Housing Complex

Give That Man a Role on The Daily Show

At this point, it's perplexing to see how National Park Service spokesman Bill Line still has a job. He hasn't talked to me since refusing to provide a map I wanted for this story—except for leaving the longest phone message I have ever received to yell about about the "bias" in this other story (the NPS is very friendly toward bikes, he'll have you know).

But the New York Times' Juliet Macur may have done the best job yet of capturing Line's apparent hatred of journalists. In a report about the fact that the Marine Corps Marathon will not share its Porta Potties with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's sure-to-be-massive rallies the day before, she captures this exchange:

“It is common, typical, regular, ordinary for us to handle multiple events on the National Mall at any given time. Do you get that?”

When asked if the rallies and the marathon might create a problem regarding the availability of toilets on the Mall, Mr. Line sounded incredulous.

“I have every right to ask questions, and I am asking questions that I would like an answer to,” he shouted. “Who’s making these allegations? I want to know who is saying there will be a problem with portable restrooms.”

She isn't exaggerating about the shouting, by the way. Or the suspicion that the story must be motivated by some shadowy outside force; Line also demanded to know who was complaining about D.C.'s lack of ownership over its parks when I wrote about that. And it's not just Macur and me—Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer and TBD's Andrew Beaujon both responded to the story with some familiarity with Line's ways, as did freelance writer Jessica Weiss.

Forget Colbert—it looks like Line is the guy who's really keeping fear alive. Most of the time, it's a press liaison's job to make their agency look good. Perhaps Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity can help restore a little at the Park Service headquarters, too.

  • deecee foodeee

    Link to NYT story?

  • Eric
  • Lydia DePillis

    Whoops, sorry, now the link is in the post.


  • Will

    You can tell Mr. Line that I am one of many citizens of the District of Columbia asking questions about NPS management of park land. And yes, call it complaining. NPS does a bad job of it, and I didn't come to this conclusion by reading Lydia DePillis or David Alpert, I came to it by opening my eyes as to who owned these terribly maintained parcels. I encourage City Paper and GGW in their investigations on this matter, and I reward their coverage by reading, forwarding, and commenting on each new article.

    The facts are the facts, Mr. Line, your agency is a poor steward of these urban spaces, and attacking the messenger won't solve your problem, nor will it mitigate the ire of the residents of this city. NPS has such a long track record of mismanagement that the solution most people arrive at is that NPS should give up the smaller parks to DC and focus on only a few of the large ones.

  • Todd Stellhorn

    He's right your articles are biased, not to mention ill informed. I'd take the NPS over DC any day of the week; and the fact that he didn't assist you after you established your anti-NPS, complaining-yuppie credintials shouldn't come as much of a shock. As far of leaving a long voicemail on your cellphone is concerned I'm sure there's a small violin playing somewhere just for you. And folks if you think the city does a better job at park management than the NPS you'll deserve what happens if they take. Do everybody a favor and read a book about conservation the next time you get the urge to slag off what is probably the most honorable govt. agency around.

  • 4th NE


    NPS is an absolutely horrible steward of our small, local parks. There is nothing related to "conservation" in how they handle the little triangles and other smaller plots. If they cared about conservation here like they do in the massive parks out West, we'd have the Federal reservations planted with an array of native plants to provide habitat for birds, butterflies, etc. Or, if they cared about communities, we'd get some playgrounds, bike racks, etc.

    Instead we get nothing... periodic mowing, and a complete lack of snow shoveling. I don't know what NPS is trying to "conserve," but they have absolutely no idea how to maintain the vast majority of the tiny pockets of urban land that they control in DC.

  • Chickenbot

    Bill Line is such a dick. And he really, really needs to be fired, what a horrible frontman for the NPS!

  • Kevin

    To Todd Stellhorn:

    So the writer is "biased" and you'd "take the NPS over DC any day of the week," eh?

    Maybe your own bias is showing here. I wonder if it is a coincidence that a "Todd Stellhorn" is listed on LinkedIn as an employee of the NPS?

    ("Lead Interpretive Ranger at National Park Service")

    Your blind loyalty in defense of the NPS is admirable, in a way, as the agency has many great employees and has done great work in many areas. But Bill Line is an ass, and more importantly, there is no good reason why the National Park Service should be running tiny urban parks. It makes no sense at all.

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