- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The federal government has sent the District roughly $43 million to cover the costs associated with President Obama’s inauguration in January, D.C. officials said Monday.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, said that the city has been fully compensated for costs related to the record-breaking inauguration, which brought up to 2 million people to the District and involved thousands of the city’s police officers and emergency personnel.

The $43 million total is more than twice the amount the city spent for President Bush’s second inauguration in 2005, which cost about $17.3 million, about $11 million of which came from a District-designated federal Homeland Security fund. The city paid for the rest.

A report, which came from the mayor’s office and detailed the city’s handling of the event, said the District played host to more than 240 inauguration-related events from Jan. 16 to Jan. 21.

More than 900 calls, an 86 percent increase over the average day, were made to the D.C. Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services throughout the District on Inauguration Day.

About 500 of those calls originated on the National Mall or the route of the inauguration parade, and more than 200 people were hospitalized for illnesses and light injuries in response. There were no inauguration-related fatalities or arrests.

The report claimed that the inauguration “was the largest event the District has ever planned or supported,” and praised the city’s use of social-networking sites, such as Twitter or Facebook, to communicate with the public before and during the event.

The report did say that the city failed to communicate last-minute changes to the city’s numerous interdependent plans for the event, “resulting in unanticipated issues that had to be resolved during operations.”

Once such issue involved thousands of people who were shut out of the festivities even though they had tickets.

In one infamous incident, D.C. police officers redirected a large group of “purple” ticket holders to the Third Street Tunnel underneath the National Mall, where they waited without direction for several hours, missing the entire ceremony. The incident, known as the “Purple Tunnel of Doom,” prompted a public apology from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, as well as Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer.

Those who were trapped were later given souvenirs from Mrs. Feinstein, who is chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, including commemorative programs and color photographs of Mr. Obama with his signature.

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