Private Party At Charlestown Navy Yard Doesn't Lack Alcohol

Party-goers at the Charlestown Navy Yard weren't left thirsty.

So cash-starved are some units of the national park system that they're resorting to leasing out their facilities for private parties. One of the latest bashes, at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston earlier this week, didn't lack for alcohol, reportedly involved one arrest, and generally impeded the public in places.

Yet officials at Boston National Historical Park, of which the Navy Yard is part of, are focusing on the bottom line, which, in this case, are the fees they collect for renting out the facilities.

The affair, which BNHP spokesman Sean Hennessey told me represented "a more entrepreneurial way of managing, providing revenue streams over and above what is provided to us in our operating allocations," was hosted by McKesson Corporation, a health-care company. The guest list, Mr. Hennessey told me, numbered 3,500.

Now, in the past the Navy Yard has hosted some pretty big affairs, like the Tall Ships celebration in 2000, and the bicentennial salute to the USS Constitution in 1997. However, unlike the McKesson bash, those were public events, open to the public. Access to the McKesson party was controlled, I understand, by wristbands, there were "Private Event" signs, and the many tents they set up impeded public access to parts of the Navy Yard.

While my conversation with Mr. Hennessey led me to believe this was going to be a somewhat low-key affair lasting only two evening hours or so, I understand it took crews three days to set up all the tents and run electrical cables across the Navy Yard. Some of the cables ran in front of gang planks leading to some of the ships, including the USS Cassin Young. The party itself apparently didn't wind down until 1 a.m.

Throughout the day of the event delivery trucks were seen cruising up and down Pier 1. As you can see from the accompanying photo, some of the deliveries involved quite a bit of alcohol. I understand that one of the attendees possibly imbibed a bit too much, got into an argument with an interpretive ranger and even the park's chief of interpretation, and later was seen being escorted off the grounds in handcuffs.

While Mr. Hennessey told me none of the grounds, outside of the tents set up for McKesson, would be off-limits to other park visitors, I understand that at one point there was an effort to block non-McKesson visitors from accessing the USS Cassin Young. In the end, though, a decision was made that if the ship was going to be open for McKesson's guests, it had to be open for everyone in the park.

To help arrange these types of affairs, Boston National Historical Park officials a few years ago retained Amelia Occasions, a company that specializes in special events and wedding planning. Amelia's agreement with the park is similar to the concessionaire contracts parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon have in that they require the company to pour a certain amount of money back into the park.

According to Mr. Hennessey, who didn't know how much McKesson was charged for using the Navy Yard, Amelia spent $30,000 last year on roof repairs to the commandant's house at the Navy Yard, and some funds were also spent on plumbing repairs.

"It’s that kind of contingency uses of the funds that are being encouraged through this kind of arrangement," he told me. They "provide a revenue stream to help us with the upkeep, maintenance, education programs. That kind of thing. It augments what is provided to us.”

Is the National Park Service so broke that $30,000 is a reasonable amount to allow a private company to take over a unit of the national park system, bring in truckloads of alcohol, and close off sections to the general public?

National Park Service Director Mary Bomar has promised to operate the agency "more like a business," but I question whether this sort of affair, and the one earlier this month at Alcatraz, while helping the NPS pay its bills, is an appropriate business use for the national park system.

Is it appropriate when there's drunkenness involved, as supposedly was the case at both events, and drug use, as allegedly took place at the Alcatraz event?

I would say not.

Comments

"more like a business" Eh! The Dick Cheney way...right Mary!!

Actually Snowbird I know all the people involved and they are 100% Kennedy liberals, only this time no one died.

You know all the people involved? Are they anonymous too?

About a year and a half ago, I went to a private party at the Charleston Navy Yard in Boston, and even consumed alcohol! I think the circumstances of my event were quite different than the party described here. I was an attendee at the American Association of Museum's annual conference. The evening event was an opportunity for professionals in the museum industry to see first hand the working relationship between the National Park Service and US Navy, experience the interpretive programs, and wander through the visitor center.

The event was catered, and included two drink tickets per person for beer. There were signs and polite officials which made sure the beer and food did not travel into the museum exhibit area. Everything was quite orderly.

I think the difference between my event and the event described in this article is that my museum's event was intended to be educational in nature, while the McKesson event appears to be a corporate party next to a cool lookin' old boat (Old Iron Sides). I'd imagine that the paperwork for the McKesson event included plenty of provisions for educational opportunities to match the requirements necessary for renting the facility, but with alcohol abuse and police intervention, in practice the event turned into something entirely different.

