Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hotel assignments: Winners, Losers, and then there's Florida

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

With the assignment of hotels to the state delegations, I needed someone local to interpret the results, and Colorado Confidential has the winners and losers:

Winners: New York, California, Colorado (big surprise), Vermont (another big surprise for Dean's home state), New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio
Losers: Alaska, Nebraska, Delaware, Hawaii

And what about Florida, whose delegates, if they ever get any delegates, are homeless at the present? An emailer notes that the Grand Hyatt, where the Colorado delegation, and as of now only the Colorado delgation, is staying, is a large hotel, and has lots of rooms left over after the Colorado rooms are set aside. Very interesting...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Florida doesn't get a hotel assignment

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Readers of this blog know I focus on logistics, not politics, and there's an assumption that in this day and age the nominee will be chosen months before the convention starts. So there is essentially no overlap anymore between the politics of the primaries and the logistics of the convention. It's Howard Dean's job to prepare the convention and the national party and turn over the keys to the nominee as soon as he or she is picked.

For that reason I've chosen not to cover the debate over the primary schedule, and states moving earlier than the DNC allowed, because I assumed that as soon as the primaries were over those states whose delegates are being threatened would be restored. I mean, can you imagine the Democratic nominee actually supporting the non-seating of the Florida delegation at the convention? All it takes is a vote by the delegates at the convention to overturn any decisions made earlier, and by that point, who cares whether Florida gets seated.

Well they may get seated, but, as of now, they have nowhere to sleep. Dan Slater at DemNotes starts us off:

The DNCC has announced the housing assignments for the Democratic National Convention in Denver next August. First, some background: Somewhere between 17,000 and 19,000 rooms across Denver have been blocked off by hotels in the metro area for the Convention. Of these, around 6,000 to 7,000 are set aside for state delegations. The ones that are set aside for delegations are all in one of three areas: Downtown, Tech Center, and Stapleton. This summer, nearly every state sent a representative to Denver to tour hotels in those three areas and make their preferences known to the DNCC. Since September, the DNCC has been working on a complicated puzzle, trying to take into account the preferences of the delegations (some wanted close hotels, some wanted cheaper hotels, some wanted hotels with a lot of amenities, and some were limited to the largest hotels, etc.) and the available hotels.

Today, the DNCC announced the assignments.

The thing is, Florida did not get assigned a hotel. Now, it wouldn't surprise me if there's a hotel in Dean's backpocket, but at least Dean and the DNC is being consistent - I mean, if you don't have any delegates, why do you need a hotel room?

Update from the Denver Post:

Florida moved its primary up to January in violation of Democratic National Committee rules, leading the party to strip the state of its delegates for the convention and prevent them from being assigned a hotel. "We're following the direction we received from the party's rules and bylaws committee," said Natalie Wyeth, a spokesperson for the "At this point, we are just focused on the delegates we have."

The eventual Democratic presidential nominee could ask that Florida's delegation being reinstated to the convention, a likelihood given the state's electoral importance. But it's unclear what that would mean for the 210-member delegation's accommodations in Denver. "We can't speculate what the candidate might or might not do," said Wyeth.

That's a great quote by Wyeth: "At this point, we are just focused on the delegates we have."

And Florida responds:
However, the Democratic presidential nominee could ask that Florida's delegates be reinstated, and the powerful bloc is counting on just that. "We're looking forward to visiting the beautiful Mile High City," said Florida party spokesman Mark Bubriski.

Democratic National Convention Committee officials say their omission of Florida comes at the national party's direction. But hotel assignments are just beginning, and only about 7,000 rooms are blocked for the 5,000 delegates, their alternates and guests. In all, the DNCC has 17,000 rooms to ratio out to delegations, media and other party officials.

Sounds like there's plenty of hotel rooms left. But Florida has a big delegation, not to mention a Democratic Senator who is a superdelegate who I'm sure would like to be housed with his delegation, if someone would just tell him where they will be.

