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Obama in New York

7:45 PM, Jun 1, 2009 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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Over the weekend, President Obama went to New York to take the first lady to a Broadway show-a promise he made to her during the campaign. But how much did it cost the taxpayers? The White House isn't saying, though the Daily Mail has done some calculating:

For transportation and security, the cost was approximately $73,000. (The expense was originally in British pounds but thanks to some investigative journalism, I have managed to convert the pounds into U.S. dollars. The highly complex transference process involved use of the Internet.) According to the Daily Mail, "The President used three planes, one to carry the couple and two to ferry aides and reporters all the way from Washington. The cost of each flight was thought to be nearly [$24,000]. The bill was pushed even higher with the use of two helicopters, one to take the Obamas to catch their plane in Washington and another to zip the party into Manhattan from JFK airport." In addition, "Police also shut down New York streets for the motorcade to pass through so they could get to their date on time."

And not only that, but they closed the harbor at the last minute. Or did they?

Passengers awaiting the 4:30pm SeaStreak ferry at the East 35th Street dock to depart for New Jersey stood around for two hours until the next SeaStreak came along. My sister and her family were among the passengers who were not told anything. Not until my brother-in-law called SeaStreak at 5pm did he learn out about the last-minute cancellation. When the boat finally arrived, people were told by a crew member and by an announcement on the intercom that the cancellation was due to the president's visiting New York City.

Needless to say, there was outrage. "He better have liked the play," one angry passenger supposedly said about Obama. When the ferry passed Pier 11 and people caught a glimpse of one of the presidential helicopters, another traveler was overheard saying, "There's your tax dollars at work!"

Except whoever made the announcement was misinformed. Having just spoken with the friendly folk of SeaStreak, I was told that the closing of the harbor, which was all very last minute indeed, was because Prince Harry was playing in the Second Annual Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic on Governor's Island.

But did I mention how much the president's trip cost?!