Why is it a big deal that the park service rented out their space for a party that (gasp!) served (legal) alcohol? [edit] Honestly. Are you upset that you didn't get an invitation? I've been to a wedding reception that was held there. Were they supposed to let park visitor's into my friends' reception? Give me a break.

Anonymous,
I've deleted one of your comments and edited another. This is a forum for open debate, not name calling or unnecessary profanity. Your thoughts are welcome, but the personal attacks are not.

If you've read the article and the comments you'll understand that the debate here is not whether alcohol was being served illegally, but whether the entire event was appropriate on our nation's protected landscape. I'll take it from your criticism's you believe the event was entirely appropriate and that an examination of such events on Park Services managed lands is not needed. Thank you for sharing.

Is that what the Park Service has come down to? Managing properties to rent out for parties and weddings? What's next, renting out the boardwalk around Old Faithful for a private party or the ground beneath Yosemite Falls for a wedding? Should the Tetons or Arches National Park be used for the climbing competition in the next Extreme Games?

The point that apparently eluded you is that Congress is not properly funding the Park Service and that if the trend continues we're likely to see more and more private affairs and other money-making ventures staged at units of the park system that have a totally different mission. And the public whose tax dollars supposedly support the national park system will be on the outside looking in.

Seeing how this current administration has used the Department of Interior and particular, the National Park Service, for a test case of outsourcing jobs and slashing the budget to the point where the departments can barely operate, how else are you supposed to fix parking lots, leaking roofs, and broken computer equipment than to do a little creative fundraising?

I agree that this is not a big deal. I have been to events at the Navy Yard that weren't open to the public and where alcohol was served. And I'm just Joe Schmoe.

Even if it was "Kennedy liberals" using the facilities for a price, why is that a debatable issue? Are "Kennedy liberals" not allowed to rent out properties for an event? Not too long ago, Laura Bush was at the Navy Yard for a ceremony that was closed to the public. Does that mean the "Bush conservatives" get the same mirror held up to them?

Why isn't this comment edited? I find this highly offensive.

Anonymous,
Thanks very much for coming back with a constructive comment. Your questions about park funding are key to the purpose of this website. We have been trying to answer the same questions every week for the last couple years. I have a very strong feeling that our National Parks should be funded entirely through taxes. Federal taxes have been the only 'fair' method of funding federal programs for 200+ years. But, as you point out, the infrastructure of some parks are crumbling, and they are left in a position where they must think creatively about making money by any means necessary. The point I think this article claims, is that this method of fund raising ultimately defeats the purpose of a public park.

It is worth asking, are all private events at a park wrong? I'd say no. Closing the Charleston Yard for Laura Bush probably has more to do with security than it does private fund raising, and I don't have a problem with that. But, closing the Yard for a private wedding is, in my opinion, exclusionary of the public for the sake of profit, which is wrong in a park operated on public funds. As stated in my earlier comment, I believe the museum event I attended probably was appropriate, because it had more to do with a shared professional outreach than partying in the Yard. But, I'm sure there are folks which would disagree with my position.

Yes, the "Kennedy liberals" comment is offensive, and does nothing to contribute to the discussion. It was added as a retort to the Cheney comment, which was at least related to the article. I considered both to be political criticism which is a little different than describing another commenter as a 'jackass' (the comment that had been deleted).

Yeah! one point for Snowbird!!

You should have been there for this...I was. I am a resident of the area and was told I could not walk down the Pier (which I do every night) by someone in a yellow shirt. I spoke with one of the Park Service officers and they told I could still ultilize the park even with this event.

I don't mind the Park Service having weddings and small events but to try and close that section of the Navy Yard so some private organization can have a PARTY! Heard rumors that the Park officers should have arrested more people.

The misuse of the Navy Yard seems to be a matter of the government forgetting the purpose of our National Parks. The National Parks were developed to preserve our heritage either the historical or environmental heritage. These national treasures are the property of the taxpayers of the United States and the use of them for a private party is as offensive as political muckraking that has been thrown around here. I was at the Charlestown Shipyard for the Constitution's Sunset Parade which is to show homage to our Declaration of Independence was interrupted by an Amelia Occasions wedding where the DJ blasted music to drown out such tunes like The Star Spangled Banner and other patriotic tunes. It took two tries from the Navy and Park Rangers before the DJ and wedding planner (Amelia Occasions) turned down the music so the public could celebrate our country.

