Shutdown Rebels Defying Federal Orders to Close

PHOTO: Pisgah Inn
Share
Copy

Call them the shut-down rebels: Individuals, businesses, cities and state agencies that are defying federal orders to shut down and go home. They are taking a page from the playbook of veterans who last week ignored "closed" signs at the WWII Memorial and--figuratively speaking—jumped the barricades.

In North Carolina, Bruce O'Connell on Friday defied U.S. Park Service orders telling him to close down his inn and restaurant. O'Connell and his 90-year-old mother own the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Asheville. Though the Inn is private, it sits on federal park land and is thus subject to Park Service orders.

When the government pronounced the park closed and last week ordered him to close up shop at the height of the fall foliage season, O'Connell at first complied and closed.

Then, though, he started getting angry.

Some news reports say it was the example of the rebellious veterans that prompted him to act, but he tells ABC News it was something more.

CONGRESS' PATH TO FEDERAL SHUTDOWN

"It was a result of my having spent 35 years trying to work with the federal government, of my having been intimately involved as a contractor with the Secretary of the Interior and the Park Service. I've witnessed first-hand the process getting more and more dysfunctional over the decades."

Being told he had to close—because of the government's wrangling--was the last straw, he says. "I'd just reached my breaking point." He asked himself: "If not now, when; and if not me, who?"

So, on Friday, he re-opened. By Saturday, however, he was closed again—at the Park Service's insistence, enforced by armed rangers.

Sunday he posted a message on the Inn's website : "We have ceased operations. I am furious all over again. Rangers are guarding our parking lot 24/7 keeping visitors out. It is downright scary. What the heck is going on and how are we all allowing it? I call for action now. Enough is enough." Had the government allowed him to remain open, he says, he would have paid more than $30,000 to the federal government in October.

Asked where things stand now, he says simply, "We are closed. There are armed guards blocking access to my parking lot. Anybody who tries to get in, they get in front of them and tell them that they can't." He's asked the guards how long they intend to stay. "They told me: until we're 100 percent sure you won't re-open."

That could be a long wait, according to the angry innkeeper. He's gotten huge support from the local community, he says, and sympathetic emails are pouring in literally from all over the world. "I've gotten thousands of them," he says, "from here to Tokyo." Their message has been the same. "They all say: fight tyranny," he says.

Moving forward, he intends to take "every legally appropriate action." He is filing today for a temporary restraining order and will seek an injunction." With an injunction, he says, he could re-open until a court decides in his favor or the government's.

He's not the only one who doesn't want to fold his tent.

At Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in central Idaho, park employee Ted Stout has defied the shutdown to continue searching—on his own time and without pay—for a missing 63-year-old hiker. Stout told the Globe and Mail he and fellow workers would press on, despite deteriorating weather—and despite the federal furlough.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: A home damaged by a landslide Friday, April 18, 2014 in Jackson, Wyo. is shown in this aerial image provided by Tributary Environmental.
Tributary Environmental/AP Photo
null
Danny Martindale/Getty Images
PHOTO: Woman who received lab-grown vagina says she now has normal life.
Metropolitan Autonomous University and Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine