Town Square

Post a New Topic

Atherton: Hosts of Obama visit may be off the hook for extra police, public works costs

Original post made on Sep 3, 2013

The town of Atherton is likely to drop its efforts to require two Atherton couples who hosted fundraising events for President Obama to pay the town's costs of providing extra police and public works services for the April events.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 9:40 AM

Comments (27)

Posted by common sense
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 3, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I don't understand why Obama and his fundraising group wouldn't be liable for the costs associated with raising millions of dollars for him or the democrats. It was a fundraiser and therefore we, the residents of Atherton, should not have to pay a dime for this. If he had come on official business concerning our town, then I can see Atherton footing the bill--but not when he and his party benefit from it.

Other towns in the United States have sent invoices to the DNC for such events. Maybe we should follow their example.

Posted by better common sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Next time send the bill BEFORE he comes, not AFTER. That's common sense 101.

Posted by Pat
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Sep 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm

How did Woodside handle this issue? We had to listen to helicopters buzzing overhead all night.

Posted by noise
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm


Where's the outrage when Rmoney and Whitman came to town? Or previous presidents?

Let's see the same posters make noise when the 2016 goppers come for cash, not when the most threatened president in history visits our village.

Posted by Walt
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I would like to know why the President can pan handle at a private residence, but not hold one private event where John Q. Public gets to attend. Of course, my money wouldn't be spent listening to him anyhow.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm

[Post removed. The generalized attacks on Atherton residents and posters aren't relevant or justified in a thread that raises legitimate questions about whether the public should bear the costs of a political fundraising visit.]

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Ebenezer Scrooge, if he lived in Atherton, would surely have this complaint.

Posted by kw
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Clearly the town screwed up, and should have made clear any requirement for reimbursement BEFORE the permitm issued. But they screwed up less than the reporter who wrote this headline. As a resident of Atherton, but not one of the hosts, I am confident that this decision leaves me ON the hook for costs. How about: "Hosts of Atherton Fundraisers May be Off the Hook for Obama visit".

Editor's note: Good idea. We changed the headline.

Posted by embarrassed by this
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Sep 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm

"but not hold one private event where John Q. Public gets to attend."

Can't hold "one private event" that the public can attend. Wouldn't be private, would it?

How many public fundraisers of Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman and Google Santorum did you attend?

Yeah, thought so.

Zs an Atherton resident, i fully expect that my neighbors across town will hold events from time to time, that I may not agree with or be invite to. Sorry that so many get their nose bent out of joint that they're not wanted at these events. We all pay for them, ALL the events (giant parties, receptions, weddings, events an MA, Menlo, SHP, etc...) when they require additional town support.

We ARE ATHERTON, fercrissakes! What a bunch of whining!

Posted by really?
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Sep 3, 2013 at 4:30 pm

by the way President Obama did do an event in Redwood City that cost starting $100--just to say. He also did on in SF starting at $100 as well. There isn't a space in Atherton anywhere that would be available to 1300 people so they did one in Redwood City at the Fox Theater.

In addition, the prestige Atherton receives for all the visits of all of these candidates is actually something that continues to boost all values (this is the same in Portola Valley as well where I live) and in Woodside.

Posted by comments
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm


Please quit posting facts, it drives the whiners away.


Yup, it's soooooo difficult being an Athertonian. Oh, the difficulties of it all!


I wish "Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman and Google Santorum" had the nerve to show their faces around here!

Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Sep 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm

> because town staff who had known about the event in advance didn't request a special event permit or advise the hosts that they could be liable for costs.

I'm skeptical this is relevant. Using the above logic, if I'm not advised of local ordinances then I'm free to ignore them. To paraphrase a phrase I've heard for years, "ignorance of laws or ordinances is no excuse."

That said, IF the couples actually did make a good faith effort to determine what they needed to do to meet local ordinances and the information provided was in error or incomplete, I could see how in that circumstance, the town (or more accurately, the taxpayers in Atherton) could be on the hook.

As they say, "the devil is in the details."

But we can't allow this to happen again, regardless of party affiliation or even if it's non-political. Town taxpayers should never have to pay for security services for private parties in their town, be it Atherton, Menlo Park, Redwood City, Stockton, Ukiah, Oklahoma City, etc. PERIOD.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 3, 2013 at 6:03 pm

l don't care if it's Romney or Obama - these are PRIVATE EVENTS. It's no different than a wedding, celebrating an IPO, or a fund raiser for the Red Cross.

The resident hosting the party should be responsible. When you are raising a few million dollars, sending a few dollars to the city who bears the costs of policing the event should not be controversial.

This is not a partisan issue.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 3, 2013 at 9:13 pm

While I agree in part with POGO, this event was different in that it caused extra law enforcement security because of the individual. Where I do agree with some of the above posters: this was a private event, and it doesn't matter party or other affiliation.

If the ordinances aren't on the books, they should be for Atherton, MP, RWC, and Oklahoma City, etc. when private events or visits cause extra work (especially law enforcement, public works, emergency services) for the respective municipality. No jurisdiction should have to foot this kind of bill.

The 2014 and 2016 elections are just around the corner......hopefully we've learned something.

