WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – While debt ceilings and tax cuts have dominated Washington, D.C., discussion in recent months, one budget cut from President Obama’s Monday inauguration could create a real mess – not enough port-a-potties.
Fanfare and crowds for President Obama’s second inauguration are expected to be less grandiose than the nearly 2 million who attended his first in 2009, but a drastic cut in port-a-potty restrooms could create some long lines in the nation’s capital.
According to a report from the Washington Examiner, event planners only budgeted in 1,500 port-a-potties for the Jan. 21 event — down from 5,000 portable restrooms at Obama’s 2009 Inauguration. District of Columbia officials expect between 600,000 and 800,000 people for Obama’s public swearing-in on the steps of the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 21.
The issue was raised four years ago, when George Washington University professor John Banzhaf, the so-called “Father of Potty Parity,” sent a letter to the Presidential Inaugural Committee cautioning them of lawsuits as a result of medical problems caused by long lines to the portable restrooms.
“It could be a pissy Inauguration,” Banzhaf, the George Washington University professor whose urgings in 2009 led to more port-a-potties for the president’s first inauguration, told the Washington Examiner.
“Potty Parity” is the nickname for laws that deal with equal availability of public restrooms for men and women. The theory states that since women take longer in the restroom on average, restrooms should be available at the ratio of 2:1 rather than 1:1.
According to an online port-a-potty calculator from one of the two major firms supplying the restrooms, United Site Services, 3,400-4,300 porta-potties would be needed for the expected crowd of 600,000-800,000. The only inauguration element mandated by the United States Constitution is that the president make an oath or affirmation before that person can “enter on the Execution” of the office of the presidency.
Banzhaf cautions that predicted colder temperatures and multiple layers of clothing are not factored into the port-a-potty calculations because they are based upon summertime data when people have to remove less clothing.
Obama will be sworn in first on Jan. 20, the date set by the Constitution, but it will be done in private since the day falls on a Sunday. His public swearing-in the next day also falls on the federal holiday honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., branding the occasion with another layer of historical significance, especially for African-Americans.