Sunday, August 31, 2008


So it was the day of the Daily Show event. I was hoping to be there by noon but I missed the bus so I called a cab. I figured I wouldn't get there by the time I wanted but I knew I had to be there by 1. After about 50 minutes the cab never called or showed and the free shuttle was ready to head downtown. So i jumped on that went to Union Station, then took the free 16th Street Mall shuttle up to the light rail. Luckily the light rail went straight to University of Denver, where the show was being taped. I was able to get a hold of one of the faculty members who was there to let her know what was going on. She said it was fine so I wasn't so stressed. I showed up at the University of Denver and started walking toward the event. The University has a beautiful campus. I walked halfway across and started going down the street I thought would take me to the event. But after about 2 miles I realized I was going the wrong way. On the plus side I was able to see more of Denver. It's an impressive city. After an hour and a half or so of walking I finally made it to the event. They official staff got the message I would be late and didn't hold it against me. They put me to work watching the outside line. It was extremely hot and after walking for about 3-4 miles I was ready to go inside. Thankfully there was an ice cream truck parked next to the line so I was able to get some. 
After a while of waiting and watching the line security came out and told the people waiting there was no more room. Needless to say people were very upset. It was about then when one of the staff members knocked on the window and motioned for me to go inside. As discreetly and quickly as I could I grabbed my bag and headed inside in front of the line. Up to that point I wasn't sure if I would be able to actually view the taping of the show. I was so excited. Inside we waited a bit until someone came out to the floor. I soon learned his job was to get people loose, excited, and loud with a comedy act and instructions. He was hilarious! He would talk and poke fun at members of the audience. He made sure everyone knew they were "more than half of the show" because people at home would enjoy the show more with laughter from the audience. After he was done John Stewart came out to answer questions. Soon after the show was under way. It was absolutely hilarious. If you happen to see the first episode of the Denver edition of The Daily Show, I was there!
After that I headed back toward downtown. I had nothing to do, Peter and April were in their fieldwork and professor Jasperson was in the Pepsi Center. Unfortunately, I didn't get back into town till about 6.30pm and by 5 it would have been too hard to get into the Pepsi Center. So Dr. Jasperson gave my day credential to another student because otherwise it would have been useless. So I went over to Leelas to watch Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech. By the time she was on the cafe` music was turned off, the t.v. turned up, and just about everyone there was attentively watching the speech. It was such an amazing speech. She really did a great job in showing her party unity. After the speech there was a small applause in the cafe`. 
Dr. Jasperson had texted me to meet them all at the Pepsi Center because Rep. Ciro Rodriguez wanted to meet everyone from UTSA. I didn't make into the Pepsi Center but was able to speak to him briefly over the phone. It was a good thing because I intern in the Commissioners Court where Rep. Rodriguez's younger brother "Chico" Rodriguez works. 
Soon after I met up with Dr. Jasperson, April, and Peter at the Cheesecake Factory. As it was the night before, the city was filled with people heading to after-convention parties and events. We didn't have any access to any for the night so we made out way back to the dorms at Regis. 
It was such a great experience to view the taping of The Daily Show. I really want to thank Dr. Hicklin for giving me her slot! And to Dr. Jasperson for taking me to the training session and for giving me so much support!

