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News ::
Town paid $4K to secure Cheney fundraiser (english)
12 Aug 2003
As of yesterday, neither Egan nor the Bush/Cheney campaign has offered to reimburse the town, which has faced a budget deficit and is getting by this fiscal year only with the help of a $900,000 Proposition 2 1/2 override and by dipping into its stabilization fund.
cheney.jpg
As of yesterday, neither Egan nor the Bush/Cheney campaign has offered to reimburse the town, which has faced a budget deficit and is getting by this fiscal year only with the help of a $900,000 Proposition 2 1/2 override and by dipping into its stabilization fund.
Town paid $4K to secure Cheney fundraiser


Friday, July 25, 2003


Local taxpayers got stuck for part of the tab for Vice President Dick Cheney's brief visit last month, when he raised more than $1 million in campaign funds at a private $2,000-a-plate party at the home of EMC founder Richard Egan.

The cost of additional police officers and firefighters totaled close to $4,000 - roughly the contributions of two party-goers.

As of yesterday, neither Egan nor the Bush/Cheney campaign has offered to reimburse the town, which has faced a budget deficit and is getting by this fiscal year only with the help of a $900,000 Proposition 2 1/2 override and by dipping into its stabilization fund.

Hopkinton resident Richard Brault, a Democrat and a World War II veteran, sent a letter of complaint to town accountant Heidi Kriger about the town's additional expenses, and demanded a breakdown of the costs for Cheney's 45-minute stop at Egan's house.

He sent copies of his letter to the Hopkinton Board of Selectmen and the Metrowest Daily News.

``This is about reality at a time when our town had to pass an override of $900,000 to get the rowboat to row harder against the tide of fiscal irresponsibility,'' wrote Brault.

``I am entitled, as a taxpayer, to know what the dollar amount was that the taxpayers had to fork over for the extra police, DPW workers on overtime and extra-heightened alert and responses by the Fire Department.''

Brault said he was motivated to ask for the breakdown after reading a letter to the editor written to a local newspaper by another resident, Dr. Jeff Hersh, who also asked why the town had to bear this expense during a time of fiscal crisis.

``It's great that the vice president came here, but somebody should have reimbursed the town for the money we laid out,'' said Hersh in a telephone interview yesterday.

The June 23 party, coordinated by Egan, his son Chris and a large coterie of volunteers, drew about 600 well-heeled supporters, who paid $2,000 each - the maximum allowed under campaign law - for a chance to mingle with the vice president and hear him speak.

Also attending were Gov. Mitt Romney, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, and Republican state Reps. Paul Loscocco, Susan Pope and Karen Polito.

About a dozen members of the Hopkinton Republican Town Committee, including Selectmen Ron Clark and Eric Sonnett, also attended.

While Clark was out of town yesterday, Sonnett confirmed that no offer of reimbursement had been made to the town, and appeared incredulous that anybody would make an issue about it.

``The vice president of the United States came to Hopkinton,'' he said.

``You do what you have to do. Whatever it takes, you work with federal and state authorities and do what you have to do."..."If he came to visit anywhere else in the state, it would be the same.''

While the fund-raising party was private, Sonnett pointed out that the town provided the extra manpower at the request of the Secret Service, not Egan.

``We would do this for the governor."..."This is normal,'' he said. ``The bottom line is that the U.S. government requested our assistance for a sitting vice president. This is something we have to do as a town.''

Brault, in a telephone interview, disagreed.

``If we in the Democratic Party had invited Gov. Dean from Vermont to speak, and he accepted, and if the taxpayers had footed the bill for the extra detail, you can bet that the other side would raise holy hell,'' Brault said.

``This is a private party. It should have been completely paid for by Dick Egan,'' he said.

Egan, who has left EMC, was unavailable for comment. A spokesman for EMC, Greg Eden, said that Egan stepped down from its board of directors when Bush appointed him ambassador to Ireland in 2001. He resigned as ambassador in December.

While guests at the June 23 party parked in the EMC parking lot and rode to the party in EMC shuttle vans, the company submitted a bill to the Bush/Cheney campaign for these services, Eden said.

Tracy Schmitt, a spokesman for the Bush/Cheney '04 campaign, said the campaign pays for Cheney's expenses when he is fund raising, although the government pays for the costs of security. She referred further questions to the Secret Service.

Hopkinton Police Chief Tom Irvin said about a dozen police officers were on hand for the various details related to Cheney's visit at the request of the Secret Service's Boston headquarters. The police overtime bills were about $3,000, he said.

``They needed us to place officers at the known demonstration sites,'' he said, referring to a group of about 50 people who protested Bush and Cheney's foreign policy at the corner of West Main and West Elm streets.

``They needed uniformed officers to shadow their personnel to ensure their authority and (vouch for) their legitimacy in dealing with local residents. A police officer was also part of the Secret Service's `command post' in the vicinity.''

Undercover agents also patrolled local roadways with assistance from local officers familiar with Hopkinton's streets, he added.

Irvin said that local police occasionally are asked to help out the Secret Service, FBI or other federal government agencies.

``We wouldn't expect to send an invoice to the U.S. Secret Service for services that we provide at their request, any more than we would expect to receive an invoice from the FBI, Interpol or U.S. Customs for the work they did on behalf of the local girl (Heather Mullen) who ran away to Italy,'' he said.

Besides the police, six firefighters were also stationed in the vicinity of Egan's home on Queen Ann Road, Fire Chief Gary Daugherty said. Their overtime costs totaled about $850.

An ambulance and fire engine were also stationed near the site to deal with any emergencies. Daugherty said the equipment's presence did not cost the town any additional money.

``Because of the traffic around that area, we would not have been able to adequately respond to an emergency'' unless equipment were stationed nearby, Daugherty said. ``In fact, we had to transfer one of the party guests to the hospital because of heart problems.''

Brault claimed Department of Public Works employees had been used to direct traffic, but DPW Chief J.T. Gaucher said his employees were deployed only to set up barricades and ``no parking'' signs along the Cheney motorcade route. No overtime was involved, he added.

``I wasn't even aware that Cheney was visiting on that particular day until I heard from the police chief, who asked us to help with the barricades,'' Gaucher said.

And while some local residents wondered why the DPW finally fixed a troublesome sink-hole on Gassett Road on the day Cheney visited, Gaucher said that the timing of the repair was purely coincidental. The Cheney motorcade used Gassett Road on its way to the Egan residence.

``There was a water main break on Gassett on the coldest night of the year, and we patched it as quickly as possible,'' Gaucher said. ``We did a more permanent repair in April or May, but a small relief remained and caused problems.

``We hired another company to do an infrared patch, but it was hard to get it scheduled,'' Gaucher said.

He said the town had requested the repair about three or four weeks before the Cheney visit, and that the timing of the work was left up to the contractor.

``There is no connection between the vice president's visit and the scheduling of the patch. We did it in response to residents' complaints, not in response to the vice president,'' he said.

News in review was taken from the reports of Staff Writer Cathy Flynn.

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