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Posted at 2:19 PM ET, 02/ 9/2009
Inauguration: Priceless; Hotel Room: $605
Hotel guests paid an average $605 to stay in the District Jan. 20 when 96 percent of the rooms were booked, according to Destination DC, the city’s tourism arm.
Around the region, 87 percent of hotel rooms were booked at an average rate of $335.45 on the same night, the eve of President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
“Our city relies heavily on the revenues generated by travel and tourism. In today’s troubled economy, tourism, meetings and events keep our residents employed. We represent a $5.5 billion dollar industry that contributes $620 million in tax revenue to the District and employs more than 71,000 residents,” said Bill Hanbury, president & CEO of Destination DC.
The group offered other facts, like 14,750 pounds of pasta were served at the six official Inaugural balls hosted at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and the 555 gallons of chili served at Ben’s Chil Bowl during the week of the inauguration.
In January 2008, the average daily rate for a hotel room was 184.99 and the occupancy rate was 54.5 percent, according to the group's website.
Corrected and updated to reflect figures from Jan. 20th, not Jan. 19th.
Posted at 3:07 PM ET, 01/23/2009
Mad Scramble for Thousands of Discarded Obama Invites
People are picking through dumpsters near the Longworth and Cannon House Office Buildings on Capitol Hill to collect some of the thousands of invitations to Obama's inauguration that were discarded this afternoon, a source tells Inauguration Watch.
The invitations were sent out to Obama volunteers and campaign donors by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. The 8-inch by 10-inch manila-colored piece of paper, with the committee seal in gold on top, did not actually get anyone into any special events this week, but rather were an official welcome to get involved in the free events, such last Sunday's welcome concert on the mall.
Tens of thousands of them were dumped into two dumpsters, reports our source, and passers-by, as well as police officers in the area, have been carting them off as souvenirs. "I got a whole box full," our source said.
Posted at 2:03 PM ET, 01/23/2009
Plouffe Wants You
Now that the inauguration is history, Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe is trying to keep the President's army of supporters busy. He has released this video about how supporters can stay involved in the "movement."
Posted at 11:41 AM ET, 01/23/2009
Purple Ticket-Holder Planning Ceremony Do-Over
Barack Obama got a do-over of his oath of office. Now, a campaign staff member who got shut out of Obama's original ceremony is planning another try of his own.
Gabe Cohen, 29, who spent 20 months on the campaign, is sending out notice to friends and supporters that he will lead a swearing-in listening event near the U.S. Capitol tomorrow at noon.
Cohen and his mother, Judy Marks, were among the thousands of Purple ticket-holders who were denied entrance to Obama's ceremony Tuesday, after waiting for more than five hours. (Thousands of Blue ticket-holders also were shut out.)
"In the same spirit of the campaign, a couple of us got to talking and we wanted to make the best of an unfortunate situation. We'll try to do it over," said Cohen, who lives in Denver and worked as a field director and state director in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Pennsylvania.
Marks said she and her son had gotten onto Metro at the Silver Spring station at 5:15 a.m. and by 6 a.m. were following the directions provided by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies about where to line up for the Purple section. The crowd already was large, and they took their place in the line somewhere near the front of the 3rd Street tunnel.
"I'm claustrophobic, so at least I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Marks, who works as the associate director for the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, said today by phone.
That was the last bit of illumination provided for these ticket-holders, as the line barely budged for hours. Eventually, the line moved, but got bogged down near the gates. Thousands began chanting "Let us in!" as the minutes ticked down toward Obama's ceremony. Marks and Cohen, realizing they would not make it in, began hustling back toward Union Station when they noticed a Johnny's Half Shell restaurant, which was hosting a private party. Marks paid to get them in to watch on a big-screen television.
The duo were among the first to register with the Facebook group "Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom,", which now has more than 4,400 members.
Now, Cohen is taking matters into his own hands. He's not angry and says diplomatically: "It was unfortunate what happened, but it was a wonderful day. The bottom line is that Barack Obama is the president. I have no bad words for anybody planning the event. Overall, the day went unbelievably. I had a lot of friends who worked hard on the planning committee."
Posted at 10:26 AM ET, 01/23/2009
Poll: Purple Ticket Restitution
As reported yesterday, those who missed the swearing-in ceremony because they were stuck outside the gates of ticketed areas will be receiving souvenir packets as apologies for their disappointment. But is that enough? Vote in the poll below.
Posted at 5:29 PM ET, 01/22/2009
Sen. Feinstein: Purple and Blue Ticket-holders Will Receive Special Souvenirs (*Updated)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) will be distributing packages that include a souvenir program, color photos of President Obama and other memorabilia to people with tickets who were not admitted to the swearing-in ceremony Tuesday, according to an email sent to congressional staff from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
The statement instructs congressional offices to take the names of frustrated ticket-holders and tell the callers that the packages will be available next week. The announcement was sent to the Washington Post from a federal government source, who had a copy of the email.
