Monday, August 06, 2012
Obama Taps Westport for $2M
If all goes according to plan, President Obama’s brief visit to Westport tonight will add about $2 million to his campaign coffers.
The entrance to Harvey Weinstein’s home on Beachside Avenue, site of the Obama fundraiser tonight, showed little activity on Sunday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
But the quick in-and-out, $35,800 per guest stop at movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s Beachside Avenue home - reportedly with celebrities Anne Hathaway, Jim Naughton, Aaron Sorkin, Joanne Woodward and Vogue editor Anna Wintour co-hosting or attending – will cause disruption and overtime dollars for Westport.
The Secret Service asked that state-owned Sherwood Island State Park and town-owned Burying Hill Beach be shut down for the day, leaving thousands without access to Long Island Sound waters on a hot summer day.
Weinstein’s home, where 50 to 60 guests are expected to gather at about 7 p.m., is adjacent to Burying Hill Beach. And Sherwood Island State Park will provide a landing spot for the presidential helicopter. Guests are expected to park at Greens Farms Academy.
Obama will be coming from a $500 per guest reception at the Stamford Marriott where many Westport Democrats are expected to be present.
Westport police have worked closely with the Secret Service on the visit, the first to Westport by a sitting president since Bill Clinton was here in 1999.
Obama will travel the two miles from Sherwood Island State Park to Beachside Avenue in about five minutes. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Google map
A police unit was seen checking out radio communications along the planned two-mile motorcade route from Sherwood Island State Park to the Weinstein home in the Greens Farms area.
The five-minute ride will take Obama along the Sherwood Island Connector to Nyala Farms Road to Greens Farms Road and then to Beachside Avenue.
Westport’s Marine Police Unit was also expected to help protect the shoreline in front of the Weinstein home, which last saw an influx of celebrities for Weinstein’s 2007 marriage to to British fashion designer Georgiana Chapman. (See WestportNow Dec. 16, 2007)
Westport fire units are also expected to support the presidential visit by standing by at Sherwood Island State Park and near the Weinstein home.
First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said the town expects to incur some overtime costs as part of its role in providing security for the visit.
“That’s been the pattern in the past and unfortunately we do not anticipate the Obama campaign – just like those of previous presidents – to help us out with the overtime tab,” he said.
A sign at the entrance to Westport’s Burying Hill Beach informs visitors it is closed today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Joseloff, a Democrat, said he did not plan on attending the event. “It’s a little steep for a first selectman,” he said of the entry fee.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will attend the Westport event, his office said. Invitations have also gone out to the state’s constitutional officers and congressional delegation.
Weinstein, a prolific fundraiser for the president, hosted Obama at a $35,800 per guest dinner at his New York West Village townhouse in August 2011.
As president, Clinton paid three visits to Westport to raise campaign funds. But he said he had been here previously dating back to when he and Hillary Clinton were students at Yale Law School in New Haven.
Clinton was here on March 10, 1998, at an event at the Inn at National Hall hosted by Yvette and Bob Rose; again on June 8, 1998 at a Rose-hosted event at Martha Stewart’s television studio on Newtown Turnpike, and on June 28, 1999 at an event at the Judy Point Lane home of Fran Goldstein and Sandra Wagenfeld.
Comments: Comment Policy
As public places are being closed for purely private reasons I do feel this is an abuse of power.
But it would be interesting to hear how the people who regularly use these beaches feel; perhaps they are honoured by the closure, perhaps not so pleased.
The town really should enact legislation which would put any financial burdens on the recipient of the campaign donations. In these times, especially, this is a waste of town funds, and an indirect campaign contribution from some who would rather not donate!!
But I thought during these tough economic times, we were all supposed to “do our part, and share the burden,” or some such load of bull, right.
Of course I’m being sarcastic! This POTUS doesn’t care who/what he affects as long as he gets his way and this is proof of that. How dare he close a town AND State beach for an entire day and waste resources so he can raise money???? Who’s reimbursing the Town and State for their losses? People who usually go to Burying Hill can go to Compo, but what about those who go to Sherwood? They’re going to have to go to Compo and pay a higher fee. How fair is that.
