Posted by: David Wilmot

I am writing this in the cab on the way to the Denver airport to catch a plane home. I have a few moments to reflect on what an incredible week this has been for Ocean Champions.

First, though, I want to share the impact of being in that stadium with 80,000 people watching as Obama accepted the nomination of one of our two major political parties. It was America at its best. Jon (Patrick’s buddy) commented that the “red eye” function on the camera was in use frequently through out the week, not just to cover the effects of late nights, but also because there was a lot of emotion at this convention. I feel so honored to be able to witness history in the making.

While Obama did not mention oceans in his speech, we made sure oceans was part of the conversation at the convention. As I mentioned before, the very fact that we we’re here presented numerous opportunities. We were able to talk with senior people such as Senator Leahy, who can make a tremendous difference for our issues.

We strengthened the relationships with those who care about the oceans and are working with us, such as Senator Whitehouse and . Yesterday, I ran into ocean champion from Florida. This was the first time I saw her at the convention and we are set to talk next week.

We forged relationships with less obvious partners. from Iowa and from North Dakota, who we met at the event following Obama’s speech, and the agricultural representatives, including the Fertilizer Institute. We were working outside the traditional realm of ocean allies and see many opportunities.

Senator Harkin & David Wilmot
Senator Dorgan & David Wilmot

Where do we go from here?

It is clear that we have our work cut out for us as we head back to California and DC. There are plenty of opportunities that have opened up for Ocean Champions and we’ll waste no time in seizing them.

David Wilmot, Patrick Collins & Jon Catton
I am returning energized. We are two months away from the election, two months to make a difference. Many of our ocean champions are in tough races and we need to make sure they get elected.

The number one message from this convention is that WE NEED MORE CHAMPIONS in Congress for the oceans. We are building a strong cadre of champs but they and the oceans need help.

Finally, I want to thank Ocean Champions supporter and Ocean Champion Board Member, Mike Sutton, for getting us THE most coveted tickets in town – tickets to the . I knew I had arrived when the first people to shake my hand when I walked in were Aasif Mandvi, News Correspondent and Larry Wilmore, the Senior Black Correspondent from .

David Wilmot & Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi

What a great way to cap off an extraordinary week.
I look forward to a relaxing Labor Day weekend at the beach. I hope your weekend includes taking in our beautiful oceans in some way. And will be ready to jump back into the fray on Tuesday.

For the Oceans,

David at Denver airport

Date Posted: August 29, 2008 @ 3:16 pm

Posted by: David Wilmot

While the energy is building as we await Obama’s speech tonight, things are a bit lower key for us. Perhaps we have just gotten into the groove of the convention. I frequently have to remind myself that there is another reality outside of the convention.

One thing I have noticed is the different feeling between meetings at the convention and those Patrick and I have on the Hill when I am in DC. Sure, we have scheduled meetings while at the convention, but many of our meetings spontaneously materialize by the very fact that we are here, they are more organic, relaxed and familiar. As you all know from going to conventions or conferences, you start seeing the same people everywhere and you start to gain a familiarity and friendliness with folks. (hard to imagine when you are talking about 50,000 people). I can’t help but feel that this will transfer to our work on the Hill.

We’ve run into ocean champions and her staff, as well as s staff. I saw that , as well as . Sam’s staff mentioned that he would love to attend our next month. We also talked to Governor Shaheen‘s staff, (she’s running for Senate in New Hampshire). She will be meeting with us during her next visit to California. We also chatted with Harold Ickes, Pres. Clinton’s deputy White House Chief of Staff.

I took a stroll in downtown Denver, had to run out for supplies at a grocery store (ah there is life outside politics). A large contingent of protesters arrived yesterday and added to a group that was already established. This is all adding to the energy and buzz that is building for tonight.

