Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Business continues despite shutdown


City halls, schools report no immediate effects

With the federal government shutdown and more than 800,000 workers furloughed across the country, very little has changed at a local level in Gresham and other cities in East Multnomah County

City halls remain open for business, and according to Gresham Spokeswoman Laura Shepard, any meaningful impacts will be seen only if the shutdown continues for an extended period of time.

“If we are talking about a short term shutdown, we are largely unaffected,” Shepard said. “Still, we may experience slowdown in reimbursements for federal grants such as the SAFER grant we recently received for firefighters.”

The partial shutdown began Tuesday, Oct. 1, after Congress failed to pass a continuing resolution to fund government affairs for fiscal year 2014. Mail and Social Security checks will still be delivered, but all national parks — including Oregon’s Crater Lake and Mount Hood National Forest — are closed, and service has been suspended at the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and Washington.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, whose district includes most of Multnomah County extending to Hood River, called the shutdown irresponsible, adding that it will undoubtedly “add to the problems and confusion while avoiding the real challenges of today. Hopefully we can restore sanity and get the government open again as soon as possible.”

He laid blame for the shutdown of many parts of the federal government squarely on Republicans in the House of Representatives who “refused to fund the government unless the Affordable Care Act was defunded or delayed,” he said. “... I’ll continue working to reopen the federal government without giving into the unreasonable and unrelated demands of those who want to refight old battles.”

While it remains difficult to tell exactly what the effects will be, “we know that millions of families across the country will suffer,” Blumenauer said. “Veterans’ benefits, Social Security, unemployment and Medicare will continue to function, although payments and disbursements may be delayed due to lack of personnel to process them.”

State Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, also expressed concern and worry that veterans might not receive their disability benefits due to the shutdown. “That is the issue that is really critical,” she said. “... And the fact that they’re lining it up with Obamacare, I’m very concerned.”

School funding remains unaffected, but some field trips are being caught in the crosshairs. In Scappoose, a group of fourth-grade students was scheduled to visit Mount St. Helens on Tuesday, only to see the trip canceled when the shutdown closed the National Volcanic Monument.

Also closed was the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood, which includes 3,058 acres of land with an initial 12-acre private donation established at the refuge in 1993 and is normally open Tuesdays through Sundays.

The closing of the Bureau of Land Management, meanwhile, prompted the shutdown of 4,000 recreation facilities, including visitor centers, facilities, campgrounds, boat ramps and other recreation sites in Oregon and Washington.

However, according to a BLM press release, the bureau will continue “limited work,” including the inspection and enforcement activities for more than 190 oil and gas leases in Oregon and Washington, covering more than 320,000 acres.

Among the BLM’s 1,994 employees in Oregon and Washington, 1,967 will be furloughed during the shutdown.

All parks, campgrounds and visitor areas operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Oregon and Southwest Washington are also closed. Customers with camping reservations can call 1-888-448-1474 to cancel and receive a refund.

Security personnel will remain on the grounds, the Corps said.

While federal workers stay home, members of Congress will continue to be paid for their service. With that in mind, U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader has pledged to direct his pay during the shutdown to charity.

“I firmly believe that if members of Congress fail to perform their most basic duty in passing a budget, then they do not deserve to be paid,” said Schrader, whose district includes parts of Clackamas County, Central Oregon and the Oregon Coast. ... “It is in that vein that I will be donating the congressional salary I collect during the shutdown to a local Oregon charity to be named later.

“It’s time for Congress to get its act together.”