Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Democrats put on the spot at Tea Party Tax Day – slideshow

Senators Smith and Edwards, Councilman Lea and Bestpitch

All elected officials in the Roanoke area were invited to attend but none were permitted to speak. They were there “to listen to us” explained Greg Aldridge.

It was threatening rain at Elmwood Park Friday as about 200 people gathered to protest “Taxed Enough Already.” There was the smell of barbecue (pork?) in the air as the event dubbed a reverse town hall got underway.

It was the third event since a group of 500 people assembled on Reserve Avenue to express frustration over increasing deficit spending. That day led to the formation of the Roanoke Tea Party.

Those attending were Senators Ralph Smith and John Edwards and Roanoke City council members Sherman Lea and Bill Bestpitch. Councilman Ray Ferris observed from afar as did Clerk of Court Brenda Hamilton and other Democrats.

Lea said, “first and foremost I’m a public servant … I don’t ask them if they are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or in the Tea Party. If they are a citizen of the city then I am there to help them.”

Mike Powell who ran as a Republican in the 2010 city council elections took the stage and railed on the $300,000 for another study of an Elmwood Park revamp. He called it a “boondoggle – a project that wastes time and money.”

Later Lea and Bestpitch countered that argument saying the $1.5 million held for the more costly architectural and engineering plans was reduced to $300,000 for plans for the entire park.

Bestpitch thanked the Tea Party members for holding their event in Elmwood Park.

Ray Ferris, Tommy Jordan

Following the speeches that ranged from wind turbines to government overreach elected officials got their chance to ask a question. Senator Smith asked Roanoke Tea Party President Chip Tarbutton if he’d like to see him reintroduce the bill requiring that legislators have the states budget to review 72-hours before a vote on it. Tarbutton responded with an unhesitating “yes.”

Senator Edwards is a favorite target of the Roanoke Tea Party as their website makes clear. He defended his “no” vote on Smith’s bill saying, “we already have in the senate a procedural resolution that is put in place every four years that the budget bill must be on our desk 72-hours before we vote on it … and it is on the Internet.”

That didn’t satisfy Aldridge who asked the audience if they thought they crammed the budget through as fast as they could so they could head home. He enamored the crowd saying, “they’re afraid we’ll find something wrong with it before it has already passed … we don’t buy it … it’s a way to hide what’s going on and we’re tired of it.”

Later Senators Smith and Edwards were in a private discussion with Smith doing most of the talking. Both were smiling and when asked Edwards said, “he wanted to see some compromise on redistricting but I haven’t seen any specifics from the other side.”

The current Senate redistricting plan puts Senator Smith in Senator Steve Newman’s district. Smith said with a smile that he was “flexible” and with children grown was able to live anywhere. Only time will tell what Smith meant by that. We probably have not seen the last of Senator Ralph Smith.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Elections, Local Events, Politics

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