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01-11-09, 03:26 AM #1
Obama Site Linked to 'Bush Shoe Toss' Event
Colin Powell held a press conference in Washington, D.C., Friday, touting the launch of Barack Obama's new Web site, USAService.org, which allows Americans to find -- and to promote -- local service opportunities that are searchable by zip code.
President Bush's former secretary of state said he was on the site this morning and vouched for its usefulness.
But here's betting that Powell didn't have time to go through all of the events on it.
Wanting to see how the Web site works, I typed in my hometown zip code in Los Angeles to find events within a 10-mile radius.
It pointed me to several events, including a blood drive, a graffiti cleanup, and an "Obama Celebration and Bush Shoe Toss."
The event, which was listed as a "Day of Service -- January 19," is taking place at the soon-to-open Carnivale Café on the corner of Vermont and Normal.
"Come celebrate with us," wrote Gilbert Gazan, 46, in the event's description. "Say goodbye to old Georgie ... Throw a shoe at a poster of Bush and win a free drink."
Click here to see the LA Weekly cover the restaurant plans to use as the shoe-throwing target.
Other than doing an occasional "very cursory" review of the site to make sure there are no "glaringly inappropriate" events on it, the Presidential Inaugural Committee is "not vetting the groups that are offering service opportunities or the individuals that are offering service opportunities or the people who want to participate," according to Linda Douglass, the committee's chief spokesperson.
"This is a hub," said Douglass. "It is very much like CraigsList, matching up individuals and groups who want to participate with opportunities to serve."
Asked about the "Bush Shoe Toss" advertised on Obama's site, Douglass said, "That obviously does not sound like any description of public service that we have in mind. But again, we are not in the business of regulating this. We're just in the business of giving people opportunities."
A few minutes later, after talking with her colleagues, Douglass called back to say that the committee has removed the "Bush Shoe Toss" from the site because "it does not appear those activities are connected to community service."
Gazan, who was inspired by the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at Bush, is undeterred.
Asked if he plans to go forward with the "Bush Shoe Toss" contest now that it has been deleted from USAService.org, Gazan said, "Oh, yeah, we have 22,000 students across the street at Los Angeles Community College."
"The whole world is breathing a sigh of relief," he added, referring to Bush's looming departure.
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