Chicago has yet to recoup the $1.74 million cost of President Obama’s victory celebration in Grant Park — despite a burgeoning $50.5 million budget shortfall that threatens more layoffs and union concessions.
“The Democratic National Committee has not yet paid us,” Peter Scales, a spokesman for the city’s Office of Budget and Management, said Thursday after questions from the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re reaching out to them this week.”
The bill for Barack Obama’s election night rally at Grant Park
Police $1 million
Emergency Management and Communications Office $121,578
Fire Department $85,965
Streets and Sanitation $71,694
Cultural Affairs $2,567
Chicago Park District $202,440
(Park District breakdown):
Giant video boards $68,900
Portable toilets $12,500
Stage rental $6,000
Bike racks, barricades $2,000
Heavy equipment $1,000
Total bill $1,737,712
Stacie Paxton, a spokeswoman for the Obama-controlled DNC, explained the reimbursement delay by saying, “We are still looking at various costs and bills.” She would not say whether parts of the bill are disputed.
The city spent $1 million on police protection for the rally. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications racked up more than $120,000 in expenses, including $19,500 paid to police official Neil Sullivan to quarterback election night logistics.
In late October, Mayor Daley assured that the cash-flush Obama campaign would reimburse the city for every penny spent on the rally. “We have a financial crisis,” he said at the time. “The City of Chicago could not afford $2 million on this because we’re gonna be laying off people, cutting back. That [cost] would really be unfortunate. . . . It’s a huge cost to the City of Chicago.
“This is not a presidential visit. . . . This is a political event, and they’ve agreed to pay for all those services — all the expenses of that. … It’s costly, but they raised quite a bit of money. There’s no [shortage] of money in that campaign.”
The day after the Nov. 4 election, Daley was asked again whether the Obama campaign would pay up.
“Yeah. I don’t know why you’re so negative. … What is this? He just won for president, and you say, ‘He’s not gonna pay his bills,’ ” the mayor said then.
On Dec. 9, the day the Sun-Times disclosed the $1.74 million tab, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt referred questions to the DNC.
Paxton confirmed then that the rally was a “DNC-sponsored event” and that the party was discussing the itemized bill with the city.