Monday-Convention is in full swing-Matt

So, last week I seriously began to have my doubts about what I could get out of this program. It seems The Washington Center dropped the ball with my fieldwork, so I really don't have anything to do. Definitely, not what I had expected. But thanks to Dr. Jasperson and Dr. Hicklin, another one of our faculty leaders, things really started to turn around. 
The day started out with Peter, April, Dr. Jasperson, and I meeting up at one of the many Starbucks, downtown, to discuss our game plan for the day. After that we all headed to the Texas delegation lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe` downtown. There we were able to mingle from delegates from cities such as Houston and Dallas. Soon after we arrived Peter and April had to go to their fieldwork assignments. While we were there professor Hicklin showed up. While we were there we heard an interesting speech by Charlie Wilson about how he got started in politics. It started when during his childhood when Mr. Wilson's neighbor poisoned his dog. To get revenge Mr. Wilson burned his neighbors lawn. But that wasn't enough.  When they were older Mr. Wilson ran for the same political office as his neighbor and was able to influence votes by telling the story of his poisoned dog when he would drop voters off at the polls. In the end Mr. Wilson won by 16 votes. "That's the day I fell in love with America and the day I fell in love with politics" said Mr. Wilson. 
While we were there I was also lucky enough to meet and interview Texas Rep. Charlie Gonzalez. I will put up the interview at the end of this posting. Also, a staff member from Sen. Leticia Van de Putte's office provided us with credentials to get into the Pepsi Center for that day and for Invesco Field on Thursday for Sen. Barack Obama's historic acceptance speech! I was so excited. I knew that this trip was now worth taking now that I was guaranteed access to see Sen. Obama give his speech. 
After the lunch reception I made my way over to an "Unconventional Woman" event where Speaker of the House Nanci Pelosi was to speak. Unfortunately, I had just missed Speaker Pelosi but I stayed to hear other key note speakers, including female senators, to talk about the importance of women in the political process. They also showed a sneak peak of an independent film entitled, "14 women", about the first 14 women senators and their personal stories and successes. 
After I left I stopped off briefly at Leela's, a European Cafe` that soon became our favorite internet cafe` hangout. I didn't stay for long because I was to meet Dr. Jasperson and Hicklin at the Pepsi Center. I soon learned what the actual convention is all about. It's full of speeches to get people excited and emotional about putting democrats in office. It's also about officially passing resolutions by groups such as the Rules and Credentials Committees. And of course it's mainly about officially nominating the candidates for the office of President and Vice President. 
Because my fieldwork position fell through, professor Hicklin was kind enough to give me her volunteer slot for The Daily Show with John Stewart. So professor Jasperson and I left the convention center to make the training session at the University of Denver. It was madness around the Pepsi Center. It took us more than 30 minutes to get a taxi. Even though it was close we made it to the training session. It was pretty straight forward though. All we were going to do was guard certain points of the building until the show began. 
After that Dr. Jasperson and I made our way back to the Regis University. The original plan was to head back to Regis, rest up for a bit, then make it back to the Pepsi Center for Michelle Obama's speech. Unfortunately, we got times confused and we realized she was speaking earlier than we thought. So we wouldn't make it to her speech. But there was a Texas Gala event afterwards that we began getting ready for. 
After waiting forever for our taxi to arrive we hopped into another students taxi despite there being 5 people to 4 seats. Haha, we made it though. We met up with Peter and April at the gala event. We talked to some delegates and hung out for a while. They had some amazing food. We didn't stay too long though. So after that we grabbed another taxi, cramped again, and headed back to Regis University. 
This day was very important. I learned what the convention is really about and I also learned that things were going to get much better. 
I would like to thank Dr. Jasperson, Dr. Hicklin, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, and Rep. Charlie Gonzalez for making this day so great!
I would also like to apologize to all the readers for such a late posting. 

Here is my interview with Rep. Charlie Gonzalez.
When I asked how Rep. Gonzalez got involved with politics he said he didn't really have a choice. He was raised in a political family. His father was a major source of political exposure. After his father retired he followed in his footsteps and became a lawyer, practicing in many types of law such as family, criminal, and workers compensation. He go his basics taken care of at San Antonio College and then graduated from UT Austin. From there he went to St. Mary's to study law. He says he was just "trying to survive". After that he became a county judge. 
When I asked him what his personal key issues were he responded by saying that they always revolved around his assignments as Chairman of Environmental Study. Those issues included energy, commerce, telecommunications, and technology. As far as energy goes he was looking for alternative energy sources to help cure global warming and independence from foreign oil. He was also very interested in the "digital divide". The internet is becoming a growing tool and to advance ourselves we need to get more people involved as it impacts all aspects of life. It has become a center and tool for commerce. 
I asked Rep. Gonzalez what he thought were the most important things he thought people should walk away from the convention with. He said there are two main things he would have people walk away with. The first was a true recognition of what's at stake with this campaign. The second was a focus on what the republicans were doing and a more vivid contrast between them and the democrats. 