Will there be room at Compo for all the extra people, since it’s not raining, today?
Mary, the Town and State should enact legislation against closing of such facilities for campaign reasons. This is the height of grandiosity at the taxpayers expense.
I think it’s outrageous that I have to pay for a clealy political event. This character Obama will NEVER get my vote but the dems already knew that. I didn’t like it when Clinton swooped in either. My thoughts would be the same for any republican candidate as well. It’s patent (you fill in the blanks)
Westport and CT unfortunately all deserve to be inconvenienced by 0bama. In fact, the towns and the state overwhelmingly voted for the fundraiser-in-chief. And they will again in 2012. Elections have consequences and this is one of them. He is on a search for $$$ and nothing is off limits.
I’m amused by the comments here.
Yesterday was indeed a busy day at Burying Hill, and yet we found a parking space and plenty of room on the beach for our stuff. Looking over at Sherwood Island across the water, it was like a ghost town compared to the crowds at Compo.
Gordon, send a letter re the overtime to Harvey and see if he replies. He pays PLENTY in taxes to the town on his vacation home (in the top 30 town taxpayers,) for which he normally utilizes much less of the town services than us full-time residents.
If I recall, Romney had a firecracker of a fundraiser at a home in Greenwich - think of all that those people had to endure too. Oh the humanity. (Or is this just a NIMBY protest by everyone here?)
There used to be a time when despite the party of the sitting president, residents were honored by a visit. Everyone needs to relax and chill.
Hey, I didn’t vote for the step on the little people in chief, either.
It’s this kind of behavior, though that absolutely enrages me. How dare he believe this to be ok. Yes, I recall, vividly when Clinton did exactly the same thing, and it wasn’t ok then, either.
If they reimbursed both the Town and State, that would be far different. You’d have to be a total idiot to not know that every municipality in the country is struggling to balance their books, and some are going bankrupt. So, to force overtime pay is beyond over the line, it’s sickening.
A bill for this fiasco should be sent to the WH by both Malloy and Joseloff. Of course that won’t happen.
Elizabeth, I suppose it hasn’t occurred to you that there are many family’s who won’t be so pleased when they discover that Sherwood Island is closed, today after they’ve traveled a significant distance, w/ children in tow to get there, and then have nowhere to go? Why? B/c they live inland! And, Sherwood’s a State Park, that’s why!
So, yes, the humanity of it all is correct.
Did Romney close Parks and beaches when he was in town? Don’t believe he did.
Did he step on taxpayer’s money, as in over time? Nope. Don’t believe he did.
The difference with this event is that it is a FUNDRAISER, not an event where the president is meeting and speaking to the general public. That would be different. But because the president is here purely for the benefit of raising cash for his campaign, the president should be responsible for paying for the Westport police overtime (and any additional town costs), NOT the Westport taxpayers. Same would hold true if Romney visits Westport. Romney should be made to pay for any town costs.
I agree with Mary’s comments, although I think it should go beyond the town enacting a law. It should be a state law. Of course, it should REALLY be a federal law, although Congress would never vote for it (as it would not benefit those of them with presidential aspirations down the road).
I have a job and need to focus on work, so I won’t be around to respond to any personal attacks if anyone feels the need to get nasty - as some frequent commenters here are wont to do, from time to time. Before I refocus on what helps pay *my* taxes, I felt it wise to point out.
Thoughts do pop into my brain on occasion, but I don’t feel the need to share them with everyone in town. I’m not saying this isn’t inconvenient, but is certainly not worth vitriol or rage.
What enrages me is innocent people being killed while going to religious services. Or a mother who will never be able to hold and hug her 6-year old daughter after she was killed at a late night movie that was supposed to be a special treat, or a vicious attack at a forum held by a congresswoman that left her forever changed and other innocents (again, including children) killed. THOSE are what enrage me
I encourage an even keel and perspective on things. When faced with the challenges that these people have to face, being redirected to a different state park or town beach is inconvenient but certainly not life altering.
