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Miami Starts Slowly . . . . . . McGovern Is Optimistic



MIAMI BEACH--Lyndon Baines Johnson instructed the Democratic Party before its 1968 National Convention that under no circumstances would this sweltering hotel peninsula be the site of the Party's gathering to select his intended successor.

Johnson explained his determined opposition to Miami Beach by saying that "Miami Beach ain't America." And as what promises to be one of the most chaotic Democratic Conventions in history poised before its opening session last night, there were many conventioneers who would second the ex-President's assessment of the city.

The sheer cost of existence is staggering. The best hotels are exorbitantly expensive; the less desirable hotels provide few services for a slightly smaller nightly rate. Everywhere there are gimmicks and sometimes blanket policies affect the hotels. For instance, some penalize guests who are discovered with liquor bought outside the hotel in their rooms. The difference in price between liquor outside and inside the hotel proper usually runs about 100 per cent.

Transportation is expensive and parking is almost nonesistent. Traffic has worsened every day since last Thursday when the influx of Democrats began, and it will get worse as the week progresses. People move in droves, pressing close to candidates as they drift from meeting to meeting. Others opt for poolside sun, or just remain in their rooms waiting for each convention session.

Almost universally, the delegates, campaign workers, demonstrators and media who have arrived here in the last week are awed by the superficiality of this transient city where the median age of permanent residents is sixty-five. Those who have been here for any length of time were plain bored by yesterday.

The boredom stemmed largely from the confusion which dominates this Convention, a confusion of conflicting political forces in a party divided over credential and platform issues. Only a few persons with access to the candidates seemed confident that they had any inkling of what really was going on here prior to last night's opening session. The rest wandered aimlessly about looking for something to do.

Until last night, little was happening on the surface, Campaigning was limited. Candidates and their entourages worked mostly to collect stray delegates by phone or in person, and candidates appeared only before groups which represented sizeable blocks of delegate vote such as the Black Caucus, the National Welfare Rights Organization, or state caucuses.

For one group of people here, the last week--and indeed the entire Convention--has taken on a frustrating character. The group is composed of the young volunteers, mostly those who propelled Senator George McGovern from obscurity a year and a half ago to the verge of the Democratic nomination.

In Miami Beach, the McGovern youths have been excluded from the crucial subsurface negotiation and strategizing which comprise the crux of any convention. Most of the primary field workers were told by the national staff to by-pass the convention altogether. But many were brought here to allow for contingencies: the predicted turnout of demonstrators, last minute canvassing, and errand running.

Thomas P.Southwick '71, who joined the McGovern campaign last fall and is in charge of overseeing demonstrators' Flamingo Part campsite for McGovern, had a small staff set aside expressly to "keep the people in Flamingo Park happy" When only 600 of a forecasted 10,000 demonstrators arrived. Southwick's staff become superfluous.

"We were already to go and when only 600 people showed up," Southwick said yesterday. "Sure our people are bored, looking for something to do, and some are bitching like hell.

"We went on the theory that for better or worse, the people who would camp in the Park would be our people and we felt an obligation to them. We can't prevent a riot if, say. Humphrey is nominated. But we planned to do what we could for the people in the Park once they got here."

Small but diverse groups ranging from the Yippies and Zippies to Hari Krishna to SDS are holed up at the Park. Among them are several familiar Harvard activists, including Ira A. Helfand '72. Cheyney D. Ryan '71, and Hillary Putnam, professor of Philosophy.

Some of the McGovern youths housed at the Victor Hotel have packed and left figuring that once the campaign coordinators get their candidate nominated they will go back to work in the field.

"It's hard to slow down and do nothing after working so steadily for so long in the primaries." Patrick L. Pankhurst ;71, one of Southwick's staff members, said Friday night while "patrolling" Flamingo Park. At that point, many of the 100 demonstrators who had arrived were skinny-dipping in an adjacent swimming pool.

"I am really bored and in a way I feel useless just sitting around." Pankhurst said. Southwick, while aware of the tedium problem, explained it as "a function of people not knowing how to relax." "Now that the Convention is underway, the tedium will diminish pretty rapidly," he said

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