Viewed through the loving gaze of the television cameras, the modern Presidential Convention appears to be a riveting pageant of our democratic process. But at street level in the host city, it can mean traffic snarls, close encounters with dubiously dressed delegates, and an ever-shifting array of public restrictions and clampdowns. According to this morning's Washington Examiner, an unusual matter tops the list of concerns for the upcoming Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota: specious species and their feces:
For the upcoming Republican National Convention, the biggest pests aren't just the area Democrats, it's the area's pigeons, too.
The city of St. Paul, Minn., is suffering from soiled sidewalks and blemished buildings thanks to those winged rats, and local officials are taking precautions to blunt the feathered vandals.
"We are currently baiting the pigeons with an automatic feeder," Bill Stephenson, an animal control supervisor for the city, told Yeas & Nays. (But we thought Republicans just doled out tax breaks to keep everyone quiet and docile?)
"It dispenses about half a pound of cracked corn to condition the pigeons to take the bait at a certain time," Stephenson said. "After we get around six to 12 pigeons coming to the feeder, we will mix an oral contraceptive in with the corn. We plan on doing this for the next six to nine months until winter sets in and the birds begin to disappear." Pro-contraceptive Republicans?
They go on to report that Saint Paul officials will be taking a cue from the Bush administration's affection for extrajudicial interrogation techniques, placing "shock strips" on the city's many skyways to keep the pigeons away.
Of additional concern is the presence of the Dorothy Day Center, one of the city's largest shelters for the homeless, which is right across the street from the Xcel Energy Center, which will be serving as the convention venue. Back in 2004, the Village Voice followed two outreach workers from New York City's Partnership for the Homeless as they searched for the familiar faces they were used to providing assistance to, many of whom had "disappeared" in the weeks leading up to the GOP Convention.
According to Erin Dady, identified as Saint Paul's "convention czar," the Dorothy Day Center is expected to fall outside the convention's "security perimeter," though at the time, the extent of the perimeter had not been announced.
In an article in Tuesday's Colorado Independent, no crackdown on the homeless is planned for Denver's Democratic National Convention.
Denver's homeless have no need to worry, say[s]...Jamie Van Leeuwen, project manager for Denver's Road Home. Nobody will be moved anywhere. In fact, most shelters throughout the city will take a "business as usual" approach to the convention, with a few organizations extending hours or involving the homeless in politics-related activities.
"I will be upfront in saying that there have been questions and speculation about whether Denver is going to move the homeless out of the city," says Van Leeuwen. "We are combating the ongoing theme that Denver is hiding the homeless. Not only are we not hiding them, we are registering them to vote. We want them to know that our doors are open to services."
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless plans on sponsoring a voter registration drive for the homeless, while two shelters will provide big-screen TVs so that their clients can watch the convention coverage. And Denver's organization for homeless teens, Urban Peak, will extend afternoon hours at its drop-in center, offering lunch, movies, and museum field trips to its clients.
Additional concerns for officials in advance of the Republican National Convention in Minnesota include extending the hours of area bars, securing the network of tunnels the emanate from the banks of the Mississippi River and run underneath the city, and, of course, the numerous people who plan to use Craiglist in an attempt to hook up with Larry Craig.