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Emily Cahn

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority released a limited-edition SmarTrip farecard Monday to commemorate the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

The special edition SmarTrip farecards, which function exactly like regular SmarTrip cards, are available for purchase online or at Metro sales offices.

Metro riders can purchase the commemorative card for $10, double the price of a regular SmarTrip card.

For Metro riders planning on braving the crowds on inauguration day, one-day unlimited farecards can also be purchased for $10.

The Washington Post reported last week that D.C. transit systems and roadways will not be able to handle the 2 million people expected to travel to the city for the inauguration festivities.

“If millions of people are coming to the National Mall, Metro can’t handle everyone. It’s impossible,” said WMATA spokeswoman Candace Smith.

She added that people should expect “long lines, long walks, and they need to make decisions about what they’re willing to put up with.”

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by Emily Cahn

Officials said on Monday that inauguration day crowds are expected to be around 2 million people, rather than the 4 million to 5 million people previously reported, according to the Washington Post.

According to the article, previous crowd estimates were based on speculation. But airlines, charter bus companies and other sources said crowds will not be as large as they first thought.

The Secret Service has declined to make their crowd estimates public — citing outside factors like the weather, which could significantly alter the amount of people attending inauguration festivities.

Chris Geldart, director of the D.C. area office for the Department of Homeland Security, told the Post that he thought turnout would probably be 1.5 million to 2 million, “because it’s winter, and people getting in and out is going to be difficult.”

Similarly, the article also noted that many people who originally planned to attend the inauguration festivities may reconsider after hearing reports on traffic chaos.

While crowds may be smaller than previously reported, 2 million people is five times the attendance in 2005 for the inauguration of President George W. Bush, and officials say they must plan for the unexpected.

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by Emily Cahn

The D.C. Council amended emergency legislation passed earlier this month, to now allow bars and nightclubs around the city to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., rather than 5 a.m. as previously reported, to help accommodate the large crowds expected to exceed 1 million people for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration next month.

According to the Washington Post, amendments to the policy will now require all bars and nightclubs to pay a registration fee of $250 for each night they plan to stay open past the normal hours of 2 a.m. during the week, and 3 a.m. on weekends. Restaurants wishing to serve alcohol past these hours will be required to pay a $100 registration fee.

The policy was amended after Sens. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) protested the legislation, citing security concerns that the city’s law enforcement personnel would not be able to handle the extra hours, the Washington Post reported.

Despite these amendments, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs will still be allowed to stay open for 24 hours from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21 to accommodate the crowds that will be in town for Obama’s inauguration on Jan 20.

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Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008 7:52 p.m.

Cell phone companies brace for inauguration crowds

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by Emily Cahn

GW students may have trouble making phone calls when crowds expected to exceed 1 million people descend upon D.C. for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration next month.

Reuters reported that cell phone companies are preparing for the surge in cell phone calls during inauguration weekend by adding additional cell towers and satellite trucks which would patrol the city.

According to the Associated Press, Sprint announced on Tuesday that it will increase wireless capacity by 40 percent for cellular phone service. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are reportedly doing the same.

“If 4 million people show up on the Mall, absolutely expect delays,” said Joseph E. Farren, a spokesman for CTIA, which represents the wireless industry.

The inauguration will take place Jan. 20.

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Monday, Dec. 15, 2008 5:50 p.m.

Lisner to host inauguration-themed radio show

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by Alex Byers

Four syndicated radio show hosts will convene at Lisner Auditorium to conduct a national radio broadcast celebrating President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration, the University announced Monday.

Bill Press, Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, and Randi Rhodes will broadcast for three hours on Sunday, Jan. 18. In addition to marking Obama’s inauguration, the show will look into “the national role progressive talk-radio has played in past presidential inaugurations,” a news release said.

Around 100 student tickets will be available at the Lisner box office starting Tuesday at 11 a.m. A limited number of additional student tickets will be available for $10.

Obama’s inauguration will take place Jan. 20.

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Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008 3:03 a.m.

Float on

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by Sarah Scire

An illustration and legend of the float. Courtesy of the Student Association.

An illustration and legend of the float. Courtesy of the Student Association.

A Washington Post blog poked fun at the GW inaugural float design on Friday, comparing it to a bewildering mascot from the Atlanta Olympics.

