Monday, January 29, 2007

15,000 media expected

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On one hand the press says conventions are boring. On the other hand, 15,000 media are expected in Denver to cover the 2008 Democratic Convention:

While Denver almost certainly will get a flattering closeup, don't expect scads of exposure on the broadcast networks. The political conventions are increasingly covered online and by cable news networks as the major broadcast networks scale back the primetime hours devoted to what amount to political infomercials.

In 1976, the networks carried 26 hours of coverage. In 2004, citing low ratings for past conventions, ABC, CBS and NBC devoted only three hours of coverage to the two major party conventions (one hour a night for three nights, skipping entirely the night Barack Obama made his now famous speech).

The ratings for the broadcast networks declined from a combined total of 17.6 million viewers in 2000 to 13.4 million in 2004. Political-minded viewers go elsewhere: cable news networks and PBS reported audience gains from 2000.


[But] as the Big Three allot fewer hours, online pundits have taken up the slack.

David Bohrman, CNN's Washington bureau chief, said "'08 will see whatever the next step of convention coverage is going to be. In '84 when I ran floor coverage for ABC, the quotes were about the networks as dinosaurs, CNN was an upstart. For the 2000 conventions I ran an Internet company that was ahead of its time. The story of how the coverage is evolving is done every four years and it's valid every four years."

There probably won't be much difference in coverage than in 2004. There were so many stories done on bloggers at the 2004 convention, I can't believe it will be an interesting topic in 2008. Maybe YouTube videos of the demonstrations?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Fundraising update

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Denver is looking to raise close to $80 million dollars to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Denver lawyer, and co-chairman of the 2008 Denver Host Committee, Steve Farber:

"We're going to try to get $30 million in commitments from Colorado, and another $10 million from the region and another $15 million or $20 million nationally - which is something both conventions, Republican and Democratic, have done in recent years," he said.
"We need to cover a few things, our operational expenses being No. 1. And No. 2, we need to cover the budget," he said.
Quest has pledged $6 million, and Comcast $5 million. But it's not just pure cash:
Comcast will provide highlights of the convention on its Video-On-Demand program available to all digital cable subscribers, while Qwest will be the convention's primary provider of telecommunications services, including wireline, wireless and video.

"We stepped up with the time, the resources, the contributions," said Qwest CEO Dick Notebaert at an Internet conference sponsored by the Center for the New West at the University of Denver's Cable Center. "It's not self-interest. It's doing the right thing for the right reason."

And now they can officially start collecting the money:
Earlier this week, the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee formally registered as a nonprofit organization, allowing the group to start putting money in the bank.
"This basically opens up an account for us with the Federal Elections Commission," said Dan Slater, vice chairman of the committee. Slater said the committee isn't required to disclose donations until after the convention, but he says the group plans to release that information earlier. "One of the reasons people donate is to show they're good civic citizens," Slater said. "We'll let people know who in the community is supporting the bid."
Let's see if the GOP is equally forthcoming with their convention donors.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Security planning starts

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Meetings to plan the security for the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver have already started:

Security will be tight during the 4 day event and run up a tab of about $35 million. Most of that will be paid for by the federal government. "It's going to be a security shot that probably the city of Denver has not seen the likes of," said Bob Pence, former director of the FBI's Rocky Mountain office.

The money will not only be used to secure areas around the Pepsi Center and downtown Denver, but also to guard and protect the VIPs and politicians who will attend the convention.
Pence said SWAT teams, forensic experts and bomb sniffing dogs from around the country will come to Denver and do tactical practice sessions. They'll also clear anything that could be tempting to a terrorist like trash cans around the convention sites.

While convention organizers don't think Denver will see the same traffic problems that Boston did in 2004, Pence feels it is possible for major streets downtown, and even Interstate 25 to be closed to traffic at times during the convention. Thousands of officers will also be on patrol to keep protestors at a safe distant.
The Secret Service will be in charge of coordinating all of the security. The FBI and dozens of other federal, state and local agencies will also play key roles, including the Denver Police Department.
Closures of highways like Interstate 25 will not endear the Democrats to the locals, but looking at the geography, it's not clear I25 is really that close to the arena. We'll have to see how that plays out.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Denver raises $20 million

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They have a ways to go, but this is a good start:

The local host committee for the 2008 Democratic national party convention in Denver, Colorado, has already raised $20 million in donations and pledges. Qwest has pledged $6 million, and other corporate donors include Comcast ($5 million), Coors, Sage Hospitality, Ch2M Hill, Xcel Energy ($1.5 million), TeleTech ($100,000) and Echostar. Steve Farber, co-chairman of the host committee stated 75 individuals and companies have already made commitments. There is no limit on the size of donations.

Monday, January 22, 2007

CQPolitics starts convention city reports

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at, the web site of Congressional Quarterly, is starting a series of articles on the convention cities, Denver and St. Paul/Minneapolis. The first article is an overview of Denver:

Democrats will find Denver a welcoming, if not distinctly emblematic, host city for their 2008 national convention. The burg that sent outspoken liberal Pat Schroeder to Congress for 12 terms (1973-97) has long been an island of progressive politics in a largely conservative region.