The heart of the matter is that the legislative and executive branch populated by both parties have ignored our treasures and placed a for sale sign on them. With one click it is seen that Amelia Occasions is not even a Boston based company but rather a Florida company. Whatever happened to sustaining the local economy? I must believe Boston wedding planners would drool at the monopoly Amelia Occasions has on the Regional supervisors of the Park Service. This obscenity of McKesson's "party" is a symptom of a culture of contempt of the taxpayer’s property by our elected leaders and a system of privilege for those who can afford influence to our elected leaders. Whether or not McKesson is a villain here is up for debate but rather should two branches whose leaders have sworn an oath to essentially protect the taxpayers and their interest have failed and left our national treasures vulnerable and available to the highest bidder. One wonders if the Navy Yard will see any money from this party and who will cover the overtime that must have been over and beyond what the contract was for.

If we are putting National Treasures I'm waiting for the Constitution and Bill of Rights to be sold as wrapping paper for Christmas maybe the present will be my national treasures placed into hands that realize that these treasures are to be nurtured and not bartered like an illicit street deal.

I have been a uniformed volunteer at the C-town Navy Yard, and Bunker's Hill, since 1999. (I'm currently on medical leave.) I also served aboard USS CONSTITUTION, first as a member of the US Marine Guard and later as a special historical assistant to the 67th and 68th in Command. During my active tenure, there have been literally hundreds of "private parties" at CNY. The most popular place to celebrate a special event is at the Commandant's House. The next best spot is the Hull Room in Building 5; smaller, but has one hell of a view of Old Ironsides. A heck of a lot of veterans groups hold meetings and reunions up there, and I guarantee the spirits flow at almost every one. Sure, once and a while some dummy gets out of hand (who was it at YOUR last office Christmas party??), but mostly the problems are minor annoyances. The Park, along with the museum, need financial help, thanks to a steadily declining budget in the past; why shouldn't they allow a few raves in what used to be a tough, gritty, working shipyard? Hell, this ain't Arlington National Cemetery, and I can assure you that that spot has been host to more parties in its 200+ year history than has Boston's Combat Zone and Old Scolly Square combined!

Now if you want to talk about wildness, public disruption and general mayhem, you should have been there during the Democratic National Convention. I was, and it was quite a sight - dozens of heavily armed federal law enforcement teams mixing with hundreds of partying conventioneers- prominent citizens, business tycoons, Congresspersons, etc.- do the math. And quitcher whining about one li'l ole bash that got a bit rowdy. Remember, the Navy Yard, BNHP and the entire National Park System belongs to ALL Americans, not just the Righteous Temperance Movement. 'Nuff said.

J. Darlington

Why the outrage over this? The Santa Monica National Recreation Area is rented out for movie production. Picture me one Saturday afternoon trying to take a hike, when suddenly helicopters hover overhead with 'commandos' scaling down ropes onto what was supposed to be a quiet picturesque mesa. It was the filming of "Mission Impossible 3". For the filming, the park had allowed part of the mesa to be paved over for roads, stunt car ramps and a mock up of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Another area was filled with the trailers, canteens and trucks needed to make a few minutes segment of the film. This is in a park that has rare plants. The ranger told me it was all to be put back the way it was after filming concluded. The production company did have to pay to use the park, but the ranger wouldn't tell me how much that was.

Oh, and the film crew tried to keep me off certain trails and areas on public lands so that they could film their movie.

It's certainly not the first time National Parks have been rented out for movie making. Yes, they do make lovely movie locations, but how much damage does putting what amounts to a movie factory (even temporarily) on park lands do?

At least with the Charlestown Yards, environmental damage wasn't done.

Kath, this kind of crap that you have mentioned would of never happened under Steward Udall's watch (and his under secretaries).

We'd never be waging a $12 billion dollar a month war under any other administration either. Gotta take the dollars where you can find 'em because the Chinese ain't gonna lend us dough forever.

No. Movie making in the National Parks has been going on for a long time, under all administrations. Think of 'Shane' in Grand Tetons, numerous Westerns in Death Valley, 'Maverick' in Yosemite. Parts of "Jurassic Park, Part II were filmed in the redwoods on the northern California coast. So 'renting out' the national parks for private companies profit-making is nothing new.

