Hello defenders of democracy
On October 30th we were at Drexel University for the Democratic Debate and had the best stop of the campaign thus far. The day started at 7:30 AM with our first live television appearance on the local Fox affiliate Channel 29 in Philladelphia. I have to admit I was bit nervous the few minutes leading up to the interview but thanks to Sheinelle Jones and the rest of the folks at Channel 29 the interview went off without a problem. We arrived on the Drexel campus around 10:00 AM and were directed to an excellent location directly across from the media circus just beginning to setup to cover the debate, everything seemed to be going perfect and then Philadelphia's finest showed up. They had been directed by the Secret Service that no one was to park on the street a block down from where the debate was going to be and after a short exchange between myself and one of Philly's finest we were persuaded that we indeed did need to move the bus. I got in touch with our contact at Drexel and he found us a spot just one block down and directly in front of the building where the debate was to be held that evening. You're now thinking why would we be allowed directly in front of the building where the debate was actually going to be and not allowed to park a block away...I have no answer for this.
As you can imagine we were pretty happy with our new location when we first arrived. We set up shop and waited for the onslaught of visitors and media to show up. This did not happen. The only guest we had were some wonderfully friendly folks with the Japanese Public Broadcasting Station that are doing a documentary on voting and plan on including a good bit of information on Project Vote Smart. Other than that the only foot traffic we were going to see would be from the debate and they wouldn't start showing up for hours. Within an hour or so we became even more concerned as now we were having trouble getting hold of anyone from Drexel and those we were able to speak to seemed to have no idea where to put us and didn't seem all that concerned with our little predicament. We waited here the rest of the morning and into the afternoon with only a hand full of visitors and our spirits slowly spiraling downward.
When hope seemed to all but have disappeared a call finally came from Dave Wilson with the University, and it was good news. Dave had spoken with the Secret Service and we were cleared to go back to where we were originally stationed directly across from the media vans. After another interesting exchange between myself, a representative from the University and another Philadelphia police officer we were finally allowed back to our original position just after 4:00 PM. Literally the minute we opened the back door of the bus interested onlookers began asking questions about the bus. By the time we had the bus and the table outside set up there were a good dozen people receiving information from Jon, Dave Facteua (a former intern that volunteered to help us out for the day) and myself. Another local television station saw this and came over to shoot some video. They were followed by a steady flow of local newspapers and talk radio stations. Jon, Dave and I stayed busy the entire evening with folks interested in why there was a giant bus parked on the sidewalk and we were more than happy explain it to them. By 11:00 PM that night we had spoken to well over 400 individuals and at least eight different media outlets about Project Vote Smart.
Around 11:30 PM we were finally allowed to head out of town, so we drove the bus to Long Branch, New Jersey our next stop on the schedule, arriving around 2:30 AM. It was a long 20 hour day but no one said saving democracy was going to be easy, if it was someone would have already done it.
1 November 2007
Written by MikeW