The latest storm track has Isaac traveling along Florida's western coast early next week. This could very well be the second consecutive Republican National Convention that loses a day to hurricanes.
(Updates from Matt: Tampa officially has a 3% chance of receiving 60 mph winds, and a 14% chance of receiving Tropical Storm winds (35 mph).
Also, there is another storm forming in the East Atlantic about a week behind Isaac, and the very long range forecasts show it as a decent hurricane off the coast of North Carolina the following week. Just saying...)
Officials in Florida are holding a disaster planning drill to determine just how bad a Category 3 hurricane would be for the Republican National Convention.
This week, he and other state Emergency Management officials will run through the nightmare scenario of a major hurricane hitting Tampa during the middle of the convention. The storm, nicknamed "Hurricane Gispert" for Hillsborough's recently retired EOC director, will follow the path of the last major storm to hit Tampa Bay, the Hurricane of 1921.
"The impacts would be devastating," said Brian LaMarre of the National Weather Service in Ruskin. He is among the team of meteorologists helping to coordinate with the U.S. Secret Service for just such a scenario. The week of the convention, a team from the Ruskin office will staff the emergency operations center in Tampa around the clock.
"Downtown Tampa would be under water, transportation would be severed," says LaMarre. "If we see a category 1 impact downtown Tampa at high tide, the bridges will no longer be passable." - WTSP
Matt has written repeatedly about hurricanes and conventions (see here, here, here, here and here). The biggest takeaway from his posts is this:
The chance of a hurricane hitting Tampa Bay the week of the convention are probably less than 1 percent, a National Hurricane Center scientist estimates. ...
"For a major hurricane, it's a rare event," said Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
In August, most hurricanes move east to west. So Tampa Bay, on Florida's west coast, tends to be a "little shielded," he said.
Landsea puts the chances of a hurricane hitting the Tampa Bay area during August at about 2 to 3 percent.
For any given week in August, the chance may be one-half of 1 percent — or possibly up to 1 percent if 2012 is an especially busy hurricane season.
I don't think people should be worried about hurricanes in Tampa... they should be worried about earthquakes.
And just in case you think Charlotte reporters aren't joining in the fun there's this:
The peak of hurricane season is usually around Sept. 10, but the peak activity in the Carolinas is the first week of September.
That week happens to coincide with the DNC this year.
Lewis Collins is concerned about what his trip to work in uptown Charlotte will be like in early September.
"It's going to be a madhouse," he said.
But he's also concerned about a hurricane hitting the coast - or possibly further inland -- at the same time. Collins said he still remembers everything about 1989, the year Hurricane Hugo hit. - WSOC
TAMPA, Fla. – With the Republican National Convention just 100 days away, convention Chief Executive Officer William Harris reported today that preparations for the event are “right on schedule.”
“We’ve made enormous progress toward a very big job,” said Harris, who is responsible for overseeing the countless details involved in planning the four-day gathering, from securing 16,000 hotel rooms to house the delegates, alternates, media representatives and guests to the design of the podium where the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential and vice-presidential nominees will give their acceptance speeches.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I’m delighted to report that we’re right on schedule,” Harris declared, adding that work will intensify as the convention draws closer.
World attention will focus on Tampa for the Republican National Convention from Aug. 27 to 30. But St. Petersburg will get the first shot at media and visitor exposure with a huge kickoff party the night before at Tropicana Field.
Plans for the Aug. 26 gathering have not been finalized, but the event could draw upward of 20,000 people.
The Secret Service on Monday confirmed plans for the kick-off event in Pinellas County that local officials had hinted at but not officially announced.
The 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee is organizing social and corporate-business oriented gatherings around the Tampa Bay area during the four days of the convention that designates the party's presidential and vice presidential candidates.
Now the nonpartisan host committee gets an additional venue at Tropicana Field to showcase visitor and business development opportunities in hopes of bolstering the area's economy for years to come. - Tampa Tribune
If you've been paying attention you'll know that the DNC is holding a Kick Off party but is inviting people from around the area to attend. While the details for the RNC event haven't been announced I can guarantee you it won't be open to the public.
TAMPA, Fla. – The 2012 Republican National Convention today unveiled its redesigned official website, www.GOPConvention2012.com. The enhanced website provides a robust platform for expanded interactive and multimedia capabilities, including video and live-streaming broadcasts of convention proceedings. It fully integrates convention social media channels.
"We are planning an innovative, dynamic and informative convention," said convention Chief Executive Officer William Harris. "One of our most vital assets in accomplishing this mission is our redesigned convention website and other digital assets such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
"GOPConvention2012.com and our social media channels will provide a vibrant platform from which we communicate our nominee's messages," Harris said. "Our goal is to tear down the convention walls and make the 2012 Republican National Convention open and accessible to anyone, anywhere."