Posted by Who's minding the shop?
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Did the hosts even apply for a permit? Why wouldn't there be a large price tag attached to such a request? I need a permit to have a garage sale, but somehow a presidential visit gets overlooked.

Posted by Cheyenne
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 4, 2013 at 8:58 am

The Atherton special events ordinance is a joke and has been for years, used and abused as peeps see fit. Ignored by others and APD.

Put in place for the neighbors of the 3 schools to have leverage against things like the PAC and lights at MA. Now MA has the PAC AND lights and a dozen cell antennas on one of the towers!

Way to go A-town! Get rid of the useless big government ordinance.

re: Obama - until a poster shows he/she made similar posts about bush Whitman and Romney, just chalk it all up to tea party style hypocrisy.

Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Sep 4, 2013 at 11:32 am

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

When Mr. Obama or another such VIP visits Woodside, Portola Valley or another community within the jurisdiction of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, the county manager, at the end of each fiscal year, reimburses the Sheriff's Office for the expense of deploying deputies for the visit(s), per the Sheriff's Office spokesperson.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Mr. Boyce - How can the county manager reimburse the Sheriff's Office - they are both San Mateo County agencies (that would be like moving money from one pocket to the other). Who reimburses the county manager?

Cheyenne - I'll not do your homework for you but several of us posted numerous times DURING THE ELECTION about paying for these overtly private functions - be they on behalf of Meg Whitman, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. I realize that might take 30 or 40 seconds of your time and I'm sure it's easier for you to smear other posters while you remain in blissful ignorance.

Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Sep 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

I'll see what I can find out.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Thank you! That was kind of an absurd answer from Mr. Maltbie.

Posted by Walt
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Pardon my previous, but most were able to deduce the intent was to contrast limited public access to this PUBLIC servant, or we can't say that either? How about his helicopter ride to the grounds of Canada college for the previous trip? When the itinerary of these trips are self serving, those trips should be on his nickel.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm

The president's trips for political purpose are paid by the political party (that's one reason that candidates postpone their declarations that they are running for office).

The question at hand is the reimbursement of LOCAL expenses. A political fund raising event is a private affair - no different than a wedding, funeral or party. The host should be responsible for any extra police and security costs... regardless of the candidate's political affiliation and regardless of the wealth of the city.

Posted by Katie
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Need to have the home owners pay up and the Democratic party. No free rides.

Posted by HL
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Pogo: you took 40 seconds to find proof the haters aren't hypocrites, and yet you didn't bother to post the link?

Oh, yeah, sure, I believe ya...

Post any Whitman complaint thread with any of the above names complaining about costs. Or a Romney thread.

Poster 'common sense'? Poster Walt has already been proven the fool about public events. Poster kw? Poster peninsula resident? Poster Katie?

Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 4, 2013 at 3:49 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Did the Sheriff's Department charge for their services? If the town of Atherton doesn't want to participate in providing services to assist the motorcade, then don't provide the service. No law requires them to do so. The Sheriff and U. S. Secret Service can get along very nicely without them.

Perhaps we now know why a 150% increase in the property assessment was proposed for the MMC. The MMC had the audacity to allow a helicopter to land in the town without paying a fee or without authority. Nice try.

Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Sep 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm

On Sep 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm, HL wrote:
> Post any Whitman complaint thread with
> any of the above names complaining about
> costs. Or a Romney thread.

1) I just searched, and it returned no matches for any articles addressing the costs of Whitman or Romney visits. How are people to complain, when there are no Whitman/Romney "cost" articles in almanacnews with which to complain?

2) I moved into the MP/Atherton/PA region Q3 2011 (after Whitman lost the election), so logically I wouldn't have participated in any debates before that since...hello...I wasn't a "peninsula resident" in this region beforehand.

3) I voted for Obama in '08, and Gary Johnson in '12. The last time I voted for a Republican for president was 1988. Your assertion that objections to taxpayer waste and/or fraud have partisan roots is baseless.

It is WRONG to use taxpayer money to provide free security for private parties. It's laughable to even debate this point. This region has many issues requiring funding, and funding private parties is NOT one of them.

This is not a partisan issue, despite your feeble attempts to make it so.

I rest my case.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Peninsula resident - nice info that you posted. However, what you may not be aware of is that suddenly, a few residents in Atherton got all het up about the local costs when the POTUS is in town. No one was whining enough about it to try to get reimbursement when other candidates were in town. It leaves one wondering why that is. I don't know if it's been an issue in other parts of the country, but it'd be interesting to know.

When a VIP is stumping for their party & after the fact rich people whine about the local cost, many of us roll our eyes & laugh at them. The lesson they need to learn is that if it's important enough in their community to make a rule about it, the rule needs to be followed the next time. Scrambling around after the fact trying to nickel & dime someone else is just ridiculous - after all, the hosts are also taxpayers. So make a rule & make sure that residents follow it - which is how rules work in general.

The upside of all of this? APD was able to actually do some police work instead of just being armed valets.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Almanac Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Boichik Bagels is opening its newest – and largest – location in Santa Clara this week
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,582 views

I Do I Don't: How to build a better marriage Page 15
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,116 views

By Laura Stec | 12 comments | 1,054 views


Support local families in need

Your contribution to the Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Almanac readers and foundations contributed over $300,000.