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Blogging from Boston: WestportNow Doesn’t Quite Fit the Definition

By Gordon Joseloff

Editor/Publisher
WestportNow.com

WestportNow doesn’t quite fit the notion of what has become known as a blog (shortened from Web log for the uninitiated) and that’s caused a few double takes this week at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.WNDemCon.jpg

When the Democrats decided to open the credential process for “bloggers” some time ago, I applied on behalf of WestportNow in order to provide readers with hometown coverage of the Democratic event.

It’s certainly not an unusual idea—newspapers, radio, television and cable outfits do it routinely, if they can afford to send correspondents and crews to the gatherings every four years.

But since WestportNow is one of only a handful of Web-based community news sites in the nation not affiliated with a traditional newspaper or broadcast company and since it uses a common blog publishing platform ֖ I applied as a “blogger.”

The Democrats, selecting 35 or so blogs out of more than 200 applicants, gave one of the slots to WestportNow, for which we were very grateful.

In order to facilitate the reading of convention reports from bloggers, several Web sites established Web pages to aggregate blog reports from the convention. Brief snippets of all blog entries are posted to these Web pages as soon as they are published.

As a result, not only have WestportNow convention stories and pictures appeared on these pages (see www.conventionbloggers.com), but so have the picture of kids puddle jumping at Compo Beach, the Fran’s List column on buying housegifts, calendar items, and the latest batch of Westport property transfers.

We can only hope that these non-political items about Westport are providing some relief to blog watchers overdosing on convention news, or non-news.

* * *

This is the fifth national Democratic convention for Westport’s Martha Aasen. At 74, she is as active as ever, serving as the town’s Democratic chair and as one of 62 Connecticut delegates to the convention.

During Monday night’s opening session, she got a chance to mingle with some of the delegates from her native Mississippi.

Tuesday there was a tribute to the late Fannie Lou Hammer to mark the 40th anniversary of her heroic efforts to integrate the Mississippi delegation.

In a note to convention organizers, Aasen told of her personal recollection of the 1964 event:

“In 1964, I was in Atlantic City at the Democratic National Convention.  My mother and father, Thelma and Milton McMullan, were delegates from Mississippi.  The integrated, mostly black Mississippi Freedom Democrats were trying to gain seats on the Mississippi delegation, challenging the seating of the all white regular delegation. 

“Fannie Lou Hamer gave an electrifying presentation to the credentials committee on the treatment of blacks in Mississippi.  The upshot of all this was Ross Barnett, the segregationist governor of Mississippi, called the caucus of ‘regular’ delegation and said, ‘Walk out, come home, don’t give an inch.’ 

“My mother then stood up in the caucus, and said, ‘I didn’t come all the way up here for Ross Barnett to tell me what to do, I am staying.’  And she did, along with three other ‘regulars.’ 

“When my mother died in 1998 at the age of 91, there were stories and editorials in Mississippi papers about her courage in Atlantic City in 1964.”

Today’s The Advocate of Stamford/Norwalk reports on Martha Aasen’s Mississippi connection and how her mother was part of the 1964 delegation—and features a picture of Martha and Larry Aasen on its front page.

***

All the media attention on convention bloggers is no doubt satisfying to Westport’s Brian Reich, co-director of Internet Services for the Democrats and one of the people in charge of making sure their needs are met.

But it’s also meant a lot of 19 and 20 hours days getting things ready. Monday’s opening day was especially trying for Reich, son of Westport Representative Town Meeting member Ann Sheffer.

When bloggers finally made their way to their assigned seats way up in the upper reaches of the Fleet Center, they found not enough tables and power outlets for their laptops and an Internet Wi-Fi connection that came and went mostly went.

Reich was on the case, however, and by Tuesday’s session bloggers said the situation was much improved. And Reich was much relieved.

***

While Martha Aasen has had no trouble getting around places with all the proper delegate credentials, husband, Larry, doesn’t have credentials and has had to scramble to find ways to get into the convention center.

He managed to get some passes for the first two days but found himself separated from his wife a good part of the time and tried to keep in touch by cell phone.

But having cell phone conversations in the din of the convention center can be challenging at best.

Monday night they didn’t manage to link up to leave the Fleet Center together. Martha got back to their hotel by midnight but Larry didn’t make it back until about 1:30 a.m.

Tuesday night was better, however. Larry managed to get himself the right credentials to sit next to Martha in the Connecticut delegation—as evidenced by a front-page picture today in the The Advocate of Stamford/Norwalk (see above).

In the background is Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, who also managed a floor pass to sit with the Connecticut delegates.

P.S. Martha said she and Larry were able to get on the same bus back to the hotel after Tuesday night’s session.
***

When the Democrats put out the call for volunteers to be “Beantown Buddies” for visiting delegations, Westport’ s Seth Orkand, who is working in Boston for a software firm, answered.

The 27-year-old son of Temple Israel Rabbi Robert Orkand was one of three guides working the Connecticut delegation buses Sunday night and introduced himself as having grown up in Westport.

Three rows in front of him Martha and Larry Aasen let out a cheer and quickly introduced themselves. They had never met before.

***

Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, who as all Westporters know is running for Congress, didn’t give a speech Tuesday at the Democratic National Committee’s Official Women’s Caucus. But she made a splash there anyway.

As Farrell made her way around the room introducing herself to delegates and guests, a Cablevision News-12 camera crew and a couple of photographers followed her.

A few in the audience asked a reporter who she was. When told, they reached out to shake her hand and then excitedly told others they had met a congressional candidate from Connecticut.

Farrell, who briefly visited the city Sunday night before rushing back to Westport for Monday meetings, said she was delighted to be in Boston for more than a few hours.

But she said she didn’t look forward to finding her way to her temporary quarters at night.

“It’s a place way out in a part of Cambridge I’ve never heard of before,” she said.

But that didn’t stop her from getting back into Boston this morning in time for the daily 8 a.m. Connecticut delegation breakfast at the Lenox Hotel. She was among the featured speakers.

***

Among the Democratic National Committee staffers in Boston is Staples High School student Kevin Petersen, 17.

Petersen wrote to the DNC a while back offering his services in any capacity. They took him up on the offer and now he’s assisting delegates, monitoring backstage activities, and working the telephone lines.

***

The Connecticut delegation staff office in the Lenox Hotel was a busy place Tuesday as delegation members came and went and requests piled up for extra passes to the evening’s events.

A political lobbyist for SBC, the Texas-based giant phone company that swallowed up Southern New England Telephone a few years ago, was in the room and noted the WestportNow credential on a visitor.

“I read you all the time,” said the man, who said he is a resident of Norwalk. “I especially like the lady columnist who does all those lists.”

We promised to pass on to Fran that we found a fan of hers in Boston.

One thought on “Blogging from Boston: WestportNow Doesn’t Quite Fit the Definition

  1. How great to have a “local eye” at the convention to give us the Westport view. Do you have someone in mind to do the Republican convention? I hope so. Claire Ford

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