Young Wants Answers; Inaugural Comt. Offers Regrets

Ticket holders left out in the cold at President Obama's inauguration yesterday deserve answers--and an apology--Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) says.

Young is circulating a harshly worded letter to the congressional committee that orchestrated the official ceremonies, Obama's inaugural committee, and the chief of the Capitol Police. The aforementioned Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC), meanwhile, expressed regret at ticket holders' denials at security gates and said it would examine its planning procedures.

"Those Americans who were shut out deserve an apology. They were promised admission to the historic Inauguration of President Obama and they were denied the opportunity, no matter how far they traveled, how much money they spent or how long they waited, every person who was issued a ticket and was unable to get in should receive an apology from those responsible for organizing the Inauguration. Yesterday was a proud moment for America and it is a shame that it was marred by something simple as the inability to take people's tickets," Young writes in the letter.

Young is circulating the letter to fellow members of Congress to gather signatures before sending it to Obama's Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC), the JCCIC, and Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse.

Many ticket holders reported that they were left standing in massive crowds outside security checkpoints around the Mall and the inaugural parade route yesterday, unable to see Obama's inaugural ceremony.

Young's letter is full of choice quotes, sure to resonate with inauguration goers astonished by the lack of crowd control, volunteers, and accurate information to be had yesterday.

"The promise made by these tickets was not kept," Young writes. "Numerous reports from the staging area describe a complete lack of any form of crowd control--no police, no volunteers to direct people and no organization or information on what was going on. We are lucky that the thousands who were eventually denied entry, despite having valid tickets, remained calm and that no one was hurt."

He continues:
This was a failure in planning and organization and one that must be explained. Why was there no form of crowd control in the ticketed screening areas? Why didn't the planners better mark the areas, provide staff to help direct people or include a way to pass along information?

Why was the screening process so unprepared for the event and why were thousands of people unable to attend the Inauguration despite having tickets to the event?

The JCCIC, headed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), will examine inauguration planning to seek to avoid similar problems at future inaugurations, it announced today in a news release.

"The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies deeply regrets that some ticket holders to the ceremonies were not able to get to their ticketed sections, primarily in the purple and blue zones. The number of tickets issued for these sections was based on historic precedent, and calculations of the number of guests that could safely be accommodated in each area," the JCCIC said.

"The JCCIC [Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies], U.S. Capitol Police and our federal and local partners will thoroughly examine every aspect of our planning including ticketing, screening, pedestrian flows, gate numbers and placement, to provide a foundation of lessons learned to future inaugural planners, so that they have the information they need to prevent similar problems," the committee's news release read.

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