Yes there are other parties at the Yard but they are usually contained and do not deny the park to the people. The problem is the only company allowed to do plnning business is Amelia Occasions and no other companies. That is the perfect definition of a monopoly. Microsoft was sued for creating a monopoly and yet the Regional Office of the Park Service is creating one for a Florida Company. I know of other wedding planners who are not allowed to even do business by the Regional Office. From my information that this "party" was a business deal through Amelia Occasions and didn't benefit the Park at all. Yet the park had to pay for personnel to shut the park off from the public (something the taxpayers own). Mr Darlington that is the problem and the crux of the matter. I could care less about the alcohol, because the weddings I see at the yard must have alcohol. Rather the fact that the park was used to benefit a California Company and any money that exchanged hands went to a Florida company and not even the National Park Service regardless of the Charlestown Navy Yard. Where is the Massachusetts or Navy Yard connection? Did this money even stop at the yard? The Park Service has leadership that ignore that they are in charge of national treasures and want to run them like a corporation. This isn't working!

I was at the Old North Bridge in Concord recently and didn't see any uniformed interpretive rangers at all and was told that when they retire or transfer they aren't being replaced, but rather volunteers who are not employees are being utilized for these paid positions. These are people who are not being paid but expected to perform a job in which people are expected to be experts with advanced degrees. I respect the volunteers and they are doing a good job but it is a job for paid park rangers. This is scary, the birthplace of the revolution is not having professionals to interpret the park but senior management are getting bonuses for making the park financially secure by reducing payroll and associated overhead costs but putting at risk for being ignored. That is my fear about this party and Amelia Occasions and ultimately the National Park Service. Are we putting our national treasures at risk for bonuses and making someone look good? I can assure you that Amelia Occasions saw a profit because of a lack of overhead costs but the Park Service shouldered the cost. How did this raise funds for the park?

I too was at the yard for the Democratic National Convention and saw democracy in action. I saw that people in Wyoming, South Dakota etc. were being given access to a major news story, the choosing of an American President. This use brought the park to the Nation and is consistent with the mission of the National Park Service. How was that a bad thing? The reporters and dignitaries were respectful to the park ans it cultural treasures and the use benefited the nation rather than two private corporations. Whether or not you agree with the convention's politics the park was left open for people and the footprint of the CNN area was small and contained with visitorship increasing afterwards in the park. The McKesson party overtook the entire park denying the park to citizens and from what I understand people were told they couldn't even park in the park if they were employees of the Constitution Museum or NPS. Why? For a private party? That seems far more disturbing than allowing people to make an informed choice of who their next leader will be.

The park is a beautiful area and I love going to the Yard as often as I can, but seeing it used for the McKesson party is a major disaster for the park. How much money did the park get? McKesson espouses that it is company that cares about its community, how much did they give to the park as a donation? A reading of McKesson's press releases will tell you they used public land to announce a business deal which caused its stock to rise. Again I'm confused how a San Francisco California Company chose a national park across a continent unless they were told they could get it cheaply and it looks pretty. It seems that everyone but the actual park itself came out on the positive side of this deal, Amelia Occasions got almost a 100% profit and sent that money to Florida and McKesson got good press at a gorgeous place and the result was a huge increase in their stock and the profits went to California. Instead the park used its limited operating budget to cover security, personnel and provide the safety for anyone in the area and received probably received very little if anything for services rendered. Then there is that small point that the taxpayers property was used as a personal playground for a corporation who had to go across the country to announce a business deal. There is the little fact that people without wristbands who are taxpayers were not allowed into their own property. With Santa Monica at least they had the park open for the people and the money benefited the park. I firmly believe the employees of the Charlestown Navy Yard are hard working dedicated public servants and the party was against their wishes and given to them by a higher headquarters.

Does any of this sound like the leadership of the National Park Service Boston Regional office and Washington Park Service used any sort of logic or reasoning? Again it boils down to the feeling that the National Park Service is a corporation. Which simply it is not.

Our National Treasures cannot be outsourced and are not for sale to the highest bidder! National Park Service Director Mary Bomar must not view this party as a sucess because this party cost all of us to loose something. We lost the confidence that our land set aside for the use of all of the citzens will be protected but gained the knowledge our govenrment is no better than ebay.

Why does is it seem so blasphemous, to so many, whenever it is even suggested that private non-profit foundations could possibly do a better more focused job of running many individual NPS units? Why is the first response always that "we'd be selling off the parks to the highest bidder". It seems from many of the comments in this thread, so far, that is EXACTLY what is happening at many units.

