First Explanation in Writing As To Why USFS Is Closing Privately-Funded Parks

From our shutdown order:

Congress has not provided appropriations for fiscal year 2014.  Pursuant to applicable legal requirements in the Antideficiency Act and Attorney General opinions addressing agency operations in the absence of appropriations, the Forest Service is unable to administer federally-owned recreation facilities.  Consequently these facilities will be shut down and posted accordingly with signs provided, with gates locked where they exist, restrooms locked, and water systems shut down.   Visitors in occupied sites would be given 48 hours to vacate, with the area shut down as the last visitor leaves, not to exceed 48 hours.

In other words, we pay all the bills, run the parks in an independent manner, have no USFS people stationed in the parks, but we have to shut down because the Forest Service can no longer "administer" the facilities.  Huh?  What day-to-day administration is necessary.  Remember that the USFS itself did not think their presence was necessary, originally confirming on Tuesday that we would stay open as we had in all past shutdowns.

We often go weeks and months in these facilities without ever seeing a USFS manager.  The USFS considers it so important to have staff available to "administer" these facilities that none of their recreation personnel work on weekends or on holidays, by far and away the busiest and most difficult times in these facilities.

PS-  I see the part about the Attorney General.  Did Eric Holder decide to close us?  Doesn't he know that poor and minorities disproportionately use public vs. private recreation?  Isn't that a disparate impact issue in closing us?

  • HenryBowman419

    There is no evidence that Eric Holder actually gives a rat's ass about the poor and minorities, other than to insure that they vote reliably Democrat.

  • papertiger0

    So they closed you down because they couldn't afford to collect the rent?

    At this point if we found out O had hired Greenpeace to drop a curtain over Mount Rushmore, it wouldn't surprise me.

  • S

    Wow. I don't normally advocate lawsuits, but is there any way you can recover the lost revenue?

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    Apparently, Obungle’s goons were trying to close down stuff that is privately owned, too:

    http://www.infowars.com/barrycades-government-tries-to-shut-down-privately-owned-mount-vernon/

    [Yes, yes, I know, Alex Jones is a kook, etc.]

    Oblunder thinks he is king.

  • Daublin

    So, they don't have an appropriation to run the sites. Where did they get the appropriations to go shut everything down?

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    I would arm WWII* vets, Vietnam vets, Iraq vets, anyone you can find, and post them at your park entrances. They are your guard.

    They would do it for free, and have a ton of fun in the process.

    *M1 Garand beats an M16 any day.

  • GlowballWarming

    Make the ordinary people feel pain and they will fear us because we can make more pain.

    Just the way Holder and Obama roll. They are so above the lout the people.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    Except when you need to reload. :)

  • Matthew Slyfield

    That is the right question.

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy
  • Matthew Slyfield

    So that's where the banner they tried to hang on a Russian oil rig came from!

    http://www.volokh.com/2013/10/02/russias-piracy-charges-greenpeace-mean-international-law/

  • Matthew Slyfield

    Alas, suing the feds over this is probably futile and would be pointless since there is no way to make the officials who did this pay out of their own pockets.

  • sean2829

    Welcome to serfdom.

  • NL7

    Without knowing any more context about the opinion letters, the AG may have signed very broad opinion letters on general administrative functions during a budget crisis and spread it throughout the bureaucracy. Citing the letters might just be pointing to an authority that doesn't actually contemplate this specific situation.

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    Here is the only possible excuse:

    Force majeure

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/force_majeure

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy
  • obloodyhell

    .
    }}} What day-to-day administration is necessary?

    Why, the same kind of day to day administration which is operable throughout our daily lives.
    The kind that tells us what size drink we can have, what food we can eat, and whether we can have cookouts or not.

    I mean, come on, GET WITH THE PARTY, PAL!!

    How good can the Nanny State be if we don't realize they are there to nanny us, day in and day out.

    Jeeez.

    One would think you actually imagined being a free people or something... !!

