(August 30, 2012)

HAMPTON — During his three-hour sojourn through the Peninsula on July 13, President Barack Obama's motorcade traveled with escorts from state and city police and passed down roads blocked by the city Public Works Division to a gymnasium prepared by Hampton City Schools.

Workers paid by state taxpayers' dollars were pivotal to the trip from the moment Air Force One touched down at Langley Air Force Base. A complete bill for Obama's trip to Hampton, however, still isn't available to the public.

Since the president's trip, the Daily Press has requested documents outlining the costs associated with making sure Obama's trip to the Peninsula went without a hitch.

Local and state agencies responded differently to the same Freedom of Information request from the newspaper.

The city of Hampton has not provided any documents concerning the president's visit, even after the Daily Press submitted multiple revisions to its FOIA request.

"As soon as it can be determined what records, if any, the city maintains responsive to your request they will be made available to you, providing they are not exempt from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act," wrote Angenette D. Pase, a paralegal in the Hampton city attorney's office.

Email messages left this week for Pase for clarification if those documents were available were not returned. A call to the City Attorney's Office on Thursday was also not returned.

Hampton City School did not release personnel costs for July 12 and July 13, although its FOIA officer did say 27 employees worked 116.5 hours "beyond their normal work schedule" because of the president's visit.

"Many employees who assisted with the successful visit of the president to Phoebus HS on Friday ... are exempt and do not earn overtime or compensatory time," wrote Ann Stephens-Cherry, Hampton City School FOIA officer.

Virginia State Police spent $9,054.82 in overtime costs related to the president's visit to Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Hampton on July 13, said Corinne Geller, public relations director for the state police. The total includes personnel costs for his various stops and for the accompanying motorcade escorts. The bill does not include costs associated with lodging, meals or fuel expenses for troopers, she said.

State police personnel accrued 283.2 hours of overtime that day because of the presidential visit.

Obama drew about 1,300 people to Phoebus High School. Countless others remained outside the venue because of the limited number of tickets.

The president remained in Hampton for less than three hours after landing at Langley Air Force Base, a much shorter trip than his must previous visit to the city.

In October 2011, the president stayed overnight at SpringHill Suites in the Power Plant area and was joined the following day by first lady Michelle Obama. The couple picked pumpkins at Wood's Orchard and ate at Anna's Pizza nearly Langley Air Force Base.

The president kept his July 13 visit strictly to campaign business.

Obama, U.S. Sen. and former Gov. Mark Warner and U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. Tim Kaine stopped briefly at the Phoebus VFW Post #3219 before arriving at Phoebus High School.

Obama landed at Langley Air Force Base at 3:20 p.m. and was back in the air shortly before 6:15 p.m.

Since the economic downturn of 2008, the cost of hosting the president has had some communities asking for refunds from the campaign. No such request has been made by any Hampton Roads municipality.

A June 24 visit to Durham, N.H., drew national headlines when the town council asked that the Obama for America campaign reimburse the municipality for the cost of hosting the president.

At the time, town officials said the visit would cost about $20,000 in overtime expenses. An anonymous donor later offered to reimburse the town up to $20,000 for costs related to the campaign rally, according to several media reports.