Friday, July 20, 2007

Hotel chase continues

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Apparently union hotels are no longer the key to which hotel each state delegation wants to stay in. Working toilets are:

The group of out-of-town Democratic Party officials piled into the small bathroom of the Embassy Suites hotel room on Thursday and watched as Todd Taylor took a scrap of tissue paper, dropped it into the toilet and flushed. “Pretty good,” proclaimed Mr. Taylor, the executive director of the Utah Democratic Party. “But if you’re in a room any higher than the eighth floor, the flushing can be a problem.”

Despite the chuckles from his fellow Democrats, Mr. Taylor was serious about the toilet test because it might just determine where his delegation stays during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. After all, Utah delegates have complained about feeble hotel toilets in years past. On Thursday, Mr. Taylor, joined by representatives from 16 other delegations and a gaggle of national Democratic officials, meticulously inspected the toilets, beds and conference facilities at an assortment of Denver hotels, kicking off their search for accommodations during the convention, which will be held next August.

“Even though this is my fourth convention, you still hold your breath and try not to be overwhelmed by the magnitude,” said Cameron Moody, deputy chief executive of operations for the Democratic National Convention Committee. Mr. Moody is charged with arranging hotel rooms for the 5,200 delegates, alternates and state committee members. It is a daunting task that involves matching the needs of 56 delegations with the 22 hotels that have set aside rooms for them during the convention.
“How late does the bar stay open?” asked Caroline Valand, executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party, as she strolled through the Denver Marriott South.
Each delegation wants its first choice, of course, and in the past some would submit only one hotel to make their point, Mr. Moody said. “Things usually end up sorting themselves out,” he said.

In case they do not, a lottery that was held in May will decide which delegation gets preference if two want the same hotel and there is not enough room. American Samoa, which is bringing a delegation of 13, is positioned to score a choice hotel because it gets the third pick in the lottery. Pennsylvania, by contrast, will bring a delegation of 206 but will pick 49th. (Utah has the first pick; Alaska the last.)
Utah’s dream of a centrally located hotel could come true this time, however. Buttressing its chances are its lottery pick and the fact that a significant portion of the 7,000 rooms reserved for the delegations and their families are within walking distance of the convention site, the Pepsi Center. The others are clustered in two outlying areas, Stapleton and the Tech Center, both less than a 30-minute ride from the convention.

“We’re able to plan this convention in a way we couldn’t do in a larger city,” Mr. Moody said. Such was not in the case in Boston in 2004, or especially in Los Angeles in 2000, when delegates were scattered pell-mell in surrounding suburbs.

It may be spin, but maybe being in a smaller city like Denver is providing some hotel benefits.