    That's just.... CRAZY TALK !

    .

  • obloodyhell

    .
    }}} might just be pointing to an authority that doesn't actually contemplate this specific situation.

    So: "I was only following orders."

    This is not a defense. It's an indictment.

    You are not a mindless sheep (or should not be). You are a human being with the capacity to think and reason. If you seem incapable of that, perhaps your proper job function is not in the administrative aspect of government, but more along the lines of sweeping up the poo at the farm left by your brethren of heart and soul...?

    .
    .

  • pokeyblow

    Tell Boehner to allow the entire house of representatives to vote on the bill which the Senate will pass, the President will sign, and, most importantly, that very house will pass.

    The teabaggers will kick Boehner out, and there will be a new majority leader. So what?

    John Boehner wants his job more than he wants America open for business. Your beef is with him. Address your "pleas" (ha ha) his way.

  • pokeyblow

    In a way. The original poster is a serf, and he has a small-time contract to tend a tiny bit of the landowner's (i.e., the US government's, i.e., the collective citizenry's) estate.

    Like I said before, no one is stopping him from operating campgrounds in the parking lots of abandoned K-Marts. That would get the evil government off his back, and he wouldn't have to "plea" (ha ha) so often.

  • smurfy

    So you must shutdown the water systems, and any hydrants attached to them. Pound foolish.

  • macghil

    I read that oil, gas, and mining operations on public lands are still going on. I guess Big Energy is more important than little campground.

    Also, Obama's favorite golf course will not be closing either:

    "The Andrews Air Force Base golf course is funded through user fees and that’s why it remains open, said Air Force Captain Lindy Singleton, chief of public affairs for the 11th Wing at Andrews."
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-03/troops-forage-for-food-while-golfers-play-on-in-shutdown.html

  • pokeyblow

    Of course Big Energy is more important.

    If the original poster really wanted to suck at the government teat, he should have done like Cheney and hooked up with Halliburton. The money would still be flowing.

    Unfortunately, his operation is squarely in the "unessential" stack.

  • Doug

    In new, amended or renewal contracts for these sites, can you add a provision permitting you to remain open in the case of gov't shutdown?

  • Cardin Drake

    Well, let's hope you do the right thing and defy the order like the Blue Ridge Inn.

  • marque2

    Interestingly there is a campground in the parking lot next to Circus Circus Casino in Vegas!

  • http://itsaboutliberty.com/index.php MNHawk

    Despite the efforts of your new found stalker, it really is no more complicated than

    "Attorney General opinions"

    I don't mean this to be as harsh sounding as it's going to come across but it has to be said.

    There are risks to doing business in backwards banana republics. Risks that your business can basically be arbitrarily shut down or confiscated. Every businessman should know the risks of opening in the United States of America, circa 2013.

  • pokeyblow

    There you go.

  • johnson85

    Can you share what your contracts state (or generally state)? I've seen some federal contracts and they have a pretty favorable termination for convenience and also limitation of damages in them, so I'm not shocked that they can basically rescind the contract at any time, but what justification are they using? Force Majeure doesn't apply, as they aren't prevented from performing. A unilateral termination for convenience would, but they are not terminating. Are they simply shutting you down with the threat that they will exercise their TOC rights if you buck them?

    Or is it just that suing them successfully would likely result in your bids suddenly becoming uncompetitive in the future?

  • pokeyblow

    The government isn't new to the contract business. I'm sure the contract includes provisions which allow closure of the facilities in instances such as this, and the original poster just has hurt feelings because the evil government cut him off in a way the contract allows them to.

    I'll happily admit I'm wrong if the contract doesn't cover the present circumstance and, if the contract has been breached, I encourage the poster to sue.

    But I suspect everything's fine contract-wise. It's just that the pioneer-spirit libertarian bootstraps guy needs the bad government to support HIS well-being.

