The Law Enforcement And First Responders
I also took the time in my non-stop day to talk to any and all support staff I saw, and some first responders and the food truck people. There was a moderate amount of police presence, both local police and the County Police. They were all friendly and pleasant, and many were wearing vests under their uniform shirts. all were armed with ;pistols, tasers, batons and a flashlight that I saw, though most of the Mesa police didn’t have vests.
They walked in pairs, with a Mesa police officer teamed typically with a county sheriff. Toward the end of the convention when a delegate began loudly complaining about “fraud” because of the multi-slating and the way the electronic voting website displayed final results, 4 pairs of them arrived in the main foyer rapidly, though nothing happened and they dispersed shortly thereafter.
The fire fighters, for some reason, tended to congregate around the restrooms–go figure. They were also friendly, and in my small talk all of the law enforcement officers expressed confidence there would be no “problems”. There was no security screening of any kind, no searches of purses, metal detectors or anything else. I don’t believe anyone snuck a firearm in–but they sure could have.
The Support Staff
The janitorial staff at the convention were also friendly, and of course had no idea where anyone was or where any particular events were happening–though a couple did complain about the way various ground teams treated them, and the general and inexplicable shortage of trash cans, everywhere–something delegates also noticed.
The majority of support staff were frantically emptying the few trash cans their were outside and inside, but they still managed to keep the bathrooms clean.
Quite a few of the support staff I spoke to mentioned they were glad for the “extra hours” and actually hoping the convention would be as long as prior ones have apparently been. By far, the support staff were Trump voters, and number one reasons being JOBS and the wall. I made a few remarks to one janitor on trash detail, and we would probably still be talking if I hadn’t had to come home LOL.
Quite a few of the support staff I talked to were surprised (and pleased) that I had noticed them at all–one actually asked me if I was speaking to him, and when I said yes, he told me at the end of our short conversation it was the first time he could remember anyone at ANY event he worked speaking to him in conversation rather than just seeking information, and the only time he remembered anyone thanking him for the work he did.
My take away on that is simple–I’m ashamed of myself, as I thought about it and realized the only time I ever take the time to exchange a few pleasantries with support staff anywhere is for a specific purpose, myself. Whether that purpose is information gathering or in the course of cleaning up after a special event where we sold kettle korn, it’s never “just because”. It’s unsettling to think about.
Concessions And Vending Trucks
The concessions staff were friendly and busy, but not overly so. We could drink and eat on the convention floor, surprisingly enough, but the lack of trash cans was really odd. I literally counted less than a dozen in the foyer and convention floor area, one 55 gallon one with each food truck (health code requirement, probably belonged to the vendors themselves), and less than a half dozen scattered elsewhere. The concessions people I spoke to said they had stopped paying attention to what goes on at events like the convention years ago–most had been working for the convention center for quite a while.
The healthy food truck people–like all of their customers I spoke to, were Cruz voters who had a Cruz bumper sticker on the truck–which might account for the fact that every single one of their customers I asked was a Cruz supporter. None of the food vendors I saw were wearing campaign gear or stickers of any kind, and they didn’t particularly want to talk politics–but the three I talked to also said that the convention was the best day they had “in a long time”.
I will say that from a food vending point of view, the GOP had almost exactly the right number of food trucks–the most they could have added was one more. All the trucks were running flat out at full speed all during lunch, and I would guess most were almost out of food by the time lunch was over. The mix of food was acceptable–barbecue, quesadillas and healthy food outside, the typical event venue concession food inside, typically priced.
As a 10.00 food voucher got you a lunch item and a drink, I’d say the food vendors realized a decent though not extravagant profit from the event, which is a good thing. We know from experience how dicey it can be to make a profit at a “small” event like this, especially one with a cash price for tickets attached.
The Final Take Aways:
- The AZGOP did an acceptable, though not amazing job, with this convention. They should have just used printed paper ballots and had everyone slated, or not slated at all and let us actively stump. At the very least we should have been allowed to (or REQUIRED TO) stump in our breakout room before the first vote.
- The Trump ground team didn’t meet my expectations for this event, at all. The campaign needs to address the ground team issue NOW, well before California.
- The Cruz Crew were insufferably polite and friendly–unless you challenged their guy with your concerns (my other half was concern trolling, and a female Cruz Crew member told him to shut up and leave her alone when SHE butted into HIS conversation with 2 male Cruz Crew members in the first place LOL.
- The Kasich team might as well have stayed home. I think they outnumbered his supporters.
- The electronic voting SNAFU was idiotic–they shouldn’t have just assumed that 98% of convention delegates would come armed with tablets or smart phones. They should have had at least 2 rooms and 50 computers or more set up for that–or used the danged paper ballots.
- MORE TRASH CANS would have been nice.
- Better organization of credentialing, More proactive engagement by the GOPer operatives with the delegates. This is where the shortage of precinct seat holders was evident–as they are usually on the front line at a convention, shepherding any of their precinct members through the process or helping those who don’t have a precinct seat holder around.
- The GOPer convention volunteer squad was on the small side, and not well coordinated either. Many of them didn’t know what was up during the second credentialing, and couldn’t answer other questions either.
It could have been far worse, of course, but it also could have been far better in terms of helping new participants understand how the party and process works. The few of us who had some prior experience were just too danged busy to coordinate our efforts. It was basically going from one small crisis to another, and hoping others were doing the same.
Considering how Graham was touting the outreach efforts from the last election and taking credit for the unprecedented growth of the party in THIS cycle, the actions came nowhere near supporting the rhetoric he was spouting. Getting people involved in the process for the vote is great. But KEEPING them involved is the only thing that can lead to reform.
Of course, the GOPers have no real interest in informed voters, when it comes to controlling party platforms, rules and direction–that would derail their gravy train.