Sunday, March 30, 2008

Denver, DNC confront image problem

The Post:
Windmills or wind turbines? Saddles or spaceships? DNC officials sense "tension" in how best to present Denver.

When one of the producers for the Democratic National Convention Committee flies from Washington, D.C., into this land paradoxically defined by its wide-open spaces, rugged mountains and burgeoning newcomer population, he faces a challenge literally as big as all outdoors.

How to portray the West?

"Yes, I sense a tension," said Mark Squier, the producer responsible for crafting the political messages displayed inside the Pepsi Center, where the convention is to be held. "It's going to be a bit of a tightrope walk, balancing off the new and the old of the West."

A crystallizing example of the tension occurred this month in a heated, behind-the-scenes dispute between officials with Denver's host committee — the locals responsible for bringing the convention to town — and the major sponsor of the event's biggest party, the so-called Media Welcoming Party.

Mindful of the power of Old West symbols, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver wanted to stage an exhibition rodeo during the party. U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, a ranch owner from the San Luis Valley usually seen in boots and a white Stetson, wanted a cattle-drive parade like the one that begins the annual National Western Stock Show.

William Dean Singleton, publisher of The Denver Post and chief executive of MediaNews Group Inc., one of the nation's largest newspaper chains, threatened to pull his financial support from the media party, saying he didn't want the media's first impression of Denver to be that of a "cow town," several sources familiar with the dispute confirmed.
Cow town? That's rude. And untrue.
The party, held the Saturday night before the Aug. 25-28 convention, is meant to showcase Denver to the 15,000 members of the media and their support crews, along with the more than 6,000 delegates and Democratic VIPs.
It's only because Glenn Spagnuolo promised that Recreate68¡ would try their hardest not to be violent during the convention that the DNC can concentrate on the important stuff. He's a statesman.

Update: The Post editorializes against the appeasement of public labor unions to ensure a smooth-running convention:
Even before the Democrats awarded their national convention to Denver, Mayor John Hickenlooper had to promise a union-run hotel, the city's first. He delivered.

Then, with the memory of picket lines set up by Boston police during the 2004 DNC convention hanging quietly over negotiations, Denver cops received at least a 14 percent salary increase for the next three years. The contract nearly tripled the percentage raise handed out in the previous three-year contract.

And last spring, after Gov. Bill Ritter wisely vetoed a bill making it easier to form labor unions in Colorado, the AFL-CIO threatened to ask national Democrats to find a new city for the convention if the state didn't adopt a pro-labor measure.

Teamster president James Hoffa Jr. confronted Ritter, saying if he and Hickenlooper didn't work out some key issues, the convention could be plagued with protests and picket lines.

"It could blow up," Hoffa told Ritter.
That sounds familiar.
And now, parking lot workers at Denver International Airport are the latest to hold the city hostage as they negotiate a new contract.

The Service Employees International Union's chapter director for parking employees, Dennis DeMaio, said the union will strike during the DNC if it needs to. The union is concerned about which company may get the contract to manage parking at DIA.

The threat of a strike is enough to perk up most ears on the city council. After all, what would happen if 40 percent of the more than 6,000 delegates who are union members refused to land at DIA while their brethren were striking? . . .

To allow unions which represent just 7 percent of Colorado's private workforce to permanently encumber the state in exchange for a four-day party would indeed be unfair to Colorado citizens.
Still hard to believe it's the Post saying such things.

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