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State park mess: ``We don't know what to do''

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``We don't know what to do.''

IDNR employees are in a state of befuddlement. That and similar remarks came from multiple employees at state sites on Monday. Are they staying or going? Will there be layoffs? If so, how many?

On a related note, research shows the closures have a bias against Republican counties.

Gov. Blagojevich signed the bill keeping state parks open late Thursday, yet opted to only four--Hennepin Canal Parkway, Kickapoo, Channahon Parkway and Gebhard Woods--of the original 11 slated for closure will remain open.

Castle Rock, Hidden Springs, Illini, Lowden, Moraine View, Weldon Springsand Wolf Creek are still slated for shutdown after Sunday.

The question is whether those closures will mean layoffs of IDNR employees.

``You would think somebody would make decision,'' said a state employee facing a forced move to another site.

``We are still determining how many employees will now be affected given these changes,'' IDNR spokesman Chris McCloud said.

What is determined is that the closures are biased against Republican areas, according to research--``Do Illinois Park Closings Show Party Bias?''--by Amidon Research in River Forest. It was forwarded by Carl Washburn.

But what that means is interesting. Here's the conclusion of the four-page report, available at (relatively easy reading):

``None of these observations technically demonstrates `cause and effect.' Even if the DNR's selections diverged more sharply from random choices, evidence of such a relationship or correlation is never, by itself, proof of causation. State legislators from both major political parties have raised objections to the park closings; and some have suggested that, in this issue as in others, what separates the two sides is the cleavage between Governor and Speaker of the House of Representatives, both Democrats.''

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I have a few questions about the closings too, as I have enjoyed visiting Castle Rock SP a number of times:

- are they completely closed (i.e. gated and locked and 'no trespassing' signs put up - so you can't walk in either) or are they just unstaffed, but you can still enter them.
- might they reopen when the new fiscal year starts
- there aren't any thoughts from our governor about selling any of these parks are there?
No telling what else he might do to try and get money for other parts of the budget
- have other state parks closed for a lengthy period of time, in the past, and what adverse effects on the ecology of the park were there? (through lack of any open space management during that time)

It's a bad time for users of these parks, but the worry for state employees is worse, so thanks for your continued coverage of this issue, Dale.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on November 24, 2008 11:28 AM.

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