Reporter's Notebook: Security First, Cash Later

Day two of the Democratic National Convention (search) started out on an easygoing note Tuesday as some reporters exhausted from a 15-hour workday on Monday took a little more time getting started.'s Liza Porteus took her free time in the morning to meander around Boston's Little Italy with a friend and catch up over a good cup of coffee. They found it at Graffiti.

But ever the reporter first, Liza's convention press credentials hanging around her neck led to a conversation with cafe workers, who expressed their anger at city officials for making what they considered false promises about the increased business the convention would bring. The employees said instead of the $5 million that was projected as coming into local businesses' coffers, they had seen barely one cent.

Since the FleetCenter’s (search) festivities started two days ago, businesses are slower than they even expected they could be. Even with Little Italy's stone's throw location from one of the main entrances to the convention arena, the business, they say, hasn't arrived.

Hey Buddy, Spare $3.50 for Water?

Not every business is suffering as a result of the self-contained convention festivities. Hotels are full, cab drivers can find captive audiences trying to find a ride from one event to another and the beverage industry is making out like bandits. Inside the FleetCenter, one 20-ounce bottle of water costs $3.50.

It sounds like it could be a scam conspired between security and corporate food suppliers. Because of fears that bottles could be filled with something else besides potable liquids, the Secret Service (search) responsible for the security checkpoints refuse to allow people to carry bottles and cans into the convention hall.

But security goes beyond that. Liza said she observed one delegate chewing out a young convention worker posted at one door to the convention hall for not letting him bring pizza to his seat.

FOX News' Brian Wilson first noticed that the Secret Service screeners were confiscating apples — the apparent forbidden fruit at the FleetCenter.

After speaking with security officers, this reporter learned that law enforcement officials were concerned that apples could be used as projectiles in the center, causing serious injury. The officers conceded, however, that citrus fruit like oranges and grapefruit had not yet been banned, and none could  explain why bananas, which could clearly double as boomerangs, had not had a prohibition placed on them.

Jokes and Jokers

Security lines and the high cost of water didn't stop delegates and other guests from enjoying the four-day rally, and even the reporters had a few laughs during the day.

Peter Brownfeld said that jokers all over town held events to mock, imitate and animate their ways through Day Two's activities. Peter said as he tried to enter the convention security gates, one protester gave him a flier, saying, "Here you go. You look like a Kerry supporter."

Peter soon learned that the protester was not really interested in deciphering Peter's political bend, much like his earlier scrapes with the anti-FOX News delegates.

"Any hopes that I had been accepted into the Democratic family were quickly dashed when I read the flier. It said: 'Tired of women and people of color being elected president to represent the American people? As a white, wealthy male, I am sick of the status quo. It is time to elect a man-of-the-people. Vote for a white, rich, old male. Please help me in voting for John Kerry. Let the women decorate the White House for once.' It was signed, 'Yachts for Kerry.'"

Liza apparently had the most fleeting and enjoyable brush with fame on Tuesday night. While this reporter got close to Def Jam producer Russell Simmons, who was roaming around the convention site with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Liza sloughed off her hardened reporter exterior and melted just a bit for actor Ben Affleck, who accidentally entered her skybox while looking for The O'Reilly Factor, where he was to be a guest.

Liza said she "got a little hot under the collar" when Affleck walked in, but not in a bad way.

Slightly star struck, she forgot she was holding her camera in her hand as Affleck looked down on the convention and made small talk, saying: "Doesn't look like they're doing much of anything down there."