Spite House priorities: Missing kids out, hydration in; Update: DoJ retreats, restores site
posted at 8:07 am on October 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
After a week of inexplicable and expensive measures to deny access to memorials that have no barrier to entry and to physical sites that aren’t actually run by the National Parks Services. the Obama administration has earned the sobriquet “Spite House.” Over the weekend, NPS kicked out residents on Lake Mead, including an elderly couple who had 24 hours to clear out of their own home:
Joyce Spencer is 77-years-old and her husband Ralph is 80. They’ve been spending most of their time in the family ice cream store since going home isn’t an option.
The Spencers never expected to be forced out of their Lake Mead home, which they’ve owned since the 70s, but on Thursday, a park ranger said they had 24 hours to get out. …
Joyce Spencer said she’s alright in the meantime, staying with nearby family, but the move was a lot to handle as a senior citizen.
“I had to be sure and get his walker and his scooter that he has to go in,” Spencer said. “We’re not hurt in any way except it might cost me if I have to go buy more pants.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the effort then turned from physical sites to virtual sites. Despite having funds to run essential operations — which most would figure includes law enforcement operations, especially those involving the safety of children — the Department of Justice shut down the Amber Alert website system over the weekend:
The Amber alert system, the national missing-child warning program, has been shut off due to the government shutdown, according to the Department of Justice.
“Due to the lapse in federal funding, this Office of Justice Programs website is unavailable,” it says on amberalert.gov.
The Amber Alerts proper are still in operation, but the federal website served as an important central point of search on news of missing children. There is no reason to shut down a website that is already up and running, either. It doesn’t save money unless they’re turning off the servers, and they’re clearly not doing that. The website might not get updates if the staff running it is furloughed, but once up and running it should more or less run on its own — much like the World War II memorial does when NPS officials are not on duty.
Update: Jake Tapper reports that the faceplant became too much for the DoJ and the White House:
In any case, after some negative publicity over the weekend and concern by many members of the public that the whole system was down, the Justice Department reversed course and restored the AmberAlert.gov website. …
The official told CNN that the website is informational only, detailing the department’s role in providing training to states on how to have an Amber Alert system, and that the alerts themselves were not affected. Amber Alerts are issued jurisdictionally, by county or state, the official said, adding that the Amber Alert system, which consists largely of press notifications, highways signs, and tweets, is functional and not affected by the shutdown.
The Justice Department official explained the website’s page appearing as if Amber Alert is down by saying, “The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) ran out of funds on Friday so all of the sites they maintain about the work they do went offline.”
It was not clear as to why it would cost less to change the website’s appearance than to just keep it the way it was.
It doesn’t cost less; it almost certainly cost more to take the site off line than it would have cost to leave it alone. Spite House, indeed.