Denver Hits Some Snags In Runup To Convention After 19 months of work, the city is ready to host the 2008 Democratic National Convention. There've been some problems: The host committee has fallen short of fundraising goals, and the city upset protest groups by building a temporary jail.
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Denver Hits Some Snags In Runup To Convention

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Denver Hits Some Snags In Runup To Convention

Denver Hits Some Snags In Runup To Convention

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Scott Simon. The Democratic National Convention opens in Denver a week from today. The city's been preparing a year and a half for the four-day event, and there have been some glitches along the way. But NPR's Jeff Brady reports Denver is just about ready.

JEFF BRADY: All over town, there are signs the convention is about to begin. Some of those signs are literal, like the hundreds of Denver 2008 banners downtown and the billboards taken over by groups from Amnesty International to the coal industry.

(Soundbite of truck)

BRADY: There are also last-minute clean-up projects. These landscapers are planting trees along the boulevard outside the arena where the convention will be held. It's as if the Queen City of the Plains, as Denver was once known, is checking her make-up one last time before company arrives.

Kevin Kanouff has been watching all the changes from his office window. He runs a private investment business out of a building right next to the arena.

Mr. KEVIN KANOUFF (Businessman): A lot of the things, the deferred maintenance, I think, around the city has been taken care of, and that's been neat to see. So I think the city's looking sharp.

BRADY: It seems like almost every day another group announces a party or a concert. Some are officially sanctioned, and some are not. On the convention host committee's Web site, there's the jazz and blues festival, featuring artists like Jeffrey Osborne.

(Soundbite of song "On the Wings of Love")

Mr. JEFFREY OSBORNE (Singer): (Singing) On the wings of love, up and above the clouds, the only way to fly.

BRADY: On the not-sanctioned side of things, protest groups announced last week that Rage Against the Machine will perform at one of their events.

(Soundbite of song "Killing in the Name")

Mr. ZACK DE LA ROCHA (Vocalist, Rage Against the Machine): (Singing) (Bleep) you, I won't do what you tell me. (Bleep) you, I won't do what you tell me.

BRADY: I think you get the idea. Authorities in Denver clearly are worried about security. Protest organizers have pointed to 1968 and the violent clashes with police in Chicago as their role model.

Both Denver and Minneapolis received $50 million in federal money for security. In Denver, some of that will pay to remodel a warehouse into a temporary jail. Protestors have dubbed the sparse, chain-linked facility Gitmo on the Platte. The Platte River is nearby.

Frank Gale is a captain with the Denver Sheriff's Department.

Captain FRANK GALE (Denver Sheriff's Department): I think we have to be prepared. I mean, when people tell us they're going to come and be disruptive, we have to believe them.

BRADY: Gale says the county jail has limited capacity for fingerprinting and photographing a bunch of people at one time. That's why they're building the temporary jail.

Cpt. GALE: Generally right now in the existing facilities, we can process about 30 people an hour, and we think we can do twice that rate at the other facility. So…

BRADY: Protest groups were upset the city didn't tell them the temporary jail was under construction, and now it's become a focus of demonstrations even before the convention begins.

Raising enough money to pay for the Democrats' convention has been another sticking point for Denver. The host committee has consistently fallen short of fundraising goals set by the party. After a few bad PR experiences, the host committee resolved the situation by no longer publicly reporting how much it had raised. But a spokesman assures NPR there will be enough cash, and final numbers will be released in October. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver.

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