Was the Republican Convention staged for the delegates, or for the media audience? Watching at home I sometimes had the impression I was watching a very expensive, very boring pep rally. What was it designed to accomplish? And did it succeed? I went to Wikipedia for answers and found out a lot more also.
DO THE MATH!
- The Host Committee was charged with raising $55,000,000 to pay for nearly all aspects of the Convention.
- According to the convention website, it hosted 2,286 delegates, 2,125 alternates, and 15,000 credentialed members of the media.
- The convention was designated as a National Special Security Event, which meant that ultimate authority over law enforcement went to the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security. The federal government provided $50 million for Convention security Much of the money went to deputizing additional police.
- Other expenses included expanded surveillance technology and the purchase of a $296,496 armored SWAT vehicle.
- Tampa Bay disclosed specifically that it had spent $1.18m on video linkages between ground police and helicopters.
- The city paid $16,500 to the Florida State Fairgrounds Authority in exchange for police use of local fairgrounds as a command center.
- The city of Tampa has banned puppets from downtown during the convention, a decision which some puppet-makers say violates their civil liberties. Police claimed that puppets could be used to conceal weapons—at the 2000 RNC, charging a group of puppet-makers in Philadelphia with conspiracy to resist arrest.
- Prior to the convention, the city planned to cancel all trials occurring during the week of the convention, due to concerns about jurors moving in and out of the city. Various government operations will move to nearby suburban areas. One exception to this trend is predicted trials for arrested protesters, which will be presided over by “on-call judges.”
- City officials say they are planning on fencing off some government buildings, but that it is the responsibility of businesses to defend their own buildings.
- The city paid $216,000 to the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority as compensation for the partial closure of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, a toll highway passing through Tampa’s downtown and just north of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
- Florida has some of the most lenient gun laws in the United States with 6.5% of adults licensed to carry concealed weapons. Local governments in Florida are prohibited from having gun ordinances stricter than state law.
- While water guns have been banned during the week of the event, handguns will be permitted outside of the Convention Center. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn requested that authorities be allowed to ban guns from downtown Tampa during the convention. Governor Rick Scott rejected the request.
- Although Tampa’s numerous adult entertainment venues (such as strip clubs) had expected a large influx of business stemming from the large number of visitors, most of the venues in fact experienced steep shortfalls.
- There is a 5-night minimum for hotel reservations. Delegates and Alternates are responsible for all hotel costs, which could be approximately $1500. Consider choosing a roommate to share the cost and space…Note: Delegates and Alternates are also responsible for all other travel expenses, meals, etc. Your total expense will likely exceed $2000 per person
This is only a proverbial “drop in the bucket”, I know. But if it costs that much to host a pep rally for fewer than 5,000 delegates and alternates, who are obliged to cover their own costs, then how can anyone expect the Republicans to manage anything more serious and more costly ? At a time of deep recession in which everyone is urged to cut budgets and proceed with maximum diligence and frugality, I have to wonder: what was the “opportunity cost”; how else could that money have been spent?
I suppose the Democrats will spend as much. Let’s hope, however, that they will organize a better convention… more informative, interesting, and entertaining. It shouldn’t be too difficult!