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Taxpayer tab for Kerry's visit totals $19,000

Anticipating fewer protesters, local public safety agencies spent about one-third less on security for Sen. John Kerry's Aug. 12 rally than on Vice President Dick Cheney's visit two weeks earlier.

In addition to Secret Service and other federal agencies, eight Jackson County organizations pitched in about 75 people to provide security for the Democratic presidential nominee's rally at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point. Local agencies estimated they spent about &

36;19,000 beyond normal expenditures, compared to about &

36;30,000 for Cheney.

The Sheriff's Office spent roughly &

36;2,000 and brought in about 20 personnel for the Kerry rally, said Sheriff Mike Winters. Up to 30 deputies were assigned to the vice president.

When Cheney came to town, I thought there would be more protesters, Winters said.

As it turned out, there were more protesters outside the Kerry rally, but Winters said they weren't on the Expo grounds and they didn't appear to pose a security problem.

— Grants Pass resident Marc Salvatore said he was one of 35 men, women and children who protested Kerry's pro-abortion stance at the corner of East Pine Street and Peninger Road, displaying graphic images of aborted fetuses.

We want people to know that when they are supporting someone like Kerry, they are supporting abortion, Salvatore said.

About 100 Republicans held a rally at Veterans Park in Medford the same afternoon to show support for President Bush.

Another reason the Kerry visit was less expensive than Cheney's was the different routes taken by the motorcades.

Cheney's motorcade came down Biddle Road to East Pine Street, then turned onto Peninger Road, while Kerry came in on back roads to the Expo, requiring less manpower, said Winters.

Despite the cost of either rally, Winters said it just comes with the territory of providing security at public events.

You have to be prepared for any event that might happen, he said. It's the price of doing business.

Expo director Chris Borovansky said the bill for the Kerry rally was &

36;6,000 for use of the open-sided Isola Arena, compared to &

36;14,000 for the indoor Compton Arena used in the Cheney event. Both Cheney's and Kerry's campaigns paid for the venues.

Some attendance estimates ran as high as 9,000 for the Kerry rally, but Borovansky pegged the crowd at more than 6,000. About 3,000 people came to see Cheney. Borovansky said there were more volunteers at the Kerry rally who picked up afterward. They cleaned up real well, he said.

Borovansky said he hopes the Expo continues to be used for political rallies.

We'd like to host the president when he comes out here, he said.

Kerry campaign officials said the rally, which was largely a volunteer effort, cost in excess of &

36;10,000. Cheney campaign officials wouldn't disclose how much they spent for the vice president's visit.

Oregon State Police Sgt. Jeff Proulx, who also expected fewer protesters, estimates it cost &

36;4,000 to &

36;5,000 beyond normal operations to provide 17 to 18 officers at the Kerry rally. A mobile response team from Northern Oregon, used during the Cheney visit, was not called down for Kerry's visit, he said.

When Cheney came to town July 30, the OSP, bracing for large numbers of protesters, spent about &

36;10,000.

About the same number of Medford police were assigned to Kerry as were to Cheney, said Randy Schoen, deputy chief of operations for the Medford Police Department. He wouldn't disclose how many, citing security reasons.

The cost, he estimated, was about &

36;6,000 to &

36;7,000 beyond normal operating expenses.

Medford police provided security at the Expo, the airport and the perimeter of the airport, he said.

We didn't have any problems as far as I'm aware of, he said.

Schoen said the police have received help from the Secret Service and the FBI in the past, so his department isn't worried about the expense of national political figures coming to town.

Schoen said the amount of security at an event depends on the ranking of the political figure.

For President Bush, if he comes down, we'll dump a lot more resources into that, he said.

At Central Point Police Department, Sgt. Charles Newell said roughly &

36;1,000 was spent on overtime, compared to &

36;1,500 for the Cheney visit.

He said fewer officers ' seven instead of 12 ' were needed because Kerry took a different route that didn't require as much manpower.

Mercy Flights ended up spending twice as much on the Kerry visit because of the triple-digit heat ' &

36;1,440 compared to &

36;720.

Four people were transported to the hospital, requiring extra ambulances.

Medford airport spent about &

36;2,000 in overtime and other services for Kerry's appearance, versus an estimated &

36;3,000 to &

36;4,000 for Cheney.

Brenda Messmer, division chief at Fire District 3, said the Kerry visit required about six personnel and cost &

36;300 in overtime, 50 percent more than Cheney.

She said the increased cost resulted primarily from Kerry being about an hour late to the rally.

Firefighters and emergency medical technicians also were busier at the Kerry rally, treating about 35 people for heat-related problems.

I felt so bad for folks, she said. They were just wilting.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail