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Charlotte to receive $50 million for security at DNC 2012

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City of Charlotte. (Source: Charlotte Convention and Visitor's Bureau) City of Charlotte. (Source: Charlotte Convention and Visitor's Bureau)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Democratic National Committee has chosen Charlotte as the host city for the 2012 presidential convention.

The group announced Tuesday morning that the Queen city is the top finalist for the 46th annual event which is scheduled to be held the week of September 3, 2012.

Charlotte councilman Andy Dulin told WBTV the federal government is also planning to give the city $50 million to pay for security-related expenses pertaining to the convention.

The city will be able to keep the equipment purchased with the millions from the federal government which Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe says is a good thing for the police department. 

The money will likely be spent on security cameras and other technology, but Monroe promises it will be "spent wisely."

On Wednesday, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine joined Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority Chief Operating Officer Mike Crum for a walk through of Time Warner Arena to discuss what upgrades need to be made prior to the convention events.  

Charlotte city beat out St. Louis, Mo.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Cleveland, Ohio.

The committee said Charlotte's walkable, well-designed center city would provide delegates and visitors with easy access to an array of restaurants, entertainments and attractions.

Foxx says he's happy the convention is coming to Charlotte.

"We're honored that the Democratic National Committee chose Charlotte to host its 2012 convention," said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.  "Thanks to the hard work and support of so many throughout our community, we have an unmatched opportunity to show the world what a beautiful, energetic, innovative and diverse city we are building in Charlotte. As we tell the story of Charlotte, and what a great place our city, state and region are to live and do business, we also will tell the story of America to our fellow citizens and our neighbors around the world."

Francis Slay, mayor of St. Louis, released a somewhat bitter statement on his blog Monday afternoon regarding the DNC's decision:  "...St. Louis was not selected for 2012 for reasons of electoral politics. That is a decision of the President and his reelection team. I will not fault it. St. Louis will submit a bid for a 2016 national political convention, when the electoral politics will be different. Thanks to all who helped put together a strong DNC bid. We just aren't the South."

During the press conference held at Charlotte-Douglas Airport after he flew in Tuesday night, Democratic National Committee chair Tim Kaine did not hide the fact that politics played a role.

"We did well in the South in 2008, and we're determined to do well again, and that's one of the reasons why we think Charlotte's such a good pick," Kaine said.

Obama edged Republican John McCain in 2008 by about 14,000 votes among more than 4.3 million votes cast to put the North Carolina's electoral votes in the Democratic column for the first time since 1976.

The President also won Virginia and Florida, two other states Republicans usually win.

Kaine also said the enthusiasm of Charlotte's leaders and Charlotte's story of going from an old South to new South economy were factors. 

He also said both Barack and Michelle Obama personally like North Carolina.  The first family came to the state for a weekend vacation to Asheville's Grove Park Inn last spring.

The convention is expected to bring an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 delegates, media members, and political leaders.  Many Charlotte leaders say the convention will pump millions of dollars into the local economy.  

Pumping in millions of dollars, with basically not one dime spent by the taxpayers, city councilman Patrick Cannon told WBTV.

Cannon says the only cost to the city will be what Charlotte would normally pay to host other big events, "basic infrastructure, planting flowers, the things one would do to spruce up your uptown."

That means no matter your political affiliation, you will feel the impact.

"The guy I buy my bread from, the guy I buy my chicken from, the produce guy. Everybody is affected by the convention," said James Bazelle, owner of Mert's Heart and Soul Restaurant.

Related article: Late councilwoman had hand in Charlotte landing DNC

When asked about their feelings on the DNC, one Charlotte resident said "It's a weeklong event that's broadcast around the world. So it's like having the Superbowl seven days a week."

And you can expect security to get more intense, the closer we get to the convention.

"It gets a little more complicated, we have to follow more rules and regulations," said limo operator Jeff Thompson. "You have to be on your toes."

Dr. Vivian Lord, a criminal justice professor at UNC-Charlotte, says when you think security for the convention, terrorism may pop into your head first, but police will also have to deal with simpler things like getting traffic into uptown.

"Where will they be parking people?" Dr. Lord asked. "How will they get people from one area to the other?"

Chief Rodney Monroe says it's going to take about 18 months to put a plan together.

"But it's not something that we don't believe we'll be able to do, and very successfully," said Monroe, who has already spoken to federal agents about the security boost.

Police officers in Denver, who hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention, have a little advice for Charlotte.

"Don't fool yourself into thinking just one city's going to take this whole thing on," said Denver Police spokesperson Sonny Jackson. "We had to bring in officers from our neighboring communities, whether it be their swat team, whether it be their dogs , whether it just be boots on the ground."

Charlotte Area Transit CEO Carolyn Flowers says Charlotte may have to rely on other jurisdictions to help transport all the visitors as well, plus the thousands of daily transportation riders.

"CATS will have to ensure that we get assistance from other transit agencies, and within the city, to ensure we have adequate resources for the convention," Flowers said.

First Lady Michelle Obama released a statement Tuesday morning which said, "We want this to be a grassroots convention for the people. We will finance this convention differently than it's been done in the past, and we will make sure everyone feels closely tied in to what is happening in Charlotte. This will be a different convention, for a different time."

The new North Carolina Republican Party chairman says he welcomes Democrats to Charlotte for their national convention next year. 

But GOP Chairman Robin Hayes said Tuesday that won't be enough for President Obama to again win the state's 15 electoral votes.

"We look forward to Charlotte being in the spotlight in 2012, but North Carolinians will not be fooled again by empty promises of 'Hope' and 'Change,'" Hayes said.  "Just last November, North Carolinians rejected the failed policies of President Obama and Governor Perdue and elected Republicans to lead the North Carolina State House and State Senate for the first time in over 100 years.  We welcome the Democrats to Charlotte, but they must answer for their misguided policies that have led to more debt, more spending and more government."

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