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Pacifying the 'Purple People'

By Mike McPhate  |  January 23, 2009; 12:00 AM ET
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Since many of the ticket holders were from out of town, it doesn't make sense to drag them back to DC, so cash is probably the only way to settle it. Just reimburse them for whatever they paid.

Posted by: akchild | January 23, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse

They need to man up and stop whining!

Posted by: gm123 | January 23, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

"Just reimburse them for whatever they paid."

Sounds fair to me...ticket cost was $0...all done.

Posted by: skipper7 | January 23, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

This silly survey gives me the impression that the Washington Post doesn’t get it either. How do you compensate someone for missing the event of a lifetime. A refund? I have never been so insulted in my life.

In the category of other:

0 Accountability. Presidential security was breached at multiple times in multiple places by thousands of people who did not pass through security checks. There was no crowd control or security for the people who were waiting patiently in line. Where I was standing trying to get into the Silver Gate it was a wonder that no one was hurt or trampled to death. When I left before 11 I went by hundreds of cops standing around (one was sleeping in his car) yet there just one visible officer trying to manage the tens of thousands of people in line. Why doesn’t the WP get off its duff and investigate who is responsible and get them fired.

0 Figure out what went wrong and make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I am ashamed that my city can’t run an event of this caliber without a major screw-up. And if the WP and the Sergeant at Arms doesn’t consider this to be a major screw-up then I’m disappointed. I guess we do have to wait for someone to get killed before anyone gets concerned.

Posted by: matt6 | January 23, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

matt6 is right. I was pretty mellow about not getting in: I was disappointed, obviously, but I showed up knowing that something like that had the potential to happen. There is always Tivo.

BUT. The point where I started to get angry was when the officials in charge of this debacle started minimizing, downplaying, outright LYING to the press about what happened. I'm sorry, no. You messed up and you inconvenienced and disappointed thousands of people who had every right to expect they would get in to that event. Man up and take some responsibility.

That is what I want to see, more than anything else. It looks like Senator Feinstein is going to make sure that they do find out exactly what went wrong, and that's what I want to see.

I sure as heck wouldn't MIND dinner at the White House, though... :-)

Posted by: istill | January 23, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Lock Terrance Gainer in the same dark tunnel for 5 hours in sub-freezing temperatures.

Posted by: trace1 | January 23, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Stop whining about it? Do posters understand that ticket holders fared worse than if they had no ticket at all? If we had been told that they were not going to open the gates and had no intention of letting us in, we could have gone to the Mall and watched on a jumbotron -- or gone home or back to our hotels to view the ceremony. Instead, there was no police presence at all (I was in a crowd of thousands of "peeved purple people" and never saw a single officer in 3 hours), no information was provided, not even a lone guy with a bullhorn telling us where to go or what to do.

So people who spent thousands of dollars in travel and lodging didn't see anything at all at noon on Tuesday-- not even a screen. Not to mention the people who were trapped in a tunnel for upwards of 5 hours -- because police had directed them there and then apparently ignored them.

Then the lying starts from Terrance Gainer: Puffy coats took up a lot of space. Unruly crowds. Filled sections (a blatant lie -- aerial photos show football fields on space in the purple section and others.)

If this guy worked in the private sector, his keys would have been taken the next morning and he would have been shown the door. The "puffy coat" excuse alone is grounds for termination.

Posted by: trace1 | January 23, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Here's Gainer's latest absurd rebuttal, as reported in the LA TImes: "there were more officers in the crowd than people realized because they were not in uniform." Oh, really? They were in the tunnel? They were in the crowd of thousands at 1st and D? Then why the He** didn't they do something?

Posted by: trace1 | January 23, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

istill: It looks like Senator Feinstein is going to make sure that they do find out exactly what went wrong, and that's what I want to see.

I hope so, but don't bet too much on it. Remember, it was the Dems show to organize this, and any serious uncovered failures will eventually blow back on Sen Feinstein. They are not going to be able to slough it off on Bush and the Repubs. So I would expect a dog an pony show investigation with some Lessons Learned type summaries. They will likely give the victims some kind of VIP access to the next inauguration as compensation.

Posted by: Engineer3 | January 23, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Nothing will make up for them missing out on the chance of a lifetime, but a dinner at the White House sounds good.

Posted by: Diner65 | January 23, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I think they should be provided a ticket to a public flogging of Cathy Lanier, MPD chief, who likely suggested security akin to the Trinidad neighborhood.

Posted by: watsonja | January 23, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Nothing will make up for them missing out on the chance of a lifetime, but a dinner at the White House sounds good.

Posted by: Diner65 | January 23, 2009 11:04 AM
If you do get the Dinner at The White House, whatever you do. . . don't be like Ted Kennedy. . . DO NOT ORDER the SEIZURE SALAD! =)

Posted by: Robbnitafl | January 23, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Fire Gainer. To say that it is acceptable for 4,000 people who followed the rules to be shut out is unacceptable. He should have been given his pink slip yesterday.

Posted by: ahs78graduate | January 23, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I think there should be an apology . They aren't going to invite thousands of people to a White House Dinner. Maybe over the next 4 years, they can all get invites to the Christmas parties or other White House walk- throughs that the President and First Lady attend.

Posted by: silverspring25 | January 23, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

say sorry and move on. No one held a gun to anyone's head and forced them to spend "thousands" on travel and lodging and whatnot. They came freely to an event with nearly 2 million people, to a place where they knew it might be bitterly cold. Cry me a river.

Posted by: RedBirdie | January 23, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Unless the idiots that messed this up have a time machine......

Posted by: lkop56 | January 23, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

There's no way, at this late date, to "fix" the problem or compensate us in any meaningful way. We missed the Inauguration. Period. However, I would like assurances of a full investigation and explanation of how this was allowed to happen, as well as a formal, public apology by those found to be at fault. I also wouldn't mind an autographed "Hope" print, but that's just me.

Posted by: aebartle | January 23, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

A photograph of the Obama family as Barack Obama took the oath - signed by the Obama family.

Posted by: nishabg1 | January 23, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I volunteered on the Parade route and there had to have been thousands of people with tickets to the Parade who were not let in for a variety of security decisions which were never announced to anyone. I really, really sympathize with the Purple Tunnel survivors, but what about compensation for so many people who came from long distances who did not make it into the Parade either? I think the Obamas should host a White House event of some kind for everyone who were treated so badly that day. How you prove that, I don't know, but something should be done.

Posted by: janmckelvey | January 23, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Both the SOA and the Chief of the Capitol Police need to lose their jobs. They have demonstrated that they are utterly unqualified to hold their positions. When you screw up this bad anywhere else, you lose your job (or Bush gives you a medal, depending).

Posted by: sdrevik | January 23, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Thie was a dangerous situation. It was not a situation caused by something unpredictable. From what I saw and observed it was incredibly poor and inadequate planning. Now it looks like a cover up. I have been trying to get accurate information and the Washington Post is not only not helpful, but is treating the situation like a joke.

Posted by: TheOnlyKate | January 23, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

There's no compensation possible for the many thousands of African Americans who stood for hours, immobilized from witnessing their dreams and those of their ancestors. At a minimum, an official apology by the Congressional Sergeant at Arms, and available to be mailed to those who request it. The Commission now being formed should ensure that those who were responsible for planning security procedures for entering the grounds and managing those waiting should be held accountable at a minimum by letters of reprimand if not dismissal. It seems fair that the commission should investigate a way to provide "purple ticket holders" with guaranteed tickets to the 2012 inaugural. I'm very very unhappy about all this, but grateful to have survived a very dangerous situation. We were being pushed from behind toward a concrete barrier in front of us. We managed to escape being crushed. Accountability----we've needed it in Washington for a long time. Today is the day!

Posted by: gwayneg | January 23, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

You can't be reinbursed for tickets because they were were. In my honest opinion, we shouldn't get anything in return.. all I did for the tickets was send an email to my presentative asking for them. I chose to go to DC and stand in the cold. IT DOES suck that I missed such a huge moment in history and I will be sad about it for the rest of my life.. but hey.. it DID happen.. Obama IS our president and at least we can say we have the tickets as souveniers and we were IN DC for it!! How cool is that?

The only thing I would like is a taped version of the ceremony.. the ENTIRE ceremony.. seeing as to how we missed the ENTIRE thing.. from being in a tunnel..

Posted by: michelleoxner | January 23, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing that can replace missing out on being part of history. I was robbed of that experience and I'd like a thorough explanation of how that was possible.

I'd like to be reimbursed for the cost of my plane ticket and an opportunity to be part of a future historic event with President Obama and the First Lady together with my fellow purple ticket tunnel citizens.

Posted by: elizavg | January 23, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

i want a west wing tour. either that or invitation to some large event where obama will speak.

Posted by: clearbluewater33 | January 23, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Not a dinner party at the White House, but a garden party on the south lawn, with Obama saying a few words. And the senate/PIC pays travel expenses

Posted by: alexspillius | January 23, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

They can't "compensate" people for this fiasco. The only possible recourse is to force the heads of all the agencies involved - Secret Service, Capitol Police, MPD - to step down or take demotions for the vastly unsafe environment they created in the 395 Tunnel and in other vastly overcrowded spots throughout the area.

Ms. Feinstein should be censured by the Senate for her utter failure as Chair of the JCCIC, and she should probably lose a committee seat over this, as well.

What people are really overlooking here is the fact that multiple disasters were NARROWLY avoided. I was there at the Native American Museum when the crowd started taking down the fences because nobody could move. The lack of police presence in the tunnel was stunning....I saw a mini-van drive right onto the 395 ramp while people were walking, which could have also turned into a very, very bad situation. I think it was only the crowd's goodwill towards Obama's Inauguration that prevented riots, bloodshed, and/or loss of life.

Posted by: BrianFromNO | January 23, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I think most people (particularly those who were not there) are missing the biggest point. Yes it was inconvenient, uncomfortable and disappointing. But most of all, it was dangerous. Many thousands of people were unnecessarily put in to a situation that could have easily gotten out of hand. If you pack that many people in a confined area, it doesn't take much for the crowd to get out of hand and people to get crushed. We were really fortunate that this did not turn tragic.

Posted by: ricker1717 | January 23, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

This is a ridiculous poll. Is the post making a joke of our misery? Nonetheless, I'll comment for anyone who is listening.

First, it is no mystery what went wrong, this notion that an "investigation" will uncover it and assign "accountability" is rubbish. There were clearly three big problems: (1) lack of information and signage for ticket holders about where to enter (2) uninformed security personnel. None of them: cops, mps, troopers, had any idea where to send ticket holders. Clearly, they were not briefed on this. Their only concern was security. Therefore, we were a whining nuisance, and treated accordingly, NOT like guests (3) inadequate security gates. You can't pour a gallon of water into a 5 oz funnel all at once. Nursery school kids who play with water know this.

Second, the manner of compensation offered (pictures? a program? c'mon) is an insult. An event with the President at the would be more like it, especially since most of us purple people we Obama staffers and volunteers from around the country. This was a shabby way to thank us for our work, and the trouble it took us to travel to DC.

Posted by: finkmail | January 23, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I think a special version of an Inaugural DVD would work nicely. I don't think anything else is possible.

Posted by: aerdrie | January 23, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

We were in the line waiting on First Street, the access listed on the Purple Ticket map for the Purple Gate. Although the crowd was remarkably cordial, despite not moving for over three hours, there were several safety issues that I believe must be addressed by any future planners of an event of this type.

