Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Cost of Bush rally? Amount likely unknowable

By John Kiesewetter
Enquirer staff writer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - While crews Tuesday picked up campaign signs and litter left by a crowd that police estimated at 50,000-plus at Voice of America Park, township officials began tallying up the cost for President Bush's huge campaign rally the day before.

"We won't know until we do our payroll in a couple of weeks. I know it will be thousands in police protection alone," said David Gully, township administrator.

Trustees President Catherine Stoker, a Democrat, said she has asked Gully for an accounting of township expenses for the president's campaign stop.

"We (trustees) did not approve any expenses for the rally" in advance, she said.

The cost will be absorbed in the township's budget, as have security and personnel expenses for the Union Centre Boulevard Bash and other large events, Gully said.

Stoker said there has been no talk of billing the Bush campaign for expenses. Cleveland plans to bill the Bush and Kerry campaigns for about $300,000 in extra costs to the city for campaign stops, according to USA Today.

"When a president visits, or a former president visits, the Secret Service dictates what needs to be done. We don't ask why or how much. We just do it.

"If John Kerry came in, we'd do the same thing," she said.

Township resident Guy Orlowski said he has asked Stoker about the rally costs.

"It could be an awful big expense for a small community like West Chester to absorb," said Orlowski, a political independent. "It seems like the campaign bill has been foisted on the township for the price of a party. I'm surprised more people aren't asking this question."

An exact accounting for the rally may never be determined, because the cost was spread throughout Greater Cincinnati. More than 25 fire and police departments from Butler, Hamilton, Warren and Clermont counties sent officers or equipment Monday.

About 40 township Parks and Service Department employees also worked overtime last weekend at VOA Park, says Mark Fitzgerald, services director. Additional tasks were performed by county jail inmates, Gully said.

"Any time you have 55,000 people show up in your community, you have to provide for their safety and health," Gully said.

"We host people in our community all the time, and we make sure they leave with a good impression of West Chester."


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