April 1, 2023

In Election-Night Party Planning, Flexibility Is a Must

WHEN empty, the Bristlecone ballroom at the Aria Resort and Casino here is 57,000 square feet of beige carpeting and fluorescent lights. But two years ago, it was briefly the overstuffed epicenter of American politics.

This is where Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, held his election-night party after prevailing in a race that many had predicted he would lose. To Democrats, this was a site for triumph and relief; for Republicans, it was one for disappointment and loss.

For Frank Roskowski, it was something else entirely. “It was carnage. It was goofy,” he said, grinning as he surveyed the room last week.

Mr. Roskowski, whom everyone calls Mustache Frank, is Aria’s director of technical services, and he is reminiscing about the chaos and bustle of Nov. 2, 2010. Democrats lost a bunch of races across the country, not to mention control of the House of Representatives, and in the days before the votes were tallied it looked possible that Mr. Reid would be a casualty. Twenty-two television crews were jockeying for position in the Bristlecone, starting at 4 a.m.

“The TV trucks all were fighting because the thing is, they have to run cable to a connection point,” Mr. Roskowski recalls. “So the guy in the truck, if he gets here early, he only has to run 100 feet. If he’s late, he’s got to run 500. At 3 in the morning, they’re out there, I’m out there, my guys are out there and these TV guys are like: ‘Hey, you want doughnuts? You want beer? 50 bucks?’ I’m like: ‘Whoa. Here’s what was sent to me. You’re here, you’re here, you’re here.”

As a feat of event planning, there is nothing quite like an election-night party. At most festivities that call for banquet halls and cocktails, there is little doubt about the basic contours of the main event. If it’s a wedding, two people are married and the union is celebrated. Organize a conference, and a crowd will mingle and drink. But an election-night party could be an evening of triumph or fiasco, a celebration or a wake. It’s like a trip to the hospital that might culminate with a fatal diagnosis or a healthy baby.

Both tragedy and triumph must be accommodated. It’s fine for politicians to say, “When I’m elected” or “When I’m re-elected,” but the election-night party planner toils in the realm of the possible, not the fondly wished for. If you anticipate an enormous, victory-hailing crowd and you lose, you are looking at not just a defeated candidate but also a tableau that accentuates all the empty space where supporters were supposed to revel. So, what to do? Order a few thousand balloons but don’t fill them until the polls close? Hide the confetti until the victory is certified?

What is far more essential, it turns out, is a room that can be shrunk or enlarged, quickly. Which is why Las Vegas is arguably the greatest election-night city in the country. Expandable banquet rooms are a specialty here, and turning a space that fits 100 into a space that fits 2,000 — and vice versa — is a feat that can be pulled off in places like the Bristlecone ballroom in a matter of minutes. The trick is air walls, huge movable slabs that slide back and forth like pocket doors.

Ultimately, on election night in 2010 here, the space in front of all the television cameras fit a mere 150 people. That was a tiny fraction of the entire room, and it left a tundra of emptiness out of view of all those cameras. But priority No. 1 was making the room look packed.

“When you tuned in at home,” Mr. Roskowski says, “it looked body-to-body tight.”

THE worlds of electioneering and catering will again intersect on Tuesday, as candidates await the public’s verdicts in settings of their choosing. For catering, it is often an evening of modest profit — a typical event with a couple of hundred people will cost $50,000, depending on the quality and quantity of food and drink. For the campaigns, devising these get-togethers can seem both fraught and irrelevant at the same time. Yes, all the stagecraft and planning matter. But what is the point of worrying about the finish line when the race is in the last sprint? Many campaigns contacted for this article would not discuss their plans, or they kept the discussion to a bare minimum.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/business/in-election-night-party-planning-flexibility-is-a-must.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Austerity Reigns Over Euro Zone as Crisis Deepens

Saying that Europe was facing its “harshest test in decades,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned on New Year’s Eve that “next year will no doubt be more difficult than 2011” — a marked change in tone from a year ago, when she praised Germans for “mastering the crisis as no other nation.”

Her blunt message was echoed in Italy, France and Greece, the epicenter of the debt crisis, where Prime Minister Lucas Papademos asked for resolve in seeing reforms through, “so that the sacrifices we have made up to now won’t be in vain.”

While the economic picture in the United States has brightened recently with more upbeat employment figures, Europe remains mired in a slump. Most economists are forecasting a recession for 2012, which will heighten the pressure governments and financial institutions across the Continent are seeing.

Adding to the gloomy outlook is the prospect of a downgrade in France’s sterling credit rating, a move that analysts say could happen early in the new year and have wide-ranging consequences on efforts to stabilize Europe’s finances.

Despite criticism from many economists, though, most European governments are sticking to austerity plans, rejecting the Keynesian approach of economic stimulus favored by Washington after the financial crisis in 2008, in a bid to show investors they are serious about fiscal discipline.

This cycle was evident on Friday, when Spain surprised observers by announcing a larger-than-expected budget gap for 2011 even as the new conservative government there laid out plans to increase property and income taxes in 2012.

Indeed, even in the country where the crisis began, Greece, the cycle of spending cuts, tax increases and contraction has not resulted in a course correction, and the same path now lies in store for much larger economies like those of Italy and Spain.

“Every government in Europe with the exception of Germany is bending over backwards to prove to the market that they won’t hesitate to do what it takes,” said Charles Wyplosz, a professor of economics at the Graduate Institute of Geneva. “We’re going straight into a wall with this kind of policy. It’s sheer madness.”

Rather than the austerity measures now being imposed, Mr. Wyplosz said he would like to see governments halt the recent tax increases and spending reductions, and instead cut consumption taxes in a bid to encourage consumer spending. More belt-tightening, he said, increases the likelihood that Europe will see a “lost decade” of economic torpor like Japan faced in the 1990s.

In fact, economists and strategists on both sides of the Atlantic have been steadily ratcheting down their growth expectations for 2012.

“Europe is likely to have a meaningful recession in 2012,” said Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup’s chief equity strategist. While Mr. Levkovich does not see that as a significant threat to the bottom line of most American businesses — he estimates that Europe accounts for about 8.5 percent of sales for the typical company in the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index — the psychological effects on global markets will be magnified if political opposition to austerity increases.

“Powerful street protests could bring it back to the front pages,” he said. “We’ve seen episodic crises in Europe over the past two years. It’s a recurring event.” He expects Europe to remain a key worry for investors worldwide in 2012.

Neville Hill, head of European economics at Credit Suisse, expects gross domestic product in the euro zone to shrink by 0.5 percent in 2012, with the worst of the pain being felt in the first quarter. At the same time, borrowing needs will remain elevated, with Italy and Spain planning to raise more than 100 billion euros in the first quarter alone.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the scale of the challenge the euro zone faces in early 2012,” Mr. Hill said. “Italian and Spanish sovereign borrowers are at the foot of the mountain, rather than the top. The first quarter is a crunch point.”

The Continent’s economic outlook will take center stage on Jan. 9, when Mrs. Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France will discuss a new fiscal treaty intended to impose stringent budget requirements on European Union nations. Then on Jan. 30, European Union leaders will gather in Brussels to discuss ways to spur growth.

Melissa Eddy contributed reporting.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e6727ada341b6eada5afbbbc643dffe9