March 19, 2008

More On The DNC Protest Permit Snafu

An update on the kerfuffle at yesterday's Denver park permit request lottery, now postponed until Thursday:
The lottery was supposed to give everyone who wanted to occupy the parks during the convention an equal chance.

After months of meetings, the city's new system came to this: two groups, one anti-war and one anti-abortion, packed the process with multiple applications to improve their chances.

The first park awarded was the City of Cuernavaca Park. Every day of convention week, Aug. 25-28, and the weekends bookending it, went either to Re-create 68 or Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust.

A neutral volunteer drew name cards from the box after they first were read aloud, one by one, and checked against the database list.

But Danielle Versluys, the anti-abortion representative in the room, noticed a problem. A pastor working with their group won a day at Cuernavaca for which he hadn't applied, and other members of the alliance who had applied weren't on the cards that were to go into the box, she said.

The city blamed a "faulty data transfer that somehow misprinted information":
Then, after the Cuernavaca permits were issued, the city began laying out the cards for Civic Center, which is the park Re-create 68 has been asking for more than a year to use.

Barbara Cohen, an anti-war activist with the group, went up to the table and saw that her applications for several days were missing. Spagnuolo followed and couldn't find his, either.

"My name and Re-create 68 is missing from the file. Gee, I don't know how that happened," Spagnuolo said.

Mayoral assistant Chantal Unfug quickly called a halt.

"I don't want anyone to lose faith," she said. "The reason we did it this way was so people could see if we made a mistake."
Yeah, but I'm sure exposing incompetence wasn't the purpose of the intended visibility and safeguards.

Nothing like giving groups such as Recreate '68 any more rhetorical ammunition against the city:
"I think it's a disgrace," said Glenn Spagnuolo, an organizer with the protest group Re-create 68. "They had all this time to figure it out, and they still couldn't get it right."

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