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Tax Day Tea Party Fills Elmwood Park

The Tea Party rally drew strong attendance on Tax Day.

Nary a disruption or ill-mannered, disrespectful sign could be found at the Tea Party Rally last week. Some signs were funny, some serious and some analogous to Tea Party-goers’ feelings about being Taxed Enough Already (TEA). The question is, did the estimated 500 people file their federal tax forms on time on this symbolic April 15th TEA day?

Roanoke City resident Blake Medding was anxious to voice his dissatisfaction with the status quo saying, “The word entitlement is the worst word ever invented.” Medding wasn’t quite sold on the Fair Tax, however. The radical tax reform does away with the income tax and replaces it with a consumption tax.

Crystal Kelly, 18, of Roanoke County, is the youngest member of the 2nd Tuesday Constitution Group – a wing of the Tea Party. She waved her “Don’t Tread on Me” flag proudly saying, “we’re like a big family.” Their numbers are growing “and have reached about 30-45 members,” Kelly guessed. She said she used to vote like her parents but is learning to think for herself. The group goes to a shooting range in Franklin County for fun, but she doesn’t own a rifle yet – “not until I know all the rules,” said Kelly.

Greg Aldridge, Board Member and Public Relations Director, kept the speakers moving in their allotted time slots while President Chip Tarbutton queued the guests. Tarbutton believes the crowd peaked shortly after 6 p.m., at 1000 participants. John Lawless, Treasurer and Board Member said, “Everyone wants to come talk to us – that shows you the power.”

Senator Ralph Smith made an appearance but did not take the stage. However, he had encouraging words and advice for the young Republican candidate for city council, Mike Powell.

Powell was pumped. This was his venue and the crowd showed their support with fervent applause. Powell saw no need to increase the meals tax to fund the schools. He concluded, “The people on city council now don’t know how to run the city like a business.”

Aldridge pleaded with the crowd to support Powell and get out disenfranchised Roanoke voters. “It will ‘freak them out’ when Powell wins,” he proclaimed, referring to Roanoke’s current power structure.

Ben Ward, owner of The Isaacs restaurant and Mezé World Café, spoke about the burden that tax collection puts on businesses. He’d rather concentrate on cooking – “Why does it have to be so complicated,” he asked?

Eighth district House majority leader Morgan Griffith gave the assembled crowd a history lesson on the history of taxation – comparing the past Boston Tea Party to the current day Tea Party movement. Griffith is opposing Democrat Rick Boucher for Congress in the 9th District.

Afterward, Griffith said he’d been criss-crossing the district and had just come from a Tea Party in Bluefield. Griffith isn’t worried about living a stone’s-throw from the 9th district. Under the U.S. Constitution candidates only have to be a resident of the Commonwealth to run for Congress.

“I believe people would prefer somebody that may sleep 30 feet outside the district that votes like he is a Southwest Virginian instead of San Franciscan,” said Griffith. He added that “Boucher has not done the job on jobs [either].”

Griffith calculates that with redistricting, 65,000 people will move into the 9th district by 2011 – that will encompass his own residence then as well. With two small children to consider, he’s willing to “take the hit” by not moving to the 9th district now. He’ll wait for the ninth to come to him.

By Valerie Garner
[email protected]

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