Taxpayers decline bill for Obama's visit; motorcade blocks woman in labor from hospital

Obama's motorcade causing trouble during his travels on the West Coast.
By JC Sevcik  |  July 24, 2014 at 6:56 PM
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LOS ANGELES, July 24 (UPI) -- As Obama travels the country to fundraise and campaign for Democrats in the midterm elections, the presidential motorcade has been causing problems this week, preventing a woman in labor from accessing a hospital and prompting one small town to decline to foot the bill for the honor of a presidential visit.

Obama made a fundraising visit to the Pacific Northwest Tuesday, visiting the Lake Washington-side home of Bruce and Anne Blume in Seattle's Madrona neighborhood and the Medina mansion of Jim Senegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco.

Seattle residents have a history of extending warm welcomes to any visiting president -- according to Seattle Post-Intelligencer, when Obama visited early in his tenure he packed the gym at Garfield High in the city's Central District, hung with young moms at Bellevue college, caught a rock show in SoDo, and took home a bottle of cabernet gifted personally by Seatown's world famous restaurateur Tom Douglas after dining at the Palace Kitchen.

But while the liberal-leaning city supports Obama in the polls, many expressed frustration the president's visit included no public events this time around yet still burdened the city by congesting rush hour traffic.

The small town of Medina, Washington actually declined to foot the bill for the President's visit to attend a $25,000 a plate fundraiser at the home of Costco's former CEO.

A visit from a president can quickly run taxpayers a tab of tens of thousands of dollars to cover extra law enforcement coverage, traffic control and other incidental expenses, and with every member of Medina's seven-person police force working the private event, along with the aid of state and county law enforcement, and no public appearance by the president planned, some residents don't think the city of Medina should be invoiced -- the city may have the honor of Obama's visit, but since it is Jim Senegal who will have the privilege of his company, one city official thinks he should pick up the tab.

"We just don't think that's a cost that should be passed on to taxpayers, so we are going to be billing the host of the event for that cost," said Medina City Manager Mike Sauerwein, who urged the city to pass the bill on to Senegal and was behind last week's unanimous city council decision to reaffirm an existing ordinance requiring private sponsors to cover the cost of city resources used for private events.

"We love welcoming people to what we think is one of the most attractive communities in Puget Sound," said Sauerwein. "We just don't feel that we should be passing the cost of the events to our citizens."

Seattle and Medina weren't the only cities inconvenienced by the President's fundraising campaign—A pregnant Los Angeles woman who'd gone into labor was blocked from accessing Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Wednesday when law enforcement officers blocking traffic and pedestrians in anticipation of the passing presidential motorcade prevented the lady in labor from crossing the street to enter the hospital.

Witness Carrie Clifford tweeted a photo of the woman with hospital staff who rushed across the street to attend to mother-to-be as she waited more than 30 minutes for the president to pass.

"I felt bad for her," Clifford told The Blaze. "It does happen when Obama comes to L.A. or I'm sure anywhere else. It paralyzes the city, it does make it complicated."

Some in the media have objected to the president traveling amid escalating international tensions over situations in Israel and Ukraine, but White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismissed the criticism Monday: "When the President travels, he travels with an array of staff and advisers and communications equipment that allows him to do this job from wherever he happens to be."

White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri told The New York Times: "It is rarely a good idea to return to the White House just for show when the situation can be handled from the road."

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