Eye Opener: Do We Need Columbus Day?
Happy Monday! Most federal employees will spend Monday away from the office, celebrating the seventh of ten federal holidays they enjoy each year.
But Conor Dougherty and Sudeep Reddy of the Wall Street Journal wonder if the holiday is on the outs:
In California, Columbus Day is one of two unpaid holidays getting blown away by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of a budget-cut proposal. In Washington, D.C., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid canceled this year's weeklong Columbus Day recess so the senators can buckle down on health care. (They still get Monday off, though.)
Another obstacle: Columbus Day hasn't transcended its original purpose, as some other holidays have. Sure, Columbus Day celebrates one of the world's great explorers. But Memorial Day and Labor Day also do double duty as summer's official bookends, whereas Columbus Day is stuck in mid-October, halfway between summertime and Christmas. And many Americans apparently prefer more days off around Christmas.
But Dougherty and Reddy note that "The holiday isn't under threat everywhere. New York City's longtime Columbus Day parade will still be marching up Fifth Avenue this year, as it has since 1929. The bond market takes the day off, too.
But 22 states don't give their employees the day off, according to the Council of State Governments. And in other places, Columbus Day is under attack. "We're going after state governments to drop this holiday for whatever reason they come up with," said Mike Graham, founder of United Native America, a group fighting for a federal holiday honoring Native Americans.
Should federal employees have the option of working the second Monday in October and taking another day off instead? Should they have the holiday at all? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
• Cabinet and Staff News: Hillary Rodham Clinton stops in Switzerland, the U.K., Ireland and Northern Ireland on her way to Russia. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visits California and Arizona on Monday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack goes home to Iowa on Monday to discuss school nutrition and childhood obesity. Did National Security Adviser James Jones screw up the recent Afghanistan strategy meetings? White House Counsel Gregory Craig insists he's staying put. An Obama Labor Department nominee withdraws.
• OMB to Advise Agencies on Procurement Reforms: The new guidelines will define what's "inherently governmental" and will help agencies decide what contracted work should be brought in-house and what work can be outsourced.
• Insurance Providers Drop Out of Federal Employee Health Program: Some federal employees will have to choose new health plans during open season this year because their insurance providers are leaving the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, or reducing the number of areas they cover.
• New Navy Ship to Be Named for Slain Civil Rights Pioneer: The widow of Medgar Evers fought tears Friday as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, announced that he was naming a new Navy supply ship for her husband.
• CPSC Staff Calls for Mandatory ROV Standards: The agency staff has recommended that it set mandatory rules to regulate recreational off-highway vehicles, signaling that regulators may seek to take a tougher line on consumer-safety issues under the Obama administration.
• New Chief of Patent Office Takes Aim at a Massive Backlog: David Kappos has kicked off an effort to overhaul the patent-application process, seeking to fix the backlogged and financially strapped agency and help the Obama administration earn some good will with the business community.
• Obama Wanted a Petraeus. Buyer Beware.: The Post's Greg Jaffe writes that "The last thing that the White House and the Pentagon brass want is a general who can bypass the chain of command; a general who speaks directly to the president; a general who emerges as the dominant American voice on the war."
• I Didn't Tell. It Didn't Matter.: Trying to serve his country, a young man faced bigotry and abuse.
• Failures of Small Banks Grow, Straining FDIC: In what has become a ritual, the agency has swooped down on a handful of troubled lenders almost every Friday, seizing 98 since January alone and putting their assets into the hands of another bank.
• Border Fence Requirement Is Removed: Congress has stripped a provision from a Department of Homeland Security appropriation bill that would have required 300 more miles of tall fencing along the Mexican border.
| October 12, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener, Workplace Issues
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