Federal employees report to work ready to go home
BY Frank Abderholden, JON SEIDEL AND DAVE MCKINNEY Staff Reporters October 1, 2013 10:54AM
Updated: November 3, 2013 6:19AM
Employees reported to work at the John C. Kluczynski Federal Building downtown but many quickly left.
Tourists visited the Springfield home of Abraham Lincoln but could only view the exterior of the golden-painted two-story residence.
And Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration pink-slipped 73 workers while more than 2,000 civilians were furloughed at Naval Station Great Lakes.
On Tuesday, many federal and state workers, as well as national landmarks tourists, were all victims of the first government shutdown in 17 years as Congress gridlocked.
More than 2,000 affected at Great Lakes
At Great Lakes, even base spokesman John Sheppard was being furloughed.
While some restaurants will remain open because of the revenue stream they produce, the base’s commissary is staffed by “appropriated fund civil servants” and the store was to close Tuesday night.
“Congress stopped appropriating funds at midnight, so here we are,” he said. “And appropriated funds are more than just civilians. You can’t buy toilet paper for the barracks.”
Robin Schmitt, 33, of Grayslake, was holding her son, James, 20 months, as bagger Caniah Oliva, 30, of Great Lakes, loaded what Schmitt hopes will be a month’s worth of groceries into her vehicle.
“I hope this lasts an entire month, the last one was 17 days?” she said, referring to the Clinton era shutdown that lasted three weeks.
Many federal workers downtown weren’t surprised by the shutdown.
Edward Bogle, an investigator for the U.S. Department of Labor, said he was stopping by the job to “collect my pink slip.”
“My co-worker just texted me that he was in and out in less than an hour,” Bogle said.
Quinn administration pink slips
The federal shutdown penetrated Quinn’s administration, which temporarily pink-slipped 73 state government employees whose paychecks are funded through the federal government. Fifty-three workers are with the state Department of Military Affairs, while 20 are employed at the Illinois Department of Employment Services as economic analysts, said Abdon Pallasch, Quinn’s assistant budget director.
More layoffs could be in the offing if the shutdown goes beyond a few days.
“The timing of such temporary layoffs, should they be necessary, will depend on existing resources at each, individual agency,” Pallasch said.
Landmarks — another shutdown casualty
Despite being another casualty of the government shutdown, the Springfield home of Abraham Lincoln, run by the National Park Service, continued to draw tourists Tuesday.
“It’s beautiful even from the outside, but I’m very disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to see the inside, and I am furious that the government is shut down. It’s costing us a billion dollars a day that we don’t have, and it’s not necessary,” said Jeanie Garrity, a 72-year-old retired high school history teacher from Wenatchee, Wash.