  • johnson85

    I doubt they have a provision that covers the present circumstance. They probably have a general right to terminate and may have a general right to suspend performance without terminating, but it's highly unlikely they have a provision covering shutting down temporarily for political theatre. I can't think of anything even semi-specific that would apply. I've seen termination for convenience provisions that allow termination (with payment of costs already incurred or committed to by the contractor) in the event subsequent funds are not appropriated, but it wouldn't apply where the gov't's only obligation is to receive money.

    And I don't think there's anything 'un-libertarian' about expecting governments to comply with the letter and spirit of a contract. I don't think terminating or suspending a contract to inflict the maximum amount of pain on citizens for political purposes is anything remotely close to what either party had in mind when negotiating the contract.

  • pokeyblow

    As I said, if the contract has been violated (which I suspect it technically has not, but that's a fact not in evidence), I think he should sue.

    As for political theater, that's a subjective description, not a legally-sufficient terminology for the circumstances here or elsewhere. So, no, I suspect there is no "political theater" clause.

    If the terms of the contract are being met, all of these sad posts are mere unseemly whining.

    If he wants to re-open, he should persuade Boehner to allow a house vote on a resolution which currently exists, which the house will pass, which the Senate will pass, and the President will sign. It seems likely that Boehner would then lose his position as speaker, but is that more important than keeping the country open for business?

    And, besides, wouldn't you all prefer a more teabagging speaker anyway?

  • kidmugsy

    They can afford the paramilitary police required to assassinate some poor bloody madwoman for a minor traffic accident.

  • Joe_Da

    A quick review of the ADA indicates that it may be a violation of the ADA act to expend funds to close the various facilities and properties.

  • marque2

    If you plan to stick around for awhile - we all know the original poster as Warren

  • marque2

    You are constitutionally prohibited from suing the government. Can only sue people working for the government and Obama is exempted

  • Matthew Slyfield

    Deliberately ramming a barrier is a "minor traffic accident"?

    There are reports that she was delusional and from the descriptions of what she did, I would say there is a good chance she was paranoid as well.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    Someone on Volokh Conspiracy where there is also a discussion on this posted links to three different prospectuses for park concession contracts. Here is the language from two of those.

    "The Forest Service reserves the right to close all or a portion of any area in this prospectus for repair; construction; floods, snow, extreme fire danger, or other natural events; wildlife protection; or risks to public health and safety."

    Nope, no mention of budget issues or government shutdown.

  • Harry

    Great comments below.

    But, the Anti-Deficiency act? One has to go back to one's history notes, or maybe a book in the library to reference that. I thought that advanced US history was not taught in Social Studies. Columbus and the English ruined the Indians, right, four centuries ago, and brought rebellious settlers into the land, who had the temerity to declare themselves from the King, asserting natural rights?

    Well, as long as we are being lawyerly, how about equal protection before the law? That principle, deeply imbedded in our constitution is derived from a principle that goes all the way back to the evil impression of Pharoah, through Caesar to Hitler to the Ayatollah Ali Khameni. Equal protection is for them, the rest of us be damned, especially for heretics.

    So Harry Reid says screw these difficult people -- they are not members of the casino workers in the SEIU, supporters of my friend Andy Stern, a committed Leninist. We have the votes, and I am constipated and need more prune juice from the Senate fruit stand.

  • HoratiusZappa

    Keep going. I am always curious to see how much people are willing to befoul themselves in defense of their preferred political leadership. This mean spiteful narrow-minded obstructionist park-closing temper tantrum is likely to set the new record.

  • pokeyblow

    I'm not going to dispute your claim; I'm not a lawyer, and the prohibition you describe could mean a) you simply have no legal redress via lawsuit vs. the government, which sounds unfair and unlikely, b) "the government" is not exactly an easily identifiable entity, and is so large and varied that "the government" qua "the government" isn't really the acting party to any particular event, rather some part of "the government" (unless you're a nutcase on some website which thinks "the government" is out to get you), or c) something else entirely.

