Thursday, June 10, 2004

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: STAMPEDE IN LAS VEGAS

As Published in The Santa Fe New Mexican

There was a little stampede at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas last Saturday.

It seemed that some of the major obituary writers in the free world were in our own Las Vegas on the day that Ronald Reagan died.

And pity anyone between the attendees of the annual Great Obituary Writers’ International Conference and a payphone when that news hit.

According to an article in The New York Sun, “A number of the approximately 45 assembled obituary professionals from America and Britain raced for the single payphone in the hotel lobby.”

Adam Bernstein of The Washington Post told The Sun, “I raced to the phone to block the Daily Telegraph from getting access. In an apparent reference to The Front Page, Bernstein said, “I almost wanted to put an ‘Out of Order’ sign on the pay phone.”

The writers had been attending a workshop on coverage of the Sept. 11 fatalities and casualties of the Iraq war.

The rush to the phones undoubtedly was a knee-jerk reporters' reaction. As the story goes on to explain, most large news organizations have the background material for obituaries of prominent people prepared years in advance, so most the writers in Las Vegas weren’t desperately needed by their papers that day.

Madam Governor: Local Democrats had a little party at Tiny’s Restaurant and Lounge Tuesday. Actually, it wasn’t that little. More than 100 crammed into the restaurant’s patio to greet state party Chairman John Wertheim and other party honchos, who are visiting each of the state’s 33 counties this week.

Speaking at the event was Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who gave a rousing speech to the faithful.

But one thing that seemed odd was the fact that two previous speakers -- Wertheim and House Speaker Ben Lujan -- referred to her as “Gov. Denish.” and Denish didn’t correct them.

Well, technically she was governor at the moment, an aide pointed out. The real governor, Bill Richardson was in California at the Reagan library, so officially Denish was in charge.

However, according to Denish, referring to the lieutenant governor as “governor” is proper protocol when the governor isn’t present.

Where did she learn this arcane knowledge? From the people who ought to know a thing or two about gubernatorial protocol -- the governor’s state police security detail.

The 527s are Coming! Although the Democrats at Tiny’s seemed to be having a pretty good time, there are some people who might want to work in campaigns but aren’t comfortable with the regular party organizations. These are the people to whom the group called America Coming Together want to appeal.

ACT, one of the major liberal “527” groups (named so after a section in the national tax code that pertains to them) recently opened a headquarters in Santa Fe at 1500 Fifth St.

State ACT Director Geri Prado -- who was John Kerry’s state campaign director before the February presidential caucus -- said Wednesday her group plans to do door to door canvassing in hopes of defeating Presdient Bush.

ACT and other groups associated with America Votes -- a coalition of various progressive groups, PACs and 527s, are having a kick off event 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 12 at the NEA New Mexico Building, 13 South Capitol St.

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