March 19, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Philadelphia, PA, Seven Revolutionary-era historic sites in Philadelphia have had to close because of President Donald Trump’s freeze on federal hiring, David Fitzpatrick, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2058, told Philly.com.
The seven, in Independence National Historical Park, include the house where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence; exhibits at the site of Ben Franklin’s home and print shop; and the home of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the Polish combat engineer who built fortifications for the Continental army. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are still open—but the nearest bathrooms have been closed because the National Park Service can’t hire anyone to clean them, Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve been here 17 years,” he said, “and I can’t recall anything like this before.” Trump’s proposed budget, released March 16, would eliminate funding for National Heritage Areas, which include historic sites. It would cut funding for the Department of the Interior, which includes the Park Service, by 12%, a $1.5 billion hit. “Everyone wants a more efficient and effective government, but we can’t have staffing levels so low that children don’t have the opportunity to learn about the founding principles that made this country great,” a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney said. Read more