Thursday, December 4, 2008

The 'People's Inauguration'

I thought the Mandarin Oriental $200k package was extravagant. But it seems like small change in comparison to J.W. Marriott's $1 million "build-your-own-ball" offer. The Washington Post reports that the 300-room package--including four suites, $200,000 worth of food and drink, and a rooftop parade-watching site just over the Pennsylvania Avenue processional route-- was booked within hours of Election Tuesday.

Given the hefty price tag, one might think the purchaser was a mega-bucks corporate type using the Inauguration as an occasion to fete business partners. Instead, it's a little known non-profit, the Stafford Foundation, which plans to give the rooms free of charge to "disadvantaged people, terminally ill patients, wounded soldiers and others down on their luck." The Foundation is dubbing it "The People's Inauguration."

The man behind the Foundation is Earl Stafford, a Virginia businessman who founded a military contractor company called Unitech. Here's what he told the Post:

Stafford said the idea was inspired by his deep religious faith and the good fortune that has come his way. The inauguration is an opportunity to remember the less fortunate and remind the country of its traditions of benevolence, he said.

"We've gotten away from those core values that made America great," he said yesterday at the headquarters of his company, Unitech, which provides weapons simulation systems to the military. "We just need to get back to caring about one another."

That's quite a contrast to all the other folks trying to profit from the Inauguration.

The Benefactor of the Ball [The Washington Post]
Spread the Wealth Around [Slate]

No comments: