Wesley Pruden of the Washington Times reported yesterday that "the Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice."
It is difficult to imagine that shutting people out of parks and privately owned concessions has to do with anything other than politics. One of these "whims" is the parking lot at Mount Vernon, which is "privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association."
A Park Service ranger in Washington said that
“We've been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
Steven Dinan of the Washington Times reported today that Bruce O'Connell, the owner of the Pisgah Inn, which holds a concession on the Blue Ridge Parkway was told to "cease operations." He said
“The level of intimidation and coercion became such that we backed down. Then after sleeping on it, our own convictions took front and center and we decided to reopen.”
According to mounting sources, President Obama has been hard at work trying to make the public feel the "shutdown," despite the fact that eighty percent of federal employees are still working. Josh Barro of Business Insider reported this week,
"...of about 4.1 million people who work for the federal government, about 80% will still be expected to show up for work."
The owner of the "privately run, funded and staffed" Claude Moore Colonial Farm said that "we think they have closed us down illegally..." as reported today by J.D. Tuccille of reason.com. The staff was even "threatened with arrest" if they showed up for work, despite the fact that they are not government employees. The owner said,
"We have had to cancel every event at the Farm this week so we have already lost more than $15,000 in operating income because October is the busiest month of the year for us."
Hans Bader of OpenMarket.org compiled many of these distrubing stories today. He reported that sites that were previously open without guards, such as the Lincoln Memorial, now have guards assigned to keep out the public. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is now "fenced off" despite the fact that it was previously open 24/7 without guards. Bader writes,
"the government is actually expanding its presence at national monuments in order to drive people away, at increased expense to taxpayers." [added emphasis]
Bader also reflected at Liberty Unyielding on the politics surrounding the sequester, where similar tactics were used.
Additionally, Patrik Jonsson of the CSMonitor reported today that the National Park Service has rebuked "offers by state and private officials to help keep the Grand Canyon and other places open." It is clear that the goal of keeping the public away from national (and privately owned) parks and monuments is a disturbing, expensive and childish political move.