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Un-conventional
How a national convention can put a city in lockdown
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
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In The Region:

Some Ohioans are hoping that future Democratic or Republican National Conventions come to their state.

Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati have been mentioned  by Democrats as potential locations in the always important swing state.  But recent experience shows that might not be a good thing for the locals.  From Charlotte, WKSU’s Mark Urycki explains.

(Click image for larger view.)

There are some 35 thousand visitors in Charlotte this week – 15,000 of them from the media. Even poor public radio reporters have to drop some money somewhere.

It may never be known if the city of Charlotte gained or lost in the deal.  But one academic study of the 2004 convention in Boston found it was a net loss. So many locals stayed away from restaurants and cafes …and work… that the city went backwards. And Boston was a dream compared to Charlotte.

 Like  Tampa during the GOP convention last week, so much of this city has been shut down and fenced off by police and Secret Service that even locals can’t tell you how to get uptown.  One bus driver had to stop and ask police how to make his way thru the blocked streets to get to the Convention Arena. The Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern reminded the Ohio delegation every morning that the buses are run by the National Party NOT the state party.

The state party did rent some buses for its own delegates but most used the DNC buses.

On Tuesday some waited 90 minutes for the next bus to take them back to their hotel.  What’s more, police confiscated even small foldable umbrellas forcing delegates to walk long distances in the rain. 

For those of us in Ohio who see presidential candidates come and go with ease -- even stop into cafes unannounced -- the walled fortress that Charlotte has become can leave you wondering if getting a convention is anything to wish for. 

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