After we left New York City in 2004 after the Republican National Convention, I heard some commentator suggest the days of having conventions in big cities (OK, I'm being a little bit charitable, St. Paul) is over.
I didn't bother listening to him explain why because I saw the post-911 convention "gala" in Boston and New York that year and I knew. It's a giant money suck in the post-911 world. The cities basically are shut down. In Boston, employers closed during their convention because people weren't going to be able to get to work. I-95, the main north-south drag, was closed during convention becasue it passes close to Fleet Center (or whatever they call it now), local businesses -- with a few exceptions -- did not get a big jump in business, or at least one to offset the folks that patronize them regularly, who weren't about to be caught dead near the convention scene during those weeks.
New York (a slice of which is shown above), I don't believe fared quite as badly. They're pretty used to this sort of stuff, but disruptions it did cause and as much as I love ya, Minneapolis, you're no New York.
But let's think this hosting a political convention thing through a little bit. Orlando just did and decided there are better places to spend $100 million. Dallas, along with Las Vegas, the king of convention facilities, did too. And took a pass.
Maybe it would be easier if we had a mass transit system and people wouldn't be faced with driving down roads that would be closed in entire sections of the city(ies) you couldn't get to, but we don't.
And when those delegate busses start rolling from St. Paul or Minneapolis in one of the gazillion hotels, the roads -- or at least substantial number of lanes -- are closed...each lines with cops for the duration. That's "cops" as in St. Cloud because that's as far as the Twin Cities will have to go -- if not farther -- to get the number of cops needed to staff this puppy, be it DFL or GOP. Boston pulled them in as far as western Massachusetts. And there weren't many State Police on the road that week; they were all in Boston (you may actually consider that a "good" thing, I'll leave it to you.)
By the way, if you're a police officer, cops in both Boston and New York told me they were required two weeks without days off, double shifts, and had to sleep at their precincts. None of us said the overtime was worth it, by the way.
And it won't be just the cities. You can count on the Hawaii delegation being holed up in Woodbury or Vermont stuck in Fridley.
The airport? Forget the airport. Enjoy the crawl on I-494 in the afternoon. Imagine it with a couple of lanes closed because that's where a lot of the host hotels will be.
Oh, and do they wave the smoking ban during the convention?
Look, I'm not saying having a convention that reminds the world "we're here," even though it no longer serves any earthly purpose in the world of politics is necessarily a bad thing.
But let's just make sure all the bigshots who don't have to wait in line to get to their job everyday tell us exactly what the downside of this is.
It could be the best thing that ever happened... to the northern resort.
Posted at 10:54 PM on May 20, 2006
by Bob Collins
Tom Scheck sends this along tonight...
When there are long hours on the floor, House members often play legislative bingo. They mark cards that include phrases like "the speaker waves at someone from the podium" or Rep. Lynn Carlson gets up and says "When I was chair..." and Rep. Tom Rukavina mentions his Aunt in a floor speech.
Just like bingo - you win when you get something in a row. I don't know what the prize is and I've never heard anyone yell out "Bingo" on the House floor.
I don't know if you can see some of the bingo events, but they include:
* Matt Entenza saying its a sad say in Minnesota.
* Member confused Haws and Howes
* Cellphone rings during prayer
* All three Johnsons voted green on a bill