But the metro area’s Democrats are a diverse lot who are actually difficult to characterize. The northern suburbs of Adams County are home to conservative, blue-collar Democrats who crossed over to vote for President Ronald Reagan, while Denver proper has a more liberal, ethnically diverse tilt.

Then there is Boulder, home to the University of Colorado, just a half hour to the northwest. A counterculture haven that’s at times hard to describe, Boulder is part of a larger “granola belt” that stretches to ski towns such as Aspen and Telluride.

There's more on the local politicians and attractions. I'll post highlights of the series as it comes out.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Campaign financing changing again

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I wrote way back in April:

I think public funding for the general election is going to be declined by both major candidates in 2008. And once that happens, the money gates will be wide open. (And future convention dates won't have to be driven by financial considerations).
And it looks like that's the direction things are heading. From today's Hotline on Call:
Clinton becomes the first candidate to officially acknowledge that she won't accept federal matching funds for either the primary and the general election.
In our convention focused world, I've always kept on eye on the financing situation, because it has driven convention dates and strategy for the last 12 years, and it's changing again.

To review,
it used to be there were advantages in having an earlier convention due to money. For a candidate taking public money for the primaries and the general election, they wouldn't get the general election money until after the convention. For example, Bob Dole in 1996 had a huge money problem in May and June. He was broke, and could do little advertising until he received his general election money in early August. Having an early convention was critical to a candidate low on funds.

But 8 years later, much had changed. Both Bush and Kerry opted out of public financing of their primary campaigns, and could therefore spend unlimited money until they had their convention. So the later the convention, the less time the General Election public money had to cover. This is why the Kerry campaign was looking at ways of potentially delaying the official acceptance of the nomination, so they could continue to use their unlimited primary money.

Kerry made this statement about his biggest mistake in 2004:
"I think the biggest mistake was probably not going outside the federal financing so we could have controlled our own message," the Massachusetts senator said on NBC's "Meet the Press." The Kerry campaign opted to accept federal money and federal spending limits and other rules after he won the Democratic nomination. The nominating convention in Boston occurred more than a month before the GOP renominated Bush, forcing Kerry to begin spending under federal rules much earlier than Bush.

"We had a 13-week general election, they had an eight-week general election. We had the same pot of money. We had to harbor our resources in a different way and we didn't have the same freedom," Kerry said. "I think the most important thing would have been to spend more money, if we could have, on the advertising and responding to some of the attacks," he said.

Now, with the conventions back-to-back, neither candidate would have the advantage Bush had in 2004. But if Clinton plans on not using matching funds in the General election, then it's likely all the other major candidates will do the same. And it doesn't matter if Clinton doesn't get the nomination. Candidates will make the decision now, so they can hit their contributors for the double contribution now, and have the money in the bank before the General election starts. And getting back to our convention focus, what does this mean for future convention dates? I have no clue. We'll just have to see how 2008 plays out first.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Denver labor update

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Before the 2008 Democratic Convention was awarded to Denver, the major hold-up was the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local No. 7, whose head, Jim Taylor, refused to sign a no-strike agreement, because the Pepsi Center normally uses non-union labor. But Taylor's union will be used during the convention, and this gives him leverage. This was a subject of much concern, with national labor organizations getting involved. Then, all of a sudden, Denver got the convention. So what happened? The day after the announcement, nothing really had changed:

"There is no agreement," Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a news briefing. "There are always labor issues in every convention. We've worked hard with labor officials of all kinds, both nationally and locally. We believe we can solve some of these difficult issues."
The local union is not happy:
"The union has grave reservations," said Dave Minshall, who handles public relations for the stagehands. "I mean the Democrats ought to act like Democrats." Minshall clarified later in the day that although he was drafting a news release for Taylor on the matter, his comments were on his own behalf. He said that when the Pepsi Center opened in 1999, replacing McNichols Arena, the decision to hire Phoenix- based Rhino Staging left about 300 local union members without those jobs.

"Why are they holding the convention at the Pepsi Center?" he said. "That's the house of Wal-Mart, and you can't get any more anti-union than Wal-Mart." The 700,000-square-foot Pepsi Center is the property of sports entrepreneur Stan Kroenke, who is married to Ann Walton, an heir to the Wal-Mart fortune.

But other unions are looking for middle ground, and some are unhappy with Taylor's stance:

Leslie Moody, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation, said that although Taylor's concerns haven't been resolved, she's optimistic a solution will be found. "There are both national and local unions working together to figure out how to address this," Moody said.

Steve Adams, president of the Colorado AFL-CIO, said the convention will be a boon to local unions, many of which have members who will get work related to the event.

Taylor's stance roused the ire of Kevin Hilton, assistant political director of the Mountain West Regional Council of Carpenters, which supported Denver's bid to bring the convention here. "If Jim Taylor wanted to have a fight at the Pepsi Center, well, God bless him. But he is not putting up picket lines during Avalanche games, he is not putting up picket lines for Denver Nugget games, and we would be more than happy to support him in those efforts," Hilton said.

In the days preceding the DNC's decision, the carpenters held off criticizing Taylor's stance, Hilton said. "We have all been more than patient with this issue, but I think it is time that somebody says this is something that is good for our members, and good for the city and it is something that is good for the country," Hilton said.

