Thursday, December 22, 2011

Convention to provide teaching moment

With the convention coming in September, local schools hope to bring civics lessons to life.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Humanities Department, along with Junior Achievement of the Central Carolinas, plan to launch a "DNC Project" next fall.

A recent administration report to school board members said the nonpartisan effort "will provide students with the academic competencies required for the state’s essential standards for civics, economics and social studies."

"Students will demonstrate knowledge of the political system in the United States, including the history of election processes and party conventions; the structure and process of local, state and federal government; and the role political parties, lobbyists and interest groups play in elections, legislation and governance."

The convention-as-classroom idea will extend to college and university students, too. Next year, they’ll have access to special for-credit classes inspired by the convention.

UNC Charlotte is touting the "49er Democracy Experience" – an effort still in the works that will bring together students and faculty from local higher education institutions. Schools include Catawba College, Davidson College, Johnson C. Smith University, Queens University of Charlotte, Winthrop University and others, according to UNC Charlotte spokesman John Bland.

The effort has a special website:

Look for classes hitting a range of subjects, from leadership to economics, communications to anthropology, social issues and service, Bland said. The initiative is nonpartisan. Students interested in the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August will learn of opportunities to be involved in that, Bland said.

"There’s not much more exciting in civic life than the buzz created by a presidential election," Joan Lorden, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said on the website.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Big party at ImaginOn?

Are the open spaces and brightly colored walls at uptown’s ImaginOn the perfect spot for a 600-person cocktail reception during the Democratic National Convention?

Possibly. A nonprofit group has asked the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system about renting the space, home for Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and other programs.

The library’s board voted last week to charge a $7,500 rental fee for the open areas, and $9,500 for the open areas and theater. That’s the standard fee for rentals to nonprofits, plus $1,500 for cleaning and administration.

Former county commissioner Darrel Williams heads a board subcommittee screening groups who want to use library facilities during the DNC.

“We have wonderful facilities like ImaginOn and the (Main) Library,” the closest ones to Time Warner Cable Arena, Williams said. “It might help them, and help us get a few dollars as well.”

But don’t expect convention rentals to solve the library system’s cash woes.

The library is still recovering from last year’s $10 million budget cut from the county. “We don’t expect to have a big budget infusion with this,” Williams said.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

DNCC sending care packages to NC troops

The folks planning next year's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte will be assembling 500 care packages Wednesday for N.C. troops serving overseas.

Each package will contain 25 items, said DNCC spokeswoman Joanne Peters.

Among the goodies: candy, gum, sunblock, memorabilia from Carolina sports teams, coffee, socks, soap, phone cards, toiletries, assorted food snacks -- and letters written by students at Allenbrook Elementary School.

Local news media have been invited to take pictures and film footage Wednesday afternoon of the DNCC staff's Care Assembly Line at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena. That's also where Democratic delegates from around the country will gather next September to re-nominate President Barack Obama.

Besides planning for that big show, DNCC CEO Steve Kerrigan has also pledged to reach out to the Charlotte and greater Carolinas communities.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A bullseye on Queen City?

An Occupy organizer from Asheville is telling the Huffington Post that next year's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte will be a "powder keg" and that the city already has "a big target on it."

The quotes come from Martin Ramsey of Occupy Asheville, who was commenting on Charlotte City Council's upcoming consideration of a proposed ordinance that would make camping on public property a "public nuisance," and would prohibit "noxious substances," padlocks and other camping equipment.

The HuffPost story, a version of which also showed up New York magazine's Daily Intel, calls Charlotte "the Wall Street of the South" and suggests that city officials are fearful that inaction on their part could lead to a rerun of "Chicago '68." That's a reference to the chaotic scene outside the Democratic National Convention in 1968, when police battled anti-Vietnam War protesters on national TV.

The article says Occupy organizers don't yet know what, if anything, they'll do in Charlotte during convention week. But they're mulling it over: "Everybody I talked to (from other Occupy groups in the Carolinas) said the DNC is ground zero for everything," Occupy Charlotte organizer Luis Rodriguez told the Huffington Post. Tim Funk

Want to read more?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

DNC looking for interns

Are you a college student interested in politics?

The Democratic National Convention Committee looking for about 40 spring interns.
Officials are looking for interns to work in a variety of convention offices, including communication, intergovernmental affairs and even that of the CEO.

This semester, the DNCC has interns from Central Piedmont Community College, UNC Charlotte, Davidson College, Charlotte School of Law and Winthrop University.

The spring program will run from January to April 16.

College or university students in the Charlotte area should get an application from their school career center. Applications are due Dec. 16.
Jim Morrill

Convention organizers going to all 100 N.C. counties in search of 'ambassadors'

The Democratic National Convention Committee said today it plans to launch "a community outreach campaign" to all 100 N.C. counties.

In January and February, the committee representatives will spread across the state talking about the convention and identifying 100 Convention Community Organizers to serve as "ambassadors" for the convention in their counties. The convention will be held in Charlotte Sept. 3-6.

“With the 100 County Plan, we hope to .... gather ideas to help ensure that this Convention is truly representative of the state of North Carolina, and reflective of the ideas of its citizens,” convention CEO Steve Kerrigan said in a statement.

Convention officials say the plan is designed to promote next year's convention as a state-wide event, help recruit volunteers and encourage businesses to use the convention's vendor directory. Officials plan to announce the 100 County Community Organizers in March. Jim Morrill

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Group member lands contract

A local group of minority entrepreneurs, devoted to helping members get work during the Democratic National Convention, claimed its first victory this week.

Karen Lawrence of It’s My Affair is among a trio of firms that will manage hotel room blocks for convention week. It’s a contract worth at least $1 million for the three firms, which bid together on the project. They’ll coordinate with hotels and convention officials to house approximately 6,000 convention delegates and others, including elected officials, some media and campaign staff.

The other two firms, based in Georgia, wanted to work with a local business on the project. They found Lawrence through the online vendor directory at

Lawrence also is a member of the Carolina Regional Minority Partnership Coalition, according to Colette Forrest of the coalition. Forrest said the group has emphasized to members the importance of signing up in the vendor directory, which convention organizers created to help local businesses land work.

Forrest also points out that Lawrence runs a “spectacular” and “competitive” event management services company -- Lawrence says her business has organized large conferences in Charlotte and other cities.

But “getting into the directory helped her,” Forrest says. “We feel really good about pushing that, knowing that someone was found with it.”