Obama’s 1st Townhall, Off to a Unorganized Start

crowds1Hey everyone, I just thought I share first hand what exactly happened today at the fairground for all of you who are interested in getting it straight from the source. I got there at about 11:45 PM Monday, expecting to read silently into the night, but I became fast friends with my immediate neighbors and we just talked politics all night. I was within the first 400 in line and was pretty ecstatic about my chances of being in the presence of President Obama, but unfortunately a crowd of late comers had assembled toward the front of the line and at about 6:30 AM they triggered a panicked, mad dash to the front gate… No one was injured but many hundreds of people cut their way to the front of the line then and for the rest of the morning. Shortly after the media started going live, and I might mention they had hardly any of the facts right. Some said they were selling the tickets, other said only 1000 were being giving out, I even heard a reporter say that 1000 tickets had been reserved for “dignitaries”.

There was ZERO crowd control staff and maybe 10 deputies for 2,000 people. At about 8:00AM, a person speeding in the parking lot rams (accidentally I’m sure) a sheriff’s department cruiser pretty badly, no one was injured but the Deputy was pretty pissed. By the end of my wait there at the fairgrounds (noon-ish) they ran out of tickets and I was about 40 away from the front gate.

All in all, there was MASSIVE disorganization. No clear lines made (we organized ourselves, until the mad rush) no rules respected, people cutting into line if they managed it. At about 10:00 AM there were an excess off 2,000 people waiting in line. We could see then go off into the street and beyond. A White House intern came by and told hundreds of people they were in the “Grey Zone” . It started about where I was and he continued telling hundreds of other people after me the same thing.

Sadly, my G1 ran out of battery very early in the morning, so the only pic I have for you all to enjoy is one of me, bundled up and waiting, waiting, waiting.

  10 comments for “Obama’s 1st Townhall, Off to a Unorganized Start

  1. March 17, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Yo Steve!! Awesome Article!! Im posting photos on my facebook page now! Be sure to come catch me so I can tag you in em!! http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749698784&ref=profile It was a pleasure meeting you!! I look forward to staying connected with you!! It was crazy after you left. People were pissed!! I got pics of that too!! lol…

    p.s. They blamed Obama for the mess… I was angry after that!

  2. pedrozabot
    March 17, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    mijo says hes smarter than obama and could have done this better

  3. junior
    March 17, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    hum, …. Republicans are better behaved than this.

  4. Eric Cooper
    March 17, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    This democrat/obama voter agrees with Junior. This was a great BIG fiasco! Whomever on the White House staff organized this ought to be given a pink slip immediately.

  5. adrian
    March 17, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    So steve,
    You didnt get a ticket? or did you?

  6. William D. Randall
    March 17, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Considering that the trip was announced just last week, volunteers had to be located, and a suitable location had to be arranged, not to mention dealing with local, state, and federal agencies in coordinating security and distributing tickets it’s no surprise that there would be some disorganization. And unlike Denver where Mile High Stadium could be used for a presidential candidate, the security precautions for the President require a small controllable venue. While it is unfortunate that some of those who stood in line were unable to obtain tickets to the event, the media should share some of the blame for not making it explicitly clear that the number of tickets available would be far less then what the venue can actually hold. I wouldn’t blame the White House for this mess, especially with so many things being scheduled and planned in such a short time frame.

  7. Bladerunner
    March 17, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    If you don’t blame the White House, who do you blame for the mess? The press? This sounds suspiciously like the line we heard for the past 8 years from the White House: it’s not our fault, blame the press. The way to handle this is to man up, admit it was poorly handled and make sure the mistakes don’t occur again. It’s not rocket science, its advance work(including the need to coordinate with the locals) and having adequate security.

    Hopefully tomorrow will come off better. And hopefully Barack will hit a home run and make everybody(well, except for the poor s.o.b.’s who waited in line for hours and ended up empty handed)forget the mess anad concentrate on the message.

  8. Too Bad
    March 17, 2009 at 11:55 pm


    It is too bad you did not get in. What a disappointment. I know peeps who got stuck in the Purple Tunnel in Dc for the Inaugural. I hope hanging with fellow supporters was some consolation.

  9. Steve Perez
    March 18, 2009 at 8:05 am

    I do get to go =D But I didn’t know it til I got home from the Townhall ticket distribution. I’m lucky, lucky, lucky.

  10. Veronica
    March 18, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I am in the same boat as Steve and am extremely angry at the lack of coordination by the White house staff, the OC Sherrif and the OC Fairground staff. My friends and I arrived around 11pm and spent the night on the dirt floor freezing our butts off. We periodically counted throughout the night and in the early morning and we estimated that there were max 350 people in front of us. Given that there were 1000 tickets we thought we were pretty much guaranteed a ticket. After a brief morning, potty break I returned to see a mad dash to the front and eventually found my friends. It became immediately obvious that a lot of people had cut in front. I mean it was totally obvious who had spent the cold night on the ground and who had showed up in the morning with their hair done and shorts on. More than angered I am disappointed that such a simple thing, like wristbands or numbers were not handed out. I was cheated out of a ticket by cutters who only wanted the tickets so that they could sell them for a profit on craigslist. Also, a note to the White house staff member, Duncan, you are a rude, inconsiderate, and pretentious man. I am angry, but mostly saddened that I didn’t get a ticket. All I can hope for is that in the future an event of this magnum is better organized so that ordinary people who spend a frigid night on the floor don’t get cheated by losers who feel that they can just cut in front of all of us.

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