No Need to Panic

Run away! Run away! The Democrats are coming to town for the convention and they’re going to make life hell for us all!

Just kidding. Everything’s going to be fine. Just ask Mayor John Hickenlooper. Earlier this month, he issued a lengthy letter to Denverites detailing just how fabulous things will be during the Democratic National Convention in August. Don’t hide your children, he said. Come on downtown and join the fun.

It was a message echoed Tuesday by Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Leah Daughtry (pictured) and her cast of deputy CEOs at the second to last in a traveling series of “Convention Conversations,” this one at the Tattered Cover in LoDo. Bus and light rail service won’t be disrupted, she pledged. The DNC won’t send its fleet of 250 shuttles to 100 or so hotels each morning until the after rush-hour hour of 9:30.

And street closures – whatever they eventually are, since they haven’t been announced – will be the most carefully planned and thoughtfully carried out (and greenest!) ever, ever in the history of street closures.

What could possibly go wrong over five sweltering days in Denver when the man who would be the next leader of the free world comes to town, along with two-thirds of Washington, D.C., a gazillion secret service agents and police, 15,000 members of the media (are there really still 15,000 members of the media left?), hucksters, salesmen, scallywags and a bevy of protesters from all sides of the political spectrum?

Well, at least a couple of things, and judging from the questions asked by members of audience Tuesday, the public is a little more concerned than Hick and Daughtry.

A LoDo businessman wanted to know whether his employees would be able to get to work and when they would know about street closures. Another questioned whether police would be able to deal with protesters in the parks and along the parade route. A third, who represented DNC sponsor ProLogis, said she had been stonewalled by the DNCC when it came to finding out about party and event schedules surrounding the convention.

But another person, a Denver Public Schools teacher, said her interest wasn’t in “minimizing” the impact of the DNC, but “maximizing” it: She wanted to know what, if anything, school children could do to participate or learn about politics since DPS decided earlier this year to start school just prior to the convention.

Daughtry pointed out that a variety of convention-related committee and caucus meetings will be open to the public during the day, and that the public, and even school groups, might be able to attend.

If they dare to go downtown, that is.

The final Convention Conversation takes place today, June 11, at 5 p.m. at Mile High Station, 2027 West Lower Colfax Avenue, near Invesco Field at Mile High. Members of the public should RSVP to 720-362-2008 or to rsvp@demconvention.com. -- Jonathan Shikes

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