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Computer Problems Revisited-Matt

NO!! Once again my blog was deleted before I could post!!!

I really apologize to all the readers. I will start posting in shorter bursts so this won't happen as often. 

Friday, August 29, 2008

From the DNC- Goodbye Denver -April, Matt and Peter

We would like to thank Leticia Van de Putte, Ciro Rodriguez, their staff, and Time Warner Cable for all of the assistance and favors you did for us these past two weeks in Denver. We have some great photos to post, but Matt and I are boarding the plane for San Antonio right now! Peter is about to board for Austin too. We are all very appreciative for all of the opportunities and hope that we gave a glimpse of what the DNC looked like "from the ground up."
-April, Matt and Peter

Thursday, August 28, 2008

From the RNC. Pics I could not post yesterday

Eugene Alpert, Senior Vice President The Washington Center

Reception at the gorgeous Landmark Building.
Six of the seven students from Texas. The seventh one took the picture.

Jill reading over a Peanut's character shoulder.
Frank ouside the St. Paul Hotel

From the RNC - Xcel Energy Center and fieldwork - Hilda

The enthusiasm increases in the students attending The Washington Center seminar as the days go by. Today there were two important events. First, the students got fieldwork assignments. Second, we got a special tour this afternoon of the Xcel Energy Center.
First, let me tell you about the fieldwork assignments. Each student will give several hours of volunteer work to this convention. Students will be working with the Republican Party, with the media or with interest groups. These jobs provide great opportunities for students to network, to make a good impression that in the past has resulted in internship or job offers. It also provides the excitement of working hands on with those who will be reporting the news (CNN, Washington Times, Fox News and many more) to the nation, or in receptions given to dignataries attending the convention. These are just two examples, but the list of jobs and the list of benefits from giving our time to the volunteer work is long.
The second thrilling event was the tour of the Xcel Energy Center where the convention will take place starting next Monday. Those in charge started workin on the center July 20th. The amount of work that has gone into it is astonishing. A giant screen, second only in resolution and size to the one everyone saw during the Olympics in China, is behind the podium. The Xcel is a well-designed building with nice view from just about anywhere in the center. Just being there built up our excitement. We all could imagine how it will look next week and cannot wait to be there.
We walked from the Xcel Energy Center to the Landmark Building to attend a lovely reception offered to us by The Washington Center. The park between the two buildings has sculptures of the Peanuts characters honoring its creator from Minneapolis, Charles Schulz. Around the corner is the Fitzgerald Theater (named after Scott Fitzgerald, also of Minnesota), where Garrison Keillor's Praire Home Companion shows take place.
Starting this weekend there will be a number of events, parties, and of course, the convention itself, all of which promises excitement and fun. We will continue to keep you posted.


So my blog was deleted when I tried posting. I apologize and will re-post tomorrow. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

From the DNC, Hillary Clinton- April

Around 2:30 p.m. Around 8:45 p.m.

Sen. Hillary Clinton Sen. Hillary Clinton

With U.S. Rep., Ciro Rodriguez

Tonight Hillary Clinton spoke. It was eloquent, practiced, and a very sad moment for some. I met a delegate today on the bus and he had Hillary stickers on his pants and buttons on his credential pass and shirt. I asked him what he planned to do once Hillary legally released him and other pledged delegates this week; he said that without-a-doubt, he would still put in his vote for her. He told me that he and his constituents were Clinton supporters so it only made sense that he would continue to show that support.
I met many Clinton supporters tonight and I saw the slight disappointment that they carried with them. I continue to ponder the "what-ifs" of the long primary season, and I assume others are as well.
I am not sure there is any better way to promote unity than what Hillary Clinton is doing. She has shown more grace, dignity, and integrity than she should have to.
Unity. Interesting concept.
The convention is half way over and I am exhausted!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A delayed perspective of the DNC protesting (April)

I spent Sunday afternoon following protesters through the streets of downtown Denver, and I was able to see a LOT. The media covered it, so I am sure you all have already heard about it. Compare your local/national coverage and photos to these.

