THE SHUTDOWN: DAY 2 — Olympic National Park curtails operations; schoolkids' visits among foiled plans
Olympic National Park visitors Grace and Henry Liu of Bellevue sit on the pier at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park on Tuesday as they contemplate their options. The couple had hoped to go hiking, but closure of the national park in the partial government shutdown dashed those plans. -- Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
The road to the Elwha Valley in Olympic National Park was barricaded Tuesday, just as leaves are turning multicolored for the fall.
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Lake Crescent Lodge guests Pat and John Foster of Chicago walk from the pier next to the lodge at Barnes Point on Tuesday, the first day of a shutdown of Olympic National Park.
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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WWII veterans get into memorials; ‘Panda Cam’ goes darkBy MICHAEL D. SHEAR
New York Times News Service
If there was a symbol on Tuesday of America’s pent-up frustration with a gridlocked political system, it was this:
Scores of aging World War II and Vietnam veterans pushing past barricades to honor their fallen comrades at a memorial closed by a government shutdown.
The veterans arrived in Washington from Mississippi and Iowa, having spent thousands of dollars to charter “honor flights” to the capital.
But like those of many others across the country, their plans collided with the reality of a Congress frozen by ideological disputes and unable to agree on how to keep the government open.
Lawmakers helped the veterans get past the barriers, but others around the country were not so lucky as tourists were blocked from their destinations and more than 800,000 federal employees were told to stay home.
Cleveland Faggard, 89, of Moss Point, Miss., who had been an aviation machinist for the Navy, had helped push past a black metal blockade after about a dozen Republican members of Congress arrived, responding to e-mailed pleas from the veterans.
“I was just praying to the Lord,” Mr. Faggard said. “He took care of it.”
Around the country, barricades and padlocks closed off access to federal facilities as the vast machinery of the federal government began systematically shutting down operations for the first time in nearly two decades.
Employees feared they could be out of work for weeks, and many of them were angry.
“Once the mortgage payment comes around and I don’t get the paycheck, it’s going to be a problem,” said Sherilyn Garnett, 44, a federal prosecutor from Altadena, Calif. “It’s stupid. It’s really stupid.”
In Washington, Tina Miller, who works in law enforcement for the federal government, said the shutdown would have a wide impact.
“It’s going to have effects for everybody and the community, everything,” she said. “I’m not sure why they wouldn’t think of that.”
Americans seeking a variety of services at federal buildings found the doors shuttered, with no indication of when they might reopen.
When Sheila Caraway, 23, arrived at the Internal Revenue Service office in downtown Los Angeles, she was turned away by a security officer who explained that parts of the government had been shut down.
She left the I.R.S. without the tax refund that she had hoped would help pay for her cable TV bill.
“This is crazy. I don’t like it. It’s been over a year, and I haven’t gotten my refund,” Ms. Caraway said, explaining that she had not followed the recent political struggles in Washington. “I think everyone is crazy right now.”
Among the most noticeable impacts of the first shutdown of the Internet era: Many complex government Web sites were suddenly replaced by one-page notices like the one at Census.gov, which declared that “due to the lapse in government funding, census.gov sites, services, and all online survey collection requests will be unavailable until further notice.”
Government Twitter accounts also went dark.
The reality of the shutdown began to become clear early Tuesday. Children’s playgrounds in small pocket parks around Capitol Hill were closed.
The military service academies suspended all intercollegiate sports competitions.
The National Zoo’s online “Panda Cam” stopped showing images of Mei Xiang’s latest cub.
Officials stopped giving tours of Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay.
At the Statue of Liberty in New York, tourists from Norway and Beijing were prevented from getting close to the monument of freedom.
Haiyan Wang’s 9-year-old nephew, Tony, had been “wanting to go inside the Statue of Liberty for a long time,” Ms. Wang said Tuesday morning at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
She said her visiting relatives did not really comprehend what had happened in Washington because “the Chinese government never closes down.”
Mail delivery continued as usual, financed by fees rather than the federal budget. Amtrak trains continued to run and officials said meat inspectors, border control agents and Transportation Security Administration screeners would stay on the job.
After a general retreat on Monday, global investors reacted calmly on Tuesday in the hours after Congressional negotiations collapsed, as investors focused on the Oct. 17 deadline for raising the debt ceiling. Stocks on Wall Street closed slightly higher, while European and Asian stocks were mixed. Bond and foreign exchange markets were quiet.
Those looking for financial data to assess the impact of a shutdown will have to do it without help from the Congressional Budget Office and the Census Bureau, both of which are closing.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is scheduled to issue its monthly jobs report this Friday, is also closing and said the jobs report would most likely be postponed.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it would stop recalls of products that do not present an imminent threat to consumer safety. The Food and Drug Administration, which inspects the majority of food Americans eat, suspended routine establishment inspections and monitoring of imported foods and drugs.
The Centers for Disease Control furloughed about 68 percent of its staff and said the shutdown would significantly reduce its capacity to respond to food-borne illnesses and disease outbreaks. Federal Communications Commission officials said the agency would send all but about 38 of its 1,716 employees home for the duration of the shutdown.
At the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. pledged to give back a portion of his salary in solidarity with his employees.