Update: Guam Loves Jason Rosenberg plots out the route for the Guam delegation from their hotel to the Pepsi Center. Needless to say, Guam did not get the best hotel assignment. Maybe Guam should offer Senator Bill Nelson of Florida a spot in their hotel?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Congress refusing to pay for convention security

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The U.S. government has traditionally, and I think appropriately paid for much of the security for the major party national conventions. Well Congress is taking their time:

Denver will be forced to pay millions of dollars in upfront security costs for the 2008 Democratic National Convention if federal appropriations remain stalled in Congress, several officials said st week. The concern is at such a level that Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat, and Rep. Betty McCollum, DeGette's counterpart representing St. Paul, Minn., which is hosting the Republican National Convention, plan to send letters this week to the congressional leadership and to the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee urging action.

With Congress out for the two-week Thanksgiving recess, and the appropriations process stalled during debates over funding the war in Iraq, the host cities fear they won't have the money in hand when they need it. Denver and St. Paul have requested a total of $100 million.

The cities say that they aren't prepared to pay the costs of providing security for the national conventions in the post-9/11 environment and that they aren't prepared to wait for the federal bureaucracy to reimburse them long after the balloons and confetti have fallen.
"It is extremely important that we get at least some of the money upfront so that we can start forming plans and signing security contracts," DeGette said in a phone interview Friday. "This is a big deal," DeGette said. "We want to ensure that we get at least a down payment."
DeGette and McCollum have crafted the letter and are collecting signatures from the congressional delegations in Colorado and Minnesota.
DeGette and others stress that ultimately the money should be there. But the experience of the 2004 conventions has haunted planners in Denver and St. Paul. It took Congress two terms to free up the money needed to secure the Democratic convention in Boston and the GOP's event in New York in 2004. During that long process, the cities had to shoulder large costs. Boston wasn't fully reimbursed for nearly two years.

"That would be less than ideal here," said Leslie Oliver, spokeswoman for Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Golden. "Denver isn't set up like Boston or New York, nor is (St. Paul), to bear the cost. It would be a big hardship, which is why we're pretty adamant to write the letters and push this along." DeGette said conversations she had with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper last week stressed that security officials here aren't able to sign some contracts and set other plans in place while the appropriations process remains in limbo.
A request for the $100 million within a House bill this spring was trimmed down to $25 million - or $12.5 million per city. A request for the full $100 million was approved by the Senate this summer.

Obviously security cost have skyrocketed in recent years, and the burden can not be picked up by the local cities. Congress will eventually appropriate the money, so they might as well just do it now to make things easier on all concerned.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Press focuses on food at Denver walkthrough

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

While I know that there was likely talk of radio frequencies, camera placements and floor access, the press, or at least the press covering the press at the media walkthrough, chose to focus on the issue of food at the 2008 Democratic Convention:

The economic challenges facing journalism are grave, but they haven't managed to kill one of the industry's most venerated traditions: the all-expenses-paid trip of dubious news value. Despite planned remarks by Democratic National Committee chairman (and recovering screamer) Howard Dean, the 2008 Democratic National Convention's Fall Media Walk-Through, staged on November 13 at the Pepsi Center, didn't promise to generate significant headlines. Nevertheless, representatives of media organizations planning to cover next August's bash flocked to Denver by the hundreds. Most of them learned next to nothing, but they ate very well.

Granted, the walk-through's breakfast spread could have been more diverse. Pepsi Center nosheries such as the Nutty Bavarian were closed, and even though the food tables sat next to displays of cotton candy and Dippin' Dots, the menu was dominated by bagels and pastries. Still, the journos seemed satisfied as they took seats along one side of the arena while images of natural wonder — mountains, streams, Denver Broncos cheerleaders — played on the overhead JumboTron. I wound up next to several representatives from the New York Times, which makes sense, since seemingly every third person at the venue wore a name tag stamped with the paper's name. (Who at the Times was forced to remain back east? A couple of interns, maybe?) The Times scribe nearest me asked a colleague, "You're staying tonight, right?" Upon receiving an affirmative answer, he proclaimed, "Party at Elway's!"