The first was the lack of any communication mechanism. Had there been a way of conveying information to the crowd, people would have known what choices they had available. Most of us were there early enough to have gotten onto the Mall, had we known about the snafu at the Purple Gate. Communication could also have been used to give us safety instructions.

Second, and more critically, there were no lanes for emergency access. The crowd was packed together, with an ambulance right in the middle. When someone collapsed and was moved into the ambulance, it then needed to move out of the area. I'm amazed that no one was injured as the vehicle pushed the crowd aside. During the time we were there, THREE more ambulances pushed through the crowd in this way. Without communication, people just had to push together and hope the ambulance could get through without harming anyone.

Posted by: francisl | January 23, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Skipper7, get a clue.

The cost of this trip was easily in excess of $5,000 for my wife and me, when you throw in airfare, hotel (cheap as we could find, and not cheap), incidentals, and the opportunity cost of missed work.

But the money is not the point. Incompetence and lying has to be punished. We missed an important historical event that we earned a right to see. More important than that, it is a miracle that nobody was killed in the crowd.

Anybody who tries to minimize how dangerous it was wasn't there.

Posted by: Larchmont10538 | January 23, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

How do you compensate for not being allowed to witness this Historical Moment? you can't! I would like someone to take responsibility for this flop in security. I traveled from Arkansas with my children with every hope & dream of seeing President Obama sworn in only to be trapped in a Cold tunnel for more than 3 hours. No communication as to what was happening above us. I can't express the sorrow & disappointment I experienced and it was most evident on the faces of the 10's of thousands that stood in disbelief! I might have even been comforted by the Large Screen TV moved to the area or some speakers to hear the swearing in! but I was left with hearing the gun salute and knowing it was over! I wasn't allowed in the gates to see the Moment! Answers!!! we need accountable people to step it up! We should also all receive a recording , photo's etc. of the event! Dinner with President Obama would be far fetched but since you asked. I still have to laugh to hide the disappointment I feel.

Posted by: nursemomof2 | January 23, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Exactly what others have said: PIC - just apologize, don't blame us Purple People for your screw-up, and tell us how you will improve in the future. Of course we'd love dinner at the White House or whatever, but that's not the point. We're angry because the initial reports seemed to blame us, we who had followed directions and stood in line for 5 - 6 hours. And, for those Purple People who are also elderly black people, the disappointment cannot be described. These folks, in particular, need a direct apology. They waited a lifetime to be turned away.

Posted by: Gigi3 | January 23, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Many of these people invested plenty just to be able to witness the inauguration. High airfares. Even higher hotel rates (the motels at NY Ave. & Bladensburg Rd. wer going for over $600/night), vacation days, etc.

The fault clearly lies with the security checkpoint personnel.

Imagine for a moment saving and planning for the trip of a lifetime: You get a passport, save your money, get concert tickets, secure a hard to get dinner reservation, get plane tickets, find lodging etc.

Once there, however, you never get to the Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower (or whatever). Instead, all you experience is being trapped in a tunnel with no food, water, restroom, and stand shivering in the freezing cold. Who here wouldn't complain?

I agree it's no big deal if you were a local at the inauguration, though.

Posted by: DROSE1 | January 23, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I am from Idaho and was in the Purple Line. Please take seriously the comments of those writing about the security issue. Yes, we are terribly disappointed to not have gotten in. But to make it sound like we are a bunch of whiners is to miss the point.

The "solution" that I'm sure the majority of us would like to see is some real accountability for the fact that the police were so awfully unprepared and uncaring about what was going on, and that the situation would have been worse if the "Purple People" weren't so docile. The people who caused the problem may have even not had tickets at all.

And also realize that the Purple Section included a lot of Obama volunteers from around the country who had worked very hard on the campaign and paid their own way. It wasn't like it was a bunch of hotshots---those were already inside.

If Jesse Jackson and his entourage could make it through the knot at First and D, police could, too. They simply didn't care, and this does not bode well for future large events in the Capitol City. There is no adequate compensation for missing an event of this magnitude except to make sure it doesn't happen to others. These officers are paid with our tax money. They were not civil servants on that day. That is the real issue.

Posted by: mfranklin2 | January 23, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

An investigation, an apology and a little shout out from Obama. Nothing can compensate for missing The Moment.

Posted by: hesblue | January 23, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

A formal apology and full accounting of what happened are a start -- not because it's "owed" to the purple people, but because that's what accountability is! We can't talk the talk on a "new era of responsibility" in Washington and then throw all that out the window on Day 1 when someone makes an embarrassing mistake. JCCIC and Capital Police: Own your failure.

After that, I think it's hard to make it up to the thousands that were not only shut out of a once-in-a-lifetime event, but put in a dangerous situation as well. Dinner at the White House would be nice, but let's be realistic -- the president has more important things to do. That's why we elected him.

Instead I think that over the next year or two, a purple ticket should be equivalent to a VIP pass to any Obama speaking event. It's an automatic front-row seat. That way, you don't have to bend the schedule of the president, nor force people to spend more money flying across the country again, nor accommodate all ~7000(?) of us in one shot. If he ends up speaking near you, you can attend the event and get a nice seat. It's not much, but it's a nicer gesture than pictures of Obama and Biden -- some of us got those already with our purple tickets!

Posted by: miketwo | January 23, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

As blue ticket holders we place our vote for the dinner at the White House...although it will be a cold day in H*ll before that happens...too many of us. But perhaps an Offical Program signed by both the President and Vice-President and a private tour of the Capitol to be provided in the future contingent on our travel plans. I would have been happy to have waved my flag with a million friends on the Mall. There were no communication. The only police sat inside the Blue gate and watched people as they cut line. No matter what excuse anyone comes up with it was very poorly handled.

Posted by: slamkitty | January 23, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

quit whining??? you have no idea what I went through that day. It was by far the worst experience of my life! and you and us to quit whining! try to by more compassion for those who spent a historical moment inside a tunnel.

Posted by: allpa25 | January 23, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

An apology would be nice. Maybe tickets to 2012. But really, some of you that are asking for actual reimbursement and/or a paid trip to some other event? Are you serious? I'm lucky to have a freakin job. I don't want taxpayer money going to send 10,000 (or whatever the number is, more than 4K for sure) to DC for a trip.

Posted by: jen_m96 | January 23, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Nothing can bring back that moment in history. Dinner at the White House would be nice, but it's a logistical impossibility. I think the best they can realistically do is send an autographed photo of the President, a personally signed letter of apology from the JCCIC, and front-of-the-line pass to the White House, redeemable anytime.

Posted by: Jephoria | January 23, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the term pacify here is a bit out of line. I flew in from Seattle, and was there for 7 hours myself. I met people from Toronto, France, California. We incurred considerable expense to be there...and watching law enforcement unable to handle this was a real disappointment.

My observation was the complete lack of respect there was between organizations. None of them had "the" answer and that might have been by design from a security standpoint.

I saw some individuals really step up and try to find out what the plan was, even leading large groups of people several blocks to connection points. But on the whole, there were many snide comments and lots of eye rolling whenever a peer organization was referred to.

Extrapolate that to partnership at the classified intelligence level, and it must be catastrophic!

There is much missed opportunity here for greater effectiveness, productivity and smoother handoffs. Obama can't solve everything, some of this is just professional responsibility.

Solution: that law enforcement should *partner* with a concert company or some entity that is used to managing large crowds.

Posted by: christine_haskell | January 23, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

From a PR Stand point, they need to admit to the they have done, be proactive about gathering information...good job.

Then from this stand point they have two options: 1. Hope that there is a bigger news story that will put this out of the people’s minds! (I also was in the blue line it has to be a really big story)
2. They should have a special Q&A session or meeting with the president (indoors preferably) for all those blue and purple ticket holders and for the tunnel group. (It would only take two hours of the president’s time and it would return a positive “Yes We Can!” view to DC and the president.

(There was a sign held up in the blue line that said "Can We?" as they were chanting "let us in," What view does this leave with the American people?)

This would help ease the pain of many ticket holders, it would give the Congressmen a break from answering to irate constituents, and it would feed the egos of those who got special tickets... (now they are going to a special meeting).

Most of all this would return hope to those who lost it freezing through hour 3 or 5 of that morning to find out they had traveled so far and walked such a distance to spend their time in an un controlled line.

One final note: I was in line with multiple optimists including myself, we all had hope and it didn’t even fade until 20 minutes after the inauguration started. As I was working my way out of the crowd one lady asked me “Is there any hope of getting in”? I told her if I said no it would go against everything I believe in!

Good Luck DC...Can We?

Posted by: doctorfischer24 | January 23, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see a representative of Purple "shut-outs" on the investigation committee. I don't think that an adequate or reliable inquiry can be made unless a representative who actually went through this experience is there to ask appropriate questions. Otherwise they risk being viewed as a whitewash.
Further, since the inauguration was a congressional responsibility, I think seats to the State of the Union address would be appropriate recompense. The SOU takes place in the Capitol itself. There will be 4 SOU's in the President's first term, so they could stagger the attendance.

Posted by: kcb2009 | January 23, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I am one of the fortunate "purple people" who made it inside the gate LA Ave. gate before it closed. I stood in an area that was nowhere near full - to the point that I even felt a little disappointed that the crowd noise and enthusiasm was somewhat meager compared to what I had expected. (that is not a complaint, just mentioned to support that there was plenty of room still available in the Purple North section). I feel terrible for those who endured that tunnel and those on 1st Street who never made it in. I would think it would be simple enough (and relatively inexpensive) to make a DVD of the ceremony available through congressional offices to Purple and Blue ticket holders of record who were denied entrance and come forth to collect it.

Posted by: snapdragon703 | January 23, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

The only thing that kept the crowds docile was the optimism and hope of that day. It is a travesty that we were not able to experience the historic moment of Obama being sworn in. All we heard was the band play "Hail to the Chief" and the gun salute. We did not get to celebrate Obama with our compatriots. Personally, I was most excited to be with all my happy and optimistic fellow Americans. I was sure I was going to leave inspired by this new trajectory of America, one of hope and unity. Instead I left cold, dejected, and uninspired. Like others have said, there is no way to completely compensate for our loss. Taking accountability would be nice, but I doubt it will happen.

Posted by: kurtz156 | January 23, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

My main concern is not for compensation but that they learn fron this experience and are ready for the next BIG event. Why didn't they contact Disney and ask them how to get people though lines in an orderly fashion?
How can you compensate we were lucky enough to have gotten in but if they are giving away something how can you prove I did?

Posted by: secure1man47 | January 23, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow. To even have an option be stop whinning. Thank you.
The people that be need to own up and say they made a huge mistake and that 10's of thousands of ticketed visitors were left at closed gates for no reason other than lack of duty.
I do not care that it was cold, I do not care that I waited in a tunnel, I care that they are pretending they had and still have no clue. OWN UP! and shame on you Washington Post for belittling us.