Let's face it folks the federal government is essentially broke. The debts of Bush & Company have sunk our dollar to record lows and the $12 billion a month spent on war doesn't leave a whole lot left to run our park system much less lavish the love and attention that many of these places deserve. Why not at least entertain the idea that there are other concerned and dedicated people out there that care more about individual park units than career focused bureaucrats in the Interior Department. I think that many places would benefit greatly from private, semi-private and non-profit governance, as well as partnerships among state, county, municipal, corporate and volunteer management teams.

Monticello and Mount Vernon are priceless national heirlooms that are run in this way and I must say they do a wonderful job of bringing the story of these places to life. The grounds and buildings of both places are immaculate and fully restored and wonderfully interperted. This type of managemant could be realized for many currently neglected sites that the federal government is unable or unwilling to run in the manner in which they were originally intended to be by their proclamation as national parks.

It's worth looking into. The federal government ain't gonna get more efficient or focused anytime soon.

Beamis,

Bless your heart for being here.

Stone Mountain State Park near Atlanta Georgia is another example of a private corporation doing an excellent job and in some aspects a much better job than the NPS would do in the same scenario. I'll take a park that is run "like a business" versus one that is run like a stagnant bureacracy anytime.

This event at the Shipyard is nothing new or special. Renting out picnic grounds and closing off portions of parks for events like weddings is a routine occurence in all parks including national ones. Repeat after me: "For the enjoyment. For the enjoyment. For the enjoyment." It's a shipyard for heaven's sake. Look at the background in the picture. It looks like someone's backyard. This isn't a pristine natural resource here. Lord, why are we crying over beer spilt on the lawn?

I beleive that Mr. Repansheck should verify all of the facts before he puts out false information on the internet.

I read your comments regarding Minute Man NHP and the North Bridge and they are not correct. Uniformed Rangers ARE at the North Bridge daily during the spring, summer, and fall and give talks at the benches by the bridge at the times posted. These Rangers all go through a training program before the season begins to ensure they are up to speed with the account of the events of April 19, 1775. Like most parks - employee numbers at Minute Man fluctuate, but the seasonal Ranger numbers have remained constant over the last few years and are expected to rise in coming years.

Regarding senior personnel getting bonuses - if it wasn't so very insulting it would be funny. But it is insulting and once again not at all correct. The thing that is "scary" - to use your words - is putting out such information without verifying your facts first. You should have taken the time to do your homework. But since you didn't I have little faith in your other comments.

Haunted hiker, Beamis: You two are right on.

"I'll take a park that is run 'like a business' versus one that is run like a stagnant bureacracy [sic] anytime."

Amen! How can anyone support the bloated pigs? Parks should be run efficiently like successful businesses, not like Marxist regimes.

Oh and re: Anonymous and Modoc: OUCH! SMACK! Were facts not verified? Was false information put out on the Internet? Wouldn't be the first time.

Parks run "like a business" would be eternally seeking a profit, be concerned with attracting more people to the park, advertise, etc. This is not what the National Parks are all about. That's what ski resorts and Atlantic City are all about, and they don't seem to be doing too well. Some people will just never be happy with the amount of money they make (never enough) or the amount of taxes they must pay to keep things going (always too much).

I already can't believe I see huge billboards in our community advertising Navy Football and Towson University Basketball. The last thing we need is a billboard imploring people to visit Dry Tortugas National Park.

-- Jon Merryman

What about the examples of Mount Vernon and Monticello? Why is business efficiency always equated with such super "evil" motives like showing a profit? Eating is more important than going to national parks, so why don't you advocate that the government take over the grocery business, because obviously we could never trust the "evil" motives of the market place to efficiently feed the masses, now could we? After all the Interior Department is such a pargaon of virtue and selflessness now ain't it? Just ask Jack Abramoff. Your boundless faith in Big Brother's abilities is truly astounding. Just look around and ask yourself what has the government ever done that is consistently efficient and-first rate?

I'll take a billboard of a national park any day over one for Bud Light or some lame FM radio station. It might even brighten up your dreary Maryland commute.

heaven forbid parks were operated to profit parks rather than "managed" to fill the coffers of congresspeople and the bloated nps bureaucracy. heaven forbid the parks make a "profit" to be reinvested into the "business" of preservation and recreation.

let the waste bleed all over the land and declare yourself superior to free market. that's the government way.

