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Seven Philadelphia historic sites closed amid hiring freeze

By Daniel Uria
Seven Philadelphia historic sites closed amid hiring freeze
The union supporting Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park said seven of the parks attraction, including the Declaration House pictured above, have been closed as a result of a hiring freeze implemented by President Donald Trump. Photo by Beyond My Ken/Wikimedia Commons

March 15 (UPI) -- The union representing Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park announced several historic locations were closed due to a hiring freeze.

The American Federation of Government Employees Local 2058, said the hiring freeze on government employees implemented by President Donald Trump resulted in the closure of seven park attractions including the Franklin Printing Office, Thaddeus Kosciuszko House, the Declaration House, the Fragment Museum, New Hall Military Museum, the Todd House and the Bishop White House.

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AFGE President David Fitzpatrick said five park bathrooms on at Fifth and Chestnut street, used by "thousands of visitors every day," were also closed indefinitely as of Jan. 1, 2017.

Fitzpatrick told the Philadelphia Inquirer the hiring freeze made it impossible for the park to hire people to clean the bathrooms, forcing visitors to use public restrooms two blocks away at Sixth and Market streets.

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He also said while the park occasionally closes certain exhibits during the off-season, the current round of closures was unusual.

"I've been here 17 years and I can't recall anything like this before," Fitzpatrick said.

Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, said the present staff levels were troubling.

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"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," she said. "That's just bad government. We hope that as Congress and the president consider their budget, they will learn from this mistake and institute a budget that lives up to our nation's proud history of serving our most vulnerable."

Representatives from the National Park Service did not comment on the closures ahead of Trump's planned budget announcement on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the Independence National Historical Park said the Office of Management and Budget approved the National Park Service's plan to hire seasonal employees, but did not specify their roles or whether any of the hires were specific to Philadelphia.

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