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Glendale councilman wants DreamWorks to pay bill for Obama visit

Laws and LegislationCrime, Law and JusticeDreamWorks AnimationBarack Obama

President Obama's visit to DreamWorks Animation last month cost Glendale about $61,000, and at least one City Council member thinks the city shouldn’t be the only one footing the bill for the increased security.

During the Nov. 26 visit, Obama met DreamWorks executives and employees, gave an afternoon speech about the importance of the film industry to the American economy and international diplomacy, and visited with stars of an upcoming DreamWorks movie, including Steve Martin.

He also shook hands with Glendale Mayor Dave Weaver, and three other council members attended his speech, the Glendale News-Press reported.

Glendale residents who didn’t have a chance to meet the president shouldn’t have to pay for the DreamWorks staff who did, Councilman Zareh Sinanyan said during a council meeting this week.

“Is it not fair for [DreamWorks] to foot at least part of the bill?” Sinanyan said. “It’s not like the president came and met with the residents of Glendale.”

Sinanyan’s request came as Glendale continues to climb out of financial distress prompted by the recession and the loss of the city’s prominent redevelopment program.

The approximately $61,000 price tag for Obama's visit covered the cost of 92 city personnel, ranging from SWAT officers to traffic control authorities, said city spokesman Tom Lorenz.

Although Councilwoman Laura Friedman said Thursday that she agreed with Sinanyan, she said Friday that she had changed her mind. 

“I think that when the president comes to your city, it’s an honor and we have to take responsibility for his safety,” said Friedman, who was unable to attend the president’s speech. “As much as it would be great if DreamWorks paid, I’m not going to demand that they do.”

DreamWorks spokeswoman Allison Rawlings said the animation company had not been contacted directly by the city about the cost of security at the Obama event.

“DreamWorks is honored that the president chose to speak at DreamWorks and in Glendale,” Rawlings said.

City Manager Scott Ochoa said it’s traditional for cities to pay for the extra security that comes with a presidential visit.

“At the end of the day, it’s really just something we do,” Ochoa said. 

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Twitter: @brittanylevine.

brittany.levine@latimes.com

Levine writes for Times Community News. 

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