|About 20 members of the Site Advisory Committee and half a dozen staffers
from the DNC made the visit to Boston. Shortly after returning from
the trip, committee co-chair Joe Andrew lauded Mayor Menino, whose "enthusiasm
knows no bounds." Andrew said city leaders effectively conveyed the
message, "We will take care of you...We will get this job done for you."
Likewise, committee member Becky Ogle stated, "I was impressed by how organized
the city was."
Among the highlights of the visit were a dinner on the first night that brought together CEOs, labor leaders, members of the arts community, representatives of assorted constituent groups, and other city mothers and fathers. They dined in idyllic setting downtown under a clear tent near the Swan Pond in the Public Garden. On Tuesday, after subcommittee meetings to go over various aspects of the bid and a lavish lunch at the just-opened Nine Zero on Tremont Street, many members of the committee opted to tour the Big Dig where they enjoyed ice cream on the Zakim Bridge. In the evening, after a clambake dinner, committee members proceeded to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox play the Cleveland Indians. On the final morning of the visit committee members gathered for a breakfast at Wang Center, where they were feted by performers "Rent" and by a gospel choir. Becky Ogle stated, "There was never an opportunity for any of us to be hungry."
While committee members enjoyed the wining and dining, they were closely assessing the city's capabilities to host a first-rate convention. Ogle, for example, moves about in a wheelchair; she was concerned with wheelchair access and the physical layout of the facilities. City obligations are another concern; in 2000 the Los Angeles host committee reneged on $10 million in commitments, and the situation was only rectified when prodigious Democratic fundraiser Terry McAuliffe, now the DNC chairman, moved in. Democrats want to avoid a repeat of that situation.
Andrew said one issue for Boston is the placement of the media center, which will serve as the workspace for as many as 15,000 journalists. The city has presented several different options; a key factor will be the extent of progress on the Big Dig project, specifically demolition of the elevated Central Artery. The Big Dig has been under construction since 1991, is now 83 percent done, and is scheduled for completion in December 2004.
With its dynamic mayor orchestrating broad community support, with an all-Democratic congressional delegation in Massachusetts, and with a message of patriotism and efficiency, Boston showed itself to be a strong contender to host the Democrats in 2004.
Copyright © 2002 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.