Sunday, September 21, 2008

Obama Campaign Headquarters Disappointment

There have been a lot of stories about Barack Obama's beautiful campaign headquarters on the 11th floor of 233 N. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. That's one of the most prestigious and elite addresses in the world. The mostly white management of the campaign hangs out here, in the 33,000 square foot luxury, with views to kill for. (Click on images to enlarge them.) So when I had the chance to RSVP to an invitation from the Obama Campaign to attend "the grand opening of the Illinois headquarter," I eagerly accepted. I wanted to see the space. But something was strange. The invitation said that the event would be at 566 W. Lake Street, nearly a mile away from beautiful Michigan Avenue. The invitation said: "This Saturday, September 20th, please join the Obama campaign at the grand opening of the Illinois headquarters. Congressman Danny Davis and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan will make special appearances. Come check out the new office, meet local staff, and help share Barack's message of change with a day of volunteering. If possible, please bring laptops and cell phones." My friend and I arrived at 566 W. Lake Street at 2:00 p.m. We did not see Danny Davis or Lisa Madigan, or anybody else of note in attendance. None of the 233 N. Michigan crew was to be seen. "Grand opening?" Hardly. The promise to let us see "the Illinois headquarters" was an overstatement at best. Instead seeing the actual headquarters, visitors were crowded into a hot basement, where the boiler room-style phone bank operation is hidden. The basement phone bank is hidden in the basement of a building that is about 100 years old. It's a beautiful old brick building, but the air conditioning downstairs is spotty. The phone workers are in the hottest area of the space. Contrast that to the fancy high-rise luxury enjoyed by the management. Surprisingly, the approximately 40 phone volunteers were using their own cell phones. I've worked in or visited many a political phone bank operation over the years, and this was the first one I've seen where no landlines were set up. In other words, it is a phone bank without an actual phone bank. Will the Obama Campaign reimburse those volunteers for their air time? (And by the way, isn't it horrible that they make those people subject themselves to the horrors of cell phone-induced brain damage?) How disappointing. A hot, stuffy basement. Barack Obama, "man of the people," hides his volunteers on the other side of the river in a basement. This was no grand opening, it was bait and switch. A "grand opening" of a political campaign headquarters should (a) be at the actual headquarters, (b) offer some decent food and refreshments to the guests, (c) have a one or two luminaries hanging out to impress the visitors, and (d) feature a speaker to walk visitors through the headquarters to explain things, show off the operations, and answer questions. The Obama "grand opening" featured none of those. Not a, b, c or d. They get an "F" for bad public relations on this one, folks. The only refreshments in sight were Dunkin' Donuts donut holes. (Don't Liberals tell us we shouldn't eat that kind of thing? And why is Obama patronizing an evil franchise rather than one of the local bakeries nearby?) There was bottled water. (Don't Liberals tell us that plastic bottles are sinful, and doesn't Mayor Daley want us to drink Chicago tap water?) Two things, however, made the trip worthwhile. First, I got the password to the IL-Net wifi of the Obama campaign (see photo). If you hurry, you can park your car on the street just outside of 566 W. Lake Street and log into their system - before they find out about this and change the password. Second, I also got a good shot of that "Canadians for Obama" sign and, of course, the donut holes. (How many Canadians are working for Obama?) Barack Obama, "community organizer," doesn't think his volunteers, the little people, deserve better than a hot, stuffy basement. With record-setting donations coming in every month, all Obama feeds his hard working staff of volunteers is donut holes and water. Perhaps he's just preparing them for the way things will be for everyone if he wins. RELATED: Obama headquarters - Los Angeles Times Obama Moves DNC Headquarters to Chicago : NO QUARTER