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Labor peace and Chuck's guitar among the enticements during DNC visit

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 28, 2010 - Bob Soutier, head of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, says the region's roughly 50 unions are signing "a solidarity agreement" that will promote their support and cooperation for the city of St. Louis' bid to host the site for the 2012 Democratic presidential convention.

The move is among a number of actions -- along with singer Chuck Berry's Thursday night concert -- aimed at impressing Democratic National Committee representatives during their visit here this week.

St. Louis Democratic Party chairman Brian Wahby says he can't confirm or deny that the national Democratic delegation will even be in town.

But speaking hypothetically, Wahby said with a chuckle, "obviously we're going to show them the very venues that make St. Louis competitive."

That includes:

-- Hotels, union and non-union, that will provide the 18,000-plus rooms needed;

--The three major venues: The Scotttrade Center (for the convention itself), the Edward Jones Dome (for various meetings and press operations) and Busch Stadium (for some of the convention's outdoor functions, reminiscent of now-President Barack Obama's speech in Denver's Mile High Stadium.)

-- Metrolink: "Most of the venues are along Metrolink lines," Wahby said, which should make it easier for conventioneers (and the tens of thousands of reporters and hangers-on) to get around town.

"We also will highlight the political support we have in our region," he added, as well as the support from labor and business.

Overall, said Wahby, the main quest of the DNC while in St. Louis will be "kicking the tires" of what the city has to offer.

Berry's concert in Kiener Plaza is designed to underscore the excitement factor, which St. Louis officials and allies arealready promotingas the key element that could set the city apart from its competition: Cleveland, Minneapolis and Charlotte, N.C.

On the labor front, Soutier said that the cooperation agreement -- which would cover the convention proceedings --is expected to include the Carpenters District Council, who have been embroiled in a jurisdiction battle lately with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Both sides appear to have agreed to be on the same page when it comes to the Democratic presidential convention.

A convention-related labor agreement signed by all the unions in town is significant because of the key place that labor holds within the Democratic Party.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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