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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:36 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 12:28 am
Posts: 203
Location: Dallas, TX
A cartoon the other day said:

Sam: "Did you see where the government is shutting down? What a tragedy!"

Joe: "Well, it could be worse."

Sam: "How could it be worse?"

Joe: "Well, it could start up again."

Harry

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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:54 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:19 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Bowie, MD
When it comes to Steamtown, the employee who updates FB has been told to come in Monday morning, receive official notice and given four hours to finish any critical work required to shutdown (such as close applications and turn off computers, post announcements, notify contractors of status, and other similar work) and then go home and do no work from home. For many agencies that is when you will see notices appear on websites and social media.

Contractors who are working under contract where the money has already been obligated - already "spent" but not billed to the government - might continue to work under some conditions that might vary from agency to agency. Conditions I saw in 2013 included if the work had to be supervised by a Federal employee (work stoppage), if work had to be done on Government property, but access was limited because of a lack of Federal employee oversight (work stoppage), some agencies/managers decided even if work could continue without direct oversight, unless said work was related to "excepted" work - involved protection of life and property) it had to stop. Pretty depends on how the Contracting Officer over the contract reads the law.

If this goes on for awhile and the contractor is ready to send the invoice for their work, they will of course realize there are no Federal employees to process the invoice and cut the check. Tough decisions then. In 2013, the agency I worked at urged and won, approval for contractors to continue to work, with minimal oversight. This at least let the contractor keep people on the job and bill for work done when the lapse was over and their employees got paid.

That CVRR is still running is interesting. Do they get $$$ from NPS to operate, or is it more of a vendor arrangement? Apparently they still have access to the property, at least where they load and unload. One might think they would see a drop in ridership if the rest of the park is shuttered.

Bob


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:14 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 45
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Here's the post from the Grand Canyon RR, which operates into the National Park with its station in the Park and adjacent to the El Tovar Lodge at the South Rim. [GCRR operates an ex-ATSF line; El Tovar is an ex-Fred Harvey property and both are part of Xanterra]

"Our parent company, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, has received word from the U.S. National Park Service that the entrances and roads into Grand Canyon National Park will remain accessible if there is a government shut down. This means that our train, lodges, restaurants, gift shops and services will be open for business and welcoming guests and visitors from around the world.

If a government shutdown does occur government provided services (visitor center, public restrooms, etc.) will not be available. The National Park Service will provide emergency services, but please be very careful when venturing into the park."

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:30 pm 

Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 9:33 am
Posts: 127
Yep, I am to go into work tomorrow, to sign a form saying I understand what is going on and what is expected of me, and then go home. Days like that I hate living 45min from work.

No fuel trains to run so I am not essential at the moment.

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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:30 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8643
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
An aside to the "closed or not" discussion:

The former practice of locking the gates to national facilities such as national parks during government shutdowns has been revealed in past instances for what it was: an attempt by the administrations in power at the time to take the users/public hostage through inconveniencing them. In cases such as the Grand Canyon (where most of the park's commercial operations are franchised over to independent contractor Xanterra) or Amtrak or the Post Office (set up to operate independent of the government like a private business), there is no need to enact a shutdown, other than to give television newscasters aggrieved vacationers or seniors or the like to scream at cameras in frustration and protest.

And it appears that much of the nation has wised up to the reality of this tactic.

Certainly in the case of Fort McHenry or Jamestown or Independence Hall or the like, there are indeed buildings and artifacts to be safeguarded. I'm not surprised to see these rendered off-limits to the public. But at the same time, this strategy shouldn't have to apply to the Blue Ridge Parkway (which has portions closed already due to weather!) or the roads into, out of, or through the Petrified Forest or Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The approach announced by Xanterra is the proper one: It lets groups, tours from afar, and the like visit said parks without ruining their long-arranged and expensive plans, but discourages casual visitors (yes, they do exist--my relatives have season passes and are apt to just drop everything for a hike on a day off).


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:24 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1813
"The former practice of locking the gates to national facilities such as national parks during government shutdowns has been revealed in past instances for what it was: an attempt by the administrations in power at the time to take the users/public hostage through inconveniencing them."

As the entirety of the political enterprise (with few exceptions) is the appropriation of moneys to the production of conspicuous and immediate benefits that breed dependency with inconspicuous and delayed costs; it should be no surprise that any discretion would be applied in a way to inconvenience as many people as possible-in order to convince people of the essential nature of government (and its edicts and taxes).

Of course today, the ruling class is also studying a vast array of practitioners and philosophers of what I like to call "practical retail politics", Machiavelli, Talleyrand, Bismark and of course even more odious people.

I had a conversion with a fellow new to being a cog in the fiscal machinery. I told him that in my opinion, nothing much has changed Juvenal uttered his famous injunction about the essential elements of effective (meaning maintaining control over the populace) governance-Panem et Circenses. (Bread and circuses). His initial reaction was mild disbelief but he paused to reconsider when I said "food stamps and municipal stadium finance"


Governing has never been anything other than postponing by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the mob will lynch you, and every act of government is nothing but a way of not losing control of the people

-Talleyrand



With regard to Steamtown, the immediate inconvenience to the public is minimal, because it's January in Scranton and visitation is low but to the employees it is dually problematic.

A long delay will burden an already thin shop force with the irreplaceable loss of time and of course, few people are set up to withstand a loss of income, even if they are reimbursed later.

