A recent Ojeda encounter took place February 3, 1995, when he was scheduled to arrive on a flight from South America at about 6:00 a.m. As usual he wanted to be whisked through customs. But as the logbook indicates, there were a few problems. "Everything did not go well on this assignment," the unnamed protocol officer wrote. "The screen showed arrival at one gate and the plane arrived at another. I caught up to Mr. Ojeda in customs and apologized profusely! Kristen from American was with him and he said for me not to worry for he was okay."
Ojeda insists he has never been rude or arrogant with anyone at the airport, and says he sees nothing wrong with utilizing the protocol office whenever he travels. "It's really there for everyone," he explains. "Most people just don't call for their help." The assistant county manager returned from Chile this past week, for example, and says he naturally asked protocol to meet him: "Instead of having to wait two hours at customs, I was able to get right through." And as for protocol assisting his family members, Ojeda says, "My mother is 78 years old and I think it is entirely appropriate."
Just a few hours after Ojeda's February flight arrived from South America, Commissioner James Burke took advantage of protocol's services. The commissioner's flight was scheduled to depart at 10:45 a.m., but he got to the airport parking garage with only five minutes to spare. Like all commissioners, Burke is entitled to park free of charge in the VIP section of the airport garage. Protocol officers knew this, of course. And they knew Burke was flying that day. They also realized he was late. So they had a car and chauffeur waiting to drive Burke from the parking garage to the terminal. Not surprisingly, by the time the commissioner made it to the gate, his flight had already left. "He was very gracious about it," wrote Monique Denes, the aviation department's chief of protocol, "and thankful for the services provided.