DNC Story: One Man's Attempt to Get Information from City Hall Regarding Planned Demonstrations Tuesday August 27 -- Chicago -- Peter Shalen The folks who were kind enough to respond to my mailing of last night were unfortunately unable to come up with any information about demonstrations planned for this week specifically in opposition to Clinton's signing of the welfare bill. It appears that the only demonstrations about anything that touches on the issue are actually in support of broad agendas shared only by groups which, in the context of American politics, must objectively be described as fringe groups. Contrary to what a couple of my less sympathetic correspondents seem to think, opposition to Clinton's complicity in dismantling the New Deal is not a fringe position. According to the New York Times, it is a position avowedly shared by fully 26% of the hand-picked Clinton boosters who are delegates to the coronation ceremony. It was also expressed, in the form of a whimper, by two of the people, Mario Cuomo and Jesse Jackson, who passed the loyalty test required for permission to speak at the event. The welfare bill is the one matter of substance that has been discussed, in however muted a way, inside the much-too-United Center. That it should be an unkown issue on the outside is odd and alarming. A colleague of mine offered what he described as "a strange idea," adding that "it will be even stranger if it works": to call the Mayor's office, which has a list of planned demonstrations for the week. I expected to be dealing with people who had no idea what I was asking about, but what actually happened seems much more sinister. I was quickly transferred to someone named Kathy Lovell, if I got the name right. She works for the Office of Special Events and is in charge of "coordinating" all the "protests." At her number there was a recording saying that she is away from her desk for Convention Week, and that if one wants to know about demonstrations that are scheduled one must show up in person at one of various places that were specified in the rapidly mumbled message. -- Wednesday August 28 -- Chicago Peter Shalen To my astonishment, Kathy Lovell returned my call. I had left a message on her machine complaining that it was so difficult getting information about demonstrations. She said she had no idea what I was complaining about. I tried about six times to explain, but each time she cut me off in mid-sentence and started getting off the subject. I finally said that if she wanted to know what I was complaining about she would have to let me speak. She kept quiet long enough for me to say that telling people that they had to go downtown to City Hall, Room 100, to get this information seemed like a way of making it hard to get the information, that this discouraged people from taking part in the demonstrations, and that if the Mayor's office did have the information they should be willing to give it out by phone. She said that there was a "hot line" to call for information and that I should never have been directed to her office in the first place. I then thanked her, hung up and called the "hot line" (742-1996). I got a recorded message saying that anyone who wants the information should go downtown to City Hall, Room 100. The machine that played the recording did not take messages.
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