News Column

Protesters March in L.A. Over Shutdown

October 3, 2013

Gregory J. Wilcox, Daily News

Oct. 03--WESTWOOD -- As the partial government shutdown dragged into its second day on Wednesday, protesters hit the streets in front of the federal building in Westwood, where inside it was pretty much business as usual.

Around 11 a.m. about 50 sign-carrying protesters lined the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Avenue, to lament the closure and urge passing motorists to honk in support.

The protest was put together by Organizing for Action, a group that supports President Barack Obama's initiatives and is angered by the Republican attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act, which took effect on Tuesday.

Porter Ranch resident Peter Rothenberg, one of the organizers, chided lawmakers for the strident stance on the federal budget and health care.

"They are the problem. They are supposed to work things out. You don't take your ball and go home," he said. "The government isn't doing its job."

Nicole Rousseau, 69, a retired real estate agent from Santa Monica, helped hold up a sign that read "Call Congress, Demand Action." She is miffed that Republicans are using the shutdown to hammer the new health care system.

"It's been passed as a law and supported by the Supreme Court. What's going on is nothing but blackmail," she said.

A faction of the Republican Party has been trying to repeal the health care law, saying it is will be too expensive to implement.

Both sides tried Wednesday to get the government reopened but Democrats don't want to yield on the heath care issue.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urged the Republicans to end the shutdown by passing a temporary spending plan and he offered to immediately commit to negotiations on a longer-term plan.

But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, rejected that offer.

"Offering to negotiate only after Democrats get everything they want is not much of an offer," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told the Associated Press.

The partial government shutdown didn't limit most operations at the federal facility in Westwood. While the protest was taking place government employees were at work in the high-rise, the parking lot was close to full and the Federal Cafe was serving breakfast and lunch.

Son Van Do, 52 a tailor, had driven in from San Bernardino hoping to pick up a passport so he could travel to Vietnam today.

He got it but was not entirely pleased.

"When I got my passport I was happy. But I don't want the government shutdown. The government should be open," he said.

For Shavoane Hamilton, 25, of Gardena, the trip to the federal building to pick up her passport was a pleasant surprise. It was a fairly crowed place when she began the process on Monday.

"I'm shocked," she said of her hassle-free experience on Wednesday. "It was something of a problem on Monday."

Hamilton, a hair stylist, is heading to Barcelona, Spain, in a few weeks and hasn't given much thought to the government problem.

"I don't really have much to say. The jury is still out on that, and I haven't formed my judgment."

___

(c)2013 Daily News (Los Angeles)

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Source: (c)2013 Daily News (Los Angeles)


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