Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Democratic National Convention 2012 Notebook: Charlotte, Tampa get security funds for conventions

Congress approves $50 million each for host cities

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Charlotte and Tampa: So happy together...
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  • Charlotte and Tampa: "So happy together..."
Finally, something Congress could agree on. No, not abandoned “supercommittee” debt talks. It’s the funding that would allow Charlotte and Tampa, Fla., site of the Republican National Convention, to ramp up security preparations.

Last week, both the House and the Senate approved the $50 million grant — that’s $50 million for each city — and on Friday, President Barack Obama signed the bill that included the funding. The mayors of both cities had asked for $55 million each during a joint visit to Washington, but were relieved to receive what past conventions had been allocated.

Mayor Anthony Foxx issued a statement from China — where he was traveling on an economic development trip — thanking Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, as well as Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe, the DNCC and the bipartisan efforts of the North Carolina congressional delegation. Foxx said the money would help “ensure enhanced public safety measures for Charlotte residents and visitors during the convention.” On Monday, at Foxx's first media briefing after his return to Charlotte, the mayor said he “felt very strongly that we would get it done, and it appears that we have.”

Since 9/11, conventions have earned the designation “national security event,” and the recent incident with shots fired on the White House was a reminder of ever-present concerns at any political gathering. Monroe has said the CMPD is working with local, regional and national partners on convention security planning.

On Saturday, host committee CEO Dan Murrey made a stop at a meeting of the Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists for a briefing on the convention. Journalists traveled from across the state to hear about planning and media access. Murrey repeated the message he has been sharing that the convention offers a “branding opportunity,” a chance for the city to set an impression that will linger when each one of the 35,000 or so visitors has left.

And he again managed not to answer the question of how much of the $36.65 million in convention funding has been raised. But he did smile while not answering.

Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to The Root, NPR, Creative Loafing and the Nieman Watchdog blog. Her “Keeping It Positive” segment airs Wednesdays at 7:10 on TV’s Fox News Rising Charlotte, and she was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter. http://twitter.com/mcurtisnc3

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