Last night,I forgot to Save my blob as I was writing and I lost it. It is somewhere in this computer but I will never find it because my IT guy is in China taking pictures of some sports event. These technicians seem never to have their priorities in order and so I was left with nothing but the first three words of what had been a brilliant commentary on security at a National Political Convention. I am going to try to remember some of what I wrote but it’s a crap shoot... so bare with me. And yes, I do mean read this while you are naked. It will have greater impact. Save
It’s hard to imagine how the enormous advancements in technology have changed the way security is conducted (like an orchestra) at a Political Convention. Sure, there are some things that have been improved but are ever present, like the magnetometers and dynaflors which you are required to walk through or on which you must put your bags. (You can ride on the dynaflor and make an absolute fool of yourself but it’s probably not a good idea with all those “oh so serious” security people watching.) And, yes the inflexibility of the Secret Service, convention site guards and Police remains without change. They are all still screwing up traffic patterns wherever possible. But the impact of 9/11, Homeland security, and just plain terrorism in general, has made any last minute or creative decision making almost impossible – and long with it eliminated so much of the fun . Save
There was a time when you needed to be spontaneous in your decision making and that was not only part of the challenge, but much of the joy of working on political events or in mega crowds. I remember at one convention, the credentials for the VIP area were compromised. (I have oft wondered how you compromise a credential – do you turn the lights on while it’s making love? The word never made much sense in the context of an inanimate object but...) Anyway, that’s what we heard. My guess is that some vandals stole them, (They were merely pieces of paper you used along with your regular credential), thinking they could sell them for big bucks to unsuspecting delegates. Save
What to do? What to do? We had only about an hour before the doors to the VIP area were supposed to open. Whatever the solution it needed to be quick and simple. So I sent a volunteer (There is nothing more wonderful than a competent volunteer and nothing more frightening than a dopey one), out to buy bunny stickers – which we pasted on the VIP credential as they entered the site. As I recall the next night we used duckies and then froggies followed by gold stars. Of course, we had to buy all the stickers in the store but our success had to be based on the element of surprise and in this case, silliness. Save
When I was the director of Security for the first Democratic convention a Madison Square Garden, I had some serious space problems because my office was so small you had to walk on chairs to get in and out of the area. There was however, a non working bathroom with a bathtub that proved not only invaluable but a source of our “close to convention” comic relief. In order to give VIP’s access to the Convention hotel as well as the special elevators in the hotel and the Garden, we decided a picture id was necessary. The problem was there was no secure place in the hotel where we could create a credential on the spot. Remember, not so long ago (Save) there was limited technology and every piece of equipment was big. I decided that we should put the camera equipment and a chair in the bathtub and the VIP would just get into the bathtub to take the picture. There was a little bit of an outcry from some VIP staffers (the diplomats, celebrities and elected officials didn’t care), about putting their Principle in a tub. But Bill Dixon, the Convention Manager said that as long as I didn’t turn the water on, it didn’t matter and to ignore any protests from these disgruntled humorless political laborers. Anyway, when Chris Matthews (then working for Tip O’Neil, the Speaker of the House), arrived to make sure the Speaker would get his photo id, he was not happy didn’t begin to describe how he felt. He did not think the Speaker would get into the tub, nor did he want to ask the Speaker to do it. There was some loud, extended, nose to nose discussion (everyone wants to protect their job), but when the Speaker arrived he was more than amused by the requirement. When he was leaving Congressman Murtha and his wife were just arriving and Tip took great pleasure in explaining what they were about to encounter. Anyway, the security tub was the highlight of the convention and people talked about the tub for years.
Unfortunately, you couldn’t do that today. And you don’t need to because the cameras are miniscule and there are bar codes and all kinds of fancy improvements that eliminate the need for any unusual thinking. What a shame that we have invented ourselves to a place where anything spontaneous is the enemy and anything impulsive is forbidden. I can hardly wait to see what will happen when the Hillary delegates protest and don’t let anyone else speak. I’m happy it’s not my problem. You can get dressed now. We’re just sayin...Iris