Thursday, May 31, 2007

Denver misses fundraising deadline

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Well, as was speculated, the Denver host committee missed the first deadline to raise money for the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

The committee raising funds for the Democratic National Convention next year hasn't met a June 1 deadline to have $7.5 million in the bank, but organizers insist they're not worried. "When you're talking about raising $45 million, that's a challenge for anyone," said Elbra Wedgeworth, president of the Denver 2008 host committee. "The Democratic National Committee is confident we can do this." The national committee has established a series of deadlines for Denver to meet in its goal of raising $55 million for the convention. The host committee is expected to raise at least $40 million in cash and $15 million in in-kind donations for the Aug. 25-28, 2008 event.
A sources who spoke on the condition he not be identified said that the host committee has fallen short of the $7.5 million cash goal. How far short is not clear. The committee has $28 million in total commitments, but only a fraction of that is in the bank. Many of those pledges involve a mix of in-kind services and cash.

Already, Governor Bill Ritter and Denver mayor John Hickenlooper have traveled out of state to ask for donations for the event. Hickenlooper recently traveled to New York to meet with executives at several Wall Street firms and ask for their support. Because Denver has only a handful of Fortune 500 firms, much of the fund-raising will have to take place out of state. "We'll have to go outside of our region to raise funds," said Wedgeworth. "We're going to individuals, large companies and mom and pops."
If there's no penalty for not meeting a deadline, I wonder why they have any deadlines at all?

Update: The Denver Post has more details:
Reached in the afternoon, president Elbra Wedgeworth said the host committee will bank "1 or 2 million" less than the $7.5 million its contract with the Democratic Party says must be collected by today. In a follow-up discussion, she said "more has come in (Thursday), a significant amount."
"We basically have the pledges, but they're not going to be in by the deadline," Wedgeworth said. Denver's contract with the Democratic National Committee sets four fundraising milestones geared toward ensuring that the party has the money it needs to prepare for the convention. The host committee's final deadline is June 16, 2008, when it must have $40.6 million in the bank.

The contract allows for an extension of seven business days. A potential complicating factor is that the contract also required that the host committee establish a nearly $20 million line of credit, should the money not be in after the seven-day extension, but the committee hasn't done that.

Wedgeworth said that DNC chairman Howard Dean is aware of the fundraising situation and isn't pressing for funds immediately. Instead, Wedgeworth said, the June 1 date was more of a goal than a firm deadline and the DNC doesn't immediately need the money.
OK, so now it's a goal, not a deadline. Got it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Denver in money push

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The Denver 2008 Host Committee committed to have $7.5 million for the 2008 Democratic Convention in the bank by June 1, but they may not make it:

The Denver host committee's Steven Farber, a powerful Denver lawyer and moneyman; Mayor John Hickenlooper; and Gov. Bill Ritter are working as many as 50 potential donors - about 20 of them in private meetings - during a conference of the International Council of Shopping Centers at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Farber said he hopes the Las Vegas trip and a trip next month to Los Angeles will secure the commitments for the more than $40 million in cash and $15 million in services needed to meet Democratic National Committee requirements. The hard work of getting actual deposits will remain.
At least $2.7 million is in.
Of the nearly 30 mostly local donors who pledged more than $21 million in cash and services when the DNC picked Denver to host the convention, seven are known to have actually sent in checks, totaling $2.7 million. The DNC contract calls for $7.5 million in the bank by June 1.
June 1 is the first of four milestones in a timeline that specifies $40.6 million in cash must be available by July 1, 2008.

Interviews with original donors who pledged $50,000 or more found that seven had sent in checks: Union Pacific has sent in $1 million; Xcel Energy, $1 million; Molson Coors, $250,000; TeleTech, $250,000; Chase, $100,000; Wells Fargo, $62,500; and CH2M Hill, $50,000.

That $2.7 million figure could be significantly higher, as two major donors didn't respond to interview requests.
I doubt there's any "penalty" for not meeting the deadline, but it will be interesting to see if they make it.

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, and things will improve in the future.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Dean looking at future conventions

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Throughout the competition to host the 2008 Democratic Convention, a number of people commented here and elsewhere that a large convention was antiquated in this day and age, and alternatives should be looked at: shorter conventions, conventions held in multiple venues simultaneously, or even on-line. Well DNC Chairman Howard Dean wants to take a look at it:

Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said Thursday the days of the $60 million political convention coronations are numbered and he's studying ways to make them more relevant to average people.

Dean said politicians need to find more ways to connect with voters, going door to door, instead of depending on television to deliver their messages. He said next year's convention in Denver will be different.

