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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

City likely to cover the policing cost for Pence’s Spokane visit; new citizen thrilled to meet VP

Oct. 2, 2018 Updated Tue., Oct. 2, 2018 at 10:57 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence waves one last time before heading backstage to his car at the Spokane Convention Center Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018 after stumping for Cathy McMorris Rodgers. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence waves one last time before heading backstage to his car at the Spokane Convention Center Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018 after stumping for Cathy McMorris Rodgers. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo
From staff reports

A campaign event with a high-profile leader like a sitting vice president can cost the city thousands of dollars in police overtime and security costs.

But don’t expect the city to get that money back.

In 2016, the city incurred about $100,000 in costs to provide security to presidential candidates during their visits, mostly from Donald Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The last time a sitting vice president came to Spokane, the city paid more than $17,000 in overtime for police. That was in 2006, when Dick Cheney came for a GOP fundraiser.

Marlene Feist, city spokeswoman, said it was too early to know how much Vice President Mike Pence’s visit will cost the city. She said in the past, the city has sent invoices to politicians, dignitaries, candidates and the federal government, but the extra security costs generated by their visits were never reimbursed.

“It’s just an expectation of the community that you’ll protect a sitting vice president,” Feist said.

Spokane police Chief Craig Meidl, who attended the speech at the convention center Tuesday afternoon, said the department is unlikely to send a bill to Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ re-election campaign, a departure from then-Spokane Law Enforcement Director Jim McDevitt’s billing of presidential candidates who came to Spokane in the 2016 election season.

The police department assigned officers as security who already were working their day shift, Meidl said, and Pence’s departure back to Washington, D.C., saved the city the additional cost of providing security for an overnight stay.

Meidl also said it was too early to say how much extra the city might have to pay to cover Pence’s visit.

After the event, Meidl said he hadn’t heard reports of any major disturbances as a result of protests, which he said was “a testament to Spokane.”

“We tend to have some controversial subjects come up,” he said. “And it’s always very civil.”

New American citizen from Togo thrilled to meet vice president

Only two weeks after Kofi Douhadji became a U.S. citizen, he shook Pence’s hand.

“That was mind-blowing,” he said with a beaming smile. “He shook my hand three times and said, ‘Congratulations. Thank you for serving. Keep it up.’ ”

Douhadji, 32, moved from the West African nation of Togo two years ago to escape the political climate, he said. In Togo, he worked as a civil engineer and owned his own construction business. But he wanted a better place to raise his daughter, a place with more freedom, he said.

He came to the United States after receiving a 10-year visa from the Diversity Immigrant Visa program, also known as the green card lottery. After six months, he enlisted in the Air Force, where he aims to become a fighter pilot. He was sworn in as a U.S. citizen Sept. 17 in Spokane.

“I joined right away,” said Douhadji, who’s stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base. “I felt like a needed to give something back.”

Neo-Nazi holds two-person protest

Patrick Little, a California man who has called the Holocaust “a lie” and claims Jews conspired to stop him from winning a U.S. Senate race, spent several hours at a protest soliciting responses from people of all political beliefs as he claimed Jewish people controlled the news.

Holding a sign reading “Still trust the media?” with a Hebrew star and a link to his website, Little had a young woman film with a cellphone camera as he walked up to people on the sidewalk near the Convention Center and parroted deeply anti-Semitic talking points.

Several people ignored him, while others engaged him in deep conversation. Among other falsities, he claimed the Holocaust, the systematic genocide of 6 million Jews and other minorities, did not happen.

Little made headlines in August, when Sandpoint, Idaho, residents received bizarre automated phone messages from him, in which he speaks over an instrumental version of The Rembrandts’ 1995 song “I’ll Be There for You” – a tune best known as the theme for the sitcom “Friends.”

Reports from Kip Hill, Rebecca White, Will Campbell and Jonathan Glover.

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