Before there was a grocery business, people grew their own vegetables, had their own chickens, milked their own cow, shot their own turkey. It was never the government's place to feed everyone so your analogy is a bit off the mark. I much prefer the anaology of the grand job Halliburton's band of American patriots has done in the name of fighting terrorism. My greatgrandkids will be paying for their "efficient management" of profits for years to come. Wait, didn't they move their world headquarters to Dubai? One thing's for sure, you won't see the United States Government move to Bermuda for a tax break.

To the government's credit, it is experimenting with different public/private partnerships in newly acquired park areas such as the Valles Caldera in New Mexico (http://www.vallescaldera.gov), where you need to make reservations for just about anything you do there and there are rigid limits on the numbers of people per day who can enjoy the area. Good ideas? Maybe, and you can bet the arrangement is being given serious consideration for application elsewhere.

No matter what the government does, people will whine. Not enough access, too many roads, too many people, not enough modern conveniences, not enough flush toilets, not enough shopping, too many tacky souvenirs, too difficult to get to, too many dangerous animals running around, costs too much, not enough railings for safety, too many tour buses, too many restrictions, not enough enforcement of the rules, not enough parking, not enough multilingual personnel, the water tastes funny, why can't they cut down that ugly dead tree... wah wah waaaah. You try running a business with 300 million executive vice presidents who can't agree on anything and all have a stake in micromanaging the company.

Ultimately, the government does what we tell it to do. Don't like it? Get enough people to agree with you and vote the bums out. I work with government employees every day and the vast majority of them could easily get huge pay raises tomorrow working for private contractors, and yes they are doing noble and important work. Companies are not accountable to the people and governments (at least in this country) are. Companies come and go, but the U.S. Government is in it for the long haul.

"I find your lack of faith disturbing." -- Star Wars IV, A New Hope

-- Jon

Companies are accountable to their customers. Their strength is derived from voluntary transactions. Government, on the other hand, is not accountable because it gets its money by theft (i.e. the tax code). Haliburton is an excellent example of government corruption and unaccountability steering these stolens funds to non-competetive enterprises that would not otherwise survive in a free market. Thank you for making my point. As the original Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Marshall said "The power to tax is the power to destroy."

How can you say the government is accountable with a straight face when the vast majority of U.S. citizens do not support th current unlawful war the feds are waging? Has that made a bit of difference in determining whether to spend $12 billion a month on death and destruction? So far the Decider-in-Chief has cared not a bit what the people want. Is that doing what we tell it to do? Like the old reggae song said: "No matter who you vote for the gova-mint always gets in."

"Companies come and go, but the U.S. Government is in it for the long haul." Don't be so sure. The U.S.S.R. fell hard after a long and costly war in the Middle East. The current thugs in DC are already bankrupt, both morally and financially. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if the long haul you talk about is about to come to a screeching halt much sooner than most people could imagine.

Vermont and New Hampshire both have active secession movements, as does Texas, Hawaii, Oregon and Alaska. The cracks in the dam are already appearing. It won't be long, my friend. Tyranny always ends this way.

I personally find your faith in Big Brother more disturbing.

Theft? Stolen? Secession? Wow... I guess this conversation is going nowhere fast. Have a happy life in the Conch Republic. ;-)

PS -- I said "ultimately accountable"

ULTIMATELY: adverb. At last; in the end; eventually.

I find it even more disturbing still that Merryland is quoting Star Wars as philosophy.

Beamis is totally correct: a government that ignores 2/3 of its citizenry is not at all accountable to anything but money and greed.

No, our government doesn't listen nor do the bureaucrat swine in the ranks of the NPS, and for the same reason: they're drunk from gorging off our hard work, the tax dollars they illegally snatch before we even hold them.

And here's some real philosophy for you, not that of the canned new-age-BS variety a la Lucas:

"Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one."
Thomas Paine

Craptacular,

Re Star Wars quotes, you're confusing humour with philosophy... You also seem to confuse the term "government" with "the current administration". The vast majority of government employees are there year in, year out, doing their jobs at lower than job market rates, regardless of who's in charge for four or eight years.

I am curious though about the reference to "illegally snatched". Is there any form of government that would meet your criteria? Do you see any reason for the existence of government at all? And if not, why bother complaining about the National Park Service which represents an eency weency fractional percentage of the federal budget? You seem to have much bigger issues than could ever be addressed here.