Meanwhile, a federal judge denied a shutdown-related request from the Department of Justice to delay the antitrust case merger trial of American Airlines and US Airways, citing the need for an expeditious trial.
Traveling on Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called the shutdown “nonsensical” and “needless” and said it would lead to the immediate furlough of about 400,000 civilian employees.
(Obama signed legislation late Monday night ensuring that uniformed members of the military will get paid during the shutdown.)
“It does cast a very significant pall over America’s credibility with our allies when this kind of thing happens,” Mr. Hagel told reporters.
Officials informed lawmakers that about 72 percent of the intelligence community’s civilian work force were furloughed. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, angrily denounced the shutdown as “the biggest gift that we could possibly give our enemies.”
The crowds were lighter than normal early Tuesday at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, where there are a number of federal agencies. Phillip Davenport, a management analyst at the Federal Aviation Administration, who was deemed an essential employee, said he was expecting a heavier workload.
During the last shutdown 17 years ago, Mr. Davenport was on active duty in the military, based in Alaska, he said.
“Back then, I don’t remember for sure, but we came to work regardless of whether we were paid or not,” he said.
About 8 a.m., the steps of the Lincoln Memorial were being taped off by National Park police, metal barricades were erected and tourists were being turned away.
Across Washington, commercial establishments sought ways to try to minimize the impact, with bars and restaurants advertising “shutdown specials.”
At Z-Burger, a popular restaurant in the Washington area, owners pledged to make good on their promise for a free burger for every furloughed federal worker. In a Twitter post, it said: “AlmostHere IF #GovernmentShutdown #FREE #Burgers.”
Shutdown victims also included more than 200 children from Roosevelt and Jefferson elementary schools in Port Angeles and the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences who had planned trips to the park this week.
All park campers and overnight guests at park lodges must leave the park by 6 p.m. Thursday, said park spokeswoman Barb Maynes on Tuesday.
She and 30 other park employees will remain on duty as part of a skeleton crew at park headquarters in Port Angeles, she said.
The park's other 103 employees have been furloughed without pay.
Maynes is among critical-role employees, such as those working maintenance and security, who will stay on duty through the shutdown, including Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum, Maynes said.
“Right now, there is no funding to pay us,” she added.
“We'll know what that means in terms of compensation at a later time.”
A Lake Crescent Lodge supervisor who was not authorized to speak for the lodge said Tuesday morning that no one was leaving yet because of the shutdown.
Still, a sign on the door warned that “all overnight guests must vacate the premises and leave the park within 48 hours,” the 6 p.m. Thursday deadline.
Henry and Grace Liu of Bellevue were among the lodge's guests.
They set out from the lakeside facility Tuesday morning, hiking poles in hand, but they weren't quite sure where they were headed.
They had wanted to go to Hurricane Ridge, but it was closed.
They also had their sights set on popular Spruce Railroad Trail, but it, too, was closed.
“We want to do more of the park,” Henry Liu said, adding coastal beaches to the list.
“I don't believe what our representatives are doing is justified,” he added.
“I'm a little upset,” Liu's wife said. “I was hoping to do more hiking.”
Added her husband: “It's all politics, leverage.”
He said the couple soon would be heading to Lake Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Forest.
The facility will not be affected by the shutdown, said Dave Freireich, a spokesman for Aramark Corp.
Aramark runs Lake Crescent Lodge and the park's Sol Duc Hot Springs lodge, which also is closed.
“We are in the process of suspending our national park operations, and we hope that an agreement [in Congress] will be reached soon,” Freireich said in a statement, declining further comment.
Lake Crescent Lodge guests John and Pat Foster of Chicago were headed for Lake Quinault Lodge later Tuesday.
“Hopefully, someone will get their act together,” Pat Foster said of Congress as he and his wife headed into Lake Crescent Lodge to plan their next few days.
“They won't make concessions,” Pat Foster said.
“They're like children,” her husband added. “I think their egos get in there, also.”
Maynes said about 125 children from Roosevelt and Jefferson schools were scheduled to take field trips to Hurricane Ridge this week that had to be canceled.
Jefferson School Principal Joyce Mininger said 58 sixth-graders also were scheduled to travel today to NatureBridge, the park's outdoor educational center, for an overnight stay.
The trip was rebooked for Nov. 4-6, Mininger said.
There also are 45 third-graders who were scheduled Thursday for a trek to Hurricane Ridge.
“We're still hopeful that might happen,” Mininger said.
Mindy Watson heads the high school program at the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, a private school for grades 6-12 that plans an annual overnight backpacking trip every October for ninth-graders to help them bond together and make the transition to high school life.
Their trip, which took a month of preparation and was planned for this week, has been canceled, even if Congress reaches a budget deal.
The 118 students and 26 adults were scheduled to break into smaller groups and make backpacking excursions into the Sol Duc Valley for three days and two nights.
“It involves a lot of logistics,” Watson said.
“We can't dangle ourselves for a whole week and wait to see what happened.”
The students benefit from “doing some hiking and kind of being unplugged for a few days,” she said.
“It's not something that can be transferred to a state park.”
The trip likely will be rescheduled for the spring but won't have the same impact because the students will almost be finished with ninth grade, Watson said.
“The kids kind of lose here.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: October 02. 2013 1:57AM