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Category Archives: Philadelphia
In previous conventions, and even at the RNC this year in Cleveland, the process was much smoother. But let’s go back to the beginning. Upon exiting from the parking garage, the street was filled with barricades and uniformed officers. Basically in pairs every 2 feet or so. They were all very nice, and I spoke with a few to thank them for keeping the place safe. The common answer was that they were going to do everything they could to make sure everyone was safe. No shooting in any directions was something we all agreed upon.
All the doors except one was closed to the Convention Center. Security was tight: Metal detectors and bag checks. I saw one person pulled to the side for a “conversation” but wasn’t close enough to get details. The Philadelphia Convention Center spans multiple blocks, so to get where to the credentials area meant going upstairs, crossing inside over the street and then coming back downstairs to the location.
It was an exciting day. Banners are up all over town welcoming people to the DNC, Hugh and I (learn all about Hugh here) drove in early in the morning to attend the 8 a.m. organizing meeting for the People’s Revolution/Occupy Protest.
We stopped at the Starbucks, as the meeting was changed to 9 a.m. While drinking our brew, a few officers joined the line. We spoke briefly with them, and they were very nice. That is, they had the right attitude. They didn’t bother anyone at the meeting, which, because it was delayed again until 9:30, kinda sorta convened in an outdoor courtyard, and spilled into the street outside. While we were at the Starbucks, Hugh interviewed me about Jill Stein’s chances in Pennsylvania. I’m going to try an get a copy of the video for you to see, but I can’t seem to pull it off his FB feed <sad face> — bottom line, if she won 50% of the people who voted for Bernie in the primary, given that more people vote in a general than in a primary, she still couldn’t hit 10%.
It was interesting that the vast number of people were baby boomers. I had noticed the same thing last year at the Keystone Progress summit where Bernie Sanders was the keynote speaker. I found it interesting, especially as compared to the voting statistics based on age in the primaries. Then again, all of these things cost money…
One of the advantages that the “incumbent” party has under the norms of American politics is getting to have your convention second. (Depending upon how you count, this tradition has been followed either since 1936 or since 1956 — before 1936 Democrats tended to, but did not always go second). When, as in this year, there is only a three-day gap between the two conventions and the nominee of the out-party waits until the last second to announce his pick, that gives the nominee of the incumbent party a chance to finalize her pick without much media attention.
I am filling up my dance card. There is the panel discussion on the future of healthcare, the seminar on running women for office, and a ticket to the unofficial progressive central. Not to mention the organizing meeting for one of the major protests. Of course, the daily media briefing, and likely stopping in at some of the caucus meetings. I’m trying to get into the Democratic Mayors venue to be able to interview mayors on infrastructure, but I’m still waiting to hear about that.
And let’s not forget that all-important floor pass. If you are “special” media, like a blogger, you don’t get to automatically go on the floor of the convention to interview delegates and notables like the MSM. But you can wait on line and get a 20 minute floor pass, and see what you can do in 20 minutes. The kicker is that if you’re not back in 20 minutes, they pull your credential for the rest of the convention. The few times I tried in Charlotte in 2012, the line was for well over an hour, so I found other exciting things to do, but I’m going to give it the old college try again.
Welcome to Philadelphia. We actually threw snowballs at Santa Claus. We’re the fifth rudest city in America. Our foods are cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. It’s Philly. But we worked hard to get the DNCC here, and we should be trying to put our best food forward. But, as I said, it’s Philly.
We have a regional transportation system called SEPTA. Trains, subways, buses and the infamous Regional Rail. A couple weeks ago, the new Regional Rail cars were found to be dangerously defective, and a third of the fleet was pulled from service. Good for safety, bad for commuting. Think graft and corruption. So who saves the commuters? Uber. The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) is allowing Uber to operate in Philadelphia for the convention and for a while after. A few things to know about the PPA.