-- Jon

Really? Are we going to get into a pissing contest over Star Wars philosophy? Since when did making reference to pop-culture on a blog become a point of ridicule? Frankly, I thought it was an appropriate and somewhat amusing response to earlier comments. Let's not get too wrapped up in this that we can't laugh a little. Thanks Jon.

re: NPS vs Private - Our government is supposed to be fair, that's the point of a Democracy. Each of us is a first-class citizen. My one vote has the same weight as any other eligible voter. We choose our representatives in government. Whether or not the whole government is actually fair has been a point of debate argued for ages. It's a huge subject, too big for this website. I choose to focus my concern on this site with a single point in our government, the agency which manages our national parks. Private operations have no obligation to act 'fair'. I hear you Bemis, that the free-market manages 'fair' just fine, but I've had experiences at Monticello that run counter to this argument.

I happen to disagree with Bemis and craptacular, but I enjoy reading the dissenting opinion because it enriches my understanding of the issue. There are times I think the Park Service has done a poor job managing our park resources, but there are plenty of other times I think they've done a great job. At this point, I'm of the opinion that the NPS is still the best one for the job.

re: Government and Grocery Stores - The FDA provides oversight of food, a role that should not be understated. If you believe you've got free-will when it comes to choices that have been presented to you in the grocery store, think again. Government's role in food production/distribution/oversight has probably been debated more on the Hill than any issue involving parks ever will.

Kurt is putting the finishing touches on an article that should appear in the next few days that continues this thread; are private parties at our public parks worth all the virtual print we've spent on them? Stay tuned for the discussion.

If you believe the FDA makes food safer I've got a surplus Navy Yard in Boston I'd love to sell you. The same goes for the USDA "inspections". How did we ever get along before all of these regulators sprang up to save us from the predations of the free market?

I'm not sure what happened on your trip to Monticello but I can assure you that it is a better run site than most NPS battlefields, historic houses or national memoriasl I've ever visited. I was an NPS ranger for ten years, I pay attention to the details. For the most part the NPS run sites, compared to private and non-profit ones, are generally more shabby, outdated and poorly funded. It is sort like the difference between a Target and a K-Mart, if y'all can stomach private enterprise comparisons.

Good discussion Jeremy. I'm glad you are happy to disagree. We've only just begun.

"I am curious though about the reference to "illegally snatched". Is there any form of government that would meet your criteria?"

How about what is specifically articulated in the U.S. Constitution? Nothing more, nothing less.

Before FDA and USDA and other agencies like it, what were people's life expectancies? I'm not saying they're solely responsible for the increase but they've made their impact. Before government intervention, all the land in this country was generally viewed as lumber and ore and water for harvesting. Every redwood and sequoia would be classified as "history" rather than "nature" if it weren't for our government (with pressure from the people). Does government sometimes screw things up? I'm sure we can all agree to that. It will always ALWAYS be a work in progress. My opinion -- when one gives up on it, one becomes part of the problem. Also my opinion -- all too often business sees the government as a way to gain unfair advantage or make a profit. And all too often otherwise noble people in government fall prey to the relentless lures of greed and power. A little humility would go a long way, but we generally don't teach our children values like that any more. Every man for himself, and all that...

Ask 10 people about what's specifically articulated in the Constitution and you'll get 10 people who disagree.

-- Jon

I guess 100 above ground nuclear tests blanketing the country in deadly radiation was a noble effort by a benign and caring government. One which has yet to admit publicly that it did so knowingly and with the knowledge that it would be not be held accountable for the preventable death, disease, birth defects and retardation of countless thousands. I won't even go into the other areas of death and destruction caused by unlawful war and the use of such wonderful substances like Agent Orange and the spent uranium being used today in the shells raining down on Iraq. A work in progress. Your love of Big Brother is truly astounding.

I'm glad you believe in an earthly saviour. I mayself have serious doubts.

And to think, someday that nuclear test zone will be a National Historical Park where we'll all learn from our past mistakes (how's that for finally getting back to the subject of this website?) The history of the world is replete of examples where people and governments (especially when viewed with 20/20 hindsight) did the wrong thing. It gives the rest of us a little perspective and the chance to NOT let history repeat itself.

I'm taking my son to Minuteman Missile NHS later this summer to teach him about those sorts of things so hopefully he can contribute to a wiser generation in the future. He's also visited the beaches of Normandy, numerous Civil War and Revolutionary War sites, and he'll be able to see for himself what human beings are capable of. Yes, a work in progress.

I'd be interested to hear if you can point to any elected leaders of the 20th century that you admire and respect. I fear the answer might be no.