From the RNC - First day of seminar. Monday

Today we enjoyed what our group leader said was one of the slower days of the seminar. First, the faculty members who are leading the study groups were introduced and asked to answer two questions: Is Biden a good pick for Obama’s vice-president? and, who will Mc Cain pick for VP? In general, everyone agreed that Biden’s foreign policy experience was a plus. Someone mentioned David Brook’s editorial where he mentioned that Biden has more: he is Catholic, comes from a working class family and did not attend an ivy-league school. However, some professors thought that because of Biden’s tendency to speak carelessly and become next day headlines, he might be a risk to Obama. As to the question of who will McCain pick, most of the professors answered by saying who they wanted McCain to pick, but three professors mentioned Mitt Romney, Tim Powlenti and K Bailey-Hutchison as possible picks. From 8:30 AM to noon, we listened to former Oklahoma Congresman Mickey Edwards. Congressman Edwards recently published a book “Reclaiming Conservatism.” He talked about the fact hat for the last few decades, the vice-president is chosen with one goal in mind, and that is to get the president elected. Congressman Edwards and Dr. Meena Bose, a Political Science professor, answered a number of questions from students on political parties, role of the President and the Supreme Court in issues such as abortion, term limits for congress members and more. It was quite an interesting session.

After lunch, we had a three hour study group session. We discussed the electoral process, its strengths and weaknesses, and why even with its weaknesses we admire those who envisioned the wisdom of this complex process. We also looked at the syllabus. We have been given assignments that seem a bit overwhelming. They include a lot of reading (textbook, editorials, newspapers), writing (short essay, journal), and conduct a minimum of six interviews, including at least one Convention Delegate, one Elected Public Official at the local or state level, an Elected Public Official at the national level, a Media Representative and a political consultant or other individual not included above. We also need to do our fieldwork, which may open the door to meet the people we will interview.

The Augsburg College has been a great host to this seminar. They are providing meeting places, encouragement from the College President and faculty, and today they organized an ice cream social for us.

Tomorrow, after a morning session and our study group session, we will have a tour of the Twin Cities, and then we will go to the Minnesota State Fair.

The pictures are from the Texas study group that Frank and I attend, and a picture of the all the students and faculty attending this seminar.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

From the RNC - First impressions, Sunday evening. Hilda Moeller

This seminar promises to be an intense, exciting, fun- filled work week, put together by the Washington Center. At the orientation, we became aware of the extraordinary amount of work and attention to detail that goes into putting it all together. Very soon, I noticed how smoothly everything was running. From handling our baggage, so that we could be free to roam outside of the hotel while the rooms were ready, to the well organized and delicious Italian dinner, to the orientation itself and the meeting afterwards with our group leaders; all seemed to flow well. The obvious purpose of this seminar is educational, but the Washington Center is making sure that we have fun while learning. At the same time we are motivated to bring out the best in ourselves.

We were told that there will not be much sleep, and I believe them. Today I started the day at 4:15 am to catch a 6:00 AM flight. Right now is 10:00 PM and before I can think of rest, I need to do reading that we will use at 8:00 tomorrow morning. We will have study, field work, and of course, the convention itself next week. We were warned that we can sleep when we get back home. I don’t doubt that to be exaggeration, but expect it indicates long days and short nights.

So far my first impressions are of friendliness, efficiency, motivation, excitement, and fun. I can't wait till tomorrow when we get into the thick of the action.

Left: Orientation. Right, Frank Carni II who won the first prize in the ice-breaker game.