The site offers key features being deployed today and at critical junctures as convention planning continues, including the ability to login via social network platforms for a customized viewing experience and deep integration of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social networks.
GOPConvention2012.com will also include live chats and historic photographs and videos of past Republican conventions. Other features will be added to the convention website in the coming weeks.
"The redesigned website will provide an interactive experience to our web visitors while helping us build a community and make history," said Director of Communications James Davis.
The redesign effort was led by Alexandria, Va.-based Campaign Solutions, which created and maintained the 2008 and 2004 Republican Conventions' websites and digital strategies. The company has been recognized for its work, including Pollie Awards for web design from the bi-partisan American Association of Political Consultants.
Campaign Solutions' online strategy and website design efforts were also honored with the "Best of Show" award for the 2008 Republican National Convention website (Minneapolis-Saint Paul) and the "Best Website" award for the 2004 Republican National Convention website (New York).
The University of Tampa is preparing for the expected and the unexpected for when the Republican National Convention comes to downtown Tampa from Aug. 27-30, 2012.
According to the UT Director of Public Information Eric Cardenas, “We’re doing everything possible to provide students a typical UT educational experience when they return to campus – or start as new students – in August.”
However, students are already experiencing complications with the timing of the convention. One student, Josh Jacobs, the marketing chair for Student Productions and a graphic design major, has to come back to school two weeks before classes start in order to prepare SP events for freshmen orientation. As the event planner, Jacobs is not allowed to plan any events around the same time of the RNC. “It sucks,” he said. “Travel is also going to be a huge pain.”
The convention indeed already has the university moving its Fall 2012 schedule up. New Student Orientation has been moved to Monday, Aug. 20 and will run through Aug. 24. Drop off day for returning students will start Saturday, Aug. 25, a day earlier than planned, so students can avoid the arrival of the majority of the RNC visitors. - Minaret
News organizations from as far away as Japan got their first look Tuesday at the place where next year's Republican National Convention will put Tampa Bay on the biggest of media stages.
"We're on the very floor where the next president of the United States will be nominated," Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said in welcoming about 450 journalists to the St. Pete Times Forum.
But the business of the day, a media walk-through of the convention site, was not politics but logistics.
"Our campaign team will give the media the necessary facilities and access to cover all aspects of this convention," Priebus said.
The walk-through was the biggest RNC-related event to come to Tampa yet, and local organizers worked to hit the high points. - St Petersburg Times
Hundreds of the journalists who will tell the story of next year's Republican National Convention get their first look at the St. Pete Times Forum this afternoon.
GOP convention organizers will brief the media on topics from booking a hotel room to getting credentials to sizing up camera angles to securing a precious few square feet of floor space for live shots.
At least 450 representatives of major television networks, national newspapers, online publications, radio, Hispanic media, wire services, foreign news outlets and local TV stations and newspapers have signed up.
It will be Tampa Bay's biggest RNC-related event to date. It is aimed at helping news organizations make plans to capture the sights and sounds of the convention, touted as the single largest media event in the world outside the Olympics. - St Peterburg Times
The walkthrough for the 2012 Democratic National Convention is on January 18th.
Democratic National Convention Committee Statement on Congressional Approval of Security Funds for City of Charlotte
CHARLOTTE—The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate today each voted to pass the final version of legislation containing a $50 million federal grant to the City of Charlotte for security funds related to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The legislation also includes a $50 million grant to the city of Tampa for the 2012 Republican National Convention—the same level of funding Denver and Minneapolis received for the political nominating conventions in 2008. The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk, who is expected to quickly sign it into law.
“We’re pleased that with bipartisan support in both chambers, Congress has approved funding for the City of Charlotte to provide security for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. We thank Mayors Foxx and Buckhorn, the leadership in both chambers of Congress and the Florida and North Carolina Congressional delegations for their work in securing these funds,” said DNCC Chief Executive Officer Steve Kerrigan.
“These much-needed funds will ensure that not only is this the most open and accessible convention in history, but a safe one, too. The security of the city’s residents and convention attendees is a top priority, and these funds give Charlotte the resources to get the job done. This convention is going to be about Americans coming together, and we invite all Charlotteans to come uptown to take part in the festivities.”
Both conventions have been designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security as National Special Security Events. This designation allows federal resources to be deployed to maintain the security necessary for the event and the area. Examples of other NSSEs include conventions, State of the Union addresses, Presidential Inaugurations, Super Bowls and the Academy Awards.
