Wednesday, May 8, 2024

TOWGATE?


By Gretchen Garrity

Desperate people do desperate things. It appears the chaotic Missouri GOP Convention at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield last Saturday fell victim to desperate people doing desperate things.

Oddly, what may have ultimately killed the stalled event and the hope of approving a platform for 2024, was the threat of convention goers’ vehicles being towed from the parking lot.

One of the strange occurrences toward the end of the GOP convention was the claim that tow trucks were standing by to tow vehicles out of the convention center parking lot. A GOP volunteer stated convention staff requested an announcement be read to the attendees that an event at the convention center was due to begin, and GOP conventioneers needed to move their cars.

Because the convention was nearly wrapped up, the chairwoman, Sophia Shore, continued moving forward with the final approvals for the platform. But a delegate from the 7th Congressional District stood up and announced the request to move vehicles and that tow trucks were standing by. However, this conflicts with General Manager Brent Parker’s assertion that the Plaza does not generally tow cars. 

Although the convention had been thinning out for hours due to the extraordinary delays, this announcement caused more people to leave the event. It was at this point that Rep. Dan Stacy asked for a quorum count. When it was discovered that a quorum no longer existed, the convention came to a close—without a GOP platform for 2024.

Both David Rice and myself spoke to the Plaza’s general manager about the claim there were tow trucks at or near the Plaza on Saturday evening and that vehicles in the convention center parking lot were going to be towed in order to make room for a Billings High School prom.

Parker said no tow trucks had been called. He said the hotel would not have towed vehicles because there is no way of telling which car is associated with which event attendee. He stated that typically the only tow trucks that show up at the hotel are for vehicles that are being repossessed. He also said the Springfield Parking Company across the street works with the hotel to tow any vehicles, if needed.

Let’s focus on the parking for the event. For background, there were estimated to be about 1,200-1,300 people at the start of the GOP convention at the University Plaza, not all with their own vehicle. There were about 900 delegates/alternates with a few hundred observers and volunteers.

According to Parker, there are anywhere between 600-700 parking spots on the hotel grounds alone. Additionally, there is ample street parking, and a parking garage directly across the street from the Plaza, which has 971 parking spaces, according to Alex Scott of the Springfield Parking Company. All told, there are approximately 1,900 nearby parking spots for hotel guests, event goers, and others.

Parker said the Plaza intended to charge for parking that day because the Springfield Art Fest was also occurring a street away. But because the parking lot filled up so early in the day, they decided against it. 

Also, Scott said the parking garage did not fill up on Saturday, and there was plenty of parking throughout the day and evening.

 There was no call from the Plaza to the SPC to tow any vehicles at Saturday’s event.

The only parking lot issue came from a woman who thought her car had either been stolen or towed during the early afternoon, around 12:30 p.m. That issue was resolved within an hour when the woman found her car in the hotel parking lot.

The threat of towing announced at the GOP convention was hours later when the finalizing of the 2024 platform was happening.

Parker also said that because there were no events planned for the Plaza after Saturday’s GOP convention there was no hurry to get guests to leave the event. He did say that sometimes tow trucks are parked at the nearby Springfield Expo Center’s loading dock to load and unload vehicles, but again, there was not a threat from the Plaza that vehicles would be towed at the hotel. 

Google Earth: The Expo Center upper left, Plaza lower right
 

Parker said events often run over, and hotel staff are simply alerted they will have to stay a bit longer. Parker acknowledged that events like the GOP convention often take some time to clear out, and is a common occurrence.

The organizers of the GOP convention—State GOP Chairman Nick Myers and the Missouri Republican Party—have blamed the ultimate lack of an approved platform for 2024 on the day’s Chairwoman, Sophia Shore. Shore was not able to take the gavel and begin the actual business of the convention until nearly 3 p.m. for an event that was supposed to begin at 9 a.m. or shortly thereafter. Even establishment Republicans acknowledged her deftness in handling the event when she finally received the gavel

It is well known that the establishment Republicans were not happy with the election of Shore as chairwoman. They were not happy with the 26 amendments that Missourians across the state approved for the 2024 platform. They were not happy that grassroots Missourians were elected to attend the national convention.

From where did the threat of vehicle towing originate? If it did not come from the Plaza and it did not come from the Springfield Parking Company, where would the threat have come from? Did it come from the volunteer or the delegate who gave the announcement? In whose interest was it to shut down the 2024 Missouri GOP convention, which was on the verge of approving a platform the establishment did not want? 

So many questions.

Oh, that cryptic tweet at the top? That's from Rep. Ben Baker moments after the convention was shut down.

 

More on the towing threat at David Rice's Substack HERE and HERE.

3 comments:

  1. This is well said …. Asking the right questions and making some sense of what happened … thank you … political games… and these game players are suppose to be on our side …. Don’t let them get elected for ANYTHING !!!!

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  2. The blame is squarely on Nick Myers. He delayed the start of the convention for almost 4 hours so Ms Shore had no chance of finishing on time.

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