A long shutdown in beginning in January could be mean delays in operations in later months.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:42 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 1032
Location: Back in NE Ohio
I mentioned the CVSR still operating because they did shut down during the 2013 shutdown, at the beginning of the Fall foliage season.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:19 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 7:20 pm
Posts: 161
Quote:
even if they are reimbursed later.


So they are eventually going to get paid for not working?


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1813
train guy wrote:
Quote:
even if they are reimbursed later.


So they are eventually going to get paid for not working?


In the past federal employees were paid. Given that they are "ready, willing and able" and they are not refusing their work. why should the average rank and file employee not be paid?

Consider in liquidated damages for being on call.

Congress and the judiciary will continue to be paid, and they almost never work, so why not?


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:04 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8643
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
train guy wrote:
So they are eventually going to get paid for not working?


There's been some contention and dispute about this, obviously.

In the past, it has been at least alleged that salaried Federal employees affected by such a shutdown were indeed issued full retroactive pay, whether or not they did any productive work. This measure was obviously intended to protect the goodwill and deserved pay of those with no other choice--military personnel, for example, or the many Interior employees that live at their stations at National parks, pilots battling forest fires, etc. But it apparently did have the side effect of at least some stereotype desk-sitting "public servants" getting "paid not to work."

Over the past decades starting with Reagan, there has been a gradual shift away from Federal employment of what we would normally consider hourly or blue-collar workers, by contracting out such services as janitorial cleaning, painting, etc. of Federal facilities. The maintenance of lodging, eateries, and concessions at places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, etc. (contracted out to Xanterra) is a prime example. These are the "Federal employees" most likely to be impacted directly by a shutdown if imposed on them, and also the least likely to have the reserves, etc. to endure a loss of pay. To that end, I am relieved and delighted to see Xanterra (for only one, I hope?) not taking the excuse to shut down even when handed the excuse, as well as the willingness of the government (whether at the directive of the current administration, or just policy) to cooperate in letting them maintain operations as best they can. Obviously, the operation of contracted services during a shutdown has to be at the discretion of the specific operation or task in question--the shrewdest operators will seize the opportunity to carry out deferred maintenance on a facility while traffic is at a standstill, while it certainly makes no sense to staff an office no one can get to.

As I write, however, the proverbial can has been kicked down the road for another two weeks while the inmates continue ranting at one another in the asylum.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:02 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 10:19 am
Posts: 47
crij wrote:
Because it is budget related they need 60 votes to pass, unfortunately one whole side refuses to work with the other, because their side lost and the president is not acting like a typical spineless politician. He is a crude rude NYC business man & contractor through and through, and doesn't pretend to be what he is not.

Hopefully we don't need to go any further into the political morass here on this subject.

Rich C.


Nice, you toss that out there and then 'Hopefully I'll have the last word'.

How about we hope that we all keep our political opinions to ourselves?

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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:13 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:15 am
Posts: 484
OldColony wrote:
crij wrote:
Hopefully we don't need to go any further into the political morass here on this subject.
Rich C.


Nice, you toss that out there and then 'Hopefully I'll have the last word'.
How about we hope that we all keep our political opinions to ourselves?


I was only stating the facts on the situation, and didn't see any reason to go deeper into the mudslinging, thus I stated hopefully we don't need to go further if you or anyone else sees a need to go further than go ahead...

I will say, This is as far as I will go into the politics of this topic.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:55 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 755
Location: Tucson, Arizona
EJ Berry wrote:
Here's the post from the Grand Canyon RR, which operates into the National Park with its station in the Park and adjacent to the El Tovar Lodge at the South Rim. [GCRR operates an ex-ATSF line; El Tovar is an ex-Fred Harvey property and both are part of Xanterra]

"Our parent company, Xanterra Parks & Resorts, has received word from the U.S. National Park Service that the entrances and roads into Grand Canyon National Park will remain accessible if there is a government shut down. This means that our train, lodges, restaurants, gift shops and services will be open for business and welcoming guests and visitors from around the world.

If a government shutdown does occur government provided services (visitor center, public restrooms, etc.) will not be available. The National Park Service will provide emergency services, but please be very careful when venturing into the park."

Phil Mulligan



Another factor that most folks do not realize is that the State of Arizona provides funding to the NPS via agreements in order to keep the doors open in times like this. The state government understands that we cannot afford the economic loss that would result from an actual closure. The state tax money that we spend to keep our NPS sites open during federal government shutdowns is an investment in our state economy.

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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:29 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2466
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Alan Walker wrote:
Another factor that most folks do not realize is that the State of Arizona provides funding to the NPS via agreements in order to keep the doors open in times like this. The state government understands that we cannot afford the economic loss that would result from an actual closure. The state tax money that we spend to keep our NPS sites open during federal government shutdowns is an investment in our state economy.

That seems not unlike how states pay Amtrak to run state sponsored services. If the Federal shutdown resulted in annulment of the Capitol Corridor and San Diegans, there'd be hell to pay.

And one thing that disappoints me about US government entities is they don't act like nonprofit entities, they don't build up cash reserve, they can't have endowments, etc.

As for "they never vote the bums out", you know in 2016, the establishment "bums" were seriously disrupted on both parties' primaries, and of course the general election. And the establishment could not see it coming.


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 Post subject: Re: Steamtown is currently closed
PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:39 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2005 3:22 pm
Posts: 46
Location: Fort Payne, AL
robertmacdowell wrote:
And one thing that disappoints me about US government entities is they don't act like nonprofit entities, they don't build up cash reserve, they can't have endowments, etc.



That would take some major legislation and while I would love to be able to do this in certain instances, I don't ever see it happening.

Steve


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