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Shutdown ensnares Cherry Blossom Festival, GW Parkway race

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A runner crosses the finish line at the 2010 GW Parkway Classic. A shutdown is likely to postpone this year's race. (With permission, from swimbikerunphoto.com)

The collateral damage from the increasingly-likely government shutdown is spreading. The Office of Management and Budget has decided that permits issued by the National Park Service will be revoked if there’s a shutdown, complicating matters for the National Cherry Blossom Parade and George Washington Parkway Classic race.

The Cherry Blossom Festival said they’re still planning to hold the parade Saturday and said “all possible avenues will be pursued to move ahead with the parade as scheduled.” But the kite festival and performances on the Washington Monument grounds will be canceled if the government shuts down.

And Sunday’s Parkway Classic is almost certain to be postponed in the event of a shutdown. The organizers have been trying to find a backup plan to keep the 5-kilometer and 10-mile races on schedule. (Full disclosure: I was planning on running the race too.) The race begins at Mount Vernon and continues up the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which is operated by the National Park Service.

But race director Kathy Dalby said in an interview that the chance of getting an exemption permitting the event to go on “does not look good.”

“It all comes down to the permit,” Dalby said.

The race also relies on about 35 Park Police officers to set up barricades, provide security and run traffic control, and Dalby said that trying to get local police to fill in on such short notice “would be quite the logistical nightmare.”

The race will probably be rescheduled for May 1. Dalby said that if the government is still shut down by then, they’re working on an alternative plan to run the race entirely in the city limits of Alexandria, Va.

“The race will go on, one way or another,” Dalby said. “Just maybe at a later date.”

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  1. James Pygid Says:
    April 7th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    A reader writes:

    “since the proposed path to prosperity asks federal employees to contribute 1/2 of their defined benefit,
    up from 0.8 percent of payroll, has anyone figured what percent of payroll that would entail? the effect
    of doubling to 1.6% of payroll would be significantly different than requiring employees to contribute,
    say, 16% of payroll. so what does the 1/2 of defined benefit work out to in terms of actual contribution?
    you could do a real service by providing that info.”

    Good question. In their draft report last November, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform really did make this request:

    Ask federal workers to contribute ½ the cost (not 1/14th )… page 38.

    The commission noted this change would save $4 billion in 2015, and $51 billion by 2020.

    So, how much are we talking about in terms of actual contribution? Let’s do an example.

    Employee salary is $74,000. This provides him with $2,836, gross, every two weeks. His current contribution of 0.8% results in $22.68 being withheld from his check. If $22.68 is 1/14th of the cost of his annuity, then 7/14th , or one half, would be seven times more, or (7 * 22.68). This works out to $158.76, or 5.6%, per pay period.

    If the percent withheld were simply doubled, then the new 1.6% withholding would be $45.37, but this is not what the commission proposed. They would like for feds to “…contribute ½ the cost.” If my arithmetic is correct, this means each employee must pay seven times more!

    That’s the bad news. In the final draft of their report, released in December, the commission changed their verbiage to:

    Adjust the ratio of employer/employee contributions to federal employee pension
    plans to equalize contributions. (recommendation 4.1, page 46)

    Did someone see that the increase was seven fold? Did they shy away from saying this, due to the negative impact? Did they see the folly of asking employees to voluntarily accede to such a huge increase?

    This is just my opinion, but I believe that this proposal, if enacted, combined with the cost-cutting high-five instead of high-three, will make the FERS pension so unattractive, employees will seek ways to opt out. One way to opt out is to resign.

    The website fedretire.us is an excellent tool for quickly ann accurately calculating various Federal benefits.