Amy Mitchell, an organizer with the local county TEA Party, has picked up on a national trend. In an e-mail to the mayor of Colorado Springs, Mitchell argues that the city has shown unfair favor to the Occupy Colorado Springs protesters by charging them a significantly lower daily fee to use Acacia Park than the city charged the TEA partiers. She's demanding recompense.
Mitchell isn't the first to think of this tactic — the same complaint has been made in Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee:
Tea Party groups across the nation are accusing local and state governments of a double standard — charging them fees to hold rallies in public parks, while allowing Occupy protesters to set up camp for free.
“I find it extremely frustrating and upsetting,” said Colleen Owens, a spokesperson for the Richmond Tea Party. “It is definitely a slap in the face.”
Owens is demanding a refund of about $10,000 from the city of Richmond ...
In her e-mail, Mitchell lays out the costs for the TEA Party to hold its upcoming April 15, 2012 Tax Day event: $750 day park rental; $25 application fee; $24 electricity usage; $150 refundable deposit; and the attendant costs of security and insurance. All this expense, Mitchell complains, while Occupy Colorado Springs only had to dish out $100 for a month-long permit: "It is difficult to understand why the City has shown such a blatant double standard to a group that has been co-opted by the Socialist and Marxist Parties."
Mitchell's e-mail is printed in full below, and what it fails to mention, or to take into consideration, is that the two organizations received two very different permits for specific reasons. The two permits are handled by two different departments in the city, and fall under two very different fee structures.
For the OCS protest, the city granted a revokable permit for use of the city's right-of-way. This is the same permit that the city grants to, say, Starbucks or Subway when those businesses want to open an outdoor patio. What this basically states is that the permit holder may set up chairs or tables in the right-of-way, or even cordon off a section of the sidewalk, as long as they don't block the flow of foot traffic.
"Once they put up tents and tables, and the Porta-Potty, they needed a permit for those structures," says city senior planner Ryan Tefertiller.
This permit doesn't allow for access to electricity.
The most expensive revokable permit would be for a large outdoor patio, he says. This permit runs $225, but is typically granted a year at a time. So, at $100 a month, OCS' permit is actually more expensive per day.
For their upcoming TEA Party rally in Acacia, Mitchell's organization secured an exclusive-use Special Event permit for the entire park.
According to Stacy Fritts, special events coordinator with the parks department, "If they needed to set anything up, tables, tents, they could. They have access to our band shell, access to electricity, access to the bathrooms. If they are setting up their event and another event were to show up and try to set up, they could ask them to leave."
This means that Mitchell and friends have the exclusive right to use the whole park for that day, while OCS only has permission to use one section of the sidewalk for a month.
Apples, meet oranges.
Here's Mitchell's letter, dated Nov. 3:
The purpose of this e-mail is to voice my objection to the favoritism shown to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) inhabitants of Acacia Park and to demand the same daily fee of $1.67 for the El Paso County TEA Party’s April 15th, 2012 Tax Day event, which is reserved with Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department. According to Jason Warf of OWS, as stated in the October 21st Gazette article, “we got everything we asked for” from the city’s planning office.
It is easy to understand why Jason is so “ecstatic”, the inhabitants of Acacia Park are living there for $1.67 per day (60-days for $100.00: 30-days with no permit and then another 30-days for $100.00) versus the $750.00 paid by the El Paso County TEA Party to hold the annual April 15th tax day event at Acacia Park in 2011. In addition to the $750.00 for the Park rental fee, the TEA Party is required to pay a $150.00 refundable damage deposit, a $25.00 application fee, $24.00 for electricity, are required to hire security, to hold an insurance policy for a minimum of $500,000 with an aggregate of $1,000,000 and to obtain a noise hardship permit.
It is difficult to understand why the City has shown such a blatant double standard to a group that has been co-opted by the Socialist and Marxist Parties. As stated by www.socialistworker.org “the Spreading from city to city, the tactics of Occupy Wall Street are to take a central public space, a park or a square, close to where many of the levers of power are centered, and by putting human bodies there convert public space into a political commons, a place for open discussion and debate over what that power is doing and how best to oppose its reach.” It says “we are the 99 percent.” “We have the majority and this majority can, must and shall prevail. Since all other channels of expression are closed to us by money power, we have no other option except to occupy the parks, squares and streets of our cities until our opinions are heard and our needs attended to.” It goes farther to claim the body politic is actually the “Party of Wall Street” and “These principles have been carved into the body politic of our world through the collective will of a capitalist class animated by the coercive laws of competition.” “In light of The Party’s favored slogans of freedom and liberty to be guaranteed by private property rights, free markets and free trade, actually translate into the freedom to exploit the labor of others, to dispossess the assets of the common people at will and the freedom to pillage the environment for individual or class benefit.” Read here
Additional support showing the Marxist agenda can be seen here. [Ed note: Brain-damage warning, this is a link to the New York Post.]
Patriotic citizens in Colorado Springs are interested in this topic. I will give the Mayor’s office a chance to remedy this favoritism. If the remedy is not equivalent, we will take additional steps to gain fair treatment to the TEA Party.
We look forward to hearing from your office.
EPC TEA Party
P.O. Box 49083, Colorado Springs, CO 80949