Wednesday, July 28, 2004

CONVENTION NOTEBOOK DAY 2

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 28, 2004

BOSTON _ One of our swing states is missing.

Just when New Mexico Democrats are feeling good about all the attention the state’s delegation is receiving thanks to being a swing state in the close presidential contest and for Gov. Bill Richardson being the convention chairman, here comes a big ugly snub.

In the National Journal’s special Convention Daily there is a front-page story about the Sheraton Boston Hotel being host to “the Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia delegations -- all of them swing states that are crucial to a presidential victory.”

But another delegation also is staying at the Sheraton from one of those states between Texas and Arizona.

Busy Day for N.M. Delegation

Unlike the past few days when there were plenty of parties, cruises, clambakes and other organized activities for the state’s delegation, Tuesday was relatively loose, delegates said.

Some delegates went to various caucuses and workshops. Some went to a screening of Farenheit 911, sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employess, at which filmaker Michael Moore himself spoke.

And a handful of sleepy delegates who partied too late the night before reportedly got encouragement from state Democratic Chairman John Wertheim to not miss any more delegation breakfasts.

Tuesday’s breakfast included appearances of national Democratic Chairman Terry McAullife and one of John Kerry’s Vietnam swiftboat crewmates.

Traffic, Security Fears Overblown?

For weeks before the convention, Boston locals and even some Democratic officials expressed the fear that traffic would be so congested and security would be so overbearing, movement around the city would be next to impossible.

But two days into the convention, the buzz around Boston is that neither traffic nor security seems to be that big of a deal.

A National Parks Service ranger at the Boston Commons, said Tuesday that afternoon that usually by this time there were about 400-500 pedestrains passing by the park on a normal summer weekday.

“So far I’ve counted about 40,” he said. “I think a lot of locals left town.”

“Traffic seems lighter than usual,” a shuttle van driver told reporters Monday. He said he thinks the dire predictions about clogged streets prompted many locals to take vacations this week.

Security, to be sure, is very visible -- you can’t go very far around the area surrounding the convention center without seeing local and state police, Secret Service agents and even National Guard members. A helicopter hovers around the downtown area. Several streets are blocked and the subway station at Fleet Center is closed.

Those entering the center must pass through a metal detector.

But given these facts, there doesn’t seem to be much tension over security.

“I’ve had no problems getting in and out of the center,” said Ernesto Chavez, a delegate from Albuquerque. “I thought there would be from what I’d seen on t.v.”

Wertheim said, “I think the city of Boston did a good job in planning for traffic and security.”

A police officer near the FleetCenter said that things have gone easy for police so far. “I think we only had one arrest Monday,” she said.

But she said she’ll be happier when it’s over. Officers have been working 12-hour shifts, she said.


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