So why did Dean decide to look past this potentially significant issue?
Moody said that Democratic Chairman Howard Dean "is confident that in the next 18 months this will be ironed out."
Dean enlisted the help of labor leaders in Washington, D.C., including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union. The national labor leaders assured Dean that an agreement can be hammered out in coming months, Dean said Thursday. That gave him the confidence to award Denver the convention.Moody said that the national union can overrule the local, but would do so only in an extreme situation, like financial malfeasance.

Even for Democrats, who have historically close ties to organized labor, union snags are nothing new to national conventions. In 2004, Boston let a contract dispute with the union representing police officers fester until just days before the convention, when an arbitrator stepped in and the union canceled plans to picket.

Dean had no choice. With New York pulling out, he had to award the convention to Denver, and delaying would have given Taylor even more leverage. But you know that he knows that this is a problem that is not resolved, and it needs to be before the summer of 2008

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Denver Volunteer form

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The official volunteer form for the 2008 Democratic Convention is now available. Lots of volunteers are needed both before and during the convention.


State Democratic Chair Pat Waak said her office has been swamped with calls and e-mails from people who want to do volunteer work at the Democratic National Convention, to be held in Denver on Aug. 25-28, 2008.

Waak said she is looking for 7,500 volunteers and people who are interested need to fill out the form they'll find on the convention website (denverconvention2008 .com). Volunteers are needed to do everything from handing out passes and putting up signs to answering delegate questions at the hotel and distributing materials in the convention halls.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Does Denver have enough hotels? (probably)

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Concerns about the number and location of hotels was one of the logistical issues Denver had to overcome to host the 2008 Democratic Convention. Here's an overview of the situation:

The 2008 Democratic National Convention will need roughly half the hotel rooms in the metro area, with those properties downtown and along highways with relatively quick access to the city getting priority. Denver and the surrounding area "absolutely" have more than enough hotel rooms to accommodate the huge gathering, according to Richard Scharf, head of the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Democratic National Committee already has selected the approximately 17,000 hotel rooms it wants to reserve in the following areas: downtown, Cherry Creek, Denver Tech Center, Sixth Avenue West, Highway 36 North, Stapleton and the vicinity of Denver International Airport. The six-county area has about 40,000 hotel rooms, compared with the 35,000 rooms in and around Boston, the host city for the Democratic convention in 2004.

Hotels "that could be put on an efficient shuttle route" to the Pepsi Center got preference for the Denver meeting, Scharf said. "It's not going to be disruptive to downtown," Scharf added. He said late August, when the convention will take place, is typically a time when Denver hosts fewer business travelers.

More hotel rooms than Boston? I was surprised by that. But not surprisingly, there are more coming:
Among the hotels that have set aside rooms is the Ritz-Carlton Denver, a 202-room property set to open in August 2007. "It's great for us - great timing," said Shannon Gilbert, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.
and maybe these also
An Indiana company is expected to start demolishing the Motor Hotel parking garage at 14th and Stout streets next week to pave the way for two new hotels on a parking lot across from the Colorado Convention Center.

While officials from the developer, Merrillville, Ind.-based Whiteco Industries, didn't return phone calls, there's an outside chance that the 27-story Embassy Suites and 20-story Homewood Suites hotels could open in time for the Democratic Convention in August 2008.

"The two hotels combined, if they haven't changed their plans, would bring something like 400 to 500 new rooms right across from the convention center," said Charlie Woolley, principal of the St. Charles Town Co., which sold the land to Whiteco.

The issue is always how close the hotels are to the convention site, and how good are the rooms. Another thing to keep an eye on in the run-up to the convention.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Keynote speaker Mark Udall?

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While Wikipedia says

"Almost everything else about the 2008 Democratic National Convention is uncertain: ... who its speakers will be"
I think the first candidate for Keynote speaker just popped up. Colorado Republican Senator Wayne Allard announced today that he will not be running for reelection, making the seat even more wide-open. The likely Democratic candidate:
Among those watching with the greatest interest is five-term 2nd District Rep. Mark Udall, who established even before his 2006 House campaign that he planned to run for the Senate in 2008.
The party’s nominee will have an especially gaudy showcase: The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday that it would hold its 2008 presidential convention in Denver. And Udall, who in his recent House races has won landslides in a Democratic-leaning district that includes Boulder and some suburbs northwest of Denver, gives the party what appears a strong takeover prospect.

In 2004, Udall briefly sought the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell. He withdrew in deference to Ken Salazar, then the state’s attorney general, who went on to defeat Republican brewing company executive Pete Coors. Udall has been piling up campaign funds with 2008 in mind. As of Nov. 27, Udall had $1.3 million cash on hand in his House campaign account; all of that money could be transferred to a Senate campaign account.

Obama's Keynote in 2004 set a precedent for a major Senate challenger getting the plum spot. But even if he doesn't get the Keynote, look for Udall, assuming he runs, of course, to get a major speaking slot.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Washington Post needs to do a little research

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The Washington Post tried to give an overview of the site selection process, but didn't do a good job:

The Democrats' choice of Denver for the convention, to be held Aug. 25-28, 2008, in a downtown basketball and hockey arena, had become almost a foregone conclusion in recent months.
First mistake. Denver was always a netroots favorite, and often a front-runner, but never a foregone conclusion, especially when their bid was considered "disatrous".

