Obama’s Visit: One Big Traffic Snarl

What is it about politicians and rush hour?

As President Obama is drawing cheers at the home of John Wells, commuters on Wilshire Boulevard were into sneers. Traffic was backed up for hours as parallel street Olympic Boulevard was sealed off to make way for Obama’s motorcade to trek from the Beverly Hilton to Hancock Park, where Wells lives. It is keeping workers in office buildings stranded as they waited for traffic to clear. (Of course, they also should be grateful to have somewhere to be stuck. According to the pool report, one sign that an onlooker held at the motorcade read, “We need jobs.”)

This certainly doesn’t ingratiate Obama to the commuting public, it’s a risk that apparently the White House is willing to take, particularly in an area like Los Angeles’ Westside that is heavy in Democratic support. They’ve scheduled motorcades at many an inconvenient time before. Just a few weeks ago, Manhattanites complained when streets were sealed off as Obama attended a fund-raiser at the home of Anna Wintour. And Obama’s predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, also were plenty guilty of trekking to L.A. and snarling streets at peak hours for their own fund-raising events.

Update: Obama arrived at the Wells’ home about 6:20 p.m., to a crowd that included Judd Apatow, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, football coach Dennis Green, Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel, the latter of whom was scheduled to entertain. Other co-hosts included Alan and Cindy Horn and Janet and Tom Unterman.

Democratic members of the California congressional delegation also were present, including Howard Berman, Brad Sherman, Barbara Lee, Joe Baca, Laura Richardson, Judy Chu and John Garamendi.

Wells’ Hancock Park home, which he and wife Marilyn reportedly purchased in 2007 for $11 million, has six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, fronted by a landscaped yard of topiaries, paths and a large fountain with a blue heron spouting water.

The fund raiser was expected to take in $1 million.

Another update: The org Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles planned to protest the fund-raiser, wearing “Wizard of Oz” costumes. It’s not for the presence of Menzel, who won the Tony for “Wicked,” but for the crafty way the characters represent Washington leadership. Explanation here.

And another: Judging by reactions on Twitter and Facebook, there’s not a lot of love for Obama this evening. Hunter Walker writes on The Wrap, “I am coming to you live from the center of the worst traffic jam I have
ever seen in my life.I’ve been trapped here for over three hours because
President Obama and a group of Hollywood insiders are having a fancy
fundraiser.”

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