Well put, Elizabeth.
Nice derail, Elizabeth, b/c that’s exactly what your post is. Not that your points don’t have merit, they do; different topics for different threads.
But, to remain on topic, this is a fund raising effort on POTUS, therefore both the State and Town should not bear the cost(s) of his visit; he should-as David pointed out. And as others have pointed out, as well.
Debates aren’t attacks, either, but when it’s patently obvious when POTUS is in the wrong, and the majority of posters agree that he is, it’s fascinating to see how the few view it as an attack.
So much for hope and the dwindling change left in our pockets.
I love it when the point of the post is lost! It’s about the town being burdened by a purely single sided political event. The spinners will spin but the point is the point. The Obama campaign should pay the Town’s extraordinary costs period as should any single sided politcal event irrespective of party. Democratic, Republican, Independent et al.
A sitting President has the right to campaign for a second term and as part of being President, the Secret Service must make his comings and goings secure, which sometimes necessitates the need to close public areas. It took me literally 15 seconds online to find a record of then-President George W. Bush closing a county park in Michigan for a day to do a re-election fundraiser in 2004 (actually held IN the public park itself). I’m sure there were many more instances of this type of thing for Bush and for his predecessors, regardless of political party. It comes with the territory. If you don’t like it, your recourse is to change the constitution to limit the President to one term - then he won’t be campaigning while in office. Until then, it is completely within Obama’s or any other President’s rights to come and go as he or she pleases and for the Secret Service to take whatever actions are necessary to keep him or her safe. If that means you can’t go to the beach for one day, that’s just too bad.
Kurt Ringquist & Tracy Flood
As an ardent Obama fan, I agree campaigns should foot the bill for all costs associated with fundraising. Since they apparently don’t, “blue state” towns get stuck covering the president, and “red state” towns get stuck covering Romney. Given that (sad) reality, I maintain it’s better to get any candidate in and out safely than be the town where he/she was killed.
One thing that bothers me with this private event are the people who probably ARE NOT getting paid today. Are those college kids who work as lifeguards at Burying Hill and Sherwood Island getting paid? They were probably scheduled to work. Do they get told don’t come in today and by the way don’t plan on getting paid for time you were scheduled. How about the guy who runs the snack bar at Sherwood? Does he get told you’ll lose a days business because of a private fundraiser. I’m hoping that all of these people are able to get paid their days wages (which aren’t much more than minimum wage). When Hollywood comes to town to film movies they buy out all of the businesses that they need closed for the day. When they filmed Revolutionary Road in Southport they paid my barber for 2 days of lost business. It was a private event. I don’t see how this event is any different. I don’t care if it’s a political event, a charity fundraiser or some person who just wants exclusive use of a facility for the day. If people who are supposed to work can’t because of a private event they should still get paid.
It would be worth noting that the beaches are not closed because of a Presidential fundraiser, but rather to enforce security of our elected President. Regardless of whether he’s on public or private business, and regardless of his political affiliation, we should expect some inconveniences when our President visits town.
Were it President Bush prior to his last election, I’d expect the same type of security implemented to ensure his safety, and despite him not having visited here, I’m sure the locales that he did visit complained just as much.
It’s clear that the majority of these complaints are purely on political bias.
Kurt, it’s not about going to the beach, I could care less about that…don’t go anyway…I fish from my boat. Not the point, anyway. As another article clearly states, thousands visit the Park, so what about them? Fairly selfish stance, don’t you think? Still not the point, though. Interesting how “some” missed it, entirely.
That being said, the ones who did get it, I truly applaud you as this is a bipartisan issue as we are ALL taxpayers regardless of our political alliances. And, that my friends IS the bottom line. It is NOT our responsibility as CT citizens to foot the bill for any POTUS for any fundraising event. The onus belongs on them. If they were only using the Secret Service, then fine, but no, our local PD and Fire will be used as well as our State Troopers and other Town PD’s. Not fair for CT to p/u the tab for a patently obvious campaign effort. IF he were here for another reason, such as an opening of an addition to Sikorsky or Groton, that would be a far different matter and I would not have a problem w/ CT paying the tab and indeed it would be an honor to have him in CT. It would be an honor to have any sitting Pres in CT. But, this isn’t that.
