Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

Posts in "CVC"

September 15, 2014

Beth Plemmons, the Capitol Visitor Center’s Guide to Southern Hospitality

plemmons001 081914 440x297 Beth Plemmons, the Capitol Visitor Centers Guide to Southern Hospitality

Plemmons is CEO for Visitor Services at the Capitol Visitor Center. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

North Carolina native Beth Plemmons, CEO of visitor services at the Capitol Visitor Center, is a pro at Southern hospitality.

She spent 17 years working in reservations and ticketing positions at the grandiose 19th century Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., then transitioned to guest services at Virginia’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. The Virginia Tech alumna, who studied hotel, restaurant and institutional management, joined the leadership team of the CVC just a few months before the 580,000-foot complex’s Dec. 2, 2008, grand opening.

Touring the CVC with CQ Roll Call this August, Plemmons showed off her favorite item in the Exhibition Hall collection: a marble gavel and wooden triangle that Mount Vernon resident George Washington used to lay the Capitol’s cornerstone in 1793. She stopped just short of calling the Capitol grounds an estate at one point, explaining, “This is the first time I’ve ever not worked as part of an estate.”

Plemmons accepted her first federal government post “on the heels of some controversy,” she said during a wide-ranging interview about her six-year tenure. She took a job as director of visitor services after years of negative press about construction delays and the $621-million structure’s ever-increasing price tag. While such issues are in the rearview mirror, other contentious ones have bubbled up in the intervening years, particularly surrounding the relationship between managers and the front-line employees at the CVC — its tour guides.  Full story

September 5, 2014

Capitol Tour Guides Say They’ve Lost the Right to Drink Water

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Capitol tour guides say CVC management has made it nearly impossible to drink water during their physically demanding workdays. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“No food, no drinks,” instructed Capitol Police officers posted outside the doors of the Capitol Visitor Center as tourists approached the complex on a recent muggy day.

A blonde woman sporting a ponytail and backpack drained her 8-ounce plastic bottle and held it up to show the cops it was empty. She was waved toward the doors.

While visitors are allowed to carry water bottles, and can fill them up once they are inside, the guides who spend eight hours a day walking them through the Capitol and talking about Congress complain that their access to water has been severely limited by CVC management. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 12:46 p.m.
AOC, CVC

July 22, 2014

Capitol Police Complete Investigation of Suspicious Substance in Capitol Visitor Center (Updated)

cvc072214 440x284 Capitol Police Complete Investigation of Suspicious Substance in Capitol Visitor Center (Updated)

Capitol Police investigating a suspicious substance Tuesday carry their equipment back to the hazmat truck after declaring the area clear. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:38 a.m. | Capitol Police sealed entrances to the Capitol Visitor Center shortly after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, in response to a suspicious substance.

Trapped groups of tourists and tour guides milled about in the main level, waiting for an all-clear so that they could enter the Capitol as police investigated in Emancipation Hall.

Escalators to and from the Capitol and outside entrances were ordered closed, as police implemented a shelter in place.

Capitol Police spokesman Shennell Antrobus confirmed the investigation to CQ Roll Call.

At about 9:50 a.m. Capitol Police radios began buzzing with the news that the suspicious substance tested negative and normal operations would soon resume, once the HAZMAT team cleared the scene.

A group of about 30 tourists who had been led out of the CVC theatre during the 45-minute investigation geared up for their tour of the Capitol. An officer joked with them that the well-rested CVC tour guides, also waiting for an all-clear signal, would show them a great time once operations resumed.

Shortly before 10 a.m., word spread that the doors and escalators were re-opening. A handful of Capitol employees who had been waiting in the Crypt boarded the escalator down to the CVC. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 9:39 a.m.
Capitol Police, CVC

June 5, 2014

Visiting the Capitol? There’s an App for That

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(Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Early Wednesday afternoon, Daidis Mayedo peered up at the Capitol Dome through the lens of her iPhone camera.

