My Plea to Stop the White House From Closing Privately-Funded, Privately-Operated Parks

Here is my letter to my Congresspersons:

Senator John McCain

Senator Jeff Flake

Representative David Schweikert


Help! Administration Orders Shut Down of Privately-Operated Parks in National Forest

Parks that require no Federal money, and actually pay rent to the Treasury, are being required to close



My company, based in North Phoenix, operates over 100 US Forest Service campgrounds and day use areas under concession contract. Yesterday, as in all past government shutdowns, the Department of Agriculture and US Forest Service confirmed we would stay open during the government shutdown. This makes total sense, since our operations are self-sufficient (we are fully funded by user fees at the gate), we get no federal funds, we employ no government workers on these sites, and we actually pay rent into the Treasury.

However, today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people “above the department”, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.

The point of the shutdown is to close non-essential operations that require Federal money and manpower to stay open. So why is the White House closing private operations that require no government money to keep open and actually pay a percentage of their gate revenues back to the Treasury? We are a tenant of the US Forest Service, and a tenant does not have to close his business just because his landlord goes on a vacation.

I urge you to help stop the Administration from lawlessly taking arbitrary and illegal actions to artificially worsen the shutdown by hurting innocent hikers and campers. I am not asking you to restore any funding, because no funding is required to keep these operations open. I am asking that the Administration be required to only close government services that actually require budget resources.



Warren Meyer



  1. ATX:

    Assuming you are current with your contract / lease payments, does the Forest Service have any legal standing to shut you down? Seems that they would be violating the terms of the concession contract. (As a side note, do you have any form of recourse in your concession contract? Admittedly, it would probably require a lawsuit against the government to collect, but...)

  2. oneteam:

    I'd continue to operate until someone felt ballsy enough to actually do something about it. Which I doubt anyone will.

  3. Steve:

    Unfortunately, they have guns.

  4. CMJDad:

    Call in the local Sheriff to prevent the goon squad from shutting down the operation(s). Invite the media to join the party!

  5. paul:

    By not playing along coyote opens himself to the possibility that those contracts might not be renewed.

  6. jon:

    Doing business with government == doing business with the devil. :( Unfortunately, we can't always keep from doing business with them.

  7. Matthew Slyfield:

    They sent armed guards and barricades to close down a veterans memorial. Of course the guards had the good sense to sit on their hands when a bunch of WWII vets showed up and walked past both the guards and the barricades.

  8. Joe_Da:

    As Hillary's episode with the WH travel office shows, messing with the wrong people will get you contracts terminated.

  9. oneteam:

    Yes, but there is some quasi legalities to that action as the park service is in charge of the monuments...etc. There is no legal leg to stand on, if they tried to close down the parks that are managed privately.

  10. Matthew Slyfield:

    They supposedly shut down the monument because there wasn't any money to keep it open. I would be willing to bet that the armed guards and barricades cost more than what it would have cost to keep the monument open.

  11. pokeyblow:

    Boo hoo.
    Poor teabagger doesn't like when the shutdown affects him.

  12. Unix-Jedi:

    What *is* it with the homophobia in the Democratic party?

  13. mikekelley10:

    Obama and his ilk know that just shutting down part of big bureaucracies like the Departments of Education, Energy, Transportation, etc. will have absolutely no effect on voters' lives, so they go after stuff like this that will have a direct effect. Big city mayors do the same thing when they are "short" of money. They immediately threaten to lay of cops and firefighters to scare the public, instead of laying off a bunch of faceless bureaucrats that just push paper. Here is a nice example of how bloated our federal government is:

  14. pokeyblow:

    Boehner allows a vote, lets the chips fall where they may, shutdown ends.
    You don't like the shutdown, you don't like losing this or that, tell Ted Cruz about it.

  15. Cardin Drake:

    This is indefensible. This is good, in the sense that it puts things in a easy to understand perspective, and hopefully will create a little resolve in our side. Democrats true motives are framed nicely by this move. Republicans need to get some backbone, and quit being blackmailed. This is a big principle. We have gone from a system where both parties needed to agree to fund something to a system where one side has veto power over any cuts. Hope the Cruz-inspired spine transplant holds.

  16. Cardin Drake:

    I see another non-essential government employee is speaking up. Taking a break from keeping veterans off the National mall?

  17. pokeyblow:

    Me? I'm a retired financial executive. You won't believe that; it doesn't matter.

  18. Rick C:

    U-J, it's OK when the right people do it. Remember when that webcomic author came by Smallest Minority and threw the teabagger slur out repeatedly?

  19. pokeyblow:

    Ted Cruz has had an ample opportunity to explain his position.
    People are sent to congress to vote on various issues.
    John Boehner won't allow a vote. If he allows a vote, the government shutdown ends, and the original poster (a/k/a beneficiary of government largesse) can operate his campgrounds.