- The PPA is incredibly efficient at giving tickets and removing illegally parked cars. PPA works, unless you need to briefly pull up in front of a doctor’s office and get your aged parent into the building while you go for a legal space. (Seriously FIVE MINUTES!)
- The TV show about PPA caused tourists to be afraid to come to Philadelphia.
- Since Uber is involved in a court battle as they’re not allowed in Philly (or rather, weren’t allowed) the taxi drivers have decided to possibly go on strike during the convention. They’re going to court to stop Uber.
Also, baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, airplane cleaners, and other workers at Philadelphia International Airport voted 461-5 to strike for the convention. They say that since the DNC platform calls for a $15/hour minimum wage, the conventioneers should be supportive. They are striking for pay, better conditions and the right to unionize. Good idea, bad timing.
Rachel Gonzalez is a 17 year old high school student from Independence, MO, the home of Harry Truman. Rachel is an elected delegate for Hillary Clinton. She lives with her parents and two dogs. She has older siblings who live with their spouses and children.
DocJess: I was told that you are the youngest delegate attending the convention.
Rachel Gonzalez: I know that I’m Hillary Clinton’s youngest delegate, but I don’t know if there are any younger delegates. You need to turn 18 by Election Day to be a delegate, and my birthday is in October, so I don’t know that there will be anyone younger.
Many of the events that will occur during the convention are open to everyone. First, there is a parallel convention, the People’s Convention. It’s being run by the People’s Revolution. Their kick-off event is Saturday morning, 23 July.
For those of you looking for DNC events, there are meetings and caucuses all day at the Convention Center, beginning on Sunday 24 July. Many are open to the public, although most require pre-registration. In addition, independent groups are holding functions in Center City, beginning the same day. There are upwards of 30 events every day, Many of these events are free, although some are not. Click this link to see a full listing.
But seriously, the Secret Service has announced the road closures for the DNC and it’s a little onerous for people traveling in that part of the world. The map seems small, but if you click on it, it expands and is easy to see.
Now for everything you could possibly want to know about security, traffic and helpful links.
While the Cleveland host committee for the RNC has been granted tax-exempt 501(c)3 status, the Philadelphia Host Committee has not. While the Committee applied in May of 2015, and the approval process normally takes about three months, as of 1 July 2016, the IRS “has issues with it of some sort”. (Philadelphia Inquirer, July 3, 2016, page A3.)
The IRS said that the issues are “technical” but gave no details. The IRS requires of a host committee that it spend money for infrastructure projects outside the convention hall. It appears that the preparation of the Wells Fargo Center, transportation costs and technology might fall under that since they would benefit Philadelphia.
The goal was to raise $60 million, of which $46.5 million would be in cash, and the rest in-kind. $10 million is expected from the state of Pennsylvania, and currently, there is a $4 million gap. Here’s the rub. If the committee cannot get 501(c)3 status, it would convert to a 501(c)6 status. That’s a designation used for business leagues and chambers of commerce and the like. If they do, any monies coming from businesses would be deductible as business expenses, but money from individuals would not be deductible nor tax exempt.
It’s Independence Day weekend in Philadelphia and OH! the sites and sounds. There are spectacular things to do and see….and some things will remain (and be added!) for the DNC Convention the last week in July.
I brought my nieces and my sister-in-law to, of course, the Constitution Center yesterday both to see the newest version of Freedom Rising, and the renovation of the Bronze Room. As I’ve been telling all DCW readers for years — if you come to Philly, I’ll be glad to take you to the Constitution Center. Open offer because to me it really is the happiest place on earth. For this weekend, there are displays and demonstrations on the front lawn of Colonial times: a blacksmith and a weaver, just to name two of many.
Remember, the Constitution Center is hosting PoliticalFest, which will run from 22 July through 27 July. It’s inexpensive and will be a terrific experience. You can get your tickets (good for all six days) here. If you’re credentialed, PoliticalFest is free.