Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway closes during prime time

Every October the autumn leaves light up our mountains with stunning hues of reds, yellows, and oranges making this month one of the busiest (estimated to be an average of 70,000 per day) for the Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. With the House Republicans holding America hostage and forcing a shutdown, many who love to visit those stunning national treasures will find themselves turned away at the gate.

The Blue Ridge Parkway announced that all park programs and events have been cancelled. Campers and visitors in lodges must vacate by 6:00 pm on October 3. It is lights out for those wishing to experience the beautiful fall colors on the parkway.

Oh well, people can see the colors in their own neighborhood or catch a glance from one of the I-64 overlooks on Afton Mountain. No lasting harm, no foul.

Not so fast - beyond missing the views and the experience of the great outdoors, there are real human consequences to the Blue Ridge Parkway closure:
  • 195 Park Service employees are on furlough and an estimated 200 employees of concessionaires will lose their jobs forcing them to dip into savings or use credit cards to pay for food and mortgages;
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway will lose approximately $450,000 per day in fees;
  • Communities along the parkway, like Waynesboro and Roanoke, will see fewer visitors and small businesses (and their employees) catering to tourism will take an hit - it is estimated that losses along the 469 miles of parkway could total as much as $76 million per day;
  • Because of reduced tourism there will be less Virginia sales, gas, and meals taxes collected.
Do the national math: 401 parks and other sites x 20,000 Park Service employees furloughed x how many (??) concessionaire jobs lost x lost tourist dollars in thousands of communities = a huge hit to the American economy. Could Republicans actually be gleeful that a rise in unemployment is a good thing since it might reflect in the President's poll numbers?

Now you may be saying "hey, the House sent a bill to fund the Park Service and exempt it from the shutdown." How convenient - cherry picking a few programs to appease constituents hoping to keep the heat off the politicians who are still collecting their paychecks. Nothing new about public "servants" serving their own interests first.

Bobblehead Bob
Listening to people or party?  
At the core of the shutdown are approximately 75-80 tea party wingnuts from safe (gerrymandered) districts who have little interest in the hard work of governing but a great passion for tearing down the people's government. Many looked forward to and encouraged a government shutdown. It seems that Speaker John Boehner and representatives like Bob Goodlatte lack the gonads to stand up to these terrorists thereby enablin the crazies in their own party. The inevitable result is a scruffy tail is wagging a mongrel dog known as the House of Representatives.

Tell Bob Goodlatte the GOP engineered shutdown is hurting people and communities in the 6th District. Tell Bob Goodlatte it is time to stop marching in lockstep with the party and put constituents first. Tell Bob Goodlatte a prolonged shutdown will undermine the national economic recovery. Tell Bob Goodlatte to join Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-02) and a growing number of Republicans who support passing a clean continuing resolution without unrelated stipulations.

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