Feinstein is the chair of the inaugural committee and she has launched an investigation into why thousands of ticket-holders stood in line for hours but still were not admitted.
Here's the full announcement:
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein, will have packets of the 56th Inaugural commemorative programs, invitations, photos of the President and Vice President and a full color print of the Ceremony.
These packets will be distributed to constituents and guests who were purple ticket holders (or other ticket holders) and denied access to the Inauguration ceremony.
These packets should be available within the next week.
If you are receiving calls or emails, please direct them to email@example.com. If they leave their name and address, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies will send them an apology and this packet.
Update 9:54 p.m.: Feinstein issued the following statement tonight about the ticket problems:
“Today I met with Mark Sullivan, Director of the Secret Service, Philip D. Morse, the Chief of the Capitol Police, and Terrence Gainer, Senate Sergeant at Arms, along with other law enforcement officials to discuss the 56 th Presidential Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony.
An unprecedented number of people, estimated at nearly two million, converged on the National Mall area for this ceremony, and there was not one major arrest or injury at the event, apart from various medical emergencies. All law enforcement agencies worked very hard to keep the nation’s capital safe during this historic event, and they deserve our thanks. But the purpose of the discussion today was to learn more about what led to thousands of people not being able to get into their designated ticketed areas.
It is clear that there were significant problems with managing crowds, especially in the Third Street Tunnel and the agencies involved are in the process of sorting out exactly what happened. There will be an after-action report compiled, not to cast blame, but to help us understand what mistakes were made so that we can make sure they are not repeated at future Inaugurals.”
Posted at 4:56 PM ET, 01/22/2009
Reps. George Miller and Chris Van Hollen Want Answers on Ticket Meltdown
Photo taken by Taylor Barnes in the 3rd Street tunnel off-ramp to D Street on 10 a.m. Tuesday while waiting in the Purple-ticket line. Barnes and Barnes' father never made it into the ceremony.
The pressure is heating up on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), head of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, to explain what went wrong Tuesday when thousands of Purple and Blue ticket-holders did not get into Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony.
In a letter sent yesterday Miller writes: "On behalf of many of my constituents and thousands of many other Americans from across the country who traveled great distances and spent a considerable amount of money to attend the Inauguration and who waited in line in their designated areas for many hours on Tuesday morning only to be turned away without seeing the Inauguration as planned, I would appreciate receiving an explanation from your office regarding what went wrong."
In a letter sent today, Van Hollen writes: "These were people who did everything they were supposed to do ... Yet despite following the rules, they were still denied access. And worse yet, they were kept in the dark -- deprived of information -- as the hours passed and their hopes of seeing history in the making slipped away."
Posted at 3:04 PM ET, 01/22/2009
Souvenir Watch: Inauguration Air
Maker: Brother-sister team Gabriel and Frenika Mudd
Price: $3 per bottle available on eBay
Why: From the product’s Web site: “Get a piece of the inauguration! 100% unfiltered, unadulterated air from the heart of Inauguration Central, Washington D.C., on 1/20/09. This is the perfect, most inexpensive way to experience the change that is in the air. Receive your own piece of D.C. that day, and be a part of this momentous occasion by getting your own bottle of collectable air from the day the world changed!”
The product was originally dreamed up as a joke when Gabriel, who lives in New York, and Frenika, a graduate student in D.C., were home in Ohio for Christmas. “I started singing ‘Change is in the Air,’” (to the tune of “Love is in the Air” by John Paul Young) said Gabriel.
So far the team has sold 10 or 12 bottles, said Gabriel Mudd, but they hope to bump up those numbers when the product is re-listed on eBay on Thursday. There’s a limited supply, though Mudd declined to give the specific number.
Make sure you order authentic Inauguration Air, Mudd warned. Their product was gathered on the Mall on Inauguration Day – the family had tickets – but impostor Inauguration Air is being sold from places as far away as London. Theirs is the only one currently being sold that ships from Washington.
Inauguration Watch Verdict: Need a little whiff of hope and change when times get tough? Can’t beat the price.
Posted at 2:38 PM ET, 01/22/2009
Video: The Endless Purple Ticket Line
Reader Julie Dorshkind, who sent us a photograph we used in yesterday's post about Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) investigation into what went wrong with the inauguration ticket lines, also sent us a video. Dorshkind took several short clips that we have put together to show the full extent of the line. The clips were taken at different times and are not in chronologically placed in the order they were taken; Dorshkind stood in line for five hours that day and got in at 11:50 a.m. only by leaving the Purple line and finding another entrance.
Posted at 7:41 AM ET, 01/22/2009
Obama Takes Oath Again
After Chief Justice John G. Roberts flubbed the order while delivering the oath of office Tuesday, he and Barack Obama redid the oath last night, reports the Post's Michael Shear. This is how it went down: After a flawless recitation that included no Bible and took 25 seconds, Roberts smiled and said, "Congratulations, again."
Obama said, "Thank you, sir," and then added: "All right. The bad news for the [reporters] is there's 12 more balls."
(Photo by Pete Souza -- White House)