Shooting Blanks: Lobby Protesters at Ristorante Tosca
I'm sure it sounded like a good idea to the protesters gathering this week to expose the corporate network trying to derail Wall Street reform: interrupt the lobbyists as they lunch at the favorite downtown haunt.
There was only one problem with the plan: The protesters, organized by the Chicago-based National People's Action (*) and other groups, arrived around 2 p.m. at Ristorante Tosca, the city's power outlet for both Italian cooking and lobbying action. I'm not sure what time folks eat in Chicago, but only cabbies and restaurant workers lunch in this town after 2 p.m. (OK, and occasionally journalists with blogs to fill.)
Tosca manager Lisa Fotter said that about 30 protesters "bum-rushed" the restaurant and walked into the main dining room, where only a handful of folks were still eating. They broke into song (sample lyric sung to the tune of "That's Amore": "When we rake in more perks putting folks out of work, that's amore/ When our bonuses grow, as more houses foreclose, we're in love.")
The protesters then took some pictures and bolted back out. By the time I got there, the protesters were already gone. I apparently missed them by minutes. But I did snap the picture above to give you an approximate idea of how "packed" the dining room was when they arrived.
I asked Fotter if there were any lobbyists in the dining room at the time.
She just shook her head no.
Did they at least sing well?
A server standing nearby decided to field that question: "Horrible."
(*) George Goehl, executive director of National People's Action, called to say his group was in no way involved with the Tosca protest. I then called the PR person who originally sent us the notice about the event. First, she denied that it ever took place and claimed the restaurant was closed. Then she said the protest included only SEIU-aligned people.