Wednesday, November 19, 2008

O: Kick In Inaugural $$

The District of Columbia govern
ment is deeply concerned about the crush of people into the district for the historic Obama Inaugural on January 20.

Some estimates say that as many as two to three million people may attempt to attend Inaugural festivities - way, way beyond the typical 200 to 300 thousand who turn out for the quadrennial event.
This means that additional venues will have to be opened up all over the metro Washington region to accommodate the crowds. Places such as Nationals Park, JFK Stadium and The Verizon Center may have to be pressed into service.
The cost to the federal government and the district will be staggering.
Here's where the Obama campaign can help. O & Co. still have millions and millions (probably even tens of millions) of dollars from the campaign. Some of this money needs to be released pronto to help defray costs.
The taxpayers cannot and should not assume the bulk of these added governmental and government-related costs.
Here's the full story from Leah Fabel at the DC Examiner:
Soaring costs expected to accompany huge crowds in town for the Jan. 20 inauguration of Barack Obama could stick cash-strapped Washington, D.C., with a record-breaking bill for services.
Security and capacity measures recommended by the District’s congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and others will almost certainly surpass the $15 million the federal government gives to the District each year to defray the cost of events, Norton said.
In 2005, with an estimated 300,000 in attendance, the second inauguration of President Bush cost the city more than $17 million, some of which was reimbursed with federal funds. This year, officials estimate nearly five times that many people for the swearing in of President-elect Barack Obama.
Police Chief Cathy Lanier expects to use an additional 4,000 police officers from all over the country in addition to her 4,000-member force, she said earlier this month. The city’s inaugural budget allows for only 3,000 extra uniformed officers.
“There will be an additional amount necessary to handle the unprecedented crowds, and I am now working with my colleagues to deal with that amount,” Norton said, adding “it’s an outrage to have costs incurred for federal events.”
Norton recommended to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies the opening of private sites off the Mall, such as the Verizon Center and Nationals Park, to accommodate visitors without a ticket to the official events.
“There will not be even standing-room-only space on the Mall,” she said. “We have to throw away the old book on organizing the inauguration.”
Use of the Chinatown’s 23,000-seat Verizon Center could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Tasha Rios, a contracts manager for Plano, Texas-based Women of Faith. Rios’ group used the facility in July for a more than 12,000-person conference.
Basic rent, she said, cost her organization about $200,000. But it varies by group size, she said, and does not include expenses for staff, security, medical services, insurance and add-ons like the use of giant display-screens that would be needed in the event of an inaugural broadcast.
Verizon Center has blocked off Jan. 18-21 for “inauguration-related activities,” said spokeswoman Sheila Francis. She declined to offer details.
Northeast’s 45,000-seat RFK Stadium and the 10,000-capacity D.C. Armory have discussed a variety of events “mostly with third-party organizations,” said spokeswoman Teri Washington. In the past, the venue has hosted inaugural balls.
A spokeswoman for Nationals Park said no calls have yet come in requesting use of the stadium.

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