Phila. prepares for Democrats with review of papal visit

Alan Login, of Toms River, N.J., is checked as he enters a secure area in September during the papal visit. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer

Secret Service magnetometers recorded 1.1 million people filing through security to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia.

Many more watched on jumbotrons and millions more watched on TV.

So city officials reported Tuesday as they continue to review the September event and compile its costs.

"To hear, 'coming live from Philadelphia, overlooking the Art Museum on the famed Benjamin Franklin Parkway, you're now looking live at the pope' . . . that kind of stuff is just something that a big city, a World Heritage city can be proud of," Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said. "And that's something we are immensely proud of."

Gillison and Samantha Phillips, head of the Office of Emergency Management, met with reporters and provided the update following a trip to Washington, D.C., where they met with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and members of the Secret Service. Mayor Nutter and three other city officials also attended.

Phillips is spearheading an "after-action review" - a typical undertaking after a major event, storm, or disaster.

Gillison is compiling event costs to submit an invoice to the World Meeting of Families, the organization responsible for the expenses for the visit. The World Meeting paid the city $5 million up front and has agreed to cover up to $12 million.

"We gave our worst-case scenario," Gillison said. "I think it will end up being less than that."

Gillison expects a full invoice will be ready by the end of the month.

Calculating costs to the city gets complicated. For instance, Gillison said, the city won't be charging for police officers who would already have been assigned to work the days of the pope's visit, or for unused medical supplies ordered that the city can use within the year.

The city also is returning some things they didn't need - like unused medical neck braces. It's in talks with some of its own contractors, including a port-a-potty company that may not have upheld its end of the bargain in terms of cleaning the toilets.

"We're having a negotiation right now about how much of that bill do we pay," Phillips said. "It's an example of why this process does take some time."

The pope's visit also exposed shortcomings in terms of information sharing among the many agencies involved and the public, she said. Those shortcomings will need to be addressed before the Democratic National Convention this summer, she said.

A total of 40 local agencies worked with 23 committees organized by the Secret Service for the papal visit. In addition, the World Meeting of Families and the Vatican had a say in matters. There won't be quite as many cooks in the kitchen for the DNC but it is still a federally designated National Special Security Event.

"We all struggled in our sharing of information," Gillison said. "At a certain point you're getting committee-ed to death, and you really don't have a common document that's getting produced."

For the DNC, there are plans to have one centralized "drop box" where all the coordinating agencies can stay updated.

Despite some business complaints about the profitability of the weekend, Gillison said the goal was never a commercial boom. He's asked the World Meeting if there's any way to quantify the publicity the city got that weekend on the world's stage.

Phillips said cellphones worked extremely well over the big weekend: AT&T reported 36 million social-media shares. And not every business fared poorly: The Wawa at Broad and Walnut sold a record number of hoagies in one day.