Posted by: jhanson66 | January 23, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I realize I'm repeating what's been posted above, but feel the need to say it again. The idea of compensation is ridiculous. Our new administration has too many important issues and financial problems to spend time and money on this. But having been part of what I've called "The Purple Debacle," I do feel that an investigation should take place so this never happens again. It was tremendously disappointing to miss what we'd been anticipating, but like the day itself, it's history. It was infuriating hearing the first statement that all ticketed people got in, and then when it was amended to perhaps 4000, it wasn't much better because the numbers were downplayed so much. And THEN hearing that we were never promised admission and were whining, that unticketed people got in, that it was the fault of our winter clothing .... that was like rubbing salt in the wound. To me, the miracle of the day was that no one was seriously hurt -- at least that we know of. We were surrounded by thousands of freezing, tired, frustrated, helpless, disappointed people and mob mentality could so easily have set in. I feel it's a testament to the hope and joy we were all feeling (and I still feel) that the good side of human nature prevailed instead of the bad, but this can't ever be allowed to happen again. The lack of security and direction was unconscionable and that's where I'd like to see efforts focused. Compensation?? Don't be silly. But an investigation and perhaps accountability is reasonable to expect, as well as an honest reporting of what really happened.

Posted by: carmichl | January 23, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I would just like for the people in charge to stop lying about what actually happenened and take responsibility.

Posted by: jradice81 | January 23, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I feel that the most upsetting thing about this is the poor planning. I arrived in the Washington area Sunday and watching the news leading up to the event I continuously heard that they were expecting between 1-4 million people, and that they were prepared for anything. The purple ticket issue proves that this was majorly incorrect.

There is no monetary value that could be associated with what happened to us. We missed out on a once in a lifetime event because we were standing in a line to nowhere.

I want the people in charge to fess up and state that were unprepared and accept the blame, instead of brushing it off like nothing major actually happened.

Most of use are upset because we had tickets and didn't get to see anything, where as people with out tickets were able to view the event. If there would have been some organization we would have been told in advance, sorry you are not going to be able to get in due to issues, and this would have given us time to find a different place to watch the inauguration from, rather than waiting in line for nothing.

Saying that they were more ticket holders than they had expected is ridiculous, most ticket holders had to pick up the tickets the day before, what did they think people were going to wait in line for tickets and then not use them. Tickets are so that you can have a set number in a location. My friend had been to the last inauguration, and said there was not issues and it was around the same number of ticket holders.

An apology is due, a statement of what actually took place that resulted in thousand being denied what they had come to see. I feel all parties involved should apologize for their mistakes, and for putting us in danger, we were all in a situation that could have turned ugly had the wrong people been there.

Posted by: Nodnetni | January 23, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

If any of you peeved purple people ( or silver or blue) want to lodge a complaint with Inspector General of Capitol Police for lack of police oversight and creating a dangerous situation (crowd with no crowd control), here you go:

For Complaints to the Inspector General of the Capitol Police:
Mike Smith

HOTLINE - Toll Free 1-866-906-2446

Posted by: trace1 | January 23, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't want a goody bag, an apology or a sitdown with President Obama who has far more important things on his mind right now. This was a once in a lifetime event. Can you buy me a memory?

What I want is exactly what President Obama asked for on Thursday in issuing new policies for his own administration...accountability and transparency. I want the GAO to investigate how this could have happened and the responsible people reprimanded for coming up with lame excuses as to why they did not do their job. We should worry about the future since nothing can bring us back to January 20, 2009.

I would also like our local Senators and Members of Congress to be more vocal about how their consituents were treated.

Today's Post had this blurb about how my own Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) spent his Inauguration Day trying to get his wife a better spot to see off President Bush. How about showing the same amount of concern for hundreds of your own constituents who at the same time were outside in the freezing weather for hours, getting shut out of the ceremony and ignored or treated like cattle by the police??

From Al Kammen's column in today's Post.

"Looks as though Obama's mantras are not going to take root very easily. Take his inaugural-address exhortation that "the time has come to set aside childish things."

Just a few minutes later, on the pavement outside the House side of the Capitol, Capitol Police put up a barricade to secure the area while former president George W. Bush's helicopter took off. Only members of Congress were allowed to move within the secure zone. Among those caught outside the barrier was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's chief of staff, John Lawrence.

But while Lawrence waited patiently, Rep. Jim Moran's wife, LuAnn Bennett, did not, we're told. She tried to argue her way in, then called her husband, who came storming out of the Capitol.

"Is this the guy who's not letting you in?" he shouted, beckoning to the cop. "That's not the policy! Spouses get in if they show their pin! So get on the phone!" The cop finally relented and let Mrs. Moran in."

I just checked Congressman Moran's website and there is not a word about how his constituents were treated or what action he would take!

Posted by: HistoryBoy | January 23, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

First, why is ALL of the focus on purple? Where are all the blues? There were thousands of us shut out at 11:45 when we bailed. I also know that there were many silvers shut out. Let's make sure that we acknowledge that the problem is broader than just the purple tunnel of doom.

Next, Finkmail had it right on all counts. First, the idea of an investigation is pointless, as both the causes and outcomes are obvious. Causes: (1) No authorities (or even volunteers) to help get people where they need to be or to communicate with the mobs; (2) No signage or even structures (fences, markers) to organize the mobs into manageable lines; and (3) a complete logistical clusterf&*% that started admitting people too late in the morning, that didn't build in for contingencies such as a generator going down, that didn't re-route resources to where they were needed most (i.e. from orange to blue). The outcomes: realistically, potentially 10K+ people left in the cold.

So, what now? I can certainly say that the proposed "swag bag" with copies of the crap we got with the tickets in the first place- the invitiation that DIDN'T get us in to our destination, the program for the event that we DIDN'T see? PLEEEEAAASSSE! So some form of an experience/event with the President would be the closest to what we lost out on, but would be difficult for those outside of DC. Cash reimbursement is a non-starter. Perhaps REALLY GOOD (seated?) tickets at the next one would make it worth a trip back for out of towners. But, as has been said, not much can compensate for missing out on history- I would have gladly taken a spot by the Washington Monument with the millions of others, rather than engulfed in a disappointed mob of people with no view of anything (except the HHS building), no jumbotron, and not even a loudspeaker to hear it on. I do hope that the planners' competence is evaluated and jobs are reconsidered. I hope that the satellite photo is released with an analysis of the REAL numbers that were shutout (which will still underestimate, because of all who abandoned hope early in hopes of catching it in a bar). An honest assessment and accountability is important here.

Posted by: des0001 | January 23, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I want to second the suggestion made by miketwo; let disenfranchised ticket holders have a VIP pass to a future Obama speaking event. It's free for the government, and would be more flexible than many of the other options people have suggested!

Posted by: bsquaredbrown | January 23, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I voted "other" because I don't think we should be asking for any monetary or material compensation at a time when the US will be running an enormous deficit in order to end a war and stay afloat economically. The inauguration cost enough. Having said that, I feel worst for my three kids, who braved it all only to have it come to nothing outside the Blue Gate. Some relatively low-cost point of contact with the White House in future would be nice--but maybe the White House could devote an amount from its entertainment budget to have an event for kids from tough neighborhoods or to donate to an important cause in honor of the "Purple (and Blue and Silver) People."

Posted by: bluegate | January 23, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I would just like tickets to the next inauguration

Posted by: evandmiller | January 23, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I was there, but unlike some of the kind folks around me, I didn't have an advance ticket, I got one after arriving. I went had been totally prepared to watch from the Mall - ironically, had I not scored a ticket, I would have been on the Mall early, and not have missed the ceremony. To me, being there was enough. But others paid thousands and arranged family reunions around this historic opportunity. Only to be traumatized after hours of scary, criminally negligent treatment.

Honestly, I think if the organizers had come out with a SINCERE, FULL, UNCONDITIONAL apology, along the lines of, "you're right. this was a disgraceful handling of a historic event of irreplaceable importance to many people. We messed up, and though we want to make it up to you, we just don't know if we ever could. Please forgive us - we are truly regretful, and will make every effort to make sure nobody has to deal with unnecessary, dangerous negligence like this on our watch ever again." That would be ENOUGH! But since they keep denying our experience, it's just making people more angry. "Nobody tells Baby to dance in the corner."

I love our new President. Closing Guantanamo was miles and miles above the feelings of elation of his victory and inauguration. The work has begun, and it is wonderful. So let the organizers just admit the true scale of the problem and sincerely apologize (instead of these forced, grudging, gradually less dishonest admissions of culpability) so we can all let go and stop being pissed off that they are denying our experiences.

Posted by: mbfromoakland | January 23, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see an official apology & accountability by the responsible party, along with acknowledgement by Obama that he has heard about what happened. Even if nothing can be done, knowing that the head person is aware of what happened, makes me feel better
Dinner at the White House would be fantastic, but is not realistic
For those that feel people are whining, please realize that most people with tickets assumed they would get in, we were not people just going to be in the area when it happened, but by holding a ticket thought we were guaranteed to see it
I found out on Friday before the Inauguration that I had gotten a ticket, purchased some very expensive plane tickets to DC and left a 6 month old at home with his grandparents because this was an opportunity of a lifetime I am so disappointed that I will not get to tell my little boy about being there, just about waiting in line... & my disappointment is nothing compared to people who had planned and looked forward to this day for months
The JCCIC should not commend themselves for a good event because there were no major issues, it was the integrity of the people that were there that kept this from becoming a fiasco

Posted by: kimwb | January 23, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

No compensation needed. Just accountability. Had we not had the tickets I would have been at the mall at 5:45 instead of in a line that went nowhere and got to witness what I came to DC for.

Posted by: ratnahome | January 23, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I think my 3 children...who stood in the right Blue line...where we were supposed to be for 4 hours, and stood in the metro for 3 hours...need to be validated. They need a written apology. Maybe from some one who takes the blame. I agree that denying our experience ( Like our winter coats were to big..or we had to many layers ) was a little overwhelming,
As the parent I don't know what I need. But what I know was, my kids were not safe..there was no one in the mall area to keep us safe, or on the metro. I know that had there been a Real emergency.."they" were not prepared. I forgot when we brought our kids to DC...with tickets and a written plan that the OBAMA campaign did not plan this event...the U.S. government mistake.

Posted by: tripbaker5 | January 23, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

As a native Washingtonian, and DC resident, I wasn't devastated about not getting in, but I certainly missed being a true part of history.
My heart goes out to those people who travelled from afar and laid out serious
money to attend the event. Knowing how complicated these events are to
organize, (I worked for the ’96-’97 PIC) i still think there was borderline incompetence at play, and almost a COMPLETE lack of signage to instruct and guide ticket holders, and non-
ticket holders alike. A few well placed signs eliminate the need for dozens of officials spreading information one person at a time.
It was as close to mayhem as I have ever been. If people weren't so completely patient - a lot of people would have been hurt.

Honestly, there should never, ever be a situation like that again.

How many National Guard troops were stationed ALL over the city, blocking off far-flung streets?

I’m glad I didn’t have a purple ticket, because silver was maddening enough, as I had three+ hours of engagement with a crowd flow, security and signage environment that was beyond insufficient.

Given the enormity of the crowds which were expected, this whole “the crowds overwhelmed us” defense is pretty shallow.

I think a very serious problem was so few entry points, too many streets blocked off, and lack of clear information about what “silver gate” meant, for instance.

I never, EVER, saw one sign that indicated “Silver Gate/Ticketholders only.”

If you are someone from out of town, who has no idea that tickets are needed to get onto the Capitol grounds, you have no idea what “Silver Gate” or “purple gate” mean, and don’t know that the Mall is in fact separate from the Capitol. You just want to get as close as you can to where Obama is.

