Posted: 09/07/08 12:42
by Dave Mindeman
The Pioneer Press headline says it all:On World Stage, St. Paul Gets Its Ovation
The Pioneer Press puts together a team report and we get a series of perspectives that declare the great success that permeated every aspect of the Republican National Convention.Convention Facilities
: The Press brings in a quote from Maria Cino, President of the 2008 RNC, "Stupendous!" ...and furthur down, the quote is a general media one of, "This is a lot better than Denver."
Yes, yes.... let's make sure the media are comfortable. Coverage should focus on the convention floor. They are sure to get non-biased opinions there. Anybody see any networks outside of the Xcel?....pretty darn sparse. If success is measured in keeping the focus on the convention itself, then St. Paul did great.On Television
: The Pioneer Press measures St. Paul's success by how it "looked" on television. Here is the money quote:For the most part, the national media shied away from the gas-masked officers, anarchists and tear gas ? if you wanted to see that on TV, you'd have to tune in to the local news. But from inside the dressed-up X or quaint Rice Park, things looked pretty good. As Brian Williams said last week, "If you don't like St. Paul, you've got a screw loose."
Now, wait a minute. A successful convention is dependent on the national media missing negative perspectives? Call me cynical, but that sounds like a marketing perspective, not a newsworthy one.Local Businesses
: It was a little harder finding a positive on this one. Most local businesses got hammered by the restricted access of the police and a lot of delegates staying in outside the city hotels. But Mayor Coleman managed to find at least one restaurant that was happy..."Mayor Chris Coleman said Friday that the owners of Meritage restaurant told him it was like having an extra month of business."
The real story here was that a number of businesses set up shop on short term leases in downtown St. Paul to "fill in" the empty retail space....and nearly all of them lost money.CivicFest
: At least this joke got reported properly. Charging $15 for what should be a general educational event was ludicrous. When they finally dropped the fees, schools and the real civic minded flocked to the facility. Even this article couldn't find much of a positive on that one.Delegate Reaction
: Oh, they were "delighted". And why not? They were sheltered completely from the real world. They lauded the security forces....and if being successful means keeping protesters out of shouting distance and having your transportation routed behind security perimeters, then it was extremely successful. Let's keep the "bad stuff" out of any sight lines.Minnesota Politics
: First line.... The convention was a political boon to both the McCain campaign in Minnesota and the state Republican Party.
Now that's important, right? Really, is St. Paul supposed to measure success on whether the city helps the Republican Party gain enthusiasm? Maybe that was a goal of the Party itself, but to even include this as a measure of whether St. Paul hosted a "successful" convention is flat out crazy.Public Safety
: Public safety is one thing...but a flat out, city wide lock down is another. Quote from the police chief, "St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington said. "The convention operated virtually ... without any interruption."
It takes 3700 police officers (at taxpayer expense)...tear gas, pepper spray, smoke grenades and flash bangs...to insure uninterrupted convention activities. And most of it because of a few broken windows from a few idiots. More damage occurs every Halloween. Yet, Harrington used that incident to lock the entire city down. Streets were closed off. Police wore riot gear the rest of the week. And arrests were not based on individuals but on area sweeps. It was ugly... but the Pioneer Press calls it a success.Transportation
: Officials are quoted that navigating the Twin Cities went "reasonably well". On Monday I went downtown and spent over an hour more each way, navigating blocked streets and police barricades. I would guess that a lot of people did what I did and simply stayed away. Local St. Paul businesses can pretty much affirm that. Frankly, it is hard to make transporting around St. Paul any worse than it is on a normal basis, but they still did it. The report brags that "interstate highways stayed open"....duh, are we supposed to consider that a major accomplishment?Protesters:
Now this part of the article is down right funny:Despite battling what they view as repression by the city, police brutality, unwarranted arrests and shows of overwhelming force, organizers behind of some of the biggest protests at the convention were left with smiles on their faces.
Smiles? The Press reporter apparently talked to some of the protesters who felt they got their message out..... yet, not one quote from the people who were outraged. And you better believe there were plenty of them. To give you another example of the lackluster Press reporting, one of the Press reporters covered the Peace Island picnic on Thursday. He came early in the day when the event was just getting started and wrote up an article that denigrated attendance and lack of activity. What he didn't bother to check is that the main roads to the island were blocked by police and it took people awhile to find alternate routes. As the day went on, the numbers at the picnic swelled to over 1,000. But no furthur coverage happened and the organizers are still waiting on a promised retraction. Ridiculous reporting.Parties and Stars:
Now, success should always be determined by parties and stars, shouldn't it? This article focused on 3 events....yet did not mentioned all of the numerous corporate sponsored gatherings, the side fundraisers, and the invitation only power lunches. But hey, let's report on the "fun", it is more upbeat.City Hall
: "Unbelievable success, no question about it." That's the quote from Mayor Coleman. Of course, what else is he going to say. It's all about publicity and image. A police lockdown notwithstanding. It also helps that police sweeps also swept up reporters who might have wanted to cover another aspect of the "feel good convention". Mayor Coleman has been a big disappointment here....as well as County Attorney Susan Gaertner. Getting caught up in imaging rather than truth is a Republican tactic. Communications
: AT&T and Verizon were extremely pleased. Wireless traffic exploded. If you doubt it, you can always check with the NSA listening posts. They probably had a field day.Reaction in Print
: Lots of media impressions. At a news conference Friday, civic boosters claimed that the RNC brought 8 billion media impressions of the Twin Cities, which is "the equivalent of a $330 million ad campaign."
Now, there you have it. Real success. It's all about publicity. Lot's of positive impressions of the city leading up to the convention. It's too bad we had some of those pesky police - protester confrontations that took away some of that positive vibe.
At least this part of the report got the right quote from humorist, Dave Barry:"The Republican convention is over, and the friendly, picturesque city of St. Paul now will take down the roughly 63,000 miles of really high security fence that protected the delegates and news media from ever coming into direct contact with the friendly, picturesque city of St. Paul." National Politics
: Of course, St. Paul's contribution to a successful convention all depends on how well John McCain does:While we won't know if the convention was a success for John McCain until Election Day, it is clear that Republicans averted a disaster.
Aren't we all glad that Palin "hit a grand slam" or that the convention "ended on a high note". If John McCain and the Republicans are happy, then I guess St. Paul is happy.
Yes, on that world stage, St. Paul, take your bow.