can be (punished) for expressing themselves."
Ald. Joe Moore praised the mayor for scaling back his original proposal and said that the debate about the changes led to "overheated rhetoric and over-the-top hyperbole."
"The right to protest and petition our government for a redress of grievances is the foundation of our democracy and our most cherished freedom," Moore, 49th, said in a speech from the council floor.
"However, no rights are absolute, even our First Amendment rights. Courts have long held that the rights of free expression and protest are subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. The challenge for us as lawmakers is to strike the balance."
Public assemblies still will be allowed on streets, parks and public squares, Moore noted, although amplified sound will be restricted between 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. The rule changes also set out a procedure for allowing public assemblies to morph into unpermitted marches.
Public parks and beaches will open at 6 a.m., two hours later than currently allowed.
Few details about the summits have been released, however, and confusion continued Wednesday about the number of protesters expected.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Police Department said it was preparing for anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 protesters to show up. But Michael Shields, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said Wednesday that officers being trained for the summits have been told they are expecting 35,000 to 40,000.
"It's a big difference in count there," Shields said.
Emanuel has tapped World Business Chicago, the quasi-governmental economic development organization he chairs, to plan the city's events. Leaders of that group's host committee have estimated it will cost $40 million to $65 million to stage the meetings.
Even with that wide-ranging estimate, Emanuel has said federal grants and private donations will cover the tab and city taxpayers will not be left holding the bag. There's little in the way of specifics, however.
"Remember, we're not just doing this (alone), we're working with the federal government," Emanuel said. "When the details are there, we're going to make them all public and you will get the information necessary. I'm not going to hide anything."
Aldermen gave Emanuel the unilateral ability to spend money on unforeseen items that cannot be provided by existing contracts. But the mayor was unable to say Wednesday how that money may be used.
"I can't answer that question. It would be inappropriate of me … four months out to say this is what it's going to be. When we get close to it, we'll let you know," Emanuel said. "Given this event, you may need some latitude at the last minute."