I know there were a ton of people crowded into the line at 3rd and Independence (where my day dead-ended) who didn’t have tickets, but they hoped they could simply surge forward with the mass of humanity.

There is ample blame to go around here. Our motivation should be to insure that lessons are learned, planning is vastly improved, and that this ordeal doesn’t befall future inaugurations.
At the end of the day, it was an unsafe environment just as much as a disappointing one.

Posted by: janthony11 | January 23, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was responsible for the Inaugural swearing-in, distributing the tickets and ensuring that ticket holders could get in (and get out). She was responsible for coordinating with the PIC, AFIC (Armed Forces), Capitol Police (which she also had jurisdiction over as Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee).

Not one dime of taxpayers' money should be used to bribe these justifiably angry people. If Feinstein wants to buy forgiveness she should pay for it with her own campaign account or her own personal millions of dollars.

It's a joke that she's conducting the "investigation."

Californians who were denied entry can at least have the pleasure of casting ballots next year on whether they want Dianne Feinstein running their state as Governor.

Posted by: Gidgmom | January 23, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The good news is: Senator Dianne Feinstein won't be running the 2013 Inaugural

The bad news is: She's now Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

A tragic oxymoron that is.

Posted by: Gidgmom | January 23, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Twice on Tuesday, I was disappointed. I first didn't get in with a Purple Ticket. That was dissapointing, more so for my friend who drove 1000 miles, but I got over it because I was excited to attend the Youth Ball that I paid $96.00 with shipping to go to! When I got to the Youth Ball I waited in line outside for an hour to get through security(I expected this and was still excited) then got inside and found out that the ballroom where Kanye and Obama were was closed and at capacity. So my fun night consisted of sitting in an overflow room (think, trashy lounge). I don't expect compensation for my Inaugural ticket, I paid nothing for it, but the Ball ticket, now that is a different story. I am severely disappointed in every planning committee. Shame on people for handling something so important so poorly.

Posted by: vl18 | January 23, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I must add my comments to this list, even though it is repetitive. What I want most is an honest explanation and an apology from the Inaugaration Committee and the Capitol Police. I think I might add the Washington Post to this list, because belittling what truly could have been a tragedy adds insult to injury. The only reason why headlines on Wednesday weren't full of descriptions of the Third Street tunnel was because of the calm, polite, and positive nature of my fellow shut-out purple ticket holders. (No thanks to the non-existent police).

Posted by: beccadc | January 23, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Why are people who didn't have purple tickets posting on this? This doesn't really concern them.

Posted by: changmic2000 | January 23, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who says they should stop whining has a cold heart. This was an enormous tragedy for many people. Had we (yes we, I was one of them) had any idea we wouldn't be admitted despite having a ticket, we would have stayed home and watched it live on TV. Instead, we missed the entire thing and that moment in history was only available to us via the internet or edited later on tv. After the fact. The least they could have done was put loudspeakers out for those on the streets to hear. At least then we would have felt like we were there, when instead we had no idea what was going on over the fence because of complete lack of communication or crowd control.

Posted by: kcgreentree | January 23, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Nothing can be given of similar value; how do you put a price on experiencing an historical event? Nonetheless, those contributors who made a 5 figure contribution to the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) so that everyone else could party should get their money back. Having bought into Obama's vision and wanting to create an Inauguration that was open to all kinds of folks ..these folks gave generously. It is a hard pill to swallow knowing you were denied entrance and other folks partied on your wallet. And to make it more than right ...they should also get an invitation to the White House for dinner.

Posted by: DrJonesBlessman | January 23, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

This is a difficult vote, because we were in a position of privilege with those tickets. I drove from Atlanta so my four-year-old daughter could see Obama sworn in, and we were devastated, of course, to miss it and face smirking guards and black gates with no access nor explanation.

But we don't deserve anything, this was our choice to go. I would be grateful for the powers that be to get to the bottom of the matter. I was at the blue gate, and there were thousands of us who did not get in. Was there a power failure? That's what I heard. There should be serious accountability for such a monumental failure.

For those who were not there, please understand that it is especially difficult for us to complain when everyone else in the entire world is celebrating. But it happened, and 10,000 of us (at LEAST) had a devastatingly disappointing day.

Posted by: caroline7 | January 23, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Dinner at the White House seems impractical for this many people. Perhaps arranging a meeting in the convention center with the president in attendance giving us a personal speech. I'd be happy with that.

Posted by: ksmith51 | January 23, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Well, since "Flogging the guilty parties" was not one of the voting choices in this poll...

As one of those locked out (via the 7th Street gate) what I do NOT want is the photo package they are talking about sending out. A waste of money, and hardly a substitute.

What I DO want is to be invited to hearings (at my own expense) to fix this mess. I don't mean a show trial where they all tell me how sorry they are -- I mean a genuine working session where we make polite sane suggestions that are actually listened to for fixing the problems, with a follow up meeting to see how well the changes are being implemented.

Posted by: gleng1 | January 23, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"Not a dinner party at the White House, but a garden party on the south lawn, with Obama saying a few words. And the senate/PIC pays travel expenses."

Are you people smoking smoking something? A WH garden party with the PIC paying your expenses? As I mentioned on a related thread I spent 1500+ hours here in Virginia and in various volunteer roles in Pennsylvania and North Carolina and was overjoyed to receive tickets which was more than I expected. I ended up giving them to a friend from Chicago had done similar work in Iowa and Illinois.

There is no question that the PIC screwed up, but how much time do you want them to spend on this when there are real issues to deal with? How much energy are you spending on this self-centered whining that could be put to use supporting POTUS and his mission of change? Simply pathetic!

Posted by: skipper7 | January 23, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

During the primary, I volunteered at two events where the then Senator Obama appeared. Training the day before was outstanding. No matter what our jobs, we had uniform answers to provide the participants. Most of all, we were told not to "flake". Some volunteers did begin flaking, but others nearby reminded them that we were there for Barack Obama.

During these pre-Election events, lines were long, but security moved efficiently. Some were turned away, but Barack Obama spoke briefly with those people before the main event. The Obama Campaign got the job done.

Also during the primary, I volunteered in four different states during the GOTV (Get Out the Vote) portion of the campaign. I traveled at my own expense.

As the general election campaign got underway, I received community organizing training from the Campaign for Change and volunteered 12 hours a day from June 14 through November 4. I know I am not alone.

Though I was content to watch the event on television, my husband secured two blue tickets. We drove eight hours to get to D.C., we rented an apartment, and we headed out early on the morning of the Inauguration. The Metro would not stop at the station we needed because the platform was full. For the safety of everyone involved, I'm glad that they took this action.

I concur with the assessment of the officers in their bright safety vests. It seemed as if we were a nuicance. Unfortunately, there was no way to identify volunteers. We asked five different officers the same question.

"We are blue ticket holders for the west standing area. Where should we proceed?"

We received five different answers. Only the last officer told us about the tunnel, and by then it was too late.

A dear friend and fellow Obama volunteer called me as I stood staring at the blue ticket gate. It was done. My husband and I decided to get back on the Metro and cut our losses.

President Obama's voice echoed through the streets like something from 1984, but this occasion was double plus good!

I was pleased to learn that the temporarily designated 5th largest city had no arrests. Good will prevailed. We did it for Barack. I did witness some flakiness, and I pouted for a good portion of the day.

It would be helpful to submit your experience to your Senators and Representatives. They want to know. Corrective action can be taken once there is a broad spectrum of data collected. Be sure to include your locations. From these accounts, a clear snapshot will develop.

Not everyone has television or TiVo or a computer. For those who missed out on the event, it would be nice to receive a DVD of the poets, the music, and the speeches. DVDs are relatively inexpensive to produce, and one could request it by telephoning or emailing one's state Representatives or Senators.

Posted by: voteonpaper | January 23, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The whole point of having tickets was that you expected to SEE the ceremony. They planned for the crowds, the cold, everything. What happened was NOT the ticketholders' fault. They did what they supposed to do. These were not people who showed up 11:15 expecting to get in. They were in line beofre the sun came up and never made it in.

They came from all over at great expense to WITNESS this historic moment. Because of the actions of others, they missed it. All it would have taken to make this not such a fiasco was some simple communication. There was none.

Nothing can compensate these people for what they lost. However, they do deserve to know what went wrong. Not the whitewash that report will most likely be. There needs to be real consequences from the failures. Not just a promise to do better in the future.

Posted by: epjd | January 23, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

They should stop whining. A close friend of mine had a purple ticket, and didn't make it. She's from California, and got back to her hotel just in time to see the inauguration.

It was madness, but in a good way. Everyone was peaceful and orderly. As it should be.

Stop Whining. Obama's in office, isn't that enough, as the end of an error is now past us? And that is a good thing.

Posted by: CaptainJohn2525 | January 23, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I'll say it again, people. You have to understand that this is Washington D.C.,capitol of the United States of America. You just got the famous "D.C. treatment". You got tickets to an event that implied exclusiveness, a reserved place, some sort of order, all that good stuff. And you spent all that time and money to come here and walked around in the cold for hours just find out that you couldn't even get to your assigned area, all while the Chief of Police is saying that everything is fine. That's how the cookie crumbles in this town. All they care about is that nothing really bad happened which is going to cost them a paycheck.

Posted by: dubya19391 | January 23, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Anything where we get to meet President Obama. A meet and greet, a Ball, a dinner at the White House. etc. etc. I traveled from Chicago, but would pay for airfare and lodging if we were able to meet him and know that he heard about what happened and wants to make amends. Hopefully now that he has his Blackberry back, he knows what went down.

Chicago, IL

Posted by: smhandley | January 23, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Two things:

#1- Terrence Gainer should be in an unemployment line.
#2- The folks who were denied should be given guaranteed, front section seats when Obama gives a public speech in their city or state.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | January 23, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

As a survivor of the Purple Tunnel of Doom, the main thing that needs to happen is for the truth to come out about what went wrong and for some common sense and expertise to be used to give a more accurate estimate of the #s of ticketed folks who were shut out.

I so wish there had been reporters with cameramen and photographers who had stumbled upon this. Then the powers that be wouldn't be able to perpetuate this nonsense about only 4-5K with tickets being denied entry. The whole reason this has come to light is that reasonable but upset people have shared their accounts and want the truth. We are all owed that. Anyone who was there and who has eyes and common sense knows the 4-5K is an uninformed guess or outright lie, made to downplay what happened. If they'd said 20-30K people with tickets were stranded in a tunnel and elsewhere with no guidance or direction from authorities, they'd take a much bigger PR hit and it would be really embarrassing. So they have incentive to lowball it, and they are indeed trying to sweep it under the rug.

Also, some of y'all need to quit with the "stop whining" stuff. If you can't see why folks are justifiably upset and demanding an explanation of what the problems were, you are either not really getting the magnitude of the problem or are willfully being hardheaded. I met an elderly lady with a ticket who came from out of town, stood in line for hours, and ended up watching the second half of the events without being able to really hear anything while sitting/lying on the floor at a Union Station area bar.

If nothing else, it was a major safety concern that because of folks' goodwill and also good luck (e.g. that the tunnel wasn't on the receiving end of an easy bomb in a backpack attack) didn't end up in something tragic.