  20. pokeyblow:

    It's not a slur; it's what you guys call yourselves. Not sure why, but it's the name you chose. Savor it.

  21. mesaeconoguy:

    So do a large number of private citizens.

  22. mesaeconoguy:

    Hairy Greed won’t allow a Senate vote on the individual funding bills, and won’t negotiate.

    Want a rubber stamp?

    Win both houses of congress, shitbag. Elections have consequences.

  23. Max Lybbert:

    For one, Coyote is a libertarian, not a Republican. For another, the term conservative Republicans chose for themselves was "Tea Partier." But Coyote has never associated with them because, generally speaking, the Tea Party is fine with government paternalism as long as it involves things they like. They only oppose liberal paternalistic policies.

  24. pokeyblow:

    Right now, all Boehner has to do is let 435 representatives vote. That's what they are supposed to do. Majority decides.

    If the welfare-queen campground operator doesn't like the shutdown, he should talk with Boehner about it.

  25. pokeyblow:

    Here's the truth, not just what you wish were the case:

  26. mesaeconoguy:

    Right now, all Hairy Greed needs to do is let 100 senators vote, and/or go to conference. That’s what they are supposed to do. Majority decides.

    And, if Lord Obama could have been bothered, a far, far more effective political leader would have ensured we never got to this point.


  27. pokeyblow:

    Meanwhile, the poor original poster, who operates his business through a huge implicit access subsidy from the American taxpayer, has to shut down. That's just how it goes, because Ted Cruz can't live with a law which passed both houses, has the President's signature, has been adjudicated by the Supreme Court, and has withstood how many (40+?) repeal votes.

    I think this guy, who only has a business because American taxpayers give him discounted access to valuable real estate, should buck up and stop whining.

    It's unmanly and unbecoming.

  28. mesaeconoguy:

    Meanwhile, the original troll commenter continues to confuse public vs. private, legislative roles, and political affiliations.

    I think this troll, who hilariously claims to be “financial” and “retired” (read: furloughed bureaucrat), has a vendetta against small furry animals in parks, who now will go unseen and unvisited by an eager but disappointed public.

    It’s pathetic and vapid (though typical leftist demeanor).

  29. pokeyblow:

    Umm, I think those small furry animals prefer when eager folks leave them alone. Especially desperate red-state males.

  30. mesaeconoguy:

    Obviously, the problem is Ted Cruz, since he passed Obamascare in the dead of night – the only way to get it rammed thru - on a full party-line vote, with zero bipartisan support.

    Note to leftists: this may not be the best way to pass the largest expansion of the welfare state in the last 50 years.

  31. mesaeconoguy:

    Ok, Nancy P., whatever you say….

  32. pokeyblow:

    Why not hold a vote to repeal it? Again? I hear 75th time is the charm.

  33. mesaeconoguy:

    Hey, if that’s what they want, go for it!

    Seeing you lefties in a conniption over that is priceless. Don’t like it? Tough shit, win both houses. Elections have consequences.

    Obamascare has deadly consequences.

    I’m sure Obama will fall back on his “Not Going to Negotiate” strategy. Pretty sure.

  34. pokeyblow:

    No reason to negotiate.

    I'm fine with the government shutdown. If the poor campground operator loses out, it's his fault for not having a better job.

  35. mesaeconoguy:

    Well, see, the thing is there, if His Holiness Lord Oblunder doesn’t actually have the authority to close various parks, as detailed above (and elsewhere), that’s what we currently working finance guys call “bad” and “breach of contract.”

    Then sometimes we call some law-talkin’-guys, and then some motions get filed, and then it gets noisy and messy.

  36. pokeyblow:

    I'm not a lawyer. If there's a legal issue, please pursue it.

    But seriously, why doesn't the original poster just get a good job, instead of apparently living hand-to-mouth?

  37. Quincy:

    This particular move speaks volumes about the integrity of the administration. It's more important to the executive, apparently, to maximize the harm from the shutdown instead of minimizing it. By providing much needed sunlight on a nasty (and otherwise unexamined) action by "the most transparent administration in history", Warren is doing a very good thing. We need more Americans willing to stand up for the truth.

  38. pokeyblow:

    The national parks closed in the 1995 shutdown. I know Obama plotted that from Kenya and all, but still, this is not unprecedented.

    What I still don't get is, why a rough-and-ready, independent, responsibility-for-self-taking Great American like the original poster would operate a business which is so dependent on government spending?

    Sometimes big fish die, or swim into conditions which aren't optimal for the attached suckerfish. That's why being a suckerfish isn't anything to be proud of.

