Can the government drones show any more contempt for the American people? Valley Forge Park is a beautiful, expansive 3,500 acre national park in Montgomery County, PA. It consists of grass, walking trails, some log cabins and a bunch of monuments. My family loves to walk the trails. It is a completely passive park. You never see a park ranger. There is no need for government drones to keep you safe as you walk or bike. Closing this park due to the government shutdown is just being spiteful. People can walk or jog without government oversight. I find it fascinating that you NEVER see a park ranger when it is open, but when they close it to purposely annoy the people, there are plenty of rangers to hand out fines to the jogger terrorists who dare to disobey their government masters. Twenty terrorists have been fined thus far by the supposedly furloughed government drones.
I hope the citizens realize the vindictive nature of Obama and his minions in their choice of who to inconvenience. This entire faux shutdown is designed to piss off the public. What it is revealing is that there are hundreds of thousands of non-essential overpaid government drones who have zero impact on our lives. It is revealing the malevolent nature of these drones, as they bar veterans and joggers from enjoying passive monuments and nature.
I’ve got an idea to save a few bucks. Withdraw the troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany and Japan. Sell a few cruise missiles on Ebay. Maybe Obama can cancel one of his multi-million dollar vacations. Only allow truly disabled people on SSDI. Stop the billions of Medicare and SNAP fraud.
Or maybe we can just quadruple the fines for jogging in parks.
Runner fined for Valley Forge workout
By VINCE SULLIVAN, email@example.com
Posted: 1 |
UPPER MERION — The National Park Service is literally making a federal case out of a guy going for a run.
A Chadds Ford man was issued a citation for entering Valley Forge National Historical Park Sunday to go running on some of the park’s miles of multi-use paths, which are closed to the public for the duration of the federal government shutdown.
“I just went for a run like I always do,” said John Bell, 56, a real estate broker who has run 100 marathons in his life, raising more than $100,000 for charity. “I’m a marathon runner. I’ve been going down to Valley Forge for probably 25 years. I had no idea the park was even closed.”
Bell said he drove to the park Sunday morning and noticed that internal park roads were barricaded, much like they are at night after the park closes, so instead he drove to a remote parking lot off of state Route 23. He proceeded to run about five miles through the 3,500-acre park and returned to find a pair of park rangers in the parking lot.
“When I came back my car was surrounded by two ranger vehicles with their lights flashing,” Bell said. “I felt like I was a terrorist.”
Bell said the rangers asked him if he “watched the news” and told him the park was closed because the government is shut down. Bell said they had already placed a $100 ticket on his car.
“I’ve got to go to federal court if I want to fight this thing,” he said.
Bell’s attorney, Jeremy Ibrahim, said that the fine was for violating a federal regulation regarding use restrictions on public lands. The violation carried a $75 fine and $25 in processing fees. He said he thinks the ticket is outrageous.
“As a lawyer, I can say that while the government in Washington is shut down, due process and the Constitution are not,” said Ibrahim, who is representing Bell pro bono. “That park is a national treasure.”
Bell said that there were dozens of other runners, walkers and bikers throughout the park the day.
“For some reason, this was some sort of selective enforcement,” Ibrahim said.
Michael Litterst, acting as chief spokesperson for the National Park Service, which administers 401 parcels of federal land totaling 84 million acres, including Valley Forge, said in an emailed statement Tuesday that the parks are closed for the safety of the public.
“With more than 20,000 of our 23,000 employees furloughed, our limited workforce is concentrating on the protection of life and property and are enforcing the closures as necessary,” Litterst said. “As always, our first priority is for the public’s safety, and we are therefore asking people to respect the posted closures so that our limited staff can concentrate on protecting park resources.”
A departmental source said that there have been 20 citations issued at Valley Forge for violating the closure since the government shutdown began on Oct. 1.
In the National Park Service’s Northeast Region, 485 employees have been exempted from the furlough, according to a department contingency plan for the shut down published Sept. 27. Of the 3,266 workers still on the job nationwide, 2,139 are involved in law enforcement, emergency medical service or fire fighting activities. The National Park Service website is not operational and users are automatically redirected to the site of the Department of the Interior, which oversees the park service.
Locally, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Tinicum is also closed to the public for the duration of the shutdown. Calls to Fish and Wildlife Service personnel, who manage the refuge, went unanswered Tuesday, though that department’s contingency plan indicates that some workers involved in security and animal care remain on the job nationwide.
Bell said that he thinks the citations are inappropriate and unnecessary, as evidenced by the many people still utilizing the park without incident. He thinks his run-in with the rangers is just grandstanding for political purposes.
“They’re trying to make this shutdown something that it’s not,” Bell said. “(The rangers are) never around, but they’re here for something like this? They really don’t need to be doing this.”
He has never encountered a ranger in the park before, he added.
Barring people from the park may be more dangerous than allowing them to exercise on the public land, Bell said.
“The park is public. It’s a safe place,” he said. “Don’t stop people from exercising, because you’ll force them out on the roads where it is much more dangerous.”
Ibrahim said that he and Bell intend to challenge the citation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and he believes they are on sound legal footing.
“He did not know the park was closed or else he wouldn’t have gone,” Ibrahim said. “An 8-by-10-inch piece of paper is not enough notice. People are still using the park.”
He said he is upset that the actions of people as far away as Washington, D.C., are affecting the everyday lives of Pennsylvanians.
“The hard-working American part of me thinks this is a travesty,” Ibrahim said. “People want to go for a run or take their little doggie for a walk. They are denied that by people who probably will never have any interest in visiting the property.”
It’s not about the money, Ibrahim said. It’s about the principle.
“If Congress needs the $100 to balance the budget, John would be happy to give it to them,” he said.
Bell said he is fighting the ticket because he believes that closing the park to the public is nonsensical and he hopes that his stand will help alter the government’s stance.
“Hopefully these guys change their policy,” Bell said