Posted by: foreyiv | January 23, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Other - Financial compensation is out of the question for me. I'm a DC resident and a Blue Ticket holder, so my ticket was free. I didn't have to travel a great distance or go to any financial expense but I still feel completely ripped off. I missed out on the chance to be a part of history. If I hadn't had a ticket I would have found a place on the mall and been among the cheering million + when the event took place. I would have wonderful memories of this historic day to last a lifetime. Instead, for the rest of my life what I'm going to remember is that I missed it. How does one compensate for that? It's not possible. But the responsible parties can at least admit their mistake, WITHOUT downplaying the magnitude - I saw Cathy Lanier speak about the event and refer to it as a huge success because there were no injuries and no incidents. It GALLS me that she would have the nerve to take credit for that. The only reason there were no injuries and no incidents was because the people present conducted themselves very respectably and responsibly. It had NOTHING to do with the police, or more accurately, the LACK of their presence. So what I'd like is for all parties responsible to admit they screwed up and really comprehend the magnitude of what that mistake meant to those of us it directly impacted. They stole something from me and everyone else who missed out on that experience. And yes, no one held a gun to our heads and made us stay, but no one told us we weren't going to ever get in either, because if they had I surely would have left. They stole something from all of us and they need to take responsibility and quit acting like it was no big deal and we should all just get over it. This was a once in a lifetime moment. This day changed history. And they locked us out.

Posted by: lvsunrise | January 23, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"Anything where we get to meet President Obama. A meet and greet, a Ball, a dinner at the White House."

Did the purple ticket offer anything close to this? No? Then why would this be reasonable compensation? The more I read from you people the more I am embarrassed and cannot believe that you were part of the same campaign.

Posted by: skipper7 | January 23, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Quit whinning????? Obviously these are people that didn't have a purple ticket that didn't get threw.I joined in an organized line on D st. between 1st. and 2st. at 5am that mourning clueless to what the hell was going on infront of us.We stood in line with HOPE to get threw the gate.At 10:45 am we finnaly gave up and joined the mobb of people and basically floated up to the purple gate to see what the hell was going on.I thought my purple ticket was more like a golden ticket.When I picked up my tickets from Senator Murkowski's office here in DC last Friday. The gentleman who handed me my envelope asked what color ticket did I get?I replied and said there purple.The gentleman said AWESOME! Those are great tickets.You could of got silver and been back further on the mall......I now wish I did get silver tickets in my envelope becuase I saw nothing with the CURSED PURPLE TICKET! Dinner at the White House would be fantastic!Good luck everyone!

Posted by: anburlison | January 23, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I was in the line at 1st and D for 3 hours that didn't get in. I decided to bail and try the gate at Louisiana and Constitution, and got in at 11:45.

The tickets don't cost anything, and how can you put a price on something like that?? No one was harmed in any way that has monetary value. How could you even separate purple ticket holders that got in and didn't get in (I still have my ticket).

I would be mad as hell if I had not gotten in, and I feel for those people. Meeting Obama seems like overkill...maybe a White House tour? Maybe front row tickets to his next big speech. None of the ideas seem quite right bc it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

Posted by: rkcrawf | January 23, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Skipper7, in answer to your question: "how much time do [we] want them to spend?":

As much as it takes to get the real story of what happened and how it happened. We deserve to know. It doesn't require Obama's team or Di-Fi stopping in their tracks and dropping everything to find this out. Most people are not asking for a ball or an intimate event. Stop setting up generalized straw men based on a few posters' comments.

Posted by: foreyiv | January 23, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

A simple writen apology would do. maybe a signed picture of our new President...but once the money and the time is accounted for I would much rather have that go social programs. but I also didn't spend my savings to travel across the country.

Posted by: bonker | January 23, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Yo: You folks with the 'purple' tickets, as well as all those that were basically trapped in the tunnel: You are still whining.

If you had any common sense, you would have watched it on television. I'm a DC resident, and we did. It was moving, powerful and Obama's speech resonated - with the planet.

Yeah, you got your purple tickets. Some of us didn't, but we were smarter than you and got to saw history. Yep, you 'got' your ticket. Great. NOW take your whiny attitude elsewhere.

For those of us that live in DC (who, btw, don't have a vote in Congress - yet) all I can say is we're glad you're back home in your comfy space. We are too.

And stop your whining. It sounds pitiful. And rude.

Posted by: CaptainJohn2525 | January 23, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't need to be reimbursed. However, I'd like to see some transparency and accountability. What happened shouldn't have but I'd feel a whole lot better about it if the Capitol Police, Senate's sergeant at arms and the PIC would fully admit their mistakes and, more importantly, use it as an opportunity to learn better handle these types of events. If these groups continue to simply point fingers and provide shoddy excuses all we are left with is a lot of unhappy people and a very good chance that this will happen again in the future. That DC can't pull off a large event is shameful. We are the nation's capital for heaven's sake!

Posted by: dc-caphill | January 23, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Gives new meaning to the term "Purple Line".

Posted by: webg | January 23, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I dont want reimbursement. I want someone to take resonsibility for the fiasco, and I would like an actual hand signed letter from President Obama thanking me for making the huge commitment of time and money to help him get elected.

Like most of the thousands of loyal supporters turned away from the gates on the morning of Jan. 20, what we had hoped would be the most exciting day of our lives, the culmination of a year of hard work and great expense, became the most frustrating . We spent 5 hours in the idiots/honest folks BLUE LINE to NOWHERE. Our Inauguration experience was watching the gates slam closed in our face, neither seeing nor hearing the ceremony. We met not a single figure of authority to reign in the thousands of gate crashers, nor a volunteer who could have explained what we learned hours later: the security machine quit working for more than 90 minutes, so there was no possibility we'd get in. If we had known, we could have made it to the Mall and at least watched on tv. The ultimate irony was seeing pictures of all the celebs comfortably sitting in the front rows watching the proceedings we never got to see, while we, the people who put Barack in office, were on the sidelines!!!!!!!

Posted by: ggross1 | January 23, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I was a blue ticket holder. I traveled from New York to DC to attend to the inauguration of a man that I worked hard to help get elected. I did not get to see it happen. I am hugely disappointed.

BUT, as disappointed as I am, (and Monday afternoon, listening to radio accounts of the euphoria on the Mall, I was bitterly so), I can't help thinking that I got to cast my vote. While volunteering for the Obama campaign, I heard plenty of horror stories of voter disenfranchisement in the 2000 and 2004 elections, in which people were denied not their right to watch an inauguration but to vote—something that has far-reaching consequences beyond the temporary disappointment of missing a one-day (albeit historic and momentous) event.

It kind of puts the ticket debacle into perspective.

Posted by: gayleforman | January 23, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't want compensation. I want accountability, because this screw-up reflects a much larger problem with our country's over-focus on "security." The PIC and event planners approached crowd management at the ticketed sections from the perspective of "how can we keep the wrong people out?" rather than "how can we get the right people in in an orderly fashion?" You can see the folly of this mindset in the fact that police directed thousands of people into that tunnel. None of those people had been screened by security for explosives or weapons, yet the police found it totally appropriate from a security perspective for them to stand for hours UNDERNEATH the Mall and major roads.

I don't want a ticket to the next inauguration, because without accountability, I have no faith that the same stupid thing won't happen again.

Posted by: ALC3653 | January 23, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Skipper7, it seems you're spending a lot of time reading and posting to a board that really doesn't concern you. You are not among the people for whom this survey was directed. How much energy are you spending on attacking a group of people that are trying to simply express themselves in a time of frustration? Couldn't your time be put to better use supporting POTUS and his mission of change? Simply pathetic!

Posted by: des0001 | January 23, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

While I would never turn down dinner at the White House, or da meeting with Mr. Obama, I think we need to be realistic about what we can expect (The aformentioned is logistically impossible, and cash for free tickets is not happening...)What I'd really like is for a plain explanation as to what happened, for a promise to try to do better next time (communication could have prevented this crisis), and for someone in an official capacity to say they are sorry for what happened.
I can say that my spirits were somewhat lifted on Wednesday when touring the Capitol I managed to hook up with a group that was invited out on the Inauguration platform. Of course, nothing was happening, the crowds, music, and festivities were long gone, but the view was maganificent and I stood in very spot our new President just 24-hours earlier took the oath of office. While nothing can "make up" for what I missed, I do have some great stories to tell about being packed like Sardines and herded like cattle. I met some funny and nice people, and I saw the very best and the very worst in people. Not the outcome I was expecting from this trip, but a learning experience overall.

Posted by: Suzanne14 | January 23, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"Just reimburse them for whatever they paid."

Sounds fair to me...ticket cost was $0...all done.

Post of the year!!!!

Posted by: fbueller | January 23, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I usually have a great deal of respect for your newspaper, but this "survey" does not seem respectful of a lot of people who missed out on an event of a lifetime.

Airline tickets-- $1,052
Buttons, t-shirts, etc. -- $50
Coveted purple tickets -- worthless

PS. I would settle for the police officer in the tunnel who slept in her unmarked car until people knocked on the windows asking her for help -- then she left -- to lose her job.

Posted by: monardamom | January 23, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey CaptainJohn2525 -- I live in DC also, and you don't speak for me there. But you sound like a real tough guy on this anonymous, faceless website calling people whiners and telling them you're glad they're back home. Since you didn't get off your comfy sofa to check it out, you don't really have a sense for the scene in and around the tunnel and the immense shock and disappointment that was felt.

I am lucky that I live fairly close by and was able to sprint back home to my comfy sofa and watch the events on TV once it became clear after 4+ hours we wouldn't make it in. I feel very sorry for others who are out-of-towners or older folks who weren't so lucky. Denied ticket holders have every right and reason to complain; it's called voicing justified outrage.

Posted by: foreyiv | January 23, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

They should seriously study what happened, try to learn from it, publicly admit mistakes and make a serious apology. I don't think that is unreasonable.

Posted by: dlneustadt | January 23, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I was a blue ticket holder who did not get in and had an awful experience generally that did not involve any security official or police EVER giving any info or even being present in my "line". I think reimbursement for travel & expenses at the least is appropriate-everyone around me in line had traveled from other states. Nothing will make up for the tears on the faces of the elderly African Americans who had traveled all night on buses and stood out in the cold for hours in a mob only to miss the entire inauguration. I traveled from NY & paid for Greyhound & Amtrak tix, plus the cost of spending a couple of days in DC (we had to stand in a 3 hour line in the cold to pick up the tix the day before)

Posted by: bekki23 | January 23, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget--the security measures were all driven by the Secret Service, not MPDC. MPDC, the National Guard, and all the out of state police officers were subject to the plan put into place by the Secret Service.

Posted by: minidiver1251 | January 23, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

While the tickets don't cost anything, the travel did, but frankly, that's not the issue. And to those of you who are calling us whiners, I recommend you stand in the cold for 6 hours only to be turned away from the once in a lifetime experience of your dreams, whether this event or another.

Accountability, acknowledgment, a better plan for next time (I work in events, call me).

I'm not paying to fly to DC again, thanks but no thanks. I would be happy with an official, signed picture, of our new president.

The security risks that this mis-managed event posed to President Obama himself should seriously be taken into consideration by the administration. Cops standing around watching a mob scene, that's what makes me sick. Had there been someone with malicious intent in that crowd...I don't even want to say it out loud.

Accountability accountability accountability.

