- A key.
- A comb.
- A tongue depressor.
"They just fired the first shot of Campaign 2010. They started it, and we're going to finish it!"Tom Shafer shouted himself near-hoarse as he exhorted the crowd to go march, as is tradition, and off we went marching merrily through the streets. The Springfield Police Department had the entire route closed to all traffic, which really helped us stay safe. They did a great job and were very professional. We thanked them all, and a few of them thanked us in return. Come to think of it, the Capitol security, Secretary of State Police, and even the bus drivers made a point of thanking us. Manners go a long way.
One thing I noticed this year was the tendency for rumors to spread rapidly through the crowd. I went on more than one wild goose chase today! Here are some of my favorites:
- "Wisconsin's Senate just passed their concealed carry bill! They're just waiting on the Governor's signature, and then we'll be the only state without license to carry!" This turned out to be . . . well, I'm still not sure how it turned out. I haven't been able to find any information about the bill or passage in the Wisconsin Senate, so I'm guessing it was just a rumor. It's true that 48 states have some legal concealed carry, and Wisconsin and Illinois are the last two. However, some of those states have terrible CCW laws.
- "Jesse Jackson is coming today with four busloads of counter-protesters!" This one was widely believed, and marshals and hosts were instructed to keep everyone from engaging protesters. "Keep smiling!" was the advice. As it turned out, this one was false. Jackson did have a press conference, but it was in Chicago. When your opposition has 3,000-4,000 people willing to take a day off work and travel on their own dimes, it just doesn't make sense to show up with a couple of hundred people and try to shout them down.
- "Do you know what Pfleger looks like?" This wasn't much of a rumor, but a concerned man did ask me that question. There was a priest wearing his collar at the event, and although this guy was young with dark hair, he was worried that maybe Snuffy Pfleger had come in to make trouble. Of course, if Pfleger had shown up in the convention center, we'd have smiled at him and gone about our business.
- "They just called a special committee session on gun legislation!" aka
- "Representative Phelps had to rush out because there was a Blackberry message that they're about to hold a special caucus on gun bills!" aka
- "Hey, guys, my rep says there's a special committee session on guns right now in Room 212. Let's go!" These three variations amounted to the same thing, and apparently they were all false. The damage had been done at that point.
- "The bus driver from Effingham says we have to get all the flags off his bus right now, but he left, so we don't know which bus it is or where he is!" I personally ran all over creation and bugged ten different bus drivers before I found the right bus . . . only to find that the driver from Effingham hadn't heard this particular rumor. All the flags had been loaded on two other buses, and those bus drivers had gotten lots of help unloading the flappy supplies. The good news was that there was no problem. The bad news was that it took me about a half hour of frantically chasing my tail to find out that there was no problem. The other bad news was that, once we reported to the owner that his flags were not missing after all, he reported to us that he had lost his keys. In the Prairie Capital Convention Center. But it was OK, because the keys were in a black "IGOLD Host" hat . . . . and there couldn't have been more than 100 of those in the building. Piece of cake.
- "There's somebody missing on one of the buses, and somebody said a guy fell on the steps today and got taken to the hospital in an ambulance!" This one turned out to be true, more or less. The Secretary of State Police worked very hard with us over the phone to confirm that a man with the same name as the missing bus rider had been sent off in an ambulance during the day, and they had a record of the hospital to which he'd been taken. Then the duty nurses in the emergency room made sure we were able to get in touch with the patient and find out what he needed. The last time I talked to him, he was basically OK, but he was sure he would be at the hospital in Springfield overnight. They'd been unable to contact his family so far, but he was confident that one of his relatives would come and pick him up--don't forget, this guy's still got a two-hour drive home, and he missed his bus! He's got my number if all else fails, though. If nobody from his family can get him home, we'll figure something out. It's only a couple of hours away.