Shortly thereafter, Leah Daughtry, the convention's CEO, greeted the assembled masses and pointed out the event's primary prop: a blue balloon, affixed to a folding chair, that signified the main podium. Then, after platitudes (and precious few specifics) from a handful of other convention execs, press reps toured the facility prior to engaging in a Q&A that touched on several important matters. For instance, a WNYC radio employee complained that "the food choices in Boston," where the 2004 confab took place, "were limited to Dunkin' Donuts only," adding that "the Republicans fed us pretty well."

"Oh, that's a low blow," Daughtry joked before asserting that Dems "have a reputation for throwing better parties.... We like to eat and have a good time. So don't worry about the food."

I've been looking for a picture of that blue balloon. If anyone has seen one, please drop a comment or email. Update: Thanks to Aaron in the comments, we have our blue baloon!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pepsi Center media walkthrough today

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The media covering the 2008 Democratic Convention gets its first logistical look inside the Pepsi Center today:

A few hundred representatives from the full spectrum of news media are gathering today in the Pepsi Center to scope out the realities of covering the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The editors, producers and trains-on-time technicians will get “a top to bottom look about,” said the Democratic National Convention Committee's Wally Podrazik, a veteran of convention logistics.
The DNCC estimates that more than 15,000 members of the media, including staff from stage crews to assistants to news anchors and producers, will be in Denver during convention week, Aug. 25-28. Besides getting an overview of the convention site and a chance to learn more about hotel rooms and credentials, many of the representatives will be looking for ways to showcase new advances in technology, Podrazik said.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Podrazik profile on DNCC blog

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Jason Rosenberg has been profiling various staff members of the DNCC, and today he turns his attention to Director of Media Operations Wally Podrazik:

For the ninth Convention running, it will be Wally Podrazik – with bullhorn in hand – leading the media though this first glimpse inside the home of the Democratic National Convention.

When Wally isn’t doing media logistics for the DNCC, he is busy writing books. In fact, he’s written ten books over the years, including “Watching TV: Six Decades of American Television” (a season by season story of TV). Wally, a Chicago native, also has written extensively on the greatest band of all time, The Beatles.
Q: We’ve got to ask: What drives you to keep coming back?
A: I love the role the convention plays in the process. This is the launching pad, the beginning of the final run to Election Day. And working with the media organizations is particularly satisfying. Every four years there have been leaps in technology that they’re eager to show off. More important, this is an event that brings out some of the best in journalists. Even as they gripe about preordained outcomes, they’re still here because THEY recognize this as an important event.
Q: Of the nine Conventions you’ve worked for, is it possible to identify a favorite Convention moment?
A: When the speakers connect with the crowd, it’s magic. President Clinton. Rev. Jackson. I can still picture the face of a young woman during the acceptance speech of Geraldine Ferraro as the vice presidential nominee (1984, San Francisco). I happened to look over and saw a joyful tear in her eye. For her, this was more than a speech, it was a moment of great pride, hope, and excitement. After all the business of the logistics of a convention, what ultimately matters is providing a stage, a platform, an opportunity, that allows people to feel invested and a part of our democratic process. It’s a terrific feeling.

Along with Jackson's speech, I'll throw some other moments that I was in the hall for: The overnight repainting of the podium from blue to Jimmy Carter's campaign color of Green before his speech; Ted Kennedy's speech in 1980; Gary Hart's speech in 1984; Mike Dukakis' entrance into the hall to Neil Diamond's "[Coming to] America", and the Clinton walk from Macy's to Madison Square Garden on New York in 1992. Great pageantry, although not always ultimately succeeding in November.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

DNCC starts a blog

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The official blog of the Democratic Convention is now online. There are already a bunch of good posts up - make sure to check them out.