In spite of the large mob of protesters there still seems to be a relaxed, fun atmosphere. We saw these two guys walking down the street with signs “protesting protesters” – very tongue-in-cheek. You could just see the energy shift when they walked by, even the protesters relaxed and laughed. I think the most telling image for me about the mood is this photo of the police in full riot gear holding the baby for a photo op. I have been to Peace Rallies that have more intense energy than here. It is actually kind of refreshing that the police are there doing their jobs, ready if needed, but not intimidating.

Other sights include the two artist/sisters from Santa Cruz that drove the , California to Denver. My wife and sons have seen this tooling around Santa Cruz as they Drive the Movement. See, you run into EVERYONE at this convention.

The Obama Mobile is not the only vehicle to catch my eye. In a nod to the Greenness of this convention, the official cars are GM Hybrids SUV’s. Other Green news was the award ceremony and recognition for the delegation. In fact, 34 delegates were proud to announce that they were carbon-neutral in their transportation to the convention. I know other sites are blogging about the green aspects of this convention too.

I will sign off now as we gather steam for tonight. Until tomorrow.

David in Denver

Date Posted: August 28, 2008 @ 4:45 pm Comments Off

Posted by: David Wilmot

I am moving a little slow this morning. I think Patrick is doing TOO good a job of getting us into events and meetings. I know, I know, In Turning the Tide, we stressed the importance and value of building relationships with Congress in order to more effectively move and enact healthy ocean legislation. Patrick’s expertise and relationships with members of Congress, key staff and major influences in DC is very evident at this convention. His passion and commitment to Ocean Champions mission is very impressive and has been key to our ability to meet with so many folks that are important to the oceans.

Patrick and fellow HPWLs (High Powered Washington Lobbyists)

Yesterday afternoon, we had a private meeting with Nick Liebham who is running for Congress in San Diego. We’ve been working closely with Nick as he has made oceans a front and center issue in his campaign against Brian Bilbray. Nick actually reached out to Ocean Champions this spring and gave us an opportunity to help him when Bilbray touted his record on ocean conservation. We set the record straight. Nick is in a difficult race and Ocean Champions will make a difference by helping his campaign. He will be a tremendous champion for the oceans in the House.

Yesterday afternoon we also attended s event. The Iowa Senator is chair of the Agricultural Committee. Whoa, before you question our sanity for going to a gathering of farmers, hear me out. Senator Harkin is an avid diver, loves the ocean, and has worked extremely hard to strengthen conservation elements of the Farm Bill. I had the opportunity to talk one on one with the Senator. He is very concerned about the major role agricultural run-off is playing in the ocean’s dead zones. We also had the opportunity to talk to some of the folks from the Fertilizer Institute (I’m not making it up, it’s their real name!) They oppose the but are willing to talk. These contacts will prove very valuable.

Hillary Clinton’s speech took place while we are at an event. There were TV screens available and a lot of people couldn’t pull away. You could feel the convention becoming more energized and Hillary did her part. I understand the delegates on the floor of the Convention liked the speech and the reviews sound favorable.

This reminded me that Ocean Champions is not here for Hillary or Obama. We are here for the oceans. Being a bipartisan (non-partisan to be more accurate) organization, we have decided not to take a position on the Presidential election. Whoever takes the White House in November, the Democrats will control the Congress (almost certainly with a majority) and we want to be well positioned.

My favorite event last night was the . This was a fun, well-attended, high energy event. It was one of the few, if not only event highlighting the environment and global warming. Sen. Whitehouse and his wife Sandra hung out with us until it was time for him to go backstage. It was great seeing two of our Ocean Champions, Sen. Whitehouse and , as the key presenters at this event.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that and Graham Colton were on stage.

My ipod is loaded with Death Cab thanks to Chris Laughlin and I enjoyed them. The crowd was loving it and it seemed like one of Graham Colton’s Best Days. I tried to reach Gene Karpinski, President of LCV to let him know what a great event LCV had put together, but he was swarmed with other well-wishers.

Towards the end of the evening we headed to the Montana event. We were fortunate to run into ocean champion, and Ashley Jones, his chief of staff.