    Edited to add link:

  39. mesaeconoguy:

    You’re really not much of anything.

    He has a very good job providing services more efficiently than bureaucrats, and now can’t do it because they (government bureaucrats) are likely in breach of contract, which is likely actionable.

    PS, Mussolini, nobody gives a shit what you think about the shutdown, k?

  40. pokeyblow:

    He only has that business because I and many other Americans pay taxes to keep the parks open.

    He's functionally about the same as a shoeshine-concession holder in an office building, or (in the old days) the guy who emptied spittoons in said building. Building closes for repairs; job goes on hiatus.

    Don't get me wrong... sweeping up campsites, shining shoes, polishing spittoons... honorable jobs all, only not what you'd expect from an unshackled capitalist.

  41. mesaeconoguy:

    No, you actually don’t for many

    “…operated by private companies without using one dime of
    public money.”

    Pay attention, dimwit.

    You must’ve been a pretty shitty finance guy, given your reading incomprehension level…

  42. pokeyblow:

    "My company, based in North Phoenix, operates over 100 US Forest Service campgrounds...."

    "We are fully funded by user fees at the gate"

    Now it sounds like he's operating on public land, which the government owns. He doesn't have to put up capital to buy the land for his campgrounds, let alone the larger public spaces which attract people in the first place. I'm guessing the fees he pays are nowhere near what it would cost a true private operator to a) obtain a national-park-like attraction and b) build out the campground (not to mention constructing roads to-and-from the site).

    Subsidies are great when you're on the receiving end, aren't they?

    He says "fully funded." Does that mean the fees he takes in cover the cost of toilet paper? I am skeptical about the true cost accounting for the space used and, again, the "positive externality" created by the adjacent larger park.

    I'm a good enough finance guy not to take the word of anyone, let alone someone on the public teat, who says "I'm 100% self-sufficient."

    Edited to note that I think standard English usage is "comprehension level," not "incomprehension level."

  43. mesaeconoguy:

    Nimrod, he pays a lease & licensing fee. Why would there be a discount? What possible financial consideration is there for such a discount?

    Leases are pedestrian, highly common vehicles executed throughout the economy. What makes this different than any other operators lease or license? Because government “owns” land?

    A laughable distinction, at best.

    For you, the correct terminology is incomprehension level.

  44. pokeyblow:

    So, why doesn't he open a campground in the parking lot of an abandoned K-Mart? I'm sure he could get a better rate, and the government would be off his back.

    Sounds like a better plan, no?

    Unless the evil government is a sine qua non for his business...

  45. mesaeconoguy:

    Why doesn’t he go build another Disneyland, while he’s at it?

    Here’s a clue Sherlock: it would be very, very capital intensive, and returns probably aren’t that great right now, what with the
    Oblunder depression and all.

    His value proposition is he can (and does) operate far more efficiently than your Oblunder government.

  46. pokeyblow:

    Ah, you are starting to get it. So being the one allowed to operate next to the national park constitutes a subsidy, because (presumably) he couldn't afford to build a national park. So, like it or not (and admit it or not), he's a suckerfish.

    The government wants people to visit the parks; the government wants campgrounds. That's the "possible financial consideration" for the discount he receives.

    Whether he is more efficient or not is debatable. There is a fetish for privatization nowadays, so we have prison operators threatening to sue if the courts don't incarcerate enough people to fulfill contract conditions, etc.

    I have a question: In virtually every note you address to me, you insult me ad hominem. In what sort of miserable, unloving, violent, filthy, perhaps incestuous environment were you raised? I have a soft spot for abused children, and I choke back tears when I read the pain in your writing.

  47. Quincy:

    No one disputes that the national parks that relied on federal employees or funding shut down in 1995. The national parks run by concessionaires did not, precisely because they don't rely on federal employees or funding. There is a huge difference and you've provided no evidence that the latter is true, even if you're trying to overlook it because it makes the administration look bad. (Yes, I did read your link. Provides *nothing* to refute my point, but nice try in any case.)

    Maybe you'd like to explain why it makes sense to shut down a park that requires no federal employees or funding and in fact makes money for federal government. When the President is trumpeting all the harm done by the shutdown of the national parks, why does the administration move to shutter ones that could stay open?

    Regarding your need insult others, let me just confirm something for you: as far as I can tell, your inferiority complex is entirely justified.

  48. MNHawk:

    Democrat politicians love their low information voter base, don't they? It's always illuminating, looking into the mind of someone who enthusiastically embraces the Chicago Way. Scary, but illuminating.

    How dare anyone fight back against the garbage you refer to as President.

  49. MNHawk:

    I believe Warren has a family. Why would you assume he's gay. And if so, why would a piece of Democrat white trash, such as yourself, think being gay is worthy of insults?