Posted by: nataliebaack | January 23, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I can't count the number of solicitations for donations i got from PIC during the inaugural preparations. I think the funds obtained through donations should go towards a compensation fund for those who were denied the opportunity to participate in events because of the errors of the security staff. This is clearly the responsibility of the PIC and the security forces with whome they were doing business. With all the funds at their disposal, folks who suffered financial loss and physicial distress deserve some recompense. Beyond the head of the Committee...Obama should lead the call...along with Feinstein and the head staff of all the PICs...

I signed up to volunteer with PIC, but was so appalled by their disorganization at the volunteer training i decided my participation would NOT enhance the safety of the event.

Posted by: las100 | January 23, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

"They should seriously study what happened, try to learn from it, publicly admit mistakes and make a serious apology. I don't think that is unreasonable."

Exactly. Succinctly put. They also need to give us the real, official estimate of the # of ticket-holders denied.

Posted by: foreyiv | January 23, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

CaptianJohn2525, why are you even on here making posts? If you were, as you said, proudly at home watching this groundbreaking event on television, then what are you doing writing on a forum for those who did have "'purple'" tickets and tried with all their might to see this event in person? Why? Have you nothing better to do with your time?

If you were a purple ticket holder who was shut out of inauguration, but still felt that people should stop whining, then fine. But you weren't. You have no idea what it was like. I do not think less of you for not trying to attend the event, and decided to take the safe route (probably smart) by watching it on TV. I wish I had realized my fate sooner and gotten back home in time to do so as well, as I, my friend, am a DC resident like you.

But, "take your whiny attitude elsewhere" you say? Well, if you are that hell bent on shutting us up, then once again, maybe you should stop frequenting an innocent Washington Post survey and forum and get yourself on TV or something, so any one of the tens of thousands of us ticket holders who were utterly shafted at what was to some of us the most moving day of our lives and something we just wanted to experience first hand, can hear it from your mouth. At least then you will be taking a real stand against our annoying gripe. At least then you will be standing for change.

But I stand corrected. This forum is not only for those who did have tickets. We live in the newly exciting United States of America and therefore, are entitled to the freedom of speech and expression. So those of all opinions can read and post at their leisure. But really, I feel sorry for you that you, someone who did not feel the injustice of that day first hand, feel the need to get on here and tear down those of us who did and want to talk about it. I seriously doubt our new President would approve.

Posted by: kcgreentree | January 23, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Actually, this does concern me if it means that the PIC and related organizations spend more than a day or two ferreting out the issues at a high cost that will probably come out of the Federal treasury. We know that everything did not go according to plan, but is that really a surprise?

Convene a couple of hearings, execute an after-action study, understand what needs to improve in 2012 (2013?), write a report and move on.

Now, for anyone asking for reimbursement of travel costs, are you implying that you would not have come to DC without a magic ticket? Would standing with 1.7 million common people on the Mall be beneath you?

Posted by: skipper7 | January 23, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

When the line in the tunnel had moved only about 50 yards by 9:30, I walked home to watch the inauguration on TV. Faint-hearted? Rational? Both? Definitely lucky not to have come to Washington from out of town, nor to have set my heart on being present for an uplifting historic event.

A bit of advice for future event planners: Don't even THINK about routing people under the streets. Once we entered the tunnel, there was no way to gauge what was happening on the Mall, no way to judge whether there was a better idea than to wait patiently for our turn through the gates. For the police, we were out of sight, out of mind, during a period when there were plenty of pressing crowd-control concerns.

I appreciate Sen. Feinstein's apology to disappointed ticketholders. My friends will no doubt be happier to look at the stuff in the consolation packet than to hear me tell the story of my not-so-excellent adventure one more time.

Posted by: 5tewart | January 23, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Consider this:

On January 20, 2013, another million people -- maybe more -- will return to D.C., eager to see Obama take the oath again.

District authorities now have four years on their side. Here's hoping they work diligently to avoid a repeat of this debacle.

Posted by: terpfan2000 | January 23, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I'd actually really like a DVD of the inauguration events. It would be cheap to produce, and it would allow me to see everything as if I was there. (Blue Ray?) Anyway, something like that would be nice, and I'd like to echo the request for some accountability made by matt6.

I'd also like to echo the point made above that the experience of people with tickets was far worse than if we hadn't gotten tickets at all.

Posted by: goaway41 | January 23, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Personally I don't want compensation. I would like a clear explanation, and a plan for making sure it doesn't happen again.

Posted by: erikbl | January 23, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm not asking for any reimbursement, just acknowledgment the security access was a disaster and someone needs to be find out what went wrong to make sure no else has to go through that again.

I was in that "Tunnel of Doom" and I think some who have posted here are completely missing the point. This was not just your normal, it was busy, not everyone could get in, kind of thing. Thousands of people were crammed into the tunnel which runs under the mall, approximately under the Silver ticketed standing section for the inauguration. Not only were these Americans crammed into the tunnel put in a dangerous situation without crowd controls but those standing above us were also endangered. The line which was unsecured ran under the mall and one unstable person, bent on terrorism, could have caused not only a mass loss of life, but could have destabilized our country at a tenuous time, during the transition of power.

Yes I missed the inauguration, but it could have been so much worse. We do indeed need this situation to get more scrutiny.

Posted by: genebrake | January 23, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

There's no way to compensate the thousands who were shut out. But the PIC needs to find out why there was no good, clear signage, why volunteers were not instructed how to assist attendees, and why there was no well thought out plan to get the masses holding tickets to their assigned entry points. We managed to get in the purple area just before the gates were locked, but there was dangerous shoving and pushing among the attendees--two children were nearly trampled. We also encountered dangerous conditions on the metro. No crowd control. There was ample time to think this thing through--it's amazing no one was killed.

Posted by: terry9 | January 23, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I was a volunteer at a security check point at 7th & Constitution. It took us 2 1/2 hours to get through two checkpoints to cross PA. Avenue to get to the location. Once there, we were given very little information to give to people.

It was sad to tell ticket holders that since they were in this location, they were effectively stuck. Even though it was only 8 am they couldn't get out of our location unless they went to 12th Street and went through the tunnel to the Mall. Then we got word that they could only cross at 14th Street, then 17th Street.

While using the Archives to stay warm members of our volunteer group found out that they were showing the Swearing In inside the theater in the basement. Only the most inquisitive person would have even thought to figure that one out. So we saw it in the warmth. When we went back outside, all we could tell people is that they could go to the parade. Even though not a vehicle moved on Constitution Avenue, no pedestrians could cross it.

Barack or not, I quit volunteering when the team leader came back and said that the lunches that were promised were all gone and they couldn't deliver anymore because they couldn't get through the checkpoint. After sitting in the Old Post Office Pavilion for a while I wanted to go. That's when true frustration set in for me because I could not go anywhere. Federal Triangle Metro was closed, I couldn't cross Constitution, couldn't go pass 14th Street and couldn't cross PA Ave. That was the end of the maze. All I could do was go into the Pavilion and watch the Parade on the big screen with the bad internet streaming connection. At least it was warm.

The difference between my experience and the ticketholder's experience was that I kept finding heated places and television coverage. The disadvantage was that I left the spot where Obama got out of the car and waved at Al Roker. I missed my historic photo opportunity, but when it's all said and done I need him to fix the economy more than I need to see him on the street.

I also volunteered at the Ticket Distribution center for PIC. My impression, they tried to do too much, tried to maintain too much control, had too little experience with event planning, and they didn't allow the professionals in DC handle important details. DC officials are going to get all of the blame, but they really were not in control. Secret Service, Capitol Police and all the Federal police trumped the DC police chief. PIC and the JCCIC trumped all DC planning operations.

Everybody should get a standing invitation to visit the White House. You currently have to get it from your member of congress and it's not an easy process. The JCCIC should get these passes for them making it available for the next 4 years.

Posted by: Carole5520 | January 23, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Poor out of towners didn't know that the Capitol Grounds are closed once the ceremony begins. Somebody should have told them.

Even so. The committee should not issue tickets that exceed the venue's capacity by such a wide margin. That is just cheap and tacky and underhanded -- and creates false expectations. The committee needs to be as straightforward as possible so that attendees know exactly what they're getting into.

I called WTOP from 1st and C Streets NW to tell them about the problem, and they did all but laugh at me and hang up. Now it's a big story and they missed it.

Posted by: leeesa | January 23, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I are part of the infamous legion of "Purple People" and I must say we are outraged, disappointed, angry, heartbroken, and annoyed at how this unfolded. We too, like the thousands of others purchased airline tickets, paid for inflated hotel rooms, headed to DC and waited patiently in long lines at our congressman’s office to pick up our tickets expecting to claim our place to view this historical event, only to be duped, bamboozled, and hoodwinked. We agree with all that someone needs to take the responsibility, and simply acknowledge that what we experienced was the result of poor planning, poor preparation and the inability of the city to deal with the enormous amount of people in which they anticipated. Why didn’t they utilize the National Guard for security/crowd control? And since most ticket holders arrived relatively early, why didn’t they go ahead and process them through the security check points, rather than crowd them in the streets and tunnels like herds of cattle waiting for absolutely nothing. And I am not sure I want to expense a trip back to DC to a White House Luncheon on my pocketbook, maybe they should pay for it! Whoever sees this as whining should have stood out in the frigid cold for 2 hrs to pick up tickets, then stood another 5 hours in a non-moving line on Inauguration Day and not be given any options, alternatives or explanations as to what is going on; or simply keep their mouths shut. It is selfish to speak on how we should react when they were most likely granted access, or watching snuggled in front of their big screen TV. President Obama should be outraged at what happened to us.

Posted by: tl1908 | January 23, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

1. Apologies and ownership of problems by all agencies involved and discontinuance of blame or degradation of ticket holders for doing something wrong or "not knowing better."

2. VIP tickets to an Obama event either in D.C., or near ticket holders' homes throughout the next 4 years; dinner or reception at the White House not ruled out
3. VIP seated tickets, with a private, secret entrance only known to security and the ticket holders, to Inauguration 2013 if Obama is re-elected.
4. A DVD of the entire 2009 swearing-in ceremony with a forward by Diane Feinstein apologizing, and at least a recorded statement by Barack Obama of his thoughts on what happened.
5. An autographed picture of the entire 1st Family
6. Official programs and invitations for the 2008 Inauguration

Posted by: jmarsh23 | January 23, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I am out $150 for useless parade bleacher seats which I purchased from the Presidential Inaugural Committee. What recourse do I have for the failure of the Secret Service to provide adequate security? I arrived before 6:00 a.m. and still wasn't allowed in!

Posted by: write55 | January 23, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I would be happy just getting a straightforward and accurate explanation of what happened. In my case, that would be something like "the reason the blue ticketholder line basically didn't move between 7am and noon is [fill in honest explanation here]."

I know this isn't the biggest deal in the world, but I sure would have liked an honest explanation of what was going on when I was standing out in the cold for 4 or 5 hours with my disappointed son, and getting that explanation now would be nice closure on the whole incident.

Posted by: DC6016 | January 23, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

For someone who was born into a segregated United States; marched, sat-in, integrated a school, and witnessed firsthand Dr. King deliver his incredible speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, to see, hear, and experience President Obama's inauguration was the absolute culmination for me. To take that opportunity away is something I don't think I will ever really come to terms with. We can't get that moment back, it can't be recreated. But like so many others here, I think something has to be done to at least lessen our pain. I would be happy to receive a DVD of the entire event, with a brief introduction by the President himself. Just to hear him say "Hey, look, I know you guys exist; you guys were here; and through no fault of your own were excluded" would mean the world to me.