David Wilmot & Congressman Barrow

As I mentioned previously in the blog, John stayed in Georgia to campaign and only arrived in Denver on Tuesday. John said he saw we mentioned him in our blog and thanked us. Wow, people really read this blog. John is in a tough race and Ocean Champions is doing everything we can to ensure that he returns to Congress.

The energy is building and we have secured tickets for Obama’s big moment Thursday night…

Date Posted: August 27, 2008 @ 4:33 pm

Posted by: David Wilmot

By now most of you have seen Ted Kennedy’s and Michelle Obama’s speeches, heard the critiques and read the reviews. Rather than try to add to what has been said, I’ll give you the scoop on what is happening behind the scenes. As you know, from attending conventions, so much of what happens is taking place at the evening events, side meetings and breakfasts.

Last night was about meeting the media. Patrick and I spent time at the event hosted by The Hill, the influential political publication in D.C. Al Eisele, (the Editor-at-Large for the Hill) and I had a good talk about the oceans. Patrick helped get him tickets to Sen. Leahy’s breakfast and he was very grateful for that. We also saw and his wife, and had the chance to briefly chat with them and thank him for his leadership on the committee in regards to the oceans. By the way, Chairman Rahall plans to attend our next month.

There is clearly growing interest about ocean issues among the reporters, and the awareness continues to grow of Ocean Champions playing a big part of the solution. Several reporters expressed interest in attending the next month. Even Amy Argetsinger, the writer for the wanted an invitation to our event. God knows the oceans are fodder for juicy gossip.

Not to dampen the good times, but it was interesting to watch as a chill descended upon the evening’s events. Around midnight, everyone’s blackberries started going crazy as the news spread like wildfire buzzing everywhere: two individuals were arrested in Aurora, Colorado. Police found guns, drugs, and a map of the stadium. They think they were planning a possible assassination attempt during Barack Obama’s speech.

This morning, we attended a breakfast hosted by Senator Leahy. Leahy is a senior senator, appropriator, loves the ocean and is an avid scuba diver. He pulled me aside at one point, and wanted to talk about ocean issues.

David Wilmot & Senator Leahy

We also ran into Al Franken, Howard Dean and Mickey Hart. Told Mickey that I had to get his photo or my wife and sons would never forgive me. He mentioned that he and the other .

Mickey Hart & David Wilmot

At the Leahy event, Senator Whitehouse, from Rhode Island, pulled up a chair next to me to talk about opportunities to advance ocean issues in Congress beginning next January.

David Wilmot & Senator Whitehouse

from Maine, made a point of thanking everyone at Ocean Champions for hosting the fundraiser in Boston in June. He said his race for the Senate seat is going well and he is very optimistic. I let him know that Ocean Champions plans on being there for him.

Being here in Denver is a big opportunity for Ocean Champions. Politicians and reporters are waking up to the fact that our oceans are in trouble and that Ocean Champions is helping to make them aware since we are a big part of the solution. I hope that you are as proud and excited as I am that we are creating and taking advantages of the opportunities at the Convention.

Date Posted: August 26, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

Posted by: David Wilmot

Everyone is blogging from the convention. Just this afternoon I got an email from Barbara Boxer’s blog, the Sierra Club, and The Gap – OK not from the Gap, but everyone else. While I may not be as funny as Rob Riggle’s report from China on The Daily Show during the Olympics, I will do my best to share with you the Ocean Champions perspective of the 2008 Democratic Convention during this week.

I arrived in Denver Sunday afternoon and met up with Ocean Champions lobbyist, Patrick Collins and his buddy Jon, who had been enjoying the sights and heights of Colorado – hiking to 14,000 feet in Breckenridge the day before.

Excitement is the word everyone is using to describe the Democrats in Denver. It was wild at the airport. But in spite of the influx of more than 50,000 people, things are going rather smoothly.

