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A nice visit, but who's paying for it?

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Column by Jim Clark

When a top political candidate comes to visit your area, it’s a public relations boon, especially when someone like vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan opens his comments by saying what great Florida weather he was experiencing.
But Ryan’s visit to Ocala last week has me thinking of some things, just coming up with some questions without answers. So let me present some of those to you.
Was the square the best place to hold this rally? In the middle of a workday? Other people and I have thought of several better places, such as Booster Stadium, the Livestock Pavilion, Veterans Memorial Park, etc.
Why was it necessary to close off the streets so early? Ryan wasn’t scheduled until noon, but the Boulevard was closed at about 7 a.m. (photographer Ron Ratner got a great picture for us of the closed street). People who didn’t know could have been late for work, children could have been late for school, etc. Would it have hurt to wait, say, until 8:30.
Did businesses in and around the square gain or lose customers because of the event?
Then there was the security. Congressman Cliff Stearns walks around Ocala unencumbered any time he feels like it. Congressman Paul Ryan has a security detail that would make a Third World country proud. Ryan is a candidate, but hasn’t been elected yet. Wouldn’t a smaller detail do? Did we really need G-men with automatic weapons (someone called them tommy guns) at both the airport and downtown? Did we really need all those security people on the rooftops?
And speaking of the airport, was it necessary, or even legal, for these security people to stop photographers from taking pictures outside? In fact, at first they wanted to stop all pictures, anywhere. This is our airport, folks, our rules. If you don’t like it, stay in Washington.
Why do they call it the Secret Service? What’s so secret about the only people in suits, with their little pin on the lapel and their little earpiece? Hopefully, there were other agents “blending in” in the crowd who didn’t advertise their position. To me, these would be the most effective security personnel.
How about the TSA? TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration. The mission, according to the TSA website, is “TSA has established guiding principles to maintain the security of the traveling public and continuously set the standard for excellence in transportation security.”
So was the use of the TSA to conduct security on the square the proper use of the agency? The only transporting being done there was people walking because they had to park so far away.
I’ve gone to sporting events where you have to go through security. It seems they could have done just as well in providing security.
And finally, the big question. Who’s paying for all of this, especially all the extra work that local people, including law enforcement, had to do? Please tell me it was the Republican National Committee or some such group, and not the taxpayers of Marion County.
Even with all these questions, we thank the Republicans for helping the nation hear about Ocala, and we praise all those who conducted the event and made things run smoothly.
And I guess everything is relative. I would have loved to see the crowd limits during Biketoberfest in Daytona Beach when both Romney and Ryan arrived the following day. If you think it was crowded here…
Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen..
 

Who's paying for it

Funny I wondered the same thing about Mr. Biden's visit and Bill Clinton's visit and Obama's visit.

Pat

Who's paying for it

Funny I wondered the same thing about Mr. Biden's visit and Bill Clinton's visit and Obama's visit.

Pat