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Pre-Debate Notes from the Press Room

Oct12

4:15 p.m. The logistical arrangements for tonight’s Tom Brokaw show Jerry Brown-Meg Whitman debate rivals the planning for the invasion of Normandy, and the staff and students at Dominican University in San Rafael have done a terrific job getting ready for the big event.

Wizened by years of experience on the pothole pocked campaign trail, Calbuzz showed up six-and-a-half hours before the 6:30 p.m. kickoff, in the unstinting service of our readers, and were quite pleased with ourselves for doing so.

Amid annoying armies of satellite trucks and blow-dried bloviators, media types from Hong Kong to Germany flying in from around the globe, and the closed roads and Patriot Act level  security slapped on by fire marshals and  San Rafael cops, we skated in ahead of the other 265 credentialed news hounds and hens, got our work space set up in a jiffy, then headed off to a two-star, all-you-can-eat lunch ($6.95) at the campus cafeteria in Caleruega Hall.

We recommend the quesadillas and the salad bar (press room chow update  later).

In our spare time, we also managed to score a world exclusive, ferreting out the story of how Domincan scored Tom Brokaw as a moderator and, in the process, landed themselves squarely in the spotlight of national attention. Here’s how the deal went down:

Through the friend of an ex-spouse’s ex-friend ex-spouse (we name no names), Dominican’s public affairs office connected with Cindy Myers, the high-energy, former longtime marketing and promotions executive with the Chronicle and Examiner, who’s now got her own consulting business.

Asked if she could help the college put together a high-profile gov’s debate, Cindy said no problem, and promptly dashed off a Facebook message to Phil Alongi, a big deal NBC news producer whom she’d met while working on the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

In the message, she asked if he would be interested in producing a California gubernatorial debate, and whether it might be possible to get Brokaw as the star attraction.

Angoli , who was at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, said he’d be delighted. As for Brokaw:

“He’s standing right next to me,” Myers recalls that Alongi told her, and he’d be delighted as well. The rest is history, at least at Dominican University.

One other Brokaw note: apparently the last time Big Tom moderated a debate with Jerry Brown was in 1992 when Brown kept raising his 1-800 number sign during the debate, which drove Brokaw so crazy that during a break in the action he called a top Brown campaign aide, begging for Jerry to stop. He didn’t. Instead, he raised $8 million.

5:45 p.m. D.U. just sent in the caterers with a light but satisfying pre-debate spread to help the ladies and gentleman of the political press carbohydrate load in advance of the grueling task that lies ahead.

Soft rolled lavosh (lahvosh? lavash?), some filled with turkey, thinly sliced jack cheese and spinach, others a delightful vegie blend of eggplant, artichoke and yellow peppers, set off with a side of Kettle Honey Dijon chips. Magnifique! At least if they bring some cookies soon.

Only downside: Many sweltering journalists’ teeth specked with green. Yuck!

30 minutes to kickoff.


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There are 3 comments for this post

  1. avatar Adelaides Lament says:

    This is an excellent example of why we all tune in to CalBuzz. So when are you interviewing Brokaw?

  2. avatar tonyseton says:

    Pshaw… don’t bother. He doesn’t hold a journalistic candle to you guys.

  3. avatar Mobius Trip says:

    Right on!

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