April 18, 2009
Tax protesters show up in force at City Hall
If it was a beautiful day for an anti-war rally (see earlier post), it was equally fine for an anti-tax rally.
... and an anti-Doyle rally, an anti-Obama rally, an anti-the-two-guys-on-the-ballot-for-mayor rally, an anti-liberals rally... I'm sure I'm forgetting some of the targets.
Racine's version of the nationwide onslaught of tea bag rallies -- harking back to the Boston Tea Party and standing for Taxed Enough Already -- was eclectic, all right; a well-organized event on the lawn of City Hall that drew upwards of 250 sign-waving, slogan-cheering protesters. Almost all were from one side of the political spectrum, except for a small handful of Obama Democrats who wisely kept mostly to themselves.
Lora Halberstadt, one of the organizers, started things off by leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, and concluded it 45 minutes later by promising, "we'll gather again and again, until they get it."
In between, speakers held forth.
Jayne Siler, from the Racine Taxpayers Assn.:
"I thought I was the only person in Racine concerned about taxpayers' rights," she said, acknowledging the large crowd, even more impressive for the speed in which the rally was put together. Siler ripped some of the larger local budgets spent without adequate taxpayer input: $63 million spent by the Gateway Technical College Board; $30 million that Racine Unified took from reserves under previous superintendent Tom Hicks.
The crowd was with her, offering shouts of "No taxation without representation" and "They work for us, we don't work for them."
Fred Dooley, whose RealDebateWisconsin blog is a conservative bastion:
People are struggling and have to make cuts, he said; government should do the same thing instead of raising taxes. "This isn't about left and right, it's about doing the right thing so we have something left in our pockets. It's about the ridiculous expansion of our budget," a 10% increase on the state level, he said.
He also ridiculed the city's plan to spend more than $1 million on four 20-passenger hybrid buses -- $350,000 apiece -- which will be used on routes that often carry only three or four passengers. "Let 'em buy a minivan for $7,000" he said.
Jody Harding, write-in candidate for mayor:
She started by pointing out that the Journal Times announced her candidacy in a four-sentence story on the obituary page (here's ours), but quickly aimed her rhetorical guns at John Dickert and Bob Turner, the two candidates on the ballot for mayor. "Both are for big government, and more taxes. There's no difference between them," she said. "But you do have a choice, and her name is Jody Harding!"
"I came to talk about taxes. It's not just about our money, it's about our liberty. The enemy is apathy, helplessness and despair. We will not turn over our future to a mindless and mostly inept government."
Harding, by the way, filed her Campaign Registration Statement with the Racine City Clerk's office on Friday, so she is an "official" write-in candidate for mayor.
Cathy Stepp, former State Senator:
"There's no better country than this, where you get up, go to work and pay your own bills."
"We need to send a message to this governor who thinks raising taxes at this time, when we each have less, is the right way to go."
She also took a shot at President Obama for regulating carbon dioxide emissions. "My own breath will be regulated?" she asked.
Pastor David King of Milwaukee:
He started by asking if there were any liberals in the crowd... "The ones that are for taxes. Can you come up and pay mine?"
"Our country is going to Hell in a wastebasket. First we take God out of our government; now our government sucks. Then we take God out of our schools, and our schools suck; they took God out of everything, and after 9/11 they asked, 'Where is God?' "
"Rise up, take your city back. Kick out those liberals," he said.
Also noticed in the crowd were State Rep. Robin Vos, who got a shout-out from Stepp; and two members of the Racine City Council. Greg Helding, one of the eleven mayoral candidates in the primary, said the event "sounds like a Jody for Mayor campaign rally." And Jim Kaplan noted, "This is what makes America so great; in other countries, police would come out with machineguns to shut the thing down."