It is a little over a month until Barack Hussein Obama is inaugurated as 44th President of the United States of America. Whatever your feelings − pro or con − about the upcoming administration, kindly spare a thought for those of us who live and/or work around the District of Columbia.
*The District is a total of 68.3 square miles, of which 61.4 is land, with 6.9 square miles comprised of water. Permanent residents equal (as of 2006) 558,292. During the workday, the population of the District swells to 5.3 million people, and the District’s ability to deal with that influx waxes and wanes on an almost hourly basis. Suffice it to say, traffic is a nightmare during rush hour almost always, the so-called commuter trains coming into the city are only moderately reliable and the Metro is crowded and filled with far too many people whose rudeness is exceeded only by their poor personal hygiene! I’m not saying all, or even most. Just too doggone many. There are lots of buses but, at least on Inauguration Day, their routes will be severely limited.
*As a basis of comparison, Los Angeles, California has 9,948,081 people with a land mass of 4,061 square miles. L.A. is overcrowded and is not, in my view, a livable city. I know. I’ve lived there. Just do the math – with just a tiny fraction of L.A.’s land mass, we’re expected to provide for nearly half of the population of L.A. – probably for several days.
*Just for a start, what does D.C. plan to do about its numerous homeless, many of whom are elderly and/or simply mentally challenged (as in NUTS)?
*From what we are currently hearing, private vehicles will be forbidden in the District at least part if not all through the Inauguration weekend. So much for the “People’s Inaugural” since I’ve heard that ONLY limousines are going to be permitted. I know of at least two law firms overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue that are planning to have clients come to their offices on that date to watch the Parade. The Secret Service will have their hands full vetting the guests at just these two parties, and I’m willing to bet any amount of money that these two are only the tip of the iceberg. Are they insane? Do I really have to give my opinion?
*Four million people and 10,000 buses are expected. Wherever do they expect these people to sleep overnight? Hotels as far away as Richmond (well over 100 miles and remember the travel restrictions) have been sold out for months!
*How are they expecting this flood of visitors to be fed? It is rumored that hot dog vendors (a principle source of nourishment for many of us who work in the District because it’s affordable and pretty doggone tasty as well - but there are only about 300 of them at the best of times) are going to face huge restrictions and may not even be able to ply their wares. Those jumbotrons on The Mall aren’t going to be audible over the rumbling tummies of 4,000,000 hungry people who also – by the way – will have only limited access to porto-potties! Remember folks, you aren’t allowed to bring any WATER, FOOD, CHAIRS – nothing, nada, niente − with you on the day of the Inauguration for security reasons. Guess the restriction on bottled water will have an unexpected side benefit, eh?
*While we’re on the subject (and even if we are not), let’s talk about hygiene – if there truly is the gigantic shortage of porto potties that is predicted, where are people going to relieve themselves? The mind reels.
*I live in Fredericksburg, about halfway between The District and Richmond. I am off for the Martin Luther King holiday and on Inauguration Day and I’m taking the rest of that week off. I somehow think that it will take at least that long to get The District back to what passes for normal.