In the initial jostling to be host city, New Orleans seemed to be the front-runner, because a convention there would remind voters of the Bush administration's much-criticized response to Hurricane Katrina.

Mistake 2: New Orleans was always an intriguing choice, but it's downsides never made it the front-runner.

When New Orleans officials dropped out of the competition last summer -- the city said it couldn't afford to host a convention in the midst of rebuilding -- New York and Denver became the finalists.

Biggest mistake. When New Orleans dropped out, that left three cities. The Post missed St. Paul, which was probably the favorite until the GOP picked it for their convention. Only then did New York and Denver become the final two. Three mistakes in three paragraphs. Let's hope the rest of the paper has a better average.

Denver gets 2 conventions for the price of 1.001

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Don't know how I missed this last week, but the Libertarian Party is also holding its 2008 Convention in Denver, from May 23-26:

"We are extremely proud to serve as the venue for the 2008 convention," said Libertarian Party of Colorado Chairman Travis Nicks. "We look forward to showing the nation's Libertarians what the birthplace of the Libertarian Party has to offer."

Friday, January 12, 2007

The view from DemNotes

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All year I've been getting great stuff from DemNotes, the blog of Dan Slater, Colorado Democratic State Party First Vice Chair, and a vice-chair of the Denver Host Committee. Slater was instrumental in getting Denver's bid off the ground. Here are some of his thoughts on winning the convention:

This has not come easy. For well over a year now, we have been working hard to present Denver as the best choice, both politically and logistically.

In the Summer of 2005, during a Q&A session with Governor Dean, Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth urged Governor Dean to consider Denver as the site of the 2008 convention. Through the summer and fall, there was a lot of talk about what a great idea that would be in social circles around Colorado. I set up a meeting on October 14, 2005 with Mayor Hickenlooper and Councilwoman Wedgeworth. From that point forward, with the Mayor’s support and blessing, we shot out of the gate with a great group of Denver’s civic leaders committed to bringing the world to Denver in 2008.

Some of the “old guard” in the Democratic Party said we couldn’t do it. They said it was a waste of time to try. But we didn’t listen, and we fought hard, overcoming obstacle after obstacle to show America that we could do this.

Dan's been a great friend to this blog, providing encouragement and lots of links. I just want to specifically congratulate him on this great accomplishment, and look forward to Denver putting on a great convention. Not that I won't comment on things here or there...

Two Senators and Denver's bid

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George Merritt of the Denver Post notes how two Colorado Senators bookended Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention:

[the] idea was then aided by one current and one former U.S. senator from Colorado who, unbeknownst to each other, both influenced Dean's choice.

Dean saw the possibilities of holding the convention in the West thanks to a memo from former Sen. Gary Hart, but then Denver nearly lost the convention more than once. It finally took the efforts of current Sen. Ken Salazar to save the bid.

"I think the host committee, particularly with the help of Ken Salazar, really rallied up between the time Dean postponed his decision and now," said Mike Stratton, a member of the DNC presidential primary commission. "Denver was probably going down. But they really, really rallied up, they got questions answered, raised more money, got commitments for money."

More on the Hart memo, also from the Post:
For nearly 25 years, Gary Hart has pushed Democrats to switch their political focus from regaining the South to winning the West. Perhaps, then, it's fitting that the former senator received some of the credit for the Democratic National Convention's landing in Denver.

Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Hart's paper on how the Democrats might go about capturing the West - and therefore the White House - made a difference in choosing Denver over New York.

"I have long believed that the essence of a Democratic victory goes through the West," Dean said. "If we are going to have a national party, we are going to have to have Westerners to vote Democratic again on a reliable basis."
"This is structural change. It could influence the presidential pick," Hart said Thursday. "Every candidate in both parties will have to address Western issues, which aren't race and cultural. They are resource issues, like energy development and property rights."

Hart says he gave his Western strategy paper to Dean in 2005 - through Colorado Democratic Party chairwoman Pat Waak - but he and Dean couldn't agree on the exact date.

The last paragraph of Hart's memo, which can be found here, says:
The national Democratic Party should look Westward. The South will return to the Democratic Party only when economic downturn requires it. Meanwhile, the West provides the Democratic Party's greatest opportunity and represents its greatest future. National Party leaders must develop a plan to win the West in the early twenty-first century or risk settling into minority status for many years to come.
I started this blog with a picture of Gary Hart from the 1984 convention. Sounds like Denver's bid started with Hart also.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

It was New York's for the taking...

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Interesting article from Newsday, saying that New York could have had the convention if any of the bigwigs had even tried to get it:

In the end, New York's political potentates weren't willing to dig for the gold necessary to keep the 2008 Democratic convention from migrating to the Rockies. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean announced Thursday that the August 2008 convention would be held in Denver, despite the Mile High City's dearth of hotel rooms and surfeit of union troubles.

Neither Mayor Michael Bloomberg nor New York's marquee Democrats, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, were willing to lead the $100-million fundraising campaign needed to attract the convention. "There was no meaningful effort by Bloomberg or Clinton or anyone else to get this," said one national Democratic operative close to the negotiations, requesting anonymity. "It was New York's for the taking, but no one stepped forward."
As I've been noting, both Bloomberg and Clinton had a vested interest in the convention not coming to New York. Well, they got what they wanted.

