Monday, June 28, 2010

My convention experience

I'll grade it a B minus. Here are some thoughts I jotted as the weekend went on ...

-- We arrived Friday at the Omni Bayfront at lunchtime in 3 hours and change. Google Maps had left me with the distinct impression that it was a four-hour drive from Houston. Garmin had us getting there an hour early; which I did not believe until we were nearly there. That was a nice surprise.

-- We ate lunch at a table next to David Leibowitz, whom I was meeting for the first time. Afterwards I shuttled over to the convention hall and got my two credentials but missed the one caucus I thought I could make, "Democrats Against the Death Penalty". I heard that it was as good as I thought it would be. Update: The Texas Moratorium Network has an excellent post about the caucus, including video of death row survivor Juan Melendez and a photo slideshow of convention activities.

I had short and sweet visits with Garnet Coleman at the lobby elevators and Richard Raymond at the convention hall, Dinah Weems (wife of Jeff) at his booth, BAR and Katie Floyd as I picked up my creds, and Borris Miles at my senate district caucus.

-- Speaking of that, the SD-17 caucus was contentious; it was a face-off between Harris county and the others (Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Jefferson). The others mostly got their people elected while the Harris county contingent got mostly shut out. There needs to be some intra-party fence mending by my two SDEC committee members Alan Blakley and Carol Wright. We ran right up to and slightly past the 5:00 deadline so I barely had time to change my shirt and catch the shuttle back to the American Bank Center for the opening session at 6 pm.

This is my only serious down-rating for the weekend (though you may remember that I also complained about the media accommodations) : the shuttle buses running between the convention hotels and the convention center weren't a good situation. I boarded the bus at 5:45 but didn't arrive at the ABC until 6:20. It's about six blocks between the Omni Bayfront and the ABC, but the bus runs in the opposite direction and makes two stops. I walked the rest of the time, yes in the blazing humid heat. It was worth the sweating.

This was also, as you might imagine, a tremendous burden on the not-quite-so-ambulatory delegates; the long queues, the slow boarding, and the climate conditions made it tough on everyone but especially those with canes and walkers, in wheelchairs and scooters, and on oxygen. It pointed out to me that Corpus wasn't well-equipped to handle a convention of our size, even as downsized as we were this year.

-- The highlight of the evening session was, of course, Bill White using Rick Perry as a pinata. The convention ran so smoothly that he got onstage 45 minutes early, and we were done before 7:30. So we went to dinner at Blackbeard's (the one on the beach) at 8:30 with Tom and Sylvia Gederberg -- the shrimp and oysters were scrumptious -- and then the Blogger's Caucus around 10:30 until almost 1 am.

-- I slept a little late and dawdled around getting back for the Saturday session which started at 11 am, and when I finally got there at 12:30 pm after the magnificent lunch buffet at the Omni, I had missed Linda Chavez-Thompson's speech and the chair's election. The vote totals were announced a few minutes after I sat down in the SD-17 section, with Boyd Richie of course elected to another term. Then the remaining statewides had their turn on stage: Barbara Radnofsky, Jeff Weems, and Hector Uribe. Senfronia Thompson spoke for Hank Gilbert, who was lost his mother the day before the convention opened and wasn't able to attend. There were the various Democratic legislative delegations appearing as a group onstage: the statehouse reps, the state senators, and the Congressional delegation. Back to business after that and the previously reported Texas Two-Step unpleasantries. Then the judicials spoke: Jim Sharp, Bill Moody, Blake Bailey, and Keith Hampton. Having ground enough sausage for one day, I blew out around 4 pm as the resolution, platform, and other committees were beginning to report.

-- Saturday dinner was at Landry's by the bay -- a magnificent meal as always from one of Tilman's places -- and after ordering dessert we joined Stan and Julie Merriman, Amy Manuel, JR Behrman, the Gederbergs and David and Rachel Van Os, who had come in about an hour behind us. The conversation was lively.

-- Sunday we slept a little late and had breakfast at 10:30, visiting with Bob Slagle (he's fit as a fiddle, by the way, unlike two years ago) and Gene Green and Behrman again. Then it was off to the USS Lexington for a couple of hours touring the magnificent old aircraft carrier, then home via Port Aransas and Port Lavaca.

A great meeting of Democratic minds, united for a common purpose, in a relaxing coastal setting. Hard to beat this past weekend.

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