Cowboys, carpenters, cantaloupe vendors get ready for the GOP
Dallas — Down at the Farmer's Market here, Steve Lacey, wearing blue mud-splattered overalls, cowboy hat, and sandals, sat on the back of his red Chevy pickup, which was loaded with fresh cantaloupes. No, he hadn't heard about the Republican National Convention opening here next week.
But now that he knows, he is planning to reserve a stall at the market, because convention crowds bring more customers.
And this convention will bring a lot more than customers, including:
- A President.
- Daily, short cattle drives on a grassy area not far from the convention center.
- Opera star Luciano Pavarotti.
- A chili-and-barbecue cook-off.
Dallas is nearly ready for its own brand of free-enterprise Texas hospitality in what promises to be a very fancy show whose viewers already know most of the script.
As for the script, Al Eisenberg and Lou Rodriguez are almost ready, too.
Never heard of them? Not many people have. They stay behind the scenes most of the time - or, in the case of presidential conventions, under the scenes.
They will be operating the teleprompter, that handy invention that allows presidents and others to look out at their audience and give their speeches without constantly looking down at their notes. The speakers' scripts are picked up by a TV camera in a small room under the podium, then reflected upward to two clear panels just in front of the podium and at eye level to the speakers.
On the podium, right where the President will stand to accept his party's nomination, Arlene Dillon, a CBS employee, stood for a few minutes this week. She balanced in her high heels on top of a big tin can, so that TV camera operators in front of the podium could make focusing adjustments to the height of some speakers.
Preparations run to such detail that a grumbling carpenter was pulling off the molding he had just put up around a floor-level entrance to the stairs leading to the podium. Someone had decided the door frames didn't need the molding. ''Those Republicans have more money than sense,'' quipped another workman.
And on the stairs, which will not be seen by anyone in the audience, a worker was carefully laying blue carpeting.
On the floor of the Dallas Convention Center, two kinds of red-cushioned chairs are being set up: one with armrests, and in the area for alternate delegates, toward the rear of the floor, those with no armrests. Utah delegates have been given front-row-center seats, just under the podium, on the seating chart. The press will get seats on either side of the podium and share a limited number of floor passes in rotation to gain access to delegates during the convention. There may be more journalists here than delegates.
Who pays for all this?
The Texas constitution prohibits spending public money for private purposes. So in order to get the convention and the dollars and publicity it brings, the city pledged to raise its nearly $4 million share from private sources. The last
The Federal Election Commission is paying most of the balance, some $8 million, according to the Republican Party.
Private funds have even paid for sanitation facilities at the camping area for demonstrators. Several thousand protesters are expected to participate in a march, a rally, and other anti-Reagan events. Protest leaders have been training some 125 of the demonstrators as ''peace keepers'' to help keep the protests nonviolent.
''We're preparing for 3,000,'' says Roger Kallenberg, a demonstration coordinator here. Getting the various protest groups to agree on a 10-point ''platform'' and to work together has been ''a strain,'' he said, in the small storefront office between two taverns, where the march and rally are being planned.
David Fox, chairman of the Dallas Welcome Committee for the convention says he hopes the ''incredible publicity'' Dallas will get from the convention will be positive and will attract additional industries and investments to the city.