New York reaction

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Some notes from the New York newspapers. From the Times:

It's not exactly a "New York: Drop Dead" kind of moment, but the Democratic National Committee has decided to hold the party's 2008 nominating convention in Denver, according to Democrats familiar with the decision, heading West in rejecting a bid from New York to hold it there.

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today that he was "sorry" the Democrats didn't choose New York, and that he wished Denver "all the best," according to Diane Cardwell, The Times's City Hall bureau chief. "I think that raising money for conventions is getting harder for cities and this city had a particular problem," Mr. Bloomberg said, adding that he felt the onus for fundraising would fall on him. He said he believed Mr. Dean took into account the fundraising issues in deciding on Denver.
And from Newsday:
Even though New York City lost to Denver in the competition to host the 2008 Democratic presidential convention, there was talk of celebratory toasts and a Rocky Mountain high at City Hall.

That is because New York officials were not particularly excited about putting on the Democratic gala. Mayor Michael Bloomberg had spent months dialing down enthusiasm about the bid, despite initial efforts to entice the party into holding the convention in New York.

The billionaire mayor's explanation for the change of heart last fall was that he no longer believed the city could raise the money because he had taken on some hefty fundraising committments that would tie up time and fundraising sources.

When asked for his reaction to the decision Democrats had been mulling for months, Bloomberg was polite, but hardly dejected.

"We are disappointed," Bloomberg said. "But as I had pointed out a number of times, these conventions have gotten very expensive."

AP misses the main labor issue

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In the main AP article today on Denver's convention win, the AP makes a significant mistake:

In the end, Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean enlisted the help of labor leaders in Washington, including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union. A compromise was negotiated to staff the Pepsi Center entirely with union labor for the duration of the convention, effectively taking the last major obstacle off the table.
The decision to staff the Pepsi Center with union labor was made a while ago, and was not the major obstacle. The problem was that the head of the union which was to provide that union labor would not sign a no-strike pledge, which is usually a requirement for a convention bid. How did the DNC resolve this? They didn't. They decided to give Denver the convention anyway, and put off the issue. If for some reason Taylor actually decides to strike, or even threaten one, this whole thing could blow up. I'll be watching this closely.

Denver reaction

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Here are some items from Denver newspaper coverage:

Denver Post:

"The initial euphoria and excitement was joined by anxiety about how much work we have to do," said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. ... Democrats had to weigh the city's maturity against its political potential in making the choice. In the months-long campaign for the convention, Denver was often a sentimental favorite, but the practicality of holding a large convention in a city of about 550,000 people created skepticism.

Questions about whether Denver officials could convince party leaders that the Denver community could raise the necessary millions of dollars and provide thousands of hotel rooms lingered throughout.

It all started when City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth attended a local reception for Governor Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Comittee. During a question and answer session, Wedgeworth raised her hand and Dean called on her.

"And I just said, Governor Dean we have hosted the Pope, we have hosted world leaders and the NBA All-Star game," recalled Wedgeworth. "I think we can do the Democratic convention. What do you think?


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Denver will be the site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The Hotline has the news:

The labor pains were hard, but the DNC finally has its 2008 convention city locked down: Denver
A Democrat who was briefed said that chairman Howard Dean made the final decision yesterday, weeks later than planned. DNC comm. dir. Karen Finney declined to confirm the choice.
Congratulations to Denver. An excellent choice!

From the DNC Press Release:
"I am delighted to announce that the city of Denver will host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I congratulate Governor Ritter, Mayor Hickenlooper, Senator Salzar and the members of the Denver Host Committee for assembling an outstanding bid that demonstrates the community's commitment to organizing a first-rate national convention that will put our nominee on the path to victory in 2008.

"There is no question that the West is important to the future of the Democratic Party. The recent Democratic gains in the West exemplify the principle that when we show up and ask for people's votes and talk about
what we stand for, we can win in any part of the country. Additionally, we have a number of strong Democratic leaders in the West who will be a part of showcasing the vision of Democratic leadership for America as we introduce the next Democratic President in the Rocky Mountains.

"New York is a wonderful city but in the end, it was the strength of Denver's bid that made it the best choice. From the state-of-the-art facilities to the commitment of community leaders to hosting an outstanding
event, Mayor Hickenlooper and the host committee made clear that the Denver convention will be a great one. We thank the team for its hard-work during this process and look forward to working with them over the next year and a half to put on the best Democratic convention in history."

"I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg, the members of the New York Host Committee, and the rest of the team who organized New York City's bid to host the convention. Together, they made this an enormously difficult decision. I know how hard they worked, and appreciate all of their efforts."

National labor in talks to resolve Denver standoff

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The AFL-CIO is working on trying to find a solution in the standoff between Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention and a local labor leader:

The union leader at the center of a dispute that threatens Denver's bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention said Wednesday that a resolution is being negotiated at the national level. Jim Taylor, who heads International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local No. 7, objects to Democrats' hosting the convention in the Pepsi Center - a nonunion facility. He has refused to sign an agreement promising not to strike during the convention.

