It's been a rough week for the Blake Hotel and the California delegation.
The hotel's been undergoing remodeling for months. They didn't quite work out all the bugs before opening their doors to the convention's largest delegation. A chunk of plaster fell off the building on Friday. The city reportedly condemned a few rooms for not being up to code. Guests got stuck in an elevator. One floor had no hot water, another no cold water. One guest said there was water dripping from his ceiling.
Californians haven't been shy about complaining. Loudly. The state party set up a special e-mail address for delegates to give feedback on their lodgings. Glad it's not me reading those complaints!
The staff has bent over backwards to try putting collective fingers in the many leaking dikes. Several I've talked to are working many, many overtime hours.
A "whip" rallies party delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
It's the oddest sight—the dancing "whips."
The California delegation is massive: 609 people packed into the back quadrant, right behind the CNN broadcast space. Surrounding the delegation are more than a dozen men and women wearing neon yellow vests with orange stripes. They look like crossing guards or perhaps highway workers. But they're not, they're "whips" — charged with whipping up the crowd on the convention floor.
Early in the convention, they worked en masse like a cheerleading team, urging the delegation to dance, chant, and "make some noise."
The leader of the pack is Shawn Bagley of Salinas. He stands below the delegation, waving his arms, pointing his fingers, orchestrating the delegates' responses.
Bagley says it's improv. He "makes stuff up" as he goes along.
And he's fiercely competitive. He calls other states "rookies." He says Texas made some noise and it was "pretty impressive," but he hasn't heard the New York delegation do anything. "California's been whupping everybody," he says. "We're the best!"
The NL West pennant race is causing a playful rift in the California delegation at the DNC
There was lots of trash talking at Monday's California delegation meeting. Not just about the GOP, but about the Dodgers and Giants.
It might be cast as the usual SF/LA rivalry, but it's a bit more than that. Particularly since the woman who helped deliver the Dodgers to L.A. from Brooklyn is in the house.
Roz Wyman is a lifelong Democrat and party bigwig. Dianne Feinstein stays at her house when she's in LA. But back when she was a 20-something kid just out of college, Wyman won a seat on the L.A. City Council. She and Kenneth Hahn spearheaded the drive to bring the team west. Her good friend, former American Film Institute chief Jean Firstenberg, is also at the Democratic National Convention and is also a Dodger fan.
State party chairman John Burton is also a baseball fan — specifically a Giants fan. And the Dodgers are 4 1/2 games behind the Giants. Or, as L.A. Congressman Xavier Becerra put it: "The Giants are kicking some butt." He promised his beloved Dodgers were "going to make it a race." And one way or another, he predicted, "California's going to win the World Series."
Dante, left, and David Atkins are brothers and progressive Democrats from Southern California who are delegates at the Democratic National Convention
They look alike, they talk alike, and though they're not twins, they are united in a mission: move the Democratic Party farther to the left.
Delegates David Atkins of Ventura and Dante Atkins of Los Angeles say they’ve always had political inclinations. David said they were “always excited to get our sample ballots from the time we were 12 years old. And we would go and mark them up. It was hilarious.”
The pair started writing their opinions online about a decade ago, then got involved with Howard Dean's presidential campaign. Since then, the duo has been working within the party itself, trying to embody what Dean described as the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” David expresses frustration at what he calls “old school” local party structure that rarely champions progressive values.
This is the story, according to a California Democratic Party spokesman: A pair of California delegates arrived at their hotel drunk. Hotel staff noticed that one of the men appeared to be unconscious and called paramedics. The delegate was taken to a local hospital and has been released.
According to several reports, the other intoxicated delegate became disruptive with hotel staff and emergency technicians, prompting the hotel to call the police. The delegate was not arrested. But this afternoon, California Democratic Party staff met with that delegate and asked him to leave the hotel and not partake in convention activities. The delegate has apologized to hotel staff and earlier today agreed to leave the hotel and forego official delegation activities in Charlotte. No word yet about the identity of either delegate.