November 6, 2011

#OCCUPYFAIL: TIMES DISPATCH: Occupy Richmond’s Special Treatment Weakens Democracy.

On Friday, Oct. 28, Corky Mann, treasurer of the Richmond Tea Party, hand-delivered an invoice to the City of Richmond for the total costs incurred from three separate April 15 events at Richmond’s downtown Kanawha Plaza.

The annual Richmond Tea Party Tax Day Rally, a major venue through which we both alert and educate Virginians on fiscal and other policy issues, has been a mainstay event for the organization each year since the 2009 inaugural rally.

The $8,500 invoice represents dollars budgeted for the Richmond Tea Party’s three Tax Day rallies. When combined with the many hundreds of volunteer hours utilized for these events alone, the overall investment represents a good portion of the organization’s available resources.

For each event at Kanawha Plaza we filed timely applications for governmental review and paid all required permit fees. We arranged for toilets, first-aid care, staging, lights and sound, off-duty police officers for security, event insurance and volunteers trained to support an orderly day of protest. We always left the property as clean as — or cleaner than — we found it.

The Occupy Richmond group met none of these benchmarks while camped out in the same Kanawha Plaza between Oct. 15th and Oct. 31 (the morning they were finally evicted). So in the spirit of our founding principle of equal application of the law, the Richmond Tea Party is requesting a full refund from the City of Richmond for city-imposed costs related to these three rallies.

Occupy Richmond participants, as well as their political supporters, appeared to be using the immediate urgency of their concerns as an excuse for bypassing required procedures and costs. Yet, despite knowing the urgency of our fiscal and overall national plight three years ago, Tea Partiers never expected free services, never destroyed the public areas entrusted to us, never demanded access beyond that allowed by our permit, never failed to make proper payment of fees and insurance, and never strained police and emergency services systems to the detriment of those in need of those protections and services.

Such irresponsible actions and expectations never, to be blunt, crossed our minds.

That’s because you’re not socialists.

Plus this: “Democratic commentator Bob Beckel recently compared the disparity between the Tea Party’s treatment by local governments and the Occupiers’ to one person getting a better deal on a car than another. Imagine an America where basic equalities and a God-given right to public self-expression are reduced to clearance-sale status, depending on the agenda and whims of the ‘bosses’ on duty at a given time.”

That example — government as used-car salesman — captures both the ethos and the performance of Beckel and his ilk. The truth is, these people get a pass because, as client groups of the Democratic Party, they’re exempt from the enforcement of the law. This may make people who aren’t so favored wonder why they should pay taxes to, or obey the commands of, a system that doesn’t follow the law itself. Well: Why should they? Where’s the legitimacy?

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