Dem Convention planners vague on details

Sponsors frustrated, but upbeat

By Stephanie Clary
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Marketing specialist Judith Thomas had lots of questions about the logistics surrounding the Democratic National Convention in August, and she had hoped to find some answers at “Convention Conversations,” a June 10 community forum at the LoDo Tattered Cover.

But even after DNC committee CEO Leah D. Daughtry had discussed several events that would be on the convention agenda, Thomas remained puzzled about the huge Democratic bash, which is expected to bring 50,000 visitors to the city.

Thomas said she kept “running into brick walls” during the question and answer session as she tried to get the sort of specific information that would allow her to organize marketing opportunities for her employer.

She asked Daughtry if there was a comprehensive list of DNC-related events planned for the week. Thomas is a global marketing specialist for Denver-based distribution-facility developer ProLogis, which is a sponsor of the convention.

Daughtry responded by saying the committee doesn’t coordinate all convention-week events, so it doesn’t have the information to develop a complete schedule.

However, videos played earlier in the forum by other members of the convention’s management team offered some insights into the event’s schedule. The DNC committee officials urged the crowd of more than 100 media and community members to keep checking the convention’s Web site, www.demconvention.com, to stay on top of developments as they become known.

“We were really anticipating an official schedule,” Thomas said after the meeting.

Thomas’ smile never wavered as she noted that, although knowing the basic whereabouts of the delegates is helpful, ProLogis management had hoped for specific dates and times of events so plans could be solidified.

Thomas said the Fortune 500 firm already has had to adjust its expectations, noting the city’s decision earlier this month to cancel various state delegation parties and throw one large party instead. ProLogis had been set to sponsor one of the cancelled gatherings.

Nevertheless, she noted, such problems are minor compared to the “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to gain exposure at the convention.

“Everyone who we are working with is so willing to help,” she said.

The Tattered Cover meeting was part of a series of community forums in several Colorado cities, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City designed to provide residents and businesses with information about convention week.

Zoe Poltawec, manager of marketing and communications at the Children’s Museum of Denver, said she came to the forum in an effort to learn how the convention might affect the museum.

She said she was concerned because the Children’s Museum is so near Gates-Crescent Park, one of the parks where demonstrations are anticipated.

Poltawec said though she gleaned a few specifics, she thought the forum offered, “a rosy perspective on things” and said she would continue to check up on the convention’s Web site for news that may affect the museum.

Chantal Unfug, special assistant to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, was able to offer some reassurances concerning anticipated demonstrators.

“We are not actively gathering information on people” who are expected to demonstrate, Unfug said. However, she added, because demonstrators have had to pull park permits for that week, she is “confident that we know as much as we need to know at this point.”

Nor was the forum devoid of details and new information.

It was announced that caucuses and council meetings for delegates would be held at the Colorado Convention Center during the days, beginning at 10 a.m. These meetings are open to the public as well.

The committee has established a transportation system with 250 buses that will shuttle the delegates from their hotels to meetings and the convention.

Daughtry said the buses will run primarily from 1 to 4 p.m. in order to have minimal impact on Denver’s traffic, adding that much of the transport will occur when most people are already at work.

The convention at the Pepsi Center will run from 4 to 9 p.m. each day.

Details on an interfaith gathering were also released. Clergy of different faiths, elected officials and community members will attend the event, which is open to the public, beginning at 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 24 at the Wells Fargo Theater. It will be hosted by the party’s Faith in Action Initiative. Speakers and entertainment for the event will be announced later.

Aug. 27 is set as Delegate Service Day, when delegates will participate in various volunteer projects in coordination with Democrats Work, Metro Volunteers and Volunteers of America.

Officials also announced ways for those without convention credentials to get a close view of the Pepsi Center and the happenings inside.

The Web site www.demconvention.com will stream the convention live in high-definition, and anyone with an Internet connection can access the feed.

Additionally, although no date has been set, the committee is planning a Pepsi Center open house to offer a peek at the venue’s transformation.