Convention Protest Will Depend on No-Shows

Some people may be applying to help at the Republican National Convention without the best of intentions.

If one man has his way, a cadre of activists will get unpaid jobs at the convention, and then play hooky from their posts at the gathering Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Promoting the mischief-making is, a website run by Philadelphia computer consultant David Lynn, 37.

On the site, Lynn encourages people to volunteer for such jobs as guide or transportation assistant with the intention of gumming up the works of both the Democratic and Republican conventions. (The Democrats are meeting July 26-29 in Boston, but had already signed up enough helpers -- 13,500 -- by the time Lynn launched his site this spring.)

Lynn was inspired by the disruption of normal life during the GOP convention in his home city in 2000.


He dreamed up the shadow protest as a friendly form of civil disobedience.

“Street protests can be very frightening to people,” he said. “There’s got to be a way that messes with the system [that] at the same time ... isn’t so scary.”

Lynn will not say how many hits his site has gotten, or estimate how many phony volunteers he might inspire.

Organizers in New York are not worried.

“The only people who I hear talk about these so-called ‘no-shows’ are journalists,” said Paul Elliott, spokesman for the convention’s host committee.


Conservative Condiment

What goes perfectly with the burgers and freedom fries at a Republican Independence Day barbecue? The new GOP-friendly W Ketchup.

The condiment is being marketed online by Bill Zachary, a 39-year-old Manhattan banker, as an alternative to the ubiquitous Heinz brand.

Every bottle of Heinz bought contributes to the bank account of Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

“We thought that [the ketchup] was a way for people to show their stripes in sort of a fun way,” Zachary said.

The “W” stands for Washington, and a picture of the first president adorns the label.

Zachary describes his ketchup as sweeter and “less vinegary” than Heinz’s.

The H.J. Heinz Co. is unfazed. “We believe Heinz ketchup is superior to all other brands, Republican, Democrat or independent,” Debbie Foster, a company spokeswoman, told The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Five percent of W Ketchup’s sales will go to the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, which helps the children of veterans killed or disabled in the line of duty pay for college.


Coors on Drinking

Republican Senate candidate Peter Coors argued for lowering the drinking age from 21 in a recent debate with Robert Schaffer, his opponent in the state’s GOP primary.

A lower drinking age could encourage teenagers to drink more sensibly, Coors said.

He argued that setting the drinking age is a matter for the states, not the federal government.

“I haven’t said that 18 is a better age,” Coors said. “I’m saying we should reopen the debate and let the citizens decide, without bureaucratic intervention. People mature at different ages.” Some advocacy groups, including the International Institute for Alcohol Awareness, have criticized Coors’ remarks.


Duly Quoted

“I’m the working man’s [Donald] Trump.” -- The Rev. Al Sharpton, a former Democratic presidential candidate, on his new gig co-hosting the Spike TV reality show “I Hate My Job.” The show, slated to run this fall, will help eight contestants try to snag their dream jobs.


Compiled from staff, Web and wire reports by Times staff researcher Susannah Rosenblatt.