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Tab rises for Obama overtime

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    President Barack Obama flashed a shaka with first lady Michelle Obama prior to boarding Air Force One on Jan. 3 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in Hono­lulu. The couple was headed back to Washington after their annual Hawaii vacation.

The overtime costs incurred by the Hono­lulu Police Department to provide round-the-clock protection for President Barack Obama, his family and others traveling with him during his just-completed Christmas vacation have risen dramatically since the Hawaii native began spending the holidays here.

In his first Hawaii vacation following the 2008 presidential election, HPD reported overtime costs of $107,000.

During his seventh Hawaii vacation last month, HPD reported nearly $278,000 in overtime costs in addition to the police officers’ regular salaries.

The first family spent 16 days on Oahu, staying in the same Kai­lua neighborhood and enjoyed days of golfing, hiking, snorkeling, dining out and eating shave ice.

Local taxpayers picked up the bill for Hono­lulu Police Department escorts who guard Obama, first lady Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha around the clock. Figures released Monday by HPD spokes­woman Michelle Yu show HPD spent $277,585 on overtime costs.

But that was less than the record-setting previous year. In 2013 overtime costs totaled $293,731.

Obama has spent every Christmas, a total of seven, in his birthplace since he was elected president.


The overtime costs in protecting the president’s party during his Hawaii vacations has climbed since 2008 when it cost $107,000. Overtime costs according to HPD:

2009 $249,000
2010 $228,247
2011 $241,005
2012 $214,728
2013 $293,731
2014 $278,000

In 2013, after Obama and his two daughters returned to Washington, D.C., Michelle Obama visited Oprah Winfrey, who owns an estate at an elevation of 2,800 feet on the slopes of Hale­akala on Maui. The side trip — an opportunity to spend time alone with friends — was described as a gift from the president for her upcoming 50th birthday.

That cost Maui taxpayers $54,233.70, according to the Maui Police Department.

In the past the Honolulu City Council has asked the federal government for money back for the president’s visits and was turned down.

The 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base oversees the president’s travel on Air Force One, which is his official means of transportation. Last year a conservative Washington, D.C.-based foundation estimated that flight costs for the 2013 vacation amounted to $7.7 million and $4 million for 2012 visit.

On vacation, presidents generally pay for their own lodging, food and incidental items. However, the government pays for transportation, security and the expenses of support staff.

The first family and friends, who accompany them, pay for their own private vacation home rentals on or near Kai­lua Beach. The Obamas rented the same five-bedroom oceanfront villa on Kai­lu­ana Place they’ve secured for the past four years, which rents for around $3,500 a day, with a seven-day minimum, according to past reports.

Honolulu police officers were part of the security detail, which included military, Coast Guard and Secret Service personnel who patrol the streets, the canals and the ocean near the Kai­lua home.

In past years congressional battles have forced the Obamas to delay their trip.

In 2012, Obama had to temporarily abandon his vacation to fly home amid a congressional standoff over the so-called fiscal cliff. The year before, a showdown over payroll tax cuts forced him to delay the start of his Hawaii trip.

In 2010 it was congressional wrangling over repeal of the ban on gays in the military and other issues that delayed the trip. And in 2009, Senate deliberations over Obama’s signature health care law meant that Honolulu had to wait another few days.

The president also watched Oregon State play at the Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center in 2013. His brother-in-law Craig Robinson was the coach at Oregon State. He was hired in October by ESPN as a college basketball analyst.

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