She snapped some pictures of the Statue of Freedom and of her daughter, Claudia Garcia, who was having her own iPhone photo shoot on the East Front. Mayedo then reviewed the images through her dark sunglasses.

The mother-daughter duo, in town from Franklin, Tenn., appeared completely absorbed with the content on their screens, like many of the tourists milling about the Capitol grounds that afternoon. Capitol Visitor Center staff are convinced the campus-wide iPhone fixation can help enhance the tourists’ experience. In other words: Visiting the Capitol? There’s an app for that.

Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:19 p.m.
AOC, Campus, CVC

‘Koch Brothers Exposed’ Screening Set for David Koch’s Apartment

kochs 330x330 Koch Brothers Exposed Screening Set for David Kochs Apartment

(Image from the Facebook invite to the protest)

When clips from “Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition” were aired in the Capitol Visitor Center, Republicans cried foul and Democrats lashed back.

Now, two days after a heated Senate hearing focused on political spending, activists in New York plan to take the film about the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch straight to David Koch’s door.

Liberal organizers, including members of MoveOn.org and Common Cause, will hold a protest on Thursday night outside Koch’s Park Avenue apartment. As part of what they’ve deemed a block party, the activists plan to project clips from the film onto the sides of neighborhood buildings, along with images of 2014 candidates who they say have taken money from the Koch brothers. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 11:45 a.m.
Campus, CVC

May 21, 2014

Koch Brothers Movie Saga Continues With Democrats Pointing to Precedent

The Capitol Hill premiere of a film about billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch sparked outrage from Republicans on Tuesday, but it wasn’t all that long ago that a movie co-produced by Citizens United was being screened in the Capitol Visitor Center.

In September 2009, Republicans hosted former Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and his wife, Callista, for an on-campus premiere of their documentary, “Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage.” A joint production of Gingrich Productions and Citizens United, the film explores the role of religion in early American history.

Full story

‘Koch Brothers Exposed’ Film Premieres, but Democrats Take No Questions

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‘Koch Brothers Exposed’ has been championed by Democrats like Sanders as they talk about needing to reform campaign finance law. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Call it a screening, a press conference, a meeting, or a get-together of like-minded friends. Regardless, the [insert event term here] for the “Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition” documentary still happened Tuesday evening in the Capitol Visitors Center despite Republican accusations of Democratic impropriety.

“The Koch brothers’ tentacles have sunken deep into our democracy and deep into the Republican Party,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told the few dozen interested people and reporters in attendance.  “That’s evident by the fact they even tried to stop us from having this meeting.”

Controversy swirled around the screening as Republicans charged that the event focusing on billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch violated rules about film premieres on Capitol grounds. Democrats responded that the rules did not apply to the room in the CVC and that the event was a press conference.

But a press release characterized the event as a screening.  Although the release advertised a Q&A with Pelosi and Reid, neither took questions after their speeches.

Full story

May 20, 2014

‘Koch Brothers Exposed’ Screening Sparks Fight Over CVC Rules

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Nancy Pelosi helped bring the Koch Brothers documentary to the Capitol for a screening. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans are warning that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s request to host the worldwide premiere of liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald’s “Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition,” is a violation of rules and could spark an ethics investigation.

The California Democrat asked for the room only after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s same request was rejected, documents suggest. Reid’s office denies that sequence of events.

Last week, Greenwald’s Brave New Films began circulating invites for a screening in a plum spot labeled HVC 215, the Capitol Visitor Center meeting room reserved for the House Democratic Caucus. The event is scheduled Tuesday night from 6:15 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Republicans objected that such a screening would violate rules governing the use of the taxpayer-funded Capitol complex, and warn Pelosi could land herself in an ethics investigation for sponsoring an on-campus screening of clips from the movie about the political activity of billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.

“Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but that’s a potential,” House Administration Chairwoman Candice S. Miller, the so-called mayor of Capitol Hill, told CQ Roll Call a few hours before doors opened on the Tuesday evening show. Full story

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