Emmet County’s chapter of Taxed Enough Already is hoping to draw up to 1,000 people to its latest demonstration at 6 p.m. Friday, May 1, in Petoskey’s Pennsylvania Park.
Harbor Springs resident Tom VanHaaren last attended a Tax Day Tea Party in Troy, and is hoping to bring together anyone who is “outraged that Washington has spent us into oblivion.” With an emphasis on being an action-group, VanHaaren’s goal is to help others get involved on their own through phone calls, letter writing and even forming their own committees.
“People don’t need to feel helpless,” he said.
Although the group’s criticism is leveled at Congress and the Obama administration’s stimulus package, VanHaaren pointed out the group is non-partisan.
“This is a passionate, patriotic group of people. We want to take a step back and stop the spending,” said VanHaaren. “A large majority of people who voted in the last election didn’t sign up for an $11 trillion deficit. If that number would have been brought up, I think they would have stopped and thought before they cast their vote.”
In that vein, the group invited Samuel Joseph "Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher to attend the Friday evening event. Wurzelbacher has become a staple at the Tea Parties, attending the February one in Washington, D.C., as well as the Tax Day Tea Party in Lansing among others. Despite becoming a key cog in the final month of the GOP presidential campaign last year, Wurzelbacher echoed the sentiment that the Tea Party is not in line with any specific political orientation.
“Party politics is killing America. This is not just a Republican movement, this is an American movement. It’s for anyone, right or left,” he said. “I go to the Tea Parties to encourage Americans to pull their heads out of the sand.”
Emmet County Democratic Chairman Gordon Bourland called the organizer’s self-label of non-partisan “disingenuous.”
“The first bailout for the financial industry was under the Bush watch and I didn’t hear any cry from the Tea Parties at that point,” he said. “They say it’s just about the money but then they throw in other issues on their signs. They obviously don’t like Obama or the fact that we have a Democratic president.”
Organizers threw their first Tea Party in Petoskey earlier this month on April 11. According to Rich Carlson 137 people showed up in Pennsylvania Park that day, including some from outside Charlevoix and Emmet counties, and he is expecting a much larger turnout on Friday.
“The response I’m getting is coming from all over,” he said. “We’ve talked to the chief of police about possibly closing Lake street. It’s going to be big.”
Petoskey Public Safety Department’s Chief Mike Vargo confirmed that closing Lake Street is one possibility he would consider.
“I don’t know how many people to expect,” said Vargo. “But we’re not expecting any problems. We will do what’s necessary to accommodate the people that show up.”