Posted by: Tootsumi | January 23, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

The ‘Purple People’ Rage Against the Machine
I imagine Titanic ticket holders felt similar to those of us who scored coveted purple tickets to Tuesday’s inauguration: really awesome. That is, until the ship sank and D.C. crowd control failed. The former made off with life vests on rescue boats (if they were lucky), the latter in nearby bars swapping grievances before TV screens (if we were lucky). But a key difference between our “epic fail” and theirs was… wait for it… technology. Within hours of the debacle, the Facebook group called “Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom” was launched. And thousands of bitter patriots flocked, embracing the recourse afforded through digital venting. Now, mainstream media is taking notice. The group has been covered by outlets ranging from NPR to MTV and today, the Washington Post was inspired to issue a poll asking how the now-famous “Purple People” should be compensated. On a personal note, please vote for “Cold hard cash.” Thank you.

Posted by: bblackburn | January 23, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Yes the tickets were free, but they were given to us with the
expectation that they would be valid and admit us to the event. Our
transportation and lodging cost became the price of these tickets. To
use an example of lesser magnitude, imagine if someone gave you
tickets to this years Super Bowl or NBA Finals and you took time off
work, traveled to the city by plane and stayed in a hotel for several
nights. When you arrived at the event you had to stand outside in the
cold with no guidance from any staff or security on why upwards of
5,000 people had to stand outside and miss the event with you. I
believe you would be offended and demand accountability.

We were ready to sacrifice time and personal well being knowing that
the lines would be long and the weather would be freezing cold. We
were prepared and that is why most people arrived as early as 5am. We
were willing and eager to do it to be admitted. If wining is called
demanding accountability for something that was guaranteed to us (I
believe a ticket is a legal contract), then call me a whiner. I left
defeated. It took away from my personal experience, but fortunately
it didn't take away from the event itself and its magnitude on US

Posted by: bblackburn | January 23, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Have they released the amount of money that was spent on the event
broken out by line item? They must have spent at least $5 per ticket
(probably $10/ticket) if all the tickets were as elaborate as the
purple tickets with the vellum, color printing with glitter ink,
threaded tassels, and headshots of the President and VP. At 240,000
tickets they spent $1.2M on just ticket and invitations. If they
would have handed out simplified tickets and spent the rest of the
$1.2 on hiring security guards or crowd control agents outside the
gates this problem could have been avoided or at least mitigated.

Did they even think to consult with outside contractor? Companies
like Live Nation, AEG, or an Olympic Planning committee should have
been consulted to determine how to execute crowd control
safely/efficiently/effectively. I have attended 100k person music
festivals with more staff wearing those yellow jackets that say
security on the backs of them than I saw all day long at the
inauguration. Maybe that's because I didn't see anyone outside the
gates to tell us where to go, how to form lines, tell people they were
in the wrong section, etc. A third party contractor could have been
perfect for the job outside the gates and outside the secure zone.
They could have set up and used gates/ropes/Beltrac retractable-belt
stanchions like at the airport. I would have been ecstatic to be
corralled like animals waiting to be butchered, but we were never
butchered, just left to graze in the pasture.

Posted by: bblackburn | January 23, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I think the reason why everyone is so upset is that we were let down
and insulted with back handed comments after the event. Somehow we
have been blamed for being too bulky. If there would have been any
organization or anyone telling the thousand person crowd what to do,
things would be different. Maybe the committee should have given
thought to the security/well being of people outside the gates just as
much as those inside the security gates. This was avoidable and we
demand accountability.

This story sums it up. At an event I attended the night of the
Inauguration I met a volunteer of the Inauguration Committee. Her
responsibility was to take disabled people that came to the event from
the checkpoints to the platforms that were built so that they could
see over the crowd from a seated position. At 6am when the volunteers
arrived and they were ready to go over their task for the day they
couldn't find the platforms on the massive mall. In groups they went
out and searched for the platforms. To their surprise they discover
that the platforms didn't exist and they weren't built. Oops.

Posted by: bblackburn | January 23, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

fifty thousand dollars per person (I heard 20 thousand missed it) only adds up to a billion dollars...what about first class flight from wherever, suite at the mandarin, couple of nights in DC and a party at the white house would be perfectly reasonable...

Posted by: cricketfan | January 23, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Like many others have already commented, there is simply no way to compensate us for missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime. While I will eventually forgive, I will feel sad about what happened for the rest of my life. And no, I don't buy the argument that we should have expected this to happen.

Since many of us saw absolutely nothing of the inauguration because of where we were stranded, I think the Presidential Inaugural Committee should provide us with free DVDs of the ceremony. C-Span is selling them for $19.95. Surely the PIC can provide them at a fraction of the cost. I would consider that a goodwill effort and an sufficient apology.

Posted by: mizzkelly | January 23, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

I was stuck for 3-4 hrs at the purple entrance after being told to go there then once in the area was packed in so tight we couldn't move to get out. A few times I really thought it was not going to end well and was very concerned for my saftey as well as those around me. We even had an ambulance and a police car plow thru the crowd pushing people even further up against each other when there was no where to go already!! How do you pacify something like that?! They never even stopped!! Just plowed people over to get thru!! It was a miracle no one was hurt or killed.

I am sad to hear so many felt as I do and experienced such a horrible disappointment when it was such an amazing occasion that brought us all together. I dont know that much can ever pacify the fear, stress, confusion and disappointment felt that day or explain it if you were not there in person. My friend and I are still recovering from the ordeal however at least we can say we made it in -finally- after battling Hell and back to get there.
We had no choice but to push our way thru and not stop until we got in as mothers that needed to get to our children. Our 14 yr old daughters were inside waiting & listening to the rioting and chanting - calling us on their cell phones crying wondering where we were and if we were okay. They were on a school trip and we were coming to chaparone- all having tickets in the same silver area but my friend and I were directed to the wrong place (the purple gate) and unfortunately got stuck there with so many others. We went thru the tunnel going against the flow to the other side once we could break free from the mob on the street after 3 hours. It looked like a horror movie- thousands of people on foot in a mass exit trying to flee the city- never something I want to see again in my lifetime.

Warmest wishes to all the purple, blue & silver people there with us - I'll never forget you!
Keryann DiAntonio-Smith
po box 14
North Carver, Ma 02355

Posted by: kadc21 | January 23, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

***Quote: I think something has to be done to at least lessen our pain. I would be happy to receive a DVD of the entire event, with a brief introduction by the President himself. Just to hear him say "Hey, look, I know you guys exist; you guys were here; and through no fault of your own were excluded" would mean the world to me.

Posted by: Tootsumi | January 23, 2009 8:06 PM ***End Quote

I like this suggestion. The leftover invites and programs make me mad thinking about it. I still haven't told my family about my experience, it is too painful and tears flow. Yeah, some say get over it, and we will but let us have our emotions, that is the only thing that we had control over. I'd also like an official white house christmas ornament for 2009, a mug, sweatshirt, easter egg hunt tickets and whatever else this is *official* not left overs!

Posted by: detaileddiva | January 23, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

fire Gainer - this was a security issue and he dropped the ball - he must go.

Posted by: timobriendc | January 23, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

All I want is for Beatrice Price to get the ability to meet the President. Beatrice Price is an 85 yo african american female who we met on line in the" Purple Tunnel of Doom". She grew up in Birmingham ,Alabama. As we waited in the tunnel from 6am on she spoke of her life experiences providing my children with an amazing insight into Jim Crow and the injustice of prejudice . Her Grandfather was a slave , she knew personally the 4 girls that were killed in the Birmingham church bombings. she worked with the Tuskegee Airmen and was a nurse for Patton in WWII. Her son got her the purple tickets from his congressman and she was determined to have the stamina to see The First African American sworn in to the office of President, something that never would have happened with the work dedication and life experiences of this woman and those like her.I watched her keep her composure despite the crowds around her at one time shoving her forward as she tried to take her morning pills. My family was with her and her son for over 4 hours in that tunnel (an educational experience of a lifetime for my kids) but as we moved out of the tunnel and were forced into the chaotic crowd that had ensued ( due to the lack of any crowd control or adequate police or volunteer presence) we were crushed like sardines and separated in the confusion that followed. I don't know whatever happened to this great american heroine but i'm quite sure she like thousands of others never got a chance to fulfill her life's dream. THE ONLY COMPENSATION I OR ANYONE ELSE SHOULD WANT IS TO SEE THIS FINE WOMAN GET THE CHANCE TO MEET THE PRESIDENT!!

Posted by: artchilds | January 23, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

While I don't know that dinner at the White House is feasible for that many people, I think a reasonable solution would be to hold an opportunity for those shut out to meet the President. It doesn't have to be an all day thing, but doing a meet and greet for a few hours with those with tickets who were denied access seems to be a legitimate solution, seeing as a lot of people went through a lot of trouble to get them, volunteered for his campaign, waited in the below freezing temperatures for hours and in the end did not see a thing. Not to mention the frustration and anguish that goes with being in an unruly and at times dangerous line with no security. Not that the failure in planning was the President's fault, but at this point someone needs to acknowledge that there was a huge failure at the Inauguration to include thousands of loyal and dedicated campaign contributors and voters.

Posted by: lauren2984 | January 23, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

so...I got in at the last second, and got crushed along the way, have enduring back pain now, and still was not that close and had trouble seeing over taller people...but, i heard some of what President Obama said. Didn't he talk about coming together, about sacrificing, about thinking less about ourselves and more about the common good? Just the fact that we even had a chance to maybe get to see him inaugurated puts us in an incredibly privileged position compared to all the people without tickets, all the folks who couldn't afford to travel to DC, all the people around the world who would've liked to have been there. If we are going to be a more selfless culture, that takes care of a each other, this experience seems like a great place to start.

Posted by: brianschwartz47 | January 23, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I was heartbroken at hearing the crowds applaud as I was stuck in the Blue Crowd for hours as the program went on while we were locked outside. I stood next to an 8 year old African American who had been on a bus for 9 hours, then stood near us for 4 more hours to find out that he, along with thousands of others, did not matter enough to our government. What a tough lesson for a young kid. This was a dangerous situation, and I am more upset at the comments from people who were not there. I do not think they understand the dire situation we were all in. We were standing for hours with no supervision, no toilets, we could not bring anything with us like water, there were no police in site, most of the cell phones were not working, there was NO ONE anywhere in charge, no lines were formed and we could not hear anything. Most of us had done given up a a significant part of our lives to help Barack Obama become President. We hosted events, volunteered at events, knocked on doors, registered voters. While we stood outside freezing, there were many Repulicans inside, seated, who actively campaigned against Barack Obama. I think they should have offered their tickets to Democratic Senators and members of Congress. I do not want the government to spend money sending me programs or photos. I want to know how many people were actually locked out of the event. I went to a yoga class and out of 20 students, 6 were locked out. I was on a plane to Chicago, and I talked to 20 or 30 people in line who were locked out. There had to be more than 4000 people. There were probably more than that behind me in the blue line. The street was packed with no space between us for blocks. I still can't even talk about the situation to anyone, it was heartbreaking. I am offended that people think we are whining. We have lost an opportunity that can't be replaced by anyone. It is over. I have not even seen the ceremony yet. The only thing I would like is a DVD of it. Even a download would be OK. I want to witness it. Note, my second choice would be to have Terrance Gainer fired, if not for being incompetant, for being insensitive and ignoring the facts and trying to cover it up. Shame on him for patting himself on the back.

