Professor's Publicity Phlushes Presidential Porta Potty Problem

2013-01-18 15:47:24 - WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 18, 2013): The British Army is famous for pointing out that "P*ss Poor Planning Produces P*ss Poor Performance," and a good example might be the Obama administration's plans to slash the number of portable potty restroom facilities for Monday's inauguration based upon two fundamental miscalculations, but publicity by a man dubbed the "Father of Potty Parity" has just helped in the nick of time to increase the availability of restroom facilities for the ceremony by some 60%.

Although there reportedly were some 7,000 porta potties available for Obama's 2009 inauguration, the Park Service apparently planned to slash that number to 1,500 for 2013 based upon two factors: a guideline ratio of people-to-potties which they use during the summer months for Fourth of July and other events on the Mall, and predictions that there will be 50% fewer

spectators for this year's event.

But both arguments were wrong, as pointed out by public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who arguments were reported in the DC Examiner, Huffington Post, DCist, and other outlets. The articles began appearing about noon on Thursday. Within 7 hours, the potential presidential porta potty problem had been phlushed, with the total number of portable johns increased by 60% from 1,500 to 2,400.

The publicity about the potty problem pointed out that while one porta potty for every 300 people may be enough on the Fourth of July and for other summer events on the Mall when many people are lightly dressed in shorts or short skirts, the same ratio will hardly suffice for the inauguration.

Then it’s so cold, and people will have to stand in place so long, that many spectators will be forced to wear long johns and other additional undergarments. As a result, they will take far longer to use the potties than during the summer, thereby making long waiting lines much more likely.

Banzhaf also pointed out that, even if the overall number of spectators is much smaller, about the same number will pack the prime viewing areas for the inauguration and along the parade route as they bunch together shoulder-to-shoulder. While there may be fewer spectators overall in outlying areas of the city, there will be as many people in the prime viewing areas as before, with the need for as many portable toilets.

As Yogi Berra reportedly remarked, it feels like deja vu all over again. In 2009 the Park Service likewise planned on an insufficient number of potties, and apparently was going to designate half for men and half for women. Since this would resulted in much longer lines for women than for men, Banzhaf, the “Father of Potty Parity.” filed a formal complaint of illegal sex discrimination.

The complaint and the publicity which resulted from that filing – including a unique national TV interview within an actual porta potty – focused enough public attention and concern on the problem that the number of restrooms was increased. "Morning Joe" on MSNBC-TV

Today, his concern about insufficient restroom facilities, and a threat to file another legal complaint, seems to have been a factor in procuring more potties. Interestingly, a potty parity complaint he filed some time ago led more recently to a new restroom reserved for female members of the House of Representatives. ..

Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052, USA
(202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418 @profbanzhaf

Contact Information:
George Washington University Law School,

2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052, USA

Contact Person:
John Banzhaf
Professor of Public Interest Law
Phone: (202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418
email: e-mail




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