Barack’s bash to cost San Leandro

San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos isn’t going to President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration, but democracy’s version of a coronation next week in the nation’s capital still is costing the city several hundred dollars.

From Jan. 17 to 19, Santos is attending the annual winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in — you guessed it — Washington, D.C. In December, Santos made his conference reservations for three nights at the Capital Hilton, the conference headquarters, for just over $200 a night.

Then, two weeks ago, Santos’s secretary got a call from the conference. The Capital Hilton was needed for inaugural guests. San Leandro’s top elected official, along with other mayors, will have to spend their last night on Jan. 18 at L’Enfant Plaza Hotel — at $500 a night, Santos said (somewhat indignantly) last week.

So Santos, who just was named to the conference’s Census Committee, is coming home as planned Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration. Rooms for the event, even if they could be found, are priced in the stratosphere, Santos noted. No inaugural tickets are available, and Santos said he might find himself standing in the cold a mile from the Capitol building, where the ceremony will be held. And, getting a plane home during the two to three days following the ceremony could be iffy at best, he added.

But, look at it this way, mayor. L’Enfant Plaza is giving you — and the city’s pocketbook — a deal. While the L’Enfant Plaza Web site on Monday showed all rooms are booked, last week there still were vacancies for Jan. 18: at $799 for the night, plus $115.86 tax, for a total of $914.86.