    I do think it's hilarious that the assumption here seems to be that there is no single individual inbetween the campgrounds operator and Obama who might be named in a lawsuit, should a lawsuit be reasonably pursued.

    When something goes a way I don't want it to, I don't assume the President of the United States personally sat down at his desk and wrote a memo ensuring my frustration.

    But again, I'm not (overly) paranoid, and not (overly) self-aggrandizing.

  • marque2

    I can tell you are not a lawyer. The shut downs have to orininate from the president - no conspiracy about it. It is interesting how departments went out of their way to close areas that do not incurr costs and are normally open 24/7.

    That and quite a few sources stating that the decision yo close privately operated parks and facilities and unsupervised areas came from above department level - including Warren's own letter - above department is the executive.

  • NL7

    No, my point is that the attorney general probably didn't consider this situation specifically. They point to his document as authority, but they might be using their own interpretation that exceeds what the AG considered. Warren asked if the AG considered this area and that was my guess: no, they just point to the opinion letter but they made their own determination of how to follow the law.

  • Joe_Da

    There was an additional clause in the bid application

    "..... or risks to public health and safety (at the agency's discretion), ...."

    I did not see the language in the actual contract, though that language would indicate that the government discretion allows the agency to be a prick.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    Sorry, the "at the agency's discretion" language is not in the prospectuses that were linked at Volokh.

    They would be vulnerable to a court challenge on the closure if they tried to invoke that and there wasn't a provable risk to "public health and safety". Since all emergency response personnel are on duty I think that would be more than just a bit hard to prove. What I have above is a full quote, the only thing I left out was an additional sentence that the agency would not be liable for lost profits for a closure for the above reasons.

  • Joe_Da

    Matt I quoted the language as close as I could remember, Granted it was in one of the bid application instructions, though I certainly would not claim it would be in all of them. My apologies for not recalling the exact language which would trigger the the agency's discretion which is the more pertinent language.

    You and I both agree that invoking such a clause (with or without the at their discretion language) is a pretty aggressive interpretation.

    Lastly, my initial reading of the anti-deficiency act, which is the act which DOJ (or some higher authority than the NPS) relies on to justify the closings, may actually be a violation of the act to close the facilities for two reasons 1) the government is incurring costs which are in excess of normal costs and may not have been authorized/budgeted and 2) the agency is actively taking steps to reduce government revenue.
    I would be interested in an attorney's take on a possible violation.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    Aggressive? No, I would call it nonsensical or perhaps insane.

  • papertiger0

    So I take it you are in favor of shooting the delusional and paranoid. Are there any other handicaps we should add to the list?
    Perhaps spastics? Maybe burn victims? Because they can be down right off putting, frightenning children and such.

    And why draw the line at traffic violations? If you're late with the rent. If you don't answer with full, prompt, and docile, cooperation to the IRS auditors. If you're caught dipping a toe in the Ocean.
    The possibility of a couple caps busted in your ass will flat realign your priorities.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "So I take it you are in favor of shooting the delusional and paranoid. Are there any other handicaps we should add to the list?"

    Are you deliberately dense? That she was killed is tragic but necessary for the safety of others, not because she was delusional and paranoid per say, but because the nature of her delusions and paranoia made her an immediate threat to the safety of others.

    "And why draw the line at traffic violations?"

    You continue to miss-characterize what happened.

    She deliberately rammed a barrier at the White House gates. This wasn't a traffic violation, It was a violent attack.

    By the way, from the reports that I have read, she had a gun and fired on the Capitol police after they boxed her vehicle in and before they fired on her.

  • Jim Dow

    It would help if you posted a scan of the actual document. I run a small mercantile located on USFS land and we are facing possible closure as well. Your site seems to be becoming a meeting point for those of us affected by the USFS trying to close sites (against its contingency plan I might add).

    We might want to collect the closure notices (always require them to provide in writing) so that future litigation can be made easier.