Patriot: Victoria Jackson pauses to pout during her
routine at the Tea Party Express rally in Albany.
rally at Tea Party Express spectacle in Albany, but some contend
the movement is being co-opted
crowd of more than 200 people gathered in front of the
Capitol building Tuesday morning, in support of the country’s
most visible upstart political force—the Tea Party Patriots—to
rally against tax increases, government intervention and the
new health-care reform plan.
This event was just one stop on the Tea Party Express’ “Just
Vote Them Out!” event, a national 20-day bus tour, starting
in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s hometown of Searchlight,
Nev., and ending in Washington, D.C. on Tax Day, today (Thursday,
held “Don’t tread on me” flags and signs asserting “Oh yes
we can—vote you out!” and others equating federal government
with organized crime.
Former radio host and current chairman of the Tea Party Express,
Mark Williams, introduced each speaker and performer, all
of whom passionately dismissed President Obama and his policies
in one way or another. Country music duo Revoli Revue sang
“A bailout song,” while youth minister/hip-hop artist Politik
rapped about the mission of the Tea Party. Former Saturday
Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson took the stage
with ukulele in hand, strumming along to her song “A Communist
Lives in the White House.”
Williams boasted about the group’s diversity, later adding,
“We all certainly agree on one thing though. The United States
Constitution protects us, and we will protect the United States
There was an enthusiastic response from the crowd as speakers
expressed their concern about issues such as overtaxation,
unwarranted government bailouts and political institutions’
infringement of personal rights—calling for a change in the
way the government currently operates.
scared,” said Rocky Palma of Ballston, “and I just want to
do what I can. I think this rally is going to inform people,
let them know that other people are feeling the same thing,
maybe comfort them. It’s scary, what we’re spending in taxes,
what the government is spending. It’s really scary. I think
people are genuinely worried about their country. I care about
it and I want to make sure I can do something positive.”
The Tea Party Express drew a crowd from beyond city limits.
Butch and Maryanne Seery made the drive from Poughkeepsie
in the morning to “take back this country,” according to Butch.
“We want to remind the government that they are working for
us,” said Maryanne, “and not the other way around.”
However, the national activities of the Tea Party Express
deterred some Tea Party activists in the Albany area from
attending. They deem events such as these to be “Astroturf,”
falsely claiming to be based on grassroots organization.
chose not to participate,” said Kevin McCashion, a local political
activist and Sons of Liberty coordinator, “because the Tea
Party Express is not representative of the grassroots effort
in the Capital District. There’s a movement afoot, we believe,
that is trying to take away the grassroots energy of the nonpartisan
Tea Party and co-opt it to use it for Republican means.”
Though the beliefs of Tea Partiers and Republicans often align,
the grassrooots Tea Party is of a libertarian effort, which
is to say, people who are more open- minded, according to
you’re attending this event, you’re largely getting your information
from mainstream television,” he said, “and not looking at
The buses, entertainment, and vendors were a large part of
the rally—differing from a local Tea Party event in many ways.
“It’s like Disneyland’s version of a tea party,” said McCashion.
Rally participants contended that the Express tour has the
same general purpose as any other Tea Party event.
just have more of a national presence,” said Bryan Barton,
a Tea Party Express team member, “but we definitely work with
the local groups, not against them.”
seems like these are all salt-of-the-earth people,” said Palma,
who held a sign that advertised the next local tea party,
scheduled for Saturday at noon at the Corning Preserve.
of a rah-rah rally,” said McCashion, “our events are targeted
to turn people into activists.”
Republican candidate for Congress Chris Gibson took the stage
to praise the efforts of the Tea Partiers, citing the work
they’ve done in uptown Troy neighborhoods, suggesting the
Sons of Liberty and the federal government race to see who
could be more efficient. “We could give the federal government
a 99-meter head start, and the Sons of Liberty would win.”
The high energy of the rally was interrupted near the end,
as Debbie Lee addressed the people with a speech about her
son, who was killed in Iraq. The liveliness resumed when the
Revoli Revue performed once more to close the show.
an exciting movement, and it’s a blast,” said Barton. “We
cruise into town, get everyone pumped up, put on a great show,
and hope to get more people politically involved.”
the Landfill, and the Debt
Common Council hears argument to throw “good money after bad”
At last month’s meeting of the Albany Common Council, six
legislators voted against an ordinance authorizing the city
to borrow the money to pay for the second phase of the controversial
expansion of Rapp Road landfill. In this instance, six votes
were all that were needed to defeat the ordinance. But as
even the expansion’s most vocal critic, Councilman Dominick
Calsolaro, will admit, that minor victory was just a glitch
in the process.
city has already been spending money from out of the general
fund” to pay for the landfill’s expansion, he said. And if
the council votes at the upcoming monthly meeting to sell
the bonds to cover the costs of the expansion’s next phase,
the money will go back into the general fund.
The holdouts from the last vote: Calsolaro, councilwomen Carolyn
Fahey and Barbara Smith, as well as freshmen councilmen Anton
Konev and Lester Freeman.
If the city were to stop funding the expansion of the landfill
now, City Treasurer Kathy Sheehan told the council Monday,
the landfill would be full in two years, and the city would
be facing twice the amount of debt estimated to be accrued
from the expansion.
Sheehan said that if the city were to stop the expansion now,
after constructing phase one, which only expands the landfill’s
lifetime for two years, it would be facing roughly $60 million
in debt service. However, if the city moves forward with the
total expansion, it would be facing only $40 million in debt.
And nearly half of that debt is due to the restoration costs
for the Pine Bush—a restoration that must be paid for “regardless
of if we move forward