Posted by: laurie13 | January 23, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Artchilds, your commentary brought tears to my eyes. Such a wonderful piece of history that this Matriarch shared with you and your family. What stamina this soldier showed. Through it all, she's a trooper. May God bless her.

Yes, I agree, she should have the opportunity to share time with President Obama along with all of the "well seasoned" matriarchs that I saw at the ceremony. Although, it was posted that the elderly not attend because of the weather, they said "Ain't No Stoppin Us Now"! I'm impressed and know,that we must keep on, keepin on!!!!

May God bless you and your family.

Posted by: Jdooley2 | January 23, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Just plan better next time. Figure out how much space there is, calculate an average # people per square meter, and only give out that number of tickets. (Obviously, everyone with a ticket will show up!) Also, paint colored lines on the streets that correspond to the colored gates/sections, so people know where to go and don't get in each other's way or waste time on the wrong streets.

Posted by: drledlt | January 23, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

I realize not everyone had the opportunity to see this historic event and most that did didn't have tickets. But, for those of us lucky few that did essentially "win" tickets had a wonderful opportunity to see the most important event of at least my generation. We lost that opportunity the second the police instructed at least 10,000 of us lucky few into a mile long tunnel.

In my opinion there could be two things to compensate us: 1)a professionally done DVD and a signed photo from Obama or 2)an invitation to an another event he will be speaking at or attending, including the chance to meet him.

Other than that, there is probably nothing that can be done. I can understand those people's opinions that weren't stuck in a tunnel for 4 hours, or that didn't even have a chance to go to the inauguration. But, for those of that did and were stuck in the tunnel for the entire thing, it was a nightmare and an experience we can never forget. In the long run, this will be a small event in our lives, but it still hurts to be invited to see up close one of the most important occasions in American History, and then to be stuck mere yards away from such occasion stings, at least for now. We will all get over this, and life goes on. But, like most things in life, when people are wronged out of something they either earned (people who worked on his campaign), or were lucky enough to win, there should be some sort of reimbursement.

Posted by: melissaperk | January 23, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Three things:

- A public apology and a full investigation with a written report.

- A DVD of the entire ceremony, the parade, and the "We are One" concert

- An opportunity to see the President live and in person. A party for thousands is asking a bit much. A good seat at a major speech or press conference sometime during his first term would be just fine. That would give people options for time and location.

Posted by: tlee650 | January 24, 2009 1:33 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I drove from Denver 1700 miles.
Stayed in a motel outside Washington rode the Metro picked up our tickets from Senator Udall's office on the 19th.
Arrived at Union Station before 7 am Inauguration Day and was in line before 8 am (blue line for the south standing).
From that point on we did not see anyone of authortiy and was not moving from basically that spot - we finally gave it up when we heard the cannons fire and it was over. Our story is exactly like all the rest I have read. I'll be blunt. I want an address to send my receipts for my expense. I rented a car $295.00 - gas for the trip amounted to $245.00 - Motel room for 4 nights $325.00 took off work $700.
Send me a check. This is not a full measure of justice but it is a start. The emotional experience cannot be compensated in dollars. I agree with every person above me. I am a security officer in Denver and attended Invesco when Obama gave his acceptance speach. Our officials had their act together. There is no excuse for what happened. END OF STORY.

Posted by: Rocky14 | January 24, 2009 6:26 AM | Report abuse

One thing that keeps coming to mind is that all of the special VIP, family and friends of senate/house leaders made it to their seats in the stands without a problem. It only appears that the common folk, who volunteered or who were lucky enough to receive these coveted tickets were left out. It truly disgusts me when I look at the picture of the stands and seated area. How did these people get in? The crowds were massive. I guess all of the organizers were at their gates.

Posted by: detaileddiva | January 24, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Oh and forgot... celebs that made it in... I guess it is who you know and how much you have that gets you in with a TICKET.

Posted by: detaileddiva | January 24, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Oh for goodness sake. Quit all this whining. We all take things like this in stride everyday. What a bunch of babies. If YOU really want something done, then take some responsibility, join a group or organization that will be doing this in the future and then YOU can make sure it doesn't happen again! STFU!~

Posted by: not4n | January 24, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

How about a Post Inaugural Ball this summer just the Purple People with President Obama and Michelle as hosts? Going back to Washington and replacing our memories of despair with a joyful experience sounds good to me. And...those folks who keep telling us to "stop whining" need to back off. It shows a complete lack of empathy and understanding. If you were not there, you just don't get it.

Posted by: kheintzman | January 24, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Hello - It was not just PURPLE

I know for a fact that about the same amount of BLUE 3,000 and SILVER about 10,000. This is not just a Purple debacle this is every section without physical seats - the standing room groups.

Posted by: totallynext | January 24, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

My friend and I headed down at 4am, arrived around 4:45am, were told to stand in a specific area by police (which turned out to be the wrong area - the had directed us into the crowd for the silver standing area as opposed to the line for the purple standing area), were redirected by the police at 7am to the purple line (which at that point extended all the way through the tunnel beyond the Rayburn House Office building), stood in the tunnel for 4 hours, and got within a block of the gate when they stopped letting people in.

I can't say that I'm not bitter about not being able to see the ceremony in person. I mean... we had tickets to a truly historic event, expected to be witnesses to a truly historic event, stood in line for 6 hours in the freezing cold to take part in a truly historic event, and all we got was a freakin' story to tell.

Frankly, I think Obama should host a summer BBQ on the White House lawn for all purple ticket holders who still have their tickets and sign a sworn statement that they got turned away. It would be cheap, relatively easy, and be a nice showing of goodwill towards those of us who supported him and came to see his swearing in, but were turned away because of poor event management.

Posted by: peterdennisnet | January 24, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

That said, I'd also be happy with a private dinner with the President & First Lady.

Posted by: peterdennisnet | January 24, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Let's be realistic. There will be a bunch of song and dance. There will be smoke and mirrors. And in 4 years, everyone will have forgotten this. Nothing is going to happen. You didn't get in. You got screwed by Congress - what's surprising about that?

Posted by: mwcob | January 24, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Another idea: Tours of the White House.

Posted by: peterdennisnet | January 24, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Might there be opportunity to (still) have an Obama Inauguration for the People? -- even for those turned away & left disappointed today?

I say, yes (as one of the Blue Group ticket-holders denied entry).

Perhaps, next year -- (simultaneous with Obama's one-year celebration and State of the Union?) -- there could be a second celebration that (re)invites those ticket-holders who never got through the gates today? Invite us back -- with priority. Celebrate how far we've come in one year -- as a Nation, as a world, January 2010.

As an added political bonus, an "Inaugural-Vow-Renewal-And-One-Year-Of-Obama" celebration would buy Obama (& this administration) one FULL YEAR of time -- MINIMUM -- before the media & masses start judging his presidency & evaluating his performance. The more time, the better (I believe, given the state of the economy, wars, world, etc.). Yes, back to managing expectations again! A 1-year milestone that is publicly & widely celebrated would light a fire under everyone's butt -- dig deep & dig out of these hard times ASAP. We've got a 1-year accountability deadline... You know, an extra motivator to (further) encourage the new administration, DCers, and US citizens to make change & demonstrate success.

Posted by: KTHoney | January 25, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

I want accountability.
I flew out from California. In good faith I waited over 3 hours in line in the cold to get into the Cannon Office Bldg for my ticket. In good faith I followed the directions indicated to get to where I was supposed to be, extra early. I saw no police, nobody in authority for the 5+ hours we waited, jammed dangerously close with tousands of other confused yet patient people who also were doing what they were supposed to be doing. At about 11:30 a gate finally opened for us Purple Ticket Holders, only to slam shut somewhere around noon. I heard the cannons. I cried. I tried in vain to hear the speech on someone's radio. Then nobody seemed to believe what happened. That was the worst.
I don't think our new President should be bothered with any of this. I want a copy of the report, and perhaps a special DVD edition of the ceremony. I still haven't seen one second of events of that day. I feel the Police, the Secret Service did not operate in good faith. It's a Katrina moment for DC. If we were assembled for any other reason there would have been violence. Let this be a wake-up call.

Posted by: judityE | January 25, 2009 2:01 AM | Report abuse

My biggest concern was for the 13,000 parade participants. So many of them were kids from all across the country; they had fundraising campaigns (pizza kits, candy bars), plus their own money, in order to come and march for this historic event.

I was in my high school band, and I know the agony of a long wait on the parade grounds before you finally march. But this march was beyond any reasonable expectation for how to treat these kids.

The leisurely lunch in Statuary Hall put everything off schedule. Someone should have been absolutely empowered to tell the Powers That Be that it was time to pick up the tempo and be responsive to the many thousands of people lining the parade route in the freezing cold.

As Wolf Blitzer was regularly noting, the Parade was going to take place in the dark. The Obamas' 17-minute wait in the White House certainly didn't help at a critical juncture for remaining daylight.

And indeed all these kids marched in the dark along mostly empty streets. Not only empty streets. For Heaven's sake, how could the Presidential Viewing Stand itself be nearly empty??

Like the other majorly problematic issues, I hope "they" don't assume this will just go away over time. There needs to be better planning in 2013. No lunch in Statuary Hall to hold things up. And, this time, a full range of apologies to all those who made such sacrifice to come and march.

Posted by: ArthurRoach | January 25, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I think a little commemorative swag is a fine compensation. My daughter and her friend had purple tickets and were stuck in a line that did not move. My husband and daughter did not have tickets and were stuck in a line that did not move.
But: two million people were on the mall
and no one got hurt or died
so I think the swearing in went as well as can be expected.
For ticketholders, it would be nice if they got a little swag, maybe a picture or a program or a t-shirt: provided that the taxpayers do not have to pay for it. The real point is to make sure that next time there is a public address system and better communication between the entrances so that this does not happen again. That is the real solution: to learn the important lessons for the next big public event.
I also think that it is great that everyone behaved so well on Jan. 20th, we should all keep up the good behavior.

Posted by: lizrosej | January 25, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

As a blue ticket holder, who spent thousands of dollars and 5 days of vacation from work to be there, it is implausible that my family and I would be able to fly anywhere for a "make-up" event. How about a virtual town hall with President Obama for all of the ticket holders left out in the cold? The PIC could figure out the technical logistics and work through the offices of the Members of Congress.

Posted by: madblueticket | January 25, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

My heart breaks for those who were unable to navigate myriad security check points, misinformed volunteers, closed off entrances and all of the incorrect information that flowed on the 20th. I got in by following an elderly lady through the (non-signed) "accessible" entrance. I entered on 7th NW where there was SO MUCH OPEN space I could have played full on soccer without disturbing anyone.

Many comments focus on the park police & dc police but they were not leading this particularly show; it was Homeland Security & the Secret Service with Diane Feinstein as the big cheese.

Bottom line, they were not concerned with common or regular individuals who had traveled, toiled during the campaign or throughout their lives to see this event. They were concerned with all the celebrities they got to meet and smiling and grinning in the Obama's faces and simply being the political majority again. As, I sit here and type I am beginning to seeth over the lack of signage, bull horns and the damn closed pedestrian crossovers.

Applause to Metro and the L'enfant plaza hotel for giving individuals a warming station.

Posted by: rjonin | January 27, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

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