Government shutdown will halt Alcatraz tours

September 30, 2013 6:13:15 PM PDT
The countdown is on to the government shutdown which will begin at midnight on Oct. 1. If it goes through, social security recipients will still receive benefits, mail service will continue, taxes will still be collected and the military will continue to fight. However, if you need a federal loan to buy a house, a gun permit or a passport, you'll have to wait.

Also if you want to visit a national park, you are out of luck. Campers already there will have two days to leave. The Bay Area has a number of national parks within a day's drive.

Not just Yosemite, but in Marin County, Muir Woods is a national monument and in San Francisco, Alcatraz has 5,000 visitors every day. That's just one of the ways what happens in Washington affects people locally.

In Washington, the politicians were in rare form. President Barack Obama said, "Putting the American People's hard earned progress at risk is the height of irresponsibility."

"This law is not ready for prime time. The House has done its work," said John Boehner, R-Ohio.

And that is how, way down the political food chain, a budget battle centered on federal health care may put a damper on anyone visiting San Francisco, who wants to go to Alcatraz.

"So do I get my money back?" asked Andreas Hering, a tourist from Germany.

Hering had tickets for Tuesday, but without a budget all national parks and monuments will close, as 800,000 non-essential government workers will remain home. It could mean longer lines at airports because the Department of Homeland Security will cut back. It could delay some first time mortgages, but it will not impact food stamps or social security checks.

Some people back in 1995 said, "If they can't resolve this kind of thing they shouldn't be in office." Sound familiar? That was the last time our federal government shut down. The more things change, it seems, the more they stay the same.

On Monday Phil Cappalonga, a tourist in San Francisco who wants to go to Alcatraz, said, "I personally just think it's a bunch of posturing. And I am not happy about it for a lot of reasons and it's unnecessary."

"Now I got to call Obama, right? Do you have his number?" joked Hering.

By the way, if the shutdown does happen at 9 p.m., PT, the website that would post information about the government's situation would in itself be inaccessible. Neither the Library of Congress website, nor what is called the Thomas Server, has funding to keep going.

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