Last night we headed to the “A Blue Night in Denver” event hosted by the Blue Dogs of Congress – those fiscally conservative Democrats.

KT Tunstall was playing on one of the two stages.  Even though this was considered a relatively small gathering – less than 1,000 people – we managed to run into many of our Champions. This is the first time I have seen most of them since we released our endorsements earlier this summer. Our Champions took the opportunity to thank me personally for the Ocean Champion endorsement and I, in turn, thanked them for the work they are doing on behalf of the oceans. I also had the opportunity to meet with a few members of Congress who Ocean Champions is getting to know. Their responses were excellent. Patrick and I look forward to following up with them in DC.

David Wilmot & Congressman Boyd
David Wilmot & Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz

I also had many great conversations with several senior staff from the Hill. Those that know us, love us, those that don’t, want to know us. I did talk to John Barrow’s Chief of Staff. Barrow won’t arrive in Denver for a couple days. He is still in Georgia campaigning.

Rumors are flying about Obama’s acceptance speech – not what he will say, but who will play. Latest buzz says that Jon Bon Jovi will play a few songs before Obama’s speech and then Bruce Springsteen will close.

That wraps up this first blog from Denver. We are heading out the door to this evenings events.

For the Oceans,
David in Denver

Date Posted: August 25, 2008 @ 7:36 pm Comments Off

The Triumph of the Low-Information Voter

Posted by: Jack Sterne

So what do we make of Barack Obama’s and Nancy Pelosi’s willingness to now consider offshore drilling?  Have they seen the light and realized how much having a vote on expanded offshore drilling is going to benefit the American consumer?

No — they’ve got elections to deal with, and we live in a poll-driven universe.  When two-thirds of folks think that drilling offshore will have an effect on gas prices, at some point politicians have to respond, no matter how irrational that belief is.

It’s unfortunate that ignorance on the part of so many voters drives so much of policy in this country  I don’t mean the ignorance comment disparagingly, it’s just that most people aren’t wonks and don’t have either the time or inclination to delve into most public policy issues.

I’ve often heard that the average American spends just five minutes a week thinking about the whole range of policy issues out there — the war, the economy, health care, the environment, you name it.  So to think that they’ll figure out on their own what to think about offshore drilling is naive in the extreme.

Ultimately, we in the environmental community have to take some responsibility for not being able to talk to voters in a language that they understand and that makes sense to them.  Does it mean we shouldn’t try to explain the facts to them?  Of course not.  But it does mean that we have to figure out how to speak their language and the truth is that most of us don’t.

Until we do, we can expect to keep losing on issues like offshore drilling.

Date Posted: August 20, 2008 @ 6:25 pm

Posted by: Chris Laughlin

How much ? Imagine a PHEV (plug-in hybrid vehicle) you could plug in at home, and drive up to ? Ford, GM, Toyota, , Volkswagen, and others have joined in the PHEV fever. Google is spending 10 mil to check it out. My personal fave is the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

Or, better yet, my good old cruiser bike.

Date Posted: August 14, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

Posted by: Jack Sterne

With Congress out on recess, there’s not a lot to talk about politically. O.k., except for this really ridiculous story of certain House Republicans claiming their floor protest called oil prices to fall. And of course, the Presidential.

But I actually wanted to point out a much more important story that ran in the New York Times last week. For years, I’ve heard Jeremy Jackson of Scripps say in his talks that we were headed to an ocean of little more than jellyfish.

I never had any reason to doubt him, but now it looks like his prophecy is actually coming true. That’s a really scary thought.

And it really gives urgency to what we do. If our political leaders aren’t willing to make some pretty significant changes to the way we manage our oceans, you can kiss that sushi goodbye. Never mind going to the beach. Unless you can enjoy painful, stinging welts. Yeah, I didn’t think so.

I know this is a shameless plug for what we do, but go check out our Endorsements page and you can see the candidates we’re supporting who will help us turn this situation around. We’ve got to elevate the profile of the oceans in Congress, or we’ll all be eating jellyfish burgers. So help us help these candidates today.