"We've got to change the way we do conventions in this country. I'm looking to try to make this a transitional convention, in the sense that the day of the $50-$60 million convention is coming to a close. The day of one-way campaigns where we do everything on television, and we don't listen to people before, is coming to a close. We need to be knocking on doors, talking to them directly, asking their opinions," Dean said during an interview on the Aaron Harber show on KDBI-TV.
I like Dean's intentions, but they're going to be hard to implement. That one hour of free television time for the nominee's speech, in front of 20,000 cheering people, along with all the other press coverage, is going to be hard to give up. And for that to happen you have to have the convention somewhere, and that's going to cost money. On the other hand, the economics of the convention make it much less of an attraction for the host cities, and I've wondered in the past whether there will even be any cities in the future that want to host these things.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dean: We have peace with union leaders

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In an interview on Denver radio, DNC Chairman Howard Dean was optimistic about the labor issues that have plagued planning for the 2008 Democratic Convention:

Dean said Denver officials have made peace with union leaders who say Denver is too hostile to unions to be the site of the party's 2008 convention and he believes the convention will go off without a hitch.

"I don't envision a big labor blowup over the convention," he said. Dean planned to meet with labor leaders later Thursday to drum up support.
Let's see if the Denver labor leaders feel the same way.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

1908 Convention fountain to live again

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Denver is going to reconstruct a fountain originally built for the 1908 Democratic National Convention:

Just before the 1908 Democratic National Convention, Denver Mayor Robert Speer pushed to finish a fountain in City Park that fascinated onlookers in much the same way as the current Bellagio water show on the Las Vegas strip.

For a generation now, Speer's Prismatic Electric Fountain has been known as little more than a concrete thing in the middle of Ferril Lake. But city officials said people used to gather on the banks to take in 90-foot spires of water lit up by an array of colored lights.

A century later - and decades since it was last in use - Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper is working to get the fountain up and running before the Democrats come calling again.

Some fountain facts:
  • Cost to build Ferril Lake fountain at City Park in 1908: $19,500
  • Approximate cost for the new fountain that will mirror fountain's 1908 capabilities: $2.4 million
See here for more on the fountain's history and future.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Utah wins convention housing priority lottery

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Great inside stuff from DemNotes. At the meeting of the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC), the states got assigned priorities to help decide which states get the preferred hotels at the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver:

The state parties were understandably very focused on the housing process, and how hotels would be assigned to each delegation. It is a very complicated process, with many variables. Fitting states into hotels at a national convention is like a multi-dimensional puzzle, with the need to match the number of rooms available with as many delegations as possible, while taking into account what hotels each delegation wants. Some may want a lower-cost hotel, even if it means further distance from the Pepsi Center; others may want to sacrifice price for location and amenities.
One of the big variables in the process is a state’s “priority”. The states are randomly placed into numerical priorities, from 1 to 56 (there are 56 delegations, as the DNC treats the territories, DC, and Democrats Abroad as separate state delegations). Today was the day we each learned our priority — the housing lottery was held this afternoon.
Because we’re the Host State, the DNCC invited us to be the first state to pick. Alas, our “first in the nation” status didn’t help greatly, as our lottery priority is right in the middle at 24. Then, each state went, in reverse alphabetical order, after Colorado.

24 isn’t horrible. But it isn’t Utah. Utah Chair Wayne Holland and his crew went to the front and pulled out hat number 1. Since Utahns are expecting to have some stiff competition to attend the Convention next door, this is quite a coup for the Beehive State Dems. The jubilant Utah Democaratic leaders were soon getting offers (semi-serious) from the Hawaii Chair to exchange all sorts of things, including trips to Hawaii for State Party leaders, in exchange for Utah’s Number 1 status (Hawaii picked number 30).
In reality, the lottery position is only one of many variables that will be used in determining housing placements. But its definitely the most fun variable!
According to the DNCC plans, there are still a lot of steps before we find out who gets what lodging. State Party leaders will be trekking through Denver individually to tour and inspect hotels during June, July and August. Then, in September, they will be submitting their preferences to the DNCC, who should have some assignments ready for the state parties by November.

I'd love to know what Hawaii is offering to "move up" in the preference order. And there should be another lottery, probably in the winter or early spring, to determine where the state delegations get assigned on the floor of the convention hall. I'll keep an eye for news on that one.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Trailer for Sale or Rent

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While Roger Miller was able to find a room for 50 cents, it will cost a little more to find private housing during the 2008 Democratic Convention. Check out this ad from Craigslist: $15,000 gets you a week at a a 5 bedroom home with plasma TV and optional basset hound. (Hat tip to Colorado Confidential).