As I reported in August, Copley Township is still owed $10,549 for the expenses it incurred during a 2008 campaign stop by then-vice presidential hopeful Joe Biden.
Copley’s fiscal officer, Janice Marshall, sent a bill to the “Obama for America” campaign but never received a penny.
And Fairlawn rang up $34,146 in police overtime and other expenses this summer when President Barack Obama brought his re-election campaign to town and spent the night at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn.
Shortly thereafter, Fairlawn’s assistant finance director, Patricia Bertsch, sent a bill to the Obama campaign. She said at the time she wasn’t holding her breath. Good thing. She’d still be holding it.
Now along comes Mitt Romney, dishing out his own election patter in Cuyahoga Falls on a Tuesday night in October.
Far from it.
Long before his big rally at the Falls’ Natatorium, Romney’s campaign folks contacted the city, said they’d like to stage an event there and promised to pay for any extra expenses the city would incur.
Romney’s people asked the Falls to come up with an invoice, and said the invoice could be adjusted upward if unforeseen expenses cropped up.
To Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart, that speaks volumes about the difference between the candidates.
“I think it’s self-evident,” he said. “[It tells you] who is accountable for their deeds and who isn’t, who’s accountable for their actions and who keeps blaming everybody else.”
Of course, Robart, a conservative Republican, has virtually nothing nice to say about the president and limitless good things to say about the Romney-Ryan ticket.
Still, regardless of which party you favor, as a taxpayer you have to prefer Romney’s approach to campaign expenses, especially if you live in a small city or town.
The final cost of Tuesday’s rally in the Falls was $7,050, most of it for overtime and facility rental. That’s $7,050 that Cuyahoga Falls’ 49,473 residents won’t have to pay.
The city of Akron, run by a moderate Democrat mayor, said in August it had no intention of billing Obama’s campaign for his 25-minute speech at the John S. Knight Center. The city decided to eat $21,304 in expenses in exchange for what it called the privilege of hosting a sitting president.
There’s an undeniable thrill in getting an up-close look at the most powerful person on the planet. But perhaps we ought to differentiate between someone acting in a presidential capacity and someone trolling for votes.
The biggest downside of the Romney visit — aside from ugly traffic jams — was that the Natatorium was shut down for the entire day, depriving 10,000 dues-paying members of a day of prepaid exercise. However, the city announced in advance that it would extend everyone’s membership by one day.
The Nat employs only a handful of full-time people, and they were paid their usual salaries because they had functions to perform and spent the day working. Losing out were the many part-time employees, none of whom worked or got paid.
Robart was still glowing several days after the Romney visit.
“It was just electric,” he said.
Although Robart initially supported Rick Santorum, and would have preferred Newt Gingrich had Gingrich not been saddled with “so much baggage going in,” Robart’s affection for Romney has heated up considerably.
“I wasn’t on his bandwagon in the primary because I thought he was a little too liberal for me. I was misguided. All of his actions since then spell out a real honorable, honest man.”
Romney’s choice of hotels was interesting. Even though the Sheraton Suites, right around the corner from the Nat, is one of the finest hotels in the region, Romney bedded down at the Fairfield Inn across from the Regal Interstate Park Cinema 18, near South Arlington Road in Green.
Robart attributed that decision to the Fairfield’s connection to the Marriott chain, founded by J. Willard Marriott — who, like Romney, was a Mormon. Romney served two terms on the Marriott board.
As the GOP hopeful was heading out to his campaign bus Wednesday morning (carrying his own luggage), he came over to Robart and spent more than 15 minutes chatting with the mayor and a small group of Cuyahoga Falls officials that included the police and fire chiefs.
“He was very, very gracious,” Robart said. “He couldn’t have been more charismatic. ...
“You always think of politicians as being phoney baloneys” — please note that Robart is saying this, not me — “but I didn’t see an ounce of that in Mitt Romney.”
If nothing else, the guy pays his bills.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.