And, yes, what of the people who aren’t being paid today b/c they’re hourly? Students, no less. Who’s reimbursing them. Rhetorical question. Great point, John. Again, not fair.
It’s an honor having any president visit Westport, even for a campaign event. I remember visiting our friends in Kennebunkport, Maine every summer. The visits often coincided with George Bush (the father, while he was a sitting president) being there as well. It was a thrill seeing him at the marina or at local restaurants. Residents and tourists were not bothered at all. It’s a shame to close an entire state park just so a helicopter can land later in the day. Unfortunately, extraordinary precautions after 9-11 are the new reality. Regarding overtime, it’s up to the campaign and PACs to decide if they foot the bill (I hope they do the right thing of course). We must protect the president regardless of who pays.
Chairman, Westport Board of Finance
Big bucks Wienstein could pay for the extraordinary costs with his pocketchange. Let’s see if he does. I truly, truly doubt it…but I’ve been wrong once or twice.
Avi, w/ all due respect, Kennebunkport was the Bush’s summer residence; an entirely different set of circumstances. Same as the Kennedy compound being on the Cape. It’s their home. So, yes, the residents and tourists alike would anticipate it to be a normal event. This, no. You do not close a State Park for an entire day and incur monetary losses at taxpayer expenses w/o expecting to be reimbursed, not in this or any other economy. Nor do you ask hourly wage earners to give up hard earned dollars for the “honor” or whatever of a Pres coming to town.
Bad argument. Read some of the national news and find out how your Senators and Congressmen feel on the subject. Both sides of the aisle are not pleased w/ this. It’s a burden on our State, and it is not fair to place it in our laps when our budget is where it is.
Jean - It isn’t fair. However, we have a duty to protect a visiting president regardless of who pays for it.
At least you agree w/ me, Avi. Thank you for that. I appreciate your candor. Seriously. I also agree that we indeed have a duty to protect him while he’s here, but he has a duty to not take advantage of that since he’s on a campaign tour and nothing more. This is a fundraising event, a private event and we, the taxpayers should not be held liable for that. Nor should hard working citizens lose a day’s pay as a result.
The taxpayers are being held accountable for over time for the State Troopers as well as the individual town PD’s, correct? All of that should be added, collectively and billed to Pres Obama’s campaign fund. Otherwise, this is straight up an abuse of power. The Gov should not find this acceptable, either.
In addition to protecting the President, the Secret Service protects Mitt Romney and, during the period of the Republican primaries, other Republican contenders. (The cost was estimated at about $50,000. per day then.) As a U.S. taxpayer, I am not thrilled about about my tax monies going to protect these men who are not government officials and who are financially able to provide for their own security. These days, though, it is just part of the cost of living in this country. (The practice and budgets are spelled out by Congress, so this is not an abuse of presidential power.)
Well said Wendy. I think you have silenced the masses. When you think what we paid to protect the likes of “999” Herman Cain and “cure the gays” Michele Bachmann, now that angers the hell out of me.
POTUS should pay his own way when doing private fundraising, which has absolutely nothing to do w/ the Secret Service detail that both he and any other candidate is entitled to as is outlined by Congress. That is a well known fact and not at all what I was commenting on.
No use reiterating what’s already been said, numerous times, if it can’t be understood? by several individuals, yes? Even Avi agreed that it wasn’t correct.
It might be helpful to read the back posts in their entirety.
I think the town of Westport should disclose how much the Presidents visit cost .
Since the usage of State Troopers were involved as well, the State needs to disclose, too. Plus the usage of Sherwood Island State Park for the entire day. They owe the town for the usage of Burying Hill Beach for whole day, also.
