Friday, July 20, 2012

Extra Security for Obama | Casey's Last Word

About six weeks ago, when plans for President Obama’s political bag-dragging visit here this week were just beginning to materialize, Democratic operative Christian Archer paid a visit to the chief of security at the Dominion.

That’s where lawyer Mikal Watts would be hosting 75 of the president’s most generous friends at a function that has been reported to raise $1 million.

It’s a typical Dominion home – the gathering met in the gymnasium, according to the Express-News.

Archer was eager to work with the Dominion’s security chief to ease the president’s motorcade and donors through the guarded gate.

“We had an event for Lloyd Doggett a couple of months ago at Mikal’s house for 250 people and it took an hour and a half to get everybody through,” said Archer.

According to Archer, the conversation with the Dominion security chief went something like this:

Archer: We’re planning an event at the home of one of your residents, and we need to work on the logistics.

It will involve a very important visitor. I’d prefer not to say who it is at this point, but it’s a very important, well-known person. It may be about 75 persons.

The chief: Wait a minute. Sir, if it’s going to be 75 persons you’ll have to hire two of our guards.

Archer: Well, this person – I don’t want to say who it is at this point because it could be cancelled and that could embarrass some people – but he has his own security. And it could be 150 people.

The chief: A hundred and fifty people? Then you’ll need to hire three security guards.

Archer: Well, please keep it to yourself, but the thing is, I’m talking about the President of the United States.

Archer said the chief hesitated a minute, but then said emphatically: The President? You will definitely have to hire three security guards.

Archer was amused by the vision of the President’s security being enhanced by adding three security guards to the undisclosed number of Secret Service agents and San Antonio police officers who would be marshaled for the effort.

But the Dominion chief was only doing his job.

And as his boss, Vince Panella, explained, that job is laid out in the Dominion Homeowner Association rules.

Panella is general manager of the San Antonio office of G-4-S Secure Solutions USA, a huge Scandinavian-based multi-national security company.

It bought Wackenhut 10 years ago.

The company provides private security at the Dominion (which is in the City of San Antonio and is served by the SAPD).

Panella said the chief was just following Rule 22.

It says that any resident “anticipating in excess of 20 guest vehicles from outside” must hire, “at their sole cost and expense,” off-duty guards.

The purpose, Panella explained, was not to safeguard the President.

“The purpose is to supervise parking around the home,” he said. “We make sure nobody’s driveway is blocked.”

Panella will be pleased to know that, according to Archer, the Secret Service were impressed with his staff.

“The Secret Service guys would show their ID at the gate, but the guards would say, Okay, let me see your driver’s license.

The Secret Service admired that,” Archer said.

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