To demonstrate its displeasure with the federally run Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum having booked an appearance by former Nixon White House counsel [and current Nixonite Watergate fall guy] John Dean, the private Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation last month pulled back $150,000 it had pledged to co-sponsor events at the Yorba Linda facility.
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This proved no big whoop at first as the federal government made up for the shortfall at the museum, which is part of the National Archives system. However, the funding change is presenting one challenge when it comes to mounting an annual Christmas tradition at the museum courtesy of volunteers from the Train Collectors of America, Western Division.
"In past years the private Nixon Foundation provided them with meals as a nice gesture while they were working on the show," says Tim Naftali, the museum's executive director. "The National Archives is willing and able to pick up most of the costs of the show--the materials costs and the cost of advertising--but federal regulations do not permit us to buy meals for volunteers." Naftali has been paying out of his own pocket or leaning on friends to kick in donations during these initial weeks of being foundation-less . But that gravy train only lasts so long. The museum and the Train Collectors of America are now busy trying to raise a refreshment fund for the volunteers.
"The volunteers themselves are asking for nothing," Naftali says, "but we feel it is only right that they not have to build model train exhibits on an empty stomach. The show is designed for the entire family, but we find that 'big kids' and little kids appreciate it the most."
Nixon was called a lot of things in his day: crook, peacemaker, red-baiter, elder statesman, obsessive paranoid. The foundation that honors him has now come up with one for themselves: Grinch.