Taylor said that he has not spoken to the host committee for days and that discussions were taking place at the highest levels of organized labor. "I know that our international union is working on it," he said. AFL-CIO president John Sweeney "is there as well. ... I think that the AFL-CIO is looking for common ground somewhere."

Just where that common ground would be is unclear. Taylor said he was not sure, but he mused that "something is going to end up coming into play sooner or later."

City Councilwoman and host committee president Elbra Wedgeworth said there had been no discussions locally with Taylor this week - largely because of a focus on inauguration ceremonies for Gov. Bill Ritter. "We've always remained open to talk to Mr. Taylor," she said. "If he has a proposal that he would like to discuss with us, we are more than willing."
But it does seem strange that nothing is being discussed locally - sounds like the two sides just gave up in trying to resolve the issue at that level.

Rumor: Announcement Thursday. Reality: Not likely

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There's a rumor going around that the convention site will be announced later today (Thursday). But others think this is unlikely, as it would step on new Colorado Governor Bill Ritter's first week, as he was inaugurated on Tuesday and has his first state-of-the-state speech today. Now, if the winner was going to be New York, Bill Ritter's activities wouldn't matter too much, now would it?

Update: Guess those rumors were pretty solid!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Don't believe reports of more delays

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There's an AP story on some sites, for example, here on MSNBC, which says:

"The Democratic National Committee is pushing back a decision on the site of its 2008 national convention until next month."
But looking closely at the story and the distribution on various new sites, including some dated a few days ago, I believe this is a copy of the December story about the delay into January, not a new delay into February.

Update: The Rocky Mountain News confirms that the story is bogus. (Hattip to Corinne in the comments):
A report on MSNBC's Web site Tuesday said the decision on where to hold the Democratic National Convention might be postponed until February, but a Democratic spokesman said that wasn't true.

"The report is erroneous," said Damien LaVera, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee. He said he would ask MSNBC to remove the story.

LaVera said Democratic Chairman Howard Dean still intends to choose this month between Denver and New York City to host the convention.

Not surprisingly, the story is still up on MSNBC's web site.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Jim Taylor vs the Democratic Convention

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Jim Taylor's issues with Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention is starting to strike some nerves, as seen in the comments below. Here's an overview from Time:

The talk of Denver is how the 2008 Democratic Convention, which would be a perfect showcase for this newly left leaning region, may be thwarted by a local labor leader so passionate he once picketed a Bruce Springsteen concert. That concert was being held in the city's Pepsi Center, and Jim Taylor, head of Local No. 7 International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, thought that the Boss shouldn't perform in an arena that refused to sanction unionized workers. The Pepsi Center still doesn't have union labor — and it is the proposed site of the Democratic Convention

Denver is the current favorite for the convention because the only other serious candidate, New York City, seems to be making only a half-hearted bid.
Nevertheless, Denver's effort to win the '08 convention has been stalled because of Taylor's refusal to rule out demonstrations at the convention if he is not allowed to organize at the Pepsi Center.
Debbie Willhite, executive director of the Denver 2008 Host Committee, says, "[Taylor feels he] should be able to get into the Pepsi Center to be able to organize. Pepsi Center is privately owned. He's trying to get some leverage." Taylor ' s protestations have also highlighted the way Republicans will profit from a Democratic convention in Denver. The Pepsi Center is is owned by Kroenke Sports Enterprises, a.k.a. Stanley and Ann Walton Kroenke. She is the niece of Sam Walton, the conservative Republican who founded Wal-Mart. The couple, residents of Columbia, Mo., have contributed generously to individual Republican campaigns as well as to the Republican National Committee. Denver Mayor Hickenlooper, while acknowledging the Kroenkes' Republican ties, defended the choice of the Pepsi Center, saying the enterprise "showcases our unique spirit of collaboration."

Taylor and Local No. 7 are the only labor hold-outs to a deal. Says Willhite: "Mr. Taylor let me know from early on that he had some issues about the Pepsi Center. After Denver's labor federation voted to support the convention, we thought that took care of that, and all the unions would be supportive. But as we got down to the final parts of the package, one of them being a labor agreement signed by the unions that would be involved in the build-out and actual conduct of the convention, Jim said he couldn't sign it. We're now working with Mr. Taylor and other union officials to come to an agreement that Mr. Taylor will be able to sign." National labor leaders are reportedly leaning on him hard. "Jim's not talking to the press," said Taylor's office.

Hardly anyone wants to lose out on a convention that could generate hundreds of jobs and more than $150 million for the local economy. Denver officials hope to have everything straightened out by the end of the month. But first it has to get Jim Taylor to bend.
And the Denver Post has more:
In 1999, a gleaming new Pepsi Center was about to open, and concert promoter Barry Fey delivered union leader James Taylor's bid to win work for his stagehand union to the arena's managers. Union members assumed they would win the contract for the venue, which replaced McNichols Arena, where the union was entrenched, said Jeffrey Fey, Barry's son and a former member of Local No. 7 International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Instead, a nonunion company - Phoenix-based Rhino Staging - was chosen.