After getting their hands on a copy of the float design and a legend previously published in The Hatchet, the Post reporter wrote “not since Izzy of the Atlanta Olympics fame has a design been as hard to figure out as George Washington University’s inaugural float.”

A picture of Izzy can be found here but a fuller story behind the scorned mascot is available on Wikipedia and a New York Times article near the start of the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The approved design features a massive globe, a large screen TV, and a work-in-progress bust of Obama, representing different schools at GW. More than forty students, faculty and administrators will ride on or alongside the float on Jan. 20th.

Despite the less-than-glowing review from the Post, Student Association members have said the float represents GW well.

“George Washington University will be able to present all the wonderful schools and colleges that make up this university in a float designed by students and built by students,” said SA Executive Director of Programming and Activities Charlie Burgoyne.

Hatchet Reporter Lauren French contributed to this report.

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Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008 2:30 a.m.

Students register only 800 guests for inauguration

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by Sarah Scire

Students registered more than 800 overnight guests for the week of inauguration, GW Housing Director Seth Weinshel said on Friday.

The number is a small representation of the 7,000 residents that were eligible to apply for guest spots under the special housing policy that requires students to pre-register all overnight visitors between Jan. 16 and 21. Applications for guests were due on Dec. 12 and students will be notified by Dec. 19 if their visitors have been approved.

An e-mail sent to all residents last week reminded students that the overnight policy would be strictly enforced for security reasons and that security will be monitoring the entrance of each building.

“Guests will be required to show a picture ID at building entry and may be asked to produce identification at various other times during the weekend if stopped by campus police or other local security,” according to an e-mail sent by GW Housing in November.

In a related but largely irrelevant note, University President Steven Knapp told the Faculty Senate on Friday that GW had received a unique suggestion regarding housing during inaugural week.

“There was a proposal from several sources that we close school for the week, and that way, make half of the semester’s tuition in the first week by renting our rooms at the exorbitant rates that you’ve been hearing about,” Knapp said on Friday. “We declined that proposal.”

Husna Kazmir contributed to this post.

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Friday, Dec. 12, 2008 3:46 p.m.

No overnight camping to be allowed for inauguration

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by Alex Byers

Inauguration goers will not be able to camp out on the National Mall in order to get a good vantage point for President-elect Barack Obama’s swearing in, the Washington Post reported today. The Post article notes that it, very simply, is illegal to camp on the mall, even though it is normally open 24 hours a day. Tents will be banned as well, according to the report.

Those interested in catching a glimpse of the inaugural parade won’t be able to camp overnight on Pennsylvania Avenue either, the article says. Federal officials said at a news conference Thursday that the earliest people will be allowed along the parade route is 7 a.m.

Meanwhile, another Post report on a Metro escalator incident yesterday adds that the officials are planning to stop all down escalators for the inauguration, and possibly halt the ones going up as well. The change will be a safety measure designed to “prevent people from piling up on crowded station platforms.”

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Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008 9:00 p.m.

Senators oppose D.C. nightlife hours extension

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by Alex Byers

Students looking to throw back an extra few drinks over Inauguration weekend may need to think again.

The D.C. City Council passed emergency legislation last week allowing bars and nightclubs to stay open later in the days leading up to the Inauguration next month, but that push has met some resistance in the form of United States Senators.

The Washington Post is reporting that Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) wrote to D.C. leaders today, asking them to consider the strain the extra hours will put on law enforcement who will already be on a heightened security alert.

The Post report also notes that the Council’s emergency legislation may violate some of the agreements made by local establishments and neighborhood advocacy groups, like the one the Advisory Neighborhood Council has with Tonic.

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by Sarah Scire

The D.C. Council has passed emergency legislation to extend the hours of all bars and nightclubs to help accommodate the four million people estimated to be in town for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.

From Jan. 17 until Jan. 20, every D.C. restaurant, bar and nightclub with a liquor license can stay open 24 hours a day and serve alcohol until 5 a.m, according to the legislation passed on Tuesday. Usually, establishments can serve alcohol until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

The idea was originally devised by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and was introduced by council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who “represents the nightlife-heavy neighborhoods of Adams Morgan and Mount Pleasant,” according to the Washington Post.

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