From the DNC - A Busy Couple of Days - Matt Shelton

So as the title suggests it truly has been a busy couple of days. Thursday is where I last left off. It was an interesting set of morning lectures. We had the President/ Chair of the Denver Host Committee, Elbra Wedgeworth. She talked about her involvement in getting the Democratic National Convention Committee to choose Denver as the next host of the convention. The part of the lecture that stood out the most for me was a disappointing one. When asked about the rumor that the city was paying to transport their cities homeless Councilwoman Wedgeworth talked about the cities homeless initiative, which she claimed was the best in the nation. Students, including myself, were obviously not satisfied. She was asked two more questions about the cities homeless but were only given dodgy answers.
On a quick note, as I'm sitting outside of Tokyo Joes, there is a walking protest coming down the street. It's an anti-war protest. "No justice, no peace. US out of the middle east". Signs that say "Prisoners for profit is a crime". We have been here for a week before the opening ceremonies took place last night and the changes that are underway are clearly evident all over.
Back to the lectures. After Councilwoman Wedgeworth stepped down Agent David O'Connor of the Secret Services Dignitary Protective Division, took the podium. It may not have been the most informative of lectures as we all have a pretty good idea of what the Secret Service does but it was still one of the more interesting lectures.
More protest signs are making their way down the 16th street mall. "Funk the war". It's going to be a very interesting week.
Anyways, later Thursday night a reception in the VIP section of Invesco field, home of the Denver Broncos and site of Obama's upcoming acceptance speech, was held for all the students and teachers of The Washington Centers program. Afterwards Peter and I made our way downtown but not for long. We then returned to the dorms. I didn't get any sleep that night because I had a lot of work that I knew would keep me up for a while. I also had to be at the Pepsi Center, location of the upcoming Convention, at 7am because I was to be access control for public school group tours and VIP access. I was able to get a sneak peak of the convention hall. The one picture of the DNC screen was taken with my cell phone. It was an impressive setup. I finished that up around 10am. From there I attempted to take the bus back to Regis University but got a little turned around. I eventually made it back. By then it was time to get ready for a concert I had planned to go to myself. It was an adventure to get to the venue, Red Rocks Amphitheater. Unfortunately the buses don't go out that far and taking a cab from Regis would have cost 50$. The plan was to take the bus as far as I could and then I would come up with a game plan after that. Well there was some confusion with the bus system. But I eventually made it to where I needed to go and then hiked my way through part of the Rocky Mountains and made it to the show. It was truly a memorable experience to see these bands, The Bouncing Souls, The Might Mighty Bosstones, and NOFX at the infamous Red Rocks Amphitheater. After the show I took a taxi back to Regis and fell asleep.
Saturday morning I made my way downtown to the Convention Center for my housing fieldwork training. Later that day I was scheduled for my first fieldwork assignment but apparently it was cancelled. It was incredibly lucky because The Washington Center presented us with media credentials to get into the media party that was taking place at the cities amusement park located two blocks from the main city street.
Soon after we arrived at the park we were directed to the stage area where a group of Native American tribal leaders along with Governor Bill Ritter, Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth, and Mayor Hickenlooper began the official opening ceremonies very much like the way Denver did 100 years ago when the Democratic National Convention came in 1908. After a short welcoming speech Mayor Hickenlooper opened the stage for The Flobots. It was an amazing show! I had heard of them before but hadn't heard their music. They just put on an excellent show. After that Peter and I rode one of the roller coasters and watched an amazing firework show. We played some games until the park was starting to close down. After that we headed back to the dorms.
It was a great couple of days. The music shows were so exciting. I have to admit that after the opening ceremony last night I am looking forward to the coming week even more than before.

DNC Friday & Saturday Pictures - Peter, April, and Matt

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Today we toured the Pepsi Center, the location for the first three days of the convention. Afterwards we saw Howard Dean speak before we went to Coors Field for the Rockies game.

The Pepsi Center:

Pepsi Center Foyer:

Main Stage:

Outside of the Pepsi Center:

Expression of First Amendment Rights Outside of the Pepsi Center:

Howard Dean at the Colorado Convention Center:

An Awesome Car Downtown:

Coors Field, Home of the Colorado Rockies:

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Today we attended the media party hosted at Six Flags at Elitch Gardens. We will let the pictures explain it all.

Heightened Security:

Speakers at the Media Party

Amazing Flobots Concert!!!

Amazing Fireworks Show:

Pictures taken by Peter Sebesta