The outcome still rankles Taylor, said Barry Fey. "He believes he was done wrong, that he had as good a bid. He really believes he should have got it," Fey said.
Those who have worked with him say Taylor, 58, is an old-school labor leader who is willing to go out on a limb for his members and is willing to compromise in dealing with employers. "A union can be very disruptive, and that's not him at all. We have been like partners," said Barry Fey, who has worked frequently with Taylor.

There doesn't have to be a loser here. There are smart people working this issue, and they need to find a way to resolve this for both the good of Denver's bid and the good of Denver's labor movement.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Willhite: Significant Progress

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Denver's Debbie Willhite says negotiations are making progress:

A decision on where to hold the 2008 Democratic National Convention is not expected for at least another week, but local organizers are more optimistic that an agreement can be reached on labor issues that have held up Denver's bid.

Debbie Willhite, director of the Denver 2008 Host Committee, said Thursday "significant progress" has been made in reaching an agreement with national labor leaders. But Willhite said the swearing in of several new Democratic governors next week - including Colorado Gov.-elect Bill Ritter - will probably delay a decision for at least a week.
Denver's bid has been delayed by the local stagehands union's refusal to sign a pledge not to strike or picket during the convention. Members of the union would handle all setup during the event but objects to working in the nonunion Pepsi Center, where it likely would be held.

National union leaders, including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, are now involved. "I think that the national union leadership wants to be cooperative and helpful," Willhite said. "I don't think they want the decision to be made based on the unions not being cooperative. "I think we'll get this worked out."

Denver by default

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I just don't see how the convention can go to New York after this:

Referring to Denver as the city “which everybody says is the odds-on favorite,” Mr. Bloomberg emphasized the difficulty of raising enough money to cover the costs of playing host to the convention, sounding very much like a man reluctant to win his own bid.
“I have no idea what they’re going to do,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters, referring to Democratic officials. “As I said, we’d love to have them, but I don’t think the city can put itself on the line in this day and age to guarantee” the $80 million to $100 million needed for such a convention.
and this:
Bloomberg told a radio audience Friday that New York couldn't make the same financial commitment to the Democrats that it did to win the Republican convention in 2004. He said that, at the time, New York was still trying to recover from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and needed a boost, but doesn't have those problems now.

"Today, the hotels are full, the restaurants are doing well and the conventions don't bring the kind of economic activity they used to bring," Bloomberg said. "The city just can't afford to go on the hook."

New York has plenty of money and hotel rooms, but top officials have shown a lack of enthusiasm. Bloomberg, who in August flew to a DNC meeting in Chicago to woo convention organizers, has since committed to other ambitious fundraising obligations, including $350 million for the World Trade Center memorial.
It may take a while for Denver to resolve its issues, but unless New York changes its tune, the convention will be in Denver.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

No decision until later this month

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From WNYC:

New York and Denver are neck and neck in competition for the Democratic National Convention, in 2008. But both cities face fund raising challenges, so Democratic party chairman Howard Dean has said he'll hold off announcing the winner until later this month.

Denver labor leader not facing reality

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I'm sorry, but you can't believe how amusing I find it that Jim Taylor, the local Denver labor leader who is holding up Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic Convention, is at this extremely late date trying to get Denver to switch its proposed site from the non-union Pepsi Center (but which will have union staff during the convention) to the union Colorado Convention Center:

"The big spaces there could work," said Jim Taylor of Local 7 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
The last Democratic convention to be held at a convention center was in 1984 at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Debbie Willhite, director of the Denver 2008 host committee, said problems with that convention led the Democrats to insist on holding the gathering in a large arena.

"A basketball arena already has tiered levels and suites," said Willhite. "Otherwise, it's cost prohibitive to put all the structures in."

You have to build the seating bowl, as well as the skyboxes/suites, used in a convention both for media and VIPs. They have to be totally created in a convention center. I was at the Moscone Center during construction of the seating bowl and suites - it's a lot of extra work that is just wasted money at a time when both cities are scrounging for funds. The Denver Post has more on the problems:
Democratic National Committee bid specifications called for at least 650,000 gross square feet of space, and seating with unobstructed views for 18,000 people. The convention center's largest space, the exhibit hall, has 584,000 gross square feet.
The convention center already is booked during the weeks surrounding the DNC event. To accommodate its complicated setup and tear-down, the convention center would have to displace eight groups worth a total of $150 million in business, including the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association expo.

I was going to write a detailed post back in the spring about how convention centers were no longer feasible for use as sites for political conventions, but after Orlando dropped out, there didn't seem to be a need for it. In any case, Denver and the DNC need to figure out how to get this all resolved, and I think they will.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Denver and union leader still talking

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The latest on Denver's negotiations with it's local labor leaders. From the Denver Post:

Negotiations to ease labor issues and save Denver's bid for the 2008 Democratic National Convention have made little progress despite a decision on which city will host the convention expected soon. Denver and host committee officials have been in contact with local stagehands union leader Jim Taylor for about two weeks. But Taylor still objects to holding the convention at the Pepsi Center, another union official said.
Leslie Moody, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation, said Taylor and national labor officials want to hold the convention at the Colorado Convention Center.

"Jim is actually really curious about the convention center and why it hasn't been seriously considered as the venue," Moody said. "He is really looking into that and looking at the bid and figuring out why they have written off the Colorado Convention Center so much."

