One Man's Attempt to Get Demo Info from City Hall

 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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