-- Jon

I'll stick to H.L. Mencken's observation that "Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods."

He also said "Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance." I couldn't agree more.

You are quite correct that I have very little respect for politicians of any kind, especially ones from a century that produced 200 million deaths by central governments. The bloodiest century in human history had no political heroes, whether elected or not, that I could possibly admire.

But hey I'd like to end on a lighter note. Mencken also said "Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage." Again I couldn't put it any better if I tried.

Good debate. See you at the circus.


One reason for problems at Charlestown (both management of the events and the funding return to the park) is because the park chose to use a cooperative agreement to do this deal. Congress obviously intended park superintendent's to use concessiions for this sort of thing. read the 1998 concessions law and it is clearly implied. But look at the cooperative agreement authority, or the leasing authority, and you can see the park should not be using a third party to manage public events with either coop agreements or historic lease. With the concessions, there would be a real return to the nps, real evaluation of the management of the events, and real competition for the job.

So the real question is: why would NPS management allow a superintendent to use the wrong authority, after so many years of trying to get this concessions law in place?

If the park wanted, it could use historic lease authority, but the park would have to manage the activities. If the park cannot afford the pay the park staff, even with indirect compensation from the lease, maybe the park should realize these events just don't add up. But it is interesting that NPS Regional Director lets the park get away with this.

Sad day at the National Park
I live here.............and my regular route for a walk is thru the park.
When I saw the tents being set up, I thought we were about to have a great public event.
This was not the case................all security was suspened for this event except to keep the
PEOPLE who live here out of the park.

I wonder if the CNO......knows that the USS CONSTITUTION......has been converted into a booze cruise boat
There were people from the party walking around OLD IRONSIDES decks , drinks in hand.

This is the low light of this event...to convert a U.S. MAN OF WAR into a booze cruise.

Needless to say when the cannons fired On OLD IRONSIDES to notify all the ships afloat in the harbor that it was sunset and time
to lower the American flag , NO ONE STOPPED DRINKING OR LAUGHING...........AFTER ALL IT WAS A PARTY.
THEY THOUGHT THE CANNON FIRED WAS FOR THEIR AMUZEMENT.

It's all hush hush at the Navy Yard regarding the contract with Amelia Occasions - dont think the park receives anything in return. Management turns a blind eye about everything which is why there are so many problems.
Someone should really investigate into this further - there are still many events that have happened after the
McKesson incident which involve alcohol and partying.

On an earlier comment, the "guy in the yellow shirt" who stopped a visitor from entering the Navy Yard, that
was one of the law enforcement fellows...funny they have "POLICE" on the back of their shirt..they wish...

"On an earlier comment, the "guy in the yellow shirt" who stopped a visitor from entering the Navy Yard, that
was one of the law enforcement fellows...funny they have "POLICE" on the back of their shirt..they wish..."

From reading above it stated there was one arrest....then who arrested this guy??? I had heard it was one of Park Police Officers. I have seen them arresting drug users before.

I would just like to add that the parks were set aside for the benefit and enjoyement of the people. The parks were meant to be used!!
Mather and Albright both believed in recreation first, most times at the expense of the resource!! In the begining park service shot wolves (so visitors could see more deer and elk), they fed the bears (so visitors could take their picture), they built large spacious hotels in the most pristine areas (so visitors had a comfortable place to sleep)...
I'm sure others on this site, can think of others.
Second, Check it out most of our historical sites have come into the park service system after they failed as private businesses. Local cities and not for private organizations expected the federal government to come in and protect their site. Why do people believe if a private organization is not making money on a site that somehow sticking a park service arrowhead on the site with no operating budget is going to turn things around??
Well guess what the federal government doesn't have the money, the National Park Service does not have the money to continue bailing out these small nationally insignificant places.
Why is it the park service keeps crying it doesn't have enough money to protect its 391 sites, congress keeps getting upset with the park service cuz they don't know where the money is going, but yet congress and the park service keep adding more sites to the system??
My belief is we need to stop relying on the federal government to save all of our recreational, historical, cultural, and natural areas. Everyone from every sector needs to step up to the plate and do their part.
And on a last note a pet peeve of mine... Law Enforcement Rangers are Police Officers, they carry federal commissions and are authorized to carry firearms, conduct investigations, and make arrests!!

The person who arrested the guy was a "Park law enforcment ranger" not a "Police Officer" although
they call themselves police officers..