But host committee officials said the convention center is simply not an option. The Democratic National Committee specifically asked for a basketball arena for the convention, said Debbie Willhite, the executive director of Denver's host committee. And host committee president Elbra Wedgeworth said switching to the convention center would amount to creating an entirely new bid in the 11th hour.

She added that the convention center is booked during the weeks needed for the 2008 convention. "Unless they are willing to raise millions of dollars, there is just no way it could be held over there logistically," said Wedgeworth, who is also a Denver councilwoman.

Mr. Taylor is clearly not a reader of this blog. As I wrote back in February:

The Democrats haven't been in a "convention hall" setting since San Francisco in 1984, and they don't want to go back. There's less seating, bad sightlines for any far-away seats, and no existing skyboxes to entertain the VIPs.

And from the Rocky Mountain News:

A local labor official received a call Tuesday from AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, asking what it would take to overcome union objections to bringing the 2008 Democratic National Convention to the Pepsi Center.

The call was the latest sign that a labor dispute that has held up Denver's bid for the convention is now being worked out in Washington, D.C.
Steve Adams, president of the Colorado AFL-CIO, said he thought the dispute would be settled in Washington. He said national labor officials have authority to negotiate a deal on behalf of local affiliates. "I have a sneaking suspicion something will happen here at the very end," Adams said.

Getting the national labor folks involved is very smart, and looks like it might be the resolution to this whole thing. Now the Hotline thinks this is all "Not a Good Sign for Denver", but I disagree. The Hotline assumes Dean is making a decision this week, but Dean is in no rush, and if he can get labor to sign off on a Denver convention, he should have no problem waiting a little more for that to happen.

Monday, January 01, 2007

How we got here

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There have been a lot of new readers since this blog started over a year ago, so here's a summary of how we got to two cities, Denver and New York, both vying to be the host of the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

I started the blog on November 7, 2005, just after DNC Chairman Howard Dean announced that the convention would be held Aug 25-28, 2008, just after the Summer Olympics, which was a great date both for both financial and political reasons, and eventually forced the GOP to start their convention on Labor Day. New Orleans was the first city openly discussed, but Denver, as they have all year, was first in expressing interest, forming a Host Committee, and accepting an invitation to bid for the convention. But even by late November, 2005, questions about Denver's labor issues began to surface. By mid-December, 35 cities were invited to bid to host the convention.

Although other cities such as Anchorage were proposed, the real players soon emerged. First to accept a bid were Denver and Orlando, soon followed by
Anaheim, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Phoenix and San Antonio, with Denver, New Orleans and New York considered the front-runners, although the netroots supported Denver and New Orleans. Some cities started slowly: Detroit couldn't agree whether it had accepted the bid, Dallas was more concerned about the Mary Kay convention, and San Antonio was worried about feasibility and costs. By mid-April, Orlando was expressing concerns about the cost. Phoenix was the first to drop out, and Orlando and San Antonio soon followed.

The DNC held their spring meeting in April in New Orleans, which brought front and center the good and bad about having the convention there, and where the general feeling was that Denver had the bid all locked up, although the first signs of problems from local Denver union officials began to surface. Anaheim dropped out in early May, soon followed by Dallas, and then, surprisingly, Detroit, thought to have a good chance to host the convention, and finally Las Vegas, which realized it could make more money with their normal convention schedule than with a political convention. This left four cities which were reported to have made bids to host the convention: Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans and New York.

Or maybe not. Questions about whether New Orleans really made a bid started to surface, as no site visit had been scheduled, and in mid-July, it was official - New Orleans dropped out,
saying the cost of holding the event after Hurricane Katrina last year was too massive. This was a controversial decision, with some feeling the DNC should have lessened the financial requirements for New Orleans due to its special situation.

In June, the Site Selection Committee started its visits, visiting New York, Denver
and Minneapolis/St. Paul. July saw Denver trying to raise money from other states, the DNC focusing on the St. Paul Xcel Center for the Twin Cities bid, and Denver hiring a "heavy hitter" to run its bid. August started quiet, although Denver, New York and St. Paul all hosted receptions at the summer DNC meeting. But by the end of the summer, money and labor issues were impacting Denver's bid.

Denver's efforts bottomed out in early September, when its bid was called "disastrous". But the bid improved, and when the GOP preemptively chose St. Paul as the site of their convention, Denver was a contender again, Then Denver's Convention Headquarters Hotel was unionized, which was considered a "huge deal".

Denver's roll continued with reports that New York was having problems raising money, and then Democrats won the Governor's race in Colorado. And while Dean expressed concern about Denver's ability to raise money, Denver seemed to answer those concerns.

Denver was confident that would get the nod in a early December decision, but New York made a last-minute push, and by mid-December it was 50-50, with a decision considered imminent. But then a Denver union leader refused to sign a no-strike pledge, New York had more issues raising money, and finally the DNC announced they were delaying a decision until January.

So where does that leave us? With the following questions:

Where does Hillary Clinton really want the convention?
Where does New York mayor Mike Bloomberg really want the convention?
Where does Denver's
Local No. 7 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees really want the convention?
And finally, the only question that really matters, where does DNC Chairman Howard Dean really want the convention?