Organizers of the 2012 Republican National Convention and executives of hotels contracted to house thousands of convention visitors aired their differences behind closed doors Tuesday.
"We're in a healthy dialogue," said Keith Overton of the TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach, among two dozen Pinellas hotel executives who met with Republican National Committee officials.
RNC officials also want to increase the fee hotels pay to help cover convention expenses from $30 per room to 10 percent of each guest's hotel bill. Organizers say some rates, approved by previous Republican staffers, are too high for the market during the late summer season.
For now, none of the largest hotels in Pinellas agree to the new terms, said D.T. Minich, executive director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.
The Friday deadline "is a little beyond what's reasonable," said Bob Morrison, executive director of the Tampa Hillsborough County Hotel Motel Association. - St Petersburg Times
I don't think anybody should be surprised by this.
A crowd of hotel managers gathered in the ballroom of the Wyndam Tampa Westshore on Wednesday expecting a routine update on plans for the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Instead, a new convention contractor delivered a shock: Hotels are expected to throw out year-old room contracts with the convention's Republican organizers and sign new agreements with lower room rates.
Now, hotel executives worry their rooms will bring in much less cash. Not only do convention officials want to cut hotel rates, a fee hotels pay to help cover convention operating costs would jump from $30 per room to 10 percent of each guest's hotel bill.
That would cut revenues to the TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach by $150,000, said president Keith Overton. The property already set a bargain $158 nightly rate, he said, and won't budge from the contract price.
"We did everything by the book,'' said Overton. "We didn't inflate our rate at all. I don't have any flexibility.'' - St Petersburg Times
Presidential Preference Primary Date Selection Committee has just voted to hold Florida's Primary on January 31st. We are sure to hear from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada very shortly. This decision means that those four states will leapfrog Florida and hold their primaries in early January.
Say goodbye to half of your delegates host state of Florida!
Update: Iowa Chair Matt Strawn not too happy
@PeterHambyCNN: Iowa GOP chair Matt Strawn blasts FL's "arrogance" & "petulant behavior," calls on RNC to strip all delegates to '12 convention
New Hampshire's Chair now talking about having their primary this year!
@PeterHambyCNN: NH Sec of State does not rule out holding New Hampshire primary this year. As in, 2011.
@chucktodd: Per @AlexNBCNews, IA GOP Chair says he'll set the IA caucus date AFTER NH sets its primary date.
Get the popcorn!
@FHQ: New NV GOP rule to tether caucuses there to four days after NH primary violates NH law. NV is the new FL now.
More from FHQ regarding New Hampshire's primary law.
The presidential primary election shall be held on the second Tuesday in March or on a date selected by the secretary of state which is 7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election whichever is earlier
In 2008 we watched as Michigan and Florida "lost" delegates to the Democratic National Convention. It's starting to look like 2012 is going to be a whole lot more interesting.
Here is the list of states yet to decide on their Primary/Caucus dates (from FHQ)
Yet to decide/be confirmed:
South Carolina Republicans
We'll find out from Florida today what's going to happen next
Republican officials in Florida will decide on Friday whether to hold their primary in late January, a move that could cause the nominating process to start shortly after New Year’s Day.
Florida GOP leaders have indicated that they will set their primary for Jan. 31, leapfrogging the four states the Republican National Committee has permitted to go first. In doing so, the state will be forfeiting half its delegates to the party’s 2012 national convention, which is being held in Tampa. - Washington Post
Should Florida decide to move into January, it could set off a game of leapfrog between South Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada.
Meanwhile, friend of the people, Scott Walker in Wisconsin is for some reason sitting on a bill to set their primary date. The State Assembly and Senate passed a bill that would make April 3rd the primary date.
One state that conceivably could crash the party is Wisconsin where Gov. Scott Walker (R) has yet to sign legislation changing its primary from Feb. 21 to April. But RNC officials said they have no reason to believe other states including Wisconsin will attempt to hold contests in February. - The Fix
So if Florida does move up to January, we could possibly see a convention held in a state where it's delegates lose half their votes.
Iowa's GOP CHair had this to say:
Matt Strawn, Iowa — “The four sanctioned, early states have been very clear that we will move together, if necessary, to ensure order as outlined in RNC rules. If we are forced to change our dates together, we will.”
We should find out around Noon Eastern what Florida decides.
Charlotte is less than a year away from hosting the 2012 Democratic National Convention and the planning and design for the weeklong event is ramping up.
On Tuesday, 30 prospective contractors toured the main convention site -- Time Warner Cable Arena in uptown. Attendees are hoping to snag one or both of two lucrative contracts -- event architect and construction management. - News14 Charlotte