Date Posted: August 12, 2008 @ 7:55 am

Posted by: Maureen Wilmot

My brother is in China this week and sent me word that there is an at a museum in Taiwan. WHAT? A region that kills more than 100 million sharks a year for the delicacy, is having an exhibit on shark conservation. I am amazed and pleased that there is such an exhibit. Any little bit helps towards ocean protection.

While a museum exhibit is a great undertaking, we all know the power of the small, individual actions, like inflating the tires or turning down the thermostat to save energy consumption. Or do we? A recent post In the LA Times, RUMBLE SEAT
Gauging the furor over Obama’s tire pressure remark, by Dan Neil states, “Americans have never been sold on the collective power of numbers, the notion that small, relatively painless gestures of conservation can add up. And so Jimmy Carter will be immortalized as a feckless thermostat-watcher in a cardigan.” In addition, he writes,”The offshore drilling position also enjoys the stupendous advantage of asking nothing from consumers.”

But there are folks that are making big changes for the consumer. The other day I ran into a fellow who works for Solar City. Solar City is a leading provider of solar power financing, design, installation and service. The chairman of their board is also Chairman of the Board for Tesla Motors, a new all electric American car company.

What I love about these companies is that American ingenuity is taking the lead. Instead of business as usual, these companies see that the best thing for their pocketbooks, the nation and the environment (oceans included) is to get off oil, domestic or imported. And they are putting the brains, money and drive to make that happen.

Well, I am one consumer that is going to inflate the tires and turn down my thermostat to save energy and money. I am saving for a Tesla Roadster.

Date Posted: August 8, 2008 @ 1:00 pm Comments Off

Posted by: Maureen Wilmot

It is just days before the Olympics opens in Beijing and I am not even tuned into any of the hoopla. I used to LOVE watching the Olympics. But not this year. Maybe it is because I am too preoccupied watching all the gymnastics on the Senate and House floor with the oil drilling issue. Or maybe it is because I just finished reading Maarten Troost’s book, Lost on Planet China and am too concerned with how all those athletes are going to be able to breathe in that polluted air.

And really, I am more of a Winter Olympics spectator- downhill racing, figure skating, bobsled. I vividly remember the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. (Ok I am showing my age ) My mom woke my younger brothers and me up at 4:00 in the morning (No Tivo then) to watch Jerry Bujakowski, the one-man ski team from India. (I am not making this up) Jerry was a waiter with my older brothers at the Chart House in San Diego and a fantastic skier. He was born in India and therefore qualified to be on the Indian Olympic ski team. Any way, there we were all cuddled on the couch waiting to see Jerry in his downhill run. We watched Jean Claude Killy, a couple of Americans and then when Jerry was to race, ABC cut to a commercial! The network thought an Indian skier was of no interest to the American viewers.

Well, my mother gets up and goes to the phone in the kitchen (no cordless phones).

She calls the local ABC station and wants to know who is responsible for scheduling that commercial break. After several more calls, my mother finally gets a hold of some one in New York City. By the time she gets back to the living room and the commercials are over, the sportscasters on that mountainside in France are announcing that they will now replay the run of Indian skier, Jerry Bujakowski for his fans in San Diego, California.

From that day forward, I never doubted the power of a properly placed phone call.

So what does this story have to do with the price of tea in China or for that matter, the price of gas at the pump? It just proves that a phone call to your Senator and Representative to let them know to keep the moratorium on oil drilling in our oceans is vitally important and VERY effective. Let them know that offshore oil drilling will not affect the price of gasoline, but the risk to our oceans is too high a price to pay.

Congress is going on Summer recess and will be in their districts August 11th through September 5th. They are going to be hearing from their constituents and let’s make sure that what they hear is that it is important to their voters to protect our oceans and keep the moratorium on offshore oil drilling.

Date Posted: August 5, 2008 @ 9:41 am