Brian Wickersham, director of transportation for the Democratic National Convention, knows big events.
He's worked four Democratic conventions, nine Super Bowls and three Olympics.
Wickersham predicts that moving 6,000 delegates, plus thousands of other officials and guests, won't be as complicated as, say, Los Angeles.
"Charlotte is a midsize city," he said. "We'll have a lot less traffic to contend with."
Late last week, the convention committee opened bids for a transportation service vendor. The event will use a shuttle bus system of approximately 250 motor coach vehicles to move delegates and others between more than 150 hotels and convention venues.
Hotels for state delegations will be in five zones: uptown, airport, University area, SouthPark and Concord. Early this week, an announcement is expected about hotel assignments for delegations and DNC officials.
Bid requirements include creating maps and submitting routes for approval. Organizers expect bidders to partner to get the work. For instance, an event management transportation company might design the system, working with local bus companies that would provide the vehicles and drivers.
The Labor Day kickoff party at Charlotte Motor Speedway could involve moving 25,000-plus people. Wickersham said part of the goal is reducing the number of cars on the road.
"That's a very, very important element to the design of this system," he said. "We want to minimize the impact."
The deadline for bids is Feb. 24. See www.demconvention.com for more information. Celeste Smith
GOP money slow in coming
While DNC fundraising numbers are hard to come by, the Tampa Bay Times reports the GOP host committee has raised more than a third of the $55 million needed to help stage the Republican National Convention.
Republicans meet in Tampa the week before Democrats gather in Charlotte on Sept. 4.
At a public meeting last week, Tampa's host committee chairman reiterated what DNC moneyraisers have acknowledged here: It's a tough time for raising money. Host committee chairman Ken Jones blamed the sputtering economy. And it isn't helping, he said, that the hard-fought GOP nomination hasn't been decided.
He said Rick Santorum 's sweep of three presidential contests Tuesday "actually makes our job a little harder."
"People get excited about conventions when there's certainty," Jones said, "and right now, there's no certainty."
While most contributions come from big donors - who often want, in exchange, credentials, to host parties at the convention or other promotional opportunities - the host committee this month will start to let donors make small contributions online. It's also looking at giving away a trip to the convention with box seats to one of those "low-dollar" donors. Tampa Bay Times
An Obama critic - and fan
In Michael Fauntroy's contribution to TheRoot.com's "Grading Obama" series, the associate professor at George Mason School of Public Policy takes a critical look at the president's administration:
"I didn't have super high expectations and he has turned out to be who I thought he was. I watched his campaign - primary and general - carefully and concluded that he would be very similar to past presidents in that his talk about change was insufficiently specific. He has stayed true to his campaign but because many people were so happy to have someone other than George W. Bush, the reality of his political philosophy was somewhat obscured. He is a neoliberal and smartly allowed voters to apply their own hopes and aspirations upon him without having to really demonstrate who he was or what he was about."
Fauntroy, who spoke last week at Johnson C. Smith University as part of the school's convention lecture series, said that he's a critic - and fan - of Obama.
"I have been critical, but it's been because I'm more focused on issues than I am on individuals. I think that the president is a 180-degree improvement on his predecessor. And I think he will win re-election comfortably, though not necessarily easily. ...
"I am a fan of the president, particularly in terms of what he represents about black people around the world. I think that's very positive. But he's also one of the luckiest politicians ever," Fauntroy said, pointing to Obama's election victories over weak opposition.
Fauntroy wrote the 2007 book "Republicans and the Black Vote," which examines the Republican Party's historical relationship with African-Americans.
His uncle, Walter Fauntroy, served two decades as a member of Congress representing Washington, D.C.
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