None of this is inexpensive and in the future, the towns nor the state can be left on the hook for this kind of tab by either party for private party fundraising. Laws need to be changed regarding this kind of behavior. Use campaign funds; if they did, possibly they’d spend more wisely.
Jean Marie, your condescending circular bias is unappreciated. The same town costs were incurred at every Republican debate, campaign visit, primary, etc. around this country. I am far more concerned that Sheldon Adelson can personally contribute $20 million to Republican coffers than I am that Westport police got paid a bit of overtime to escort the President to Stamford and back.
Spin away Mr. Friedman…no comparison to a debate…this was a FUNDRAISER!
Yeah Mr. Leyden, you are right. The hundreds of Republican candidate campaign visits all over America haven’t cost anything to local taxpayers. Please forgive my ignorance.
Ted, take a short hike if you are seriously going to complain about WPD, again! If they weren’t going to escort Mr. Fundraiser in chief, who exactly was going to do so? You? Besides, if Mr. Fundraiser isn’t going to pay for it, who else do you think is left holding the proverbial $ bag? Bingo! Us. You win the door prize!
What exactly is it that you’ve got against the WPD, anyway? IMO, they rock! They do an amazing job of protecting the town and interacting w/ just about anyone, unless…well, you fill in the blank.
Happy spinning :)
Jean Marie, perhaps you need to reread my comment. I didn’t express any complaint about WPD nor have I in the past. Get a grip!
To the editors of WestportNow. Great site but maybe comments on stories could be limited to a couple or several per person. When one person has a third or more of all comments it becomes tiresome – in my opinion. Needless to say I won’t make any further comments.
Spinning is an artform isn’t it. What was intended to be comment on a local situation was turned into an “all over America” characterization. To make my position clear fundraising “security” should not be paid for by local governments. The party involved should pick up the tab. All of my previous posts made this point. At no time did I single out my problem to one party or another. If it’s a fundraiser the fundraiser pays irrespective of what State it’s held in. I’m a Westport, CT taxpayer and speaking out as such. Let those in other locations make their thoughts known…or not.
Yes Mr. Leyden, “This character Obama” and “Big bucks Weinstein” are clearly the words that an individual just trying to make a point about the local costs of a political visit would use to illustrate his political neutrality and lack of bias.
So..should the FUNDRAISER pay or not Mr. Friedman…that’s my point. Your opinion is?
This has nothing to do with political affiliation. Anyone hosting a function that is closed to the public would have to bear these expenses - why is this different?
The town and state should have to disclose amounts spent and revenues lost. This is an era of transparency we live in.
Mr. Leyden, I completely support your point but I wouldn’t limit it to fundraising events only. If we didn’t have the insane campaign finance laws that we have in this great country, there would be no helicopters landing on Sherwood Island today and we wouldn’t have to waste the evening arguing about the few thousand dollars paid to WPD for their good work or lost at Sherwood Island in revenue today.
Right, Joe, limit what people are allowed to say…excellent idea for a democratic society.
Ted, you clearly said that you were concerned that the WPD were paid over time for their services, today. How else could that possibly be misread? It can’t. I’ve got a great grip.
I wasn’t wasting my time. I enjoyed every second of it. One of the problems we have is being dismissive to “a few thousand dollars” being spent or lost. But that’s another story isn’t it.
Jean Marie, I actually expressed my complete lack of concern that WPD was paid overtime. Perhaps a third reading of my comment will show you the light. I accept your apology which I know is not forthcoming.
As one of the first people making comment on this article, I feel I should restate my initial thought.
When private events require the use of the police, they pay for it. When non-profit events require a police presence, they pay for it. The purpose of this visit was purely fundraising - nothing more, or less. The “invitation” came from a private entity in the town - not the town itself. We should not be forced to use taxpayer funds to pay for what is, in essence, a private party, no matter who the guest of honor is.
Westport people work hard for what they earn - I know I do. I firmly believe that anyone using town facilities or workers for their own purpose should bear the financial responsibility for that. Westport should not be used as a limitless and FREE supply of funds.
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Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport