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Hello from Denver: Corey Ellis at the Democratic National Convention.

Photo: Chet Hardin

Things to Do in Denver When You’re a Delegate

Locals make their mark on the Democratic National Convention

I think there is going to be a return to the grass roots campaigning we saw during the primary,” said Albany Common Councilman (Ward 3) and Obama delegate Corey Ellis. Ellis, just days away from attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver, told Metroland that he planed to use the opportunity to network with delegates and Obama campaign heads from battleground states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. Ellis has been heavily involved in running Albany for Obama. Headquartered on Lexington Avenue, Albany for Obama sent local volunteers to Ohio and Pennsylvania during the Democratic primary, and the organization wants to make sure that local Democrats will be able to spend weeks leading up to the election on the ground, knocking on doors and phone banking.

Ellis said he felt there was a brief lapse in the grassroots approach to the Obama campaign after the primary, when there was a “unification” between the Clinton and Obama camps, but that things will be back on track after the convention.

“People are ready to support him a huge way,” said Ellis. “It took a while for Clinton and Obama supporters and staff to really work that stuff out after the primary. But I think it got worked out before the convention. So now we can move forward to organizing.”

However, fears about party unity have so far dominated the reporting about the Democratic convention. And if they are any indication, Democrats—especially those in Senator Hillary Clinton’s home state of New York—have work to do to unify the party.

Critics have said that the Clinton family’s roles in the convention overshadow the man who actually won the primary. And, as of publication, rumors still abound that the Clinton and Obama camps are struggling to come to terms on a symbolic roll call vote for Clinton. While local Albany council people like Ellis and Carolyn McLaughlin (Ward 2) are representing the area as Obama delegates, other area prominent party members, such as Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Charles Diamond, and Albany County Executive Michael Breslin, are Clinton delegates. Breslin has publicly stated that he is actively supporting Obama.

On Monday, Albany County Legislator Wanda Willingham found herself pepper sprayed as police in riot gear tried to stop protestors from entering the Sheraton Hotel in Denver. Willingham is a guest of the New York Delegation. Protestors have complained of their rough treatment by authorities in Denver.

Meanwhile, New York Governor David Paterson addressed the convention on Tuesday night. Paterson passionately supported Obama saying, “If John McCain is the answer, the question must be ridiculous.” Senator Hillary Clinton capped Tuesday night with a rousing, possibly career-defining speech that called for unity and urged her die-hard supporters to ask themselves if they were truly “in it” for her, or for the people in America who need help and the issues the Democratic party supports.

Ellis said that he hopes to bring back the connections and lessons he learns from the convention and share them with local Obama supporters, and with the community that he feels the Albany for Obama office has already greatly affected.

Ellis recently told a crowd of Obama supporters, “Give us your old, your tired, your retired, your unemployed.” Ellis intends to send as many locals as possible campaigning door to door for Obama in the coming months. And he says there are already an impressive number of people waiting to do so.

According to Ellis, the local Obama office has been a center for Obama supporters throughout the state. The Albany office remained open during the primary, when even New York City did not have a proper Obama office. But what Ellis said he is most proud of is the way the Lexington Avenue office has inspired local community members.

Ellis said he has received thanks from Lexington Avenue business owners who feel the office brings credibility and importance to a neglected area of Albany. Meanwhile, Ellis said young men in the neighborhood periodically stop by asking Ellis, “You got any flyers for us to hand out?” To Ellis, that is a strong indication that the Obama campaign is bringing “Hope” back to a once hopeless neighborhood.

—David King

What a Week

Oh, the Humanity!

In the face of the current state of the American health care system and the ongoing health care debate, Americans may have a hard time empathizing with the French, who are facing cuts to their national healthcare system. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has cut funding for half of the country’s 165 physiotherapists at the National Baths of Aix-Les-Bains. As a result, the physiotherapists have gone on strike. Sarkozy has begun to take on France’s state sector industries, which have regularly scared away attempted cuts by previous French leaders. In a recent speech, Sarkozy recently pointed out that there are 721 French diplomats in the former colony of Senegal, which only has a population of 12 million—while there are only 271 diplomats in India. “How is that normal?” Sarkozy asked.

Oil Zombies

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had a run in with protestors who were holding McCain signs and chanting “Drill here! Drill Now!” during the Democratic National Convention this week. The speaker paused and then responded, “Right here?” “Can we drill your brains?” Pelosi went on to call the protestors “the handmaidens of big oil” and the “two-cents-in-ten-years crowd,” referring to the amount she thinks off-shore drilling will reduce the price of gas.

The Day the Swinging Died

Capitol Region pundits and reporters lost one of their favorite subjects this week. A Slingerlands psychiatrist put in the winning bid to buy the Union Street Bed and Breakfast in Schenectady, effectively ending the run of the swinger hangout that features a sex dungeon in its basement. Owner Bob Alexson has said that he was not driven out but has chosen to move on. Alexson clearly did not consider what area columnists and anchors would be left to write about with his sexy B&B out of the picture.

For the Dogs

A Seattle woman who registered her dog to vote—a protest against the lax oversight of voter registration—had fraud charges dropped against her this week. The judge dismissed the case, sighting that the woman had already paid over $200 in court costs. The woman did not try to hide the fact that her dog was registered, and she pointed out that the dog never actually voted.

Loose Ends

-no loose ends this week-

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