CHARLOTTE, August 11, 2012 — When Barack Obama came into office, he promised his presidency would be the most transparent administration in history. It hasn’t been.
And when the Democratic National Convention opens in Charlotte in September, the city is proudly claiming that it will be business as usual, and the most open convention in history.
While accessibility in Charlotte during the DNV is being touted to the public, the reality is that many uptown roads will be closed and so will some of the parking garages. The parking situation may be less of a factor for delegates since the majority will come from out of town, but Charlotte is a financial center that thrives on uptown business. Shutting down access by closing off streets and parking facilities will hardly make the city accessible.
The city’s slogan for the convention is “Let’s Work Around It.” But the local attitude has been for a long time, “Let’s Get Outta Here.”
Mayor Anthony Fox is attempting to put a smiley face on the situation, but Charlotteans are well aware that when you close 30 roads around the perimeter of the city, something’s gotta give.
During a normal business week, Charlotte has three primary arteries that feed the business community from the southeast part of the city. That is where most commuters enter the business district except for outsiders using Interstates 77 and 85 as their access points.
Local officials are advising travelers into Charlotte to expect delays of approximately 20 to 30 minutes more than usual. That may be a good sound-bite or read well in print, but expectations by the public are to be inconvenienced far longer than a half-hour. Workers who usually walk a block to work are anticipating a hike of four to five blocks instead.
Delegates attending the convention should also be wary of increased police activity which will be paying close attention to jaywalkers. Charlotte has already begun a ticketing program to minimize jaywalking in the uptown area.
Local news media has been highlighting road closings and printing maps to diagram restricted areas, but having the information is one thing, dealing with the reality is another. While Charlotteans may be able to adjust their working patterns according to the restrictions, the difficulty will lie in the congestion created by alternate routes. None of that can be predicted until the convention begins and, by then, it will be too late.
If the restricted areas remained constant for four days, adapting to the plan might become tolerable. The DNC is, as Ernest Hemingway once suggested, a “Moveable Feast” and what is off-limits one day may not be the next.
Additional police will begin arriving in Charlotte sometime before Labor Day. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has 1,760 sworn officers on its roster. For security reasons they have not revealed the number of outside police that will be added to the force.
Days off and vacations for CMPD have been canceled during the DNC and officers will be working 12-hour shifts instead of the usual 8-hours.
The biggest pre-convention problem for Charlotte residents seems to be confusion about how to manipulate the city to go about some sort of routine business day. A multi-day event of such magnitude is a new undertaking for the city.
Many locals have said for months that they plan to be out of town for a week. Hosting the DNC is a great honor that just may be overwhelming for a growing southern city trying to magnify its national and global image.
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club which creates and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.