Published Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:32 pm
administration’s irresponsible directives
World-Herald editorial: Park Service put in unfair position

Until now, National Park Service staffers had one of the more uplifting duties in the federal government. They introduce visitors to the spectacle of the Grand Canyon, the solemnity of the Gettysburg battlefield, the awesomeness of Mount Rushmore.

The men and women of the Park Service oversee sites ranging from the Lincoln Memorial to gloriously scenic wilderness areas. The service’s historians help tell the story of the nation in its fullness and complexity.

Yet look at the position they’ve been put in by irresponsible directives from Washington.

With decisions by the Obama administration, Park Service personnel are now the bad guys, ordered to deny the public access to sites that common sense dictates should have remained accessible regardless of the partial federal shutdown. One prime example is the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

It’s preposterous that the World War II Memorial, as well as showcase sites such as the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore, were closed to the public because of a Congress that can’t act responsibly and an administration that goes out of its way to maximize frustrations for average Americans.

It’s preposterous, too, that state governments are having to use their own funds to reopen some sites.

New York state is paying $61,600 a day from its tourism budget to open the Statue of Liberty. South Dakota and several corporate donors worked out a deal to reopen Mount Rushmore, while Arizona agreed to pay the Park Service to keep the Grand Canyon open for seven days.

That’s quite a commentary on both the dysfunction in Washington and the way states generally are far more prudent than the federal government when it comes to handling money.

The public deserves to know who in the Obama administration imposed the nonsensical rules that imposed these roadblocks and needlessly turned the Park Service from a help to a hindrance.

If a site involves considerable staffing, then it probably would have to close when funding is temporarily cut off. But certainly not the World War II Memorial. It’s a street-level plaza where barricades never made an appearance until now.

Not Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, which the Park Service mistakenly tried to close before reversing course after learning that it’s owned by a nonprofit organization.

And not the Skyline Drive, a scenic highway in Virginia, which the feds needlessly closed, preventing visitors from enjoying some of the grandest views in the Southern Appalachians.

Gale Norton, who was secretary of the Interior under President George W. Bush, rightly labeled such antics as “political grandstanding.” She also notes that this is not the first time the National Park Service has been used as a tool during budget battles over the decades.

In the days since the partial federal shutdown began, we wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere out in America — at a fishing spot perhaps, or at an overlook, or along a scenic area — some weary man or woman in a Park Service uniform has said, “Oh, what the heck,” and waved in a family so they could enjoy the site.

What an act of common sense that would be. And what a contrast to the failure of leadership and judgment we’re now seeing from our elected leaders in Washington.

Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Omaha crash victim, 19, had touched many lives
Firefighters take on 'fully engulfed barn fire'
Council Bluffs school board approves new district headquarters
Officials announce effort to lure more veterans to Nebraska
SB 132nd Street lane closed
Shane Osborn grabs several endorsements
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Man's body found near North 36th, Seward Streets
Omaha area may get 1 inch of rain tonight
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Owners of exotic dance bar deny prostitution allegations
More Nebraskans are electing to vote early
A day after Ricketts endorsement, Ted Cruz backs Sasse for Senate
TD Ameritrade says profit up 35 percent in second quarter
Some city streets remain closed
Nebraska's U.S. Senate candidates stick to familiar topics at Omaha forum
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Nebraska GOP candidates unified against naked squirrels
Some of these Nebraska campaigns are tilting pretty far right. At a recent forum, there was a consensus that we need to ban public dancing and clothe naked squirrels in public parks.
Breaking Brad: Inside the mind of a 99-year-old real estate agent
I saw an article about a 99-year-old real estate agent who's still working. “This house is extra special. It has indoor toilets!”
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »