Friday, June 29, 2007

Union rooms hard to come by

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One of the biggest problems with Denver's bid to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention was the lack of union hotel rooms. But when workers at the Hyatt Regency formed a union, it was a huge boost to Denver's chances. But the Hyatt is only one hotel, and rather than having the states fight over which delegations get to stay there...

In a significant break with tradition, no state delegations will stay in a unionized hotel in Denver during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the national party confirmed Wednesday. Because there is just one unionized hotel in the city, Democratic National Convention Committee officials were concerned that states with high union representation would be clamoring for the 1,100-room Hyatt Regency Denver.

The Hyatt will be used during the Aug. 25-28, 2008, convention but will probably house national party officials and support staff....The arrangement disappoints many Democrats, whose rule of thumb is to seek out union hotels whenever they travel and who are accustomed to staying at union hotels during convention week. The last time Democratic conventioneers traveled to a city with little to no union representation was 1988, in Atlanta.

But several state party officials interviewed said they considered the accommodation plan a workable solution. "There is one union hotel in all of Denver," said New York State Democratic Party chairwoman June O'Neill. "It's the reality."

DNCC staff discussed the plan at a meeting of Democratic state party chairs in Annapolis, Md., in May. The announcement drew an audible reaction. "There was a collective sigh," said Mary Insenhour, the executive director for the Pennsylvania party. "But what are we going to do?"

You know this drives Pennsylvania and other union states crazy. From last October:
Democratic delegates from states with strong union presences say they're uneasy about staying in non-union hotels. "We simply cannot," said Vivian Guinan, comptroller of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
This is the price the DNC is paying to have the convention in Denver, but it is still a reasonable price to pay to have the convention in a not pure blue state.

And to take this one step further, in the one union hotel, the union contract is still not in place:
Nearly nine months have past since hotel workers at the Hyatt Regency in Denver made the decision to unionize, and Colorado Confidential has learned that employees are still without a contract.
Can a hotel really be a union hotel without a union contract?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

DNCC: Denver transportation will be different

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In a response to my comments that Denver's transportation problems could be just as bad as previous conventions, the DNCC (Democratic National Convention Committee) notes:

The convention in Denver is likely to be less disruptive than in previous cities because of the Pepsi Center's walking-distance proximity to many hotels and post-Convention event venues. This will greatly reduce the number of buses in use in Denver vs. prior Convention host cities. In addition, the number of parking lots arond the Pepsi Center (as compared to the Fleet Center in Boston) will allow for more space to sort people and stage buses around Convention hours, again, minimizing disruption. This combination of a high number of walking-distance hotels and post-Convention event venues AND considerable lot space around the Convention venue is something we have not had at least as far back as the '96 Convention in Chicago.
Having seen buses lined up on closed streets around previous convention sites, available parking lots adjacent to the site should make things easier in Denver.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

States check out Denver hotels

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Close-in hotels will be at a premium at the 2008 Democratic Convention, so which delegations will get the best hotels?

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver next year are scoping out the 17,000 hotel rooms they will need as convention planners began sorting out the logistical issues on Wednesday, including transportation, lodging and security.
Deputy chief of operations Cameron Moody said convention officials have to find 17,000 hotel rooms for the 4,950 delegates and alternates, plus thousands more family members, media and others who will attend the convention, which begins Aug. 25, 2008.

They also have to arrange to get them to from their hotels to the convention and other venues.

Moody said the convention will be less disruptive in Denver than it was in previous venues because it will be held downtown. He said delegates will travel downtown before the afternoon rush hour and return to their hotels late at night, allowing them to stay downtown for dinner and other activities.
Now Moody has lots of convention experience, but he has his facts quite mixed up. Every Democratic Convention since at least 1976 has been in the "downtown" part of the city. (If someone wants to correct me on Chicago's United Center in 1996, please do so). And delegates always travel to the site before afternoon rush hour and leave late at night. Not to mention all those "dinner and other activities" taking place right in the middle of rush hour. Face it transportation is always a problem for conventions, and Denver will likely be no different.

The Denver Post has more:
Democrats on Wednesday kicked off the process of divvying up hotel rooms for the 7,000 delegates who will attend the 2008 national convention in Denver.

Party officials from seven states, including Colorado, are in town to tour hotels Wednesday and today. Visits scheduled for mid-July and mid-August will round out the chance for the 56 delegations to view prospective living places for next summer when they come to anoint the presidential nominee.
After the three delegation visits, officials will submit their top five choices for hotels to the Democratic Party in September. The party then assigns rooms by the end of November.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Host Committee auctioning Rockies' first pitch

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While the Denver Host Committee is having problems raising money for the 2008 Democratic Convention, this is a creative idea:

The Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee, in conjunction with the Rockies, is offering the opportunity to throw out the opening pitch of the Rockies-Yankees game at 7:05 p.m. June 20. Highest bidder at gets the nod.

"Linda Alvarado (co-owner of the Rockies) is on our finance committee, and the mayor loves baseball, so we thought this would be great," said Elbra Wedgeworth, president of the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee. "We have a lot of great baseball fans here and a lot of support for the Democratic National Convention. We want to promote the largest convention ever in the city of Denver, and the Rockies are supporting us."

The winning bidder also will receive two premier tickets donated by Alvarado to the game at Coors Field. The Rockies-Yankees series marks the first time the teams have met in Denver since 2002.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dems and GOP team up to raise convention money

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Not sure this has happened before:

Looking for ways to boost fundraising for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Mayor John Hickenlooper has formed a strategic partnership with planners for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Denver's host committee was supposed to have $7.5 million in the bank by Friday but said late in the day that it had only $5.5 million. ... Hickenlooper's spokeswoman, Marlena Fernandez Berkowitz, said Saturday that the mayor will team up this summer with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman to make the rounds in several cities. St. Paul will host the Republicans in 2008. "It's a lot of money to raise," Fernandez Berkowitz said. "I think the good news is there are a lot of companies who are willing to contribute."

"I guess that means we're going to have to work harder," said Tom Clark, executive vice president with the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce and also the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., of the money in the bank so far. "That's kind of disappointing that it's that number. ... But Denver's good for it."

The contract allows the host committee a grace period of seven business days to bank the extra $2 million. The host committee also was to have established a $19.5 million line of credit to cover any gaps in fundraising. The host committee hasn't set up that credit line.

The next fundraising deadline is Dec. 14, when the host committee must have deposited a total of $15 million. With the new commitments raised since the DNC announced in January that it would hold its convention in Denver, the host committee's pledges now total $27 million in cash and in-kind services.
I guess the joint fundraising makes sense, as some companies can give to both conventions and avoid the appearance of any partisanship.

But now we know the "real" deadline is another week away. And what happens when that "deadline" is missed? Probably nothing.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Monday that he and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a "good friend," plan to collaborate on an event in Washington, D.C., to raise money for both conventions. "This will be a "Kumbaya" moment, not only for Republicans and Democrats, but also Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul," Rybak said. "There will be a whole lot of loving going on as long as we can raise a few million dollars for Minneapolis-St. Paul."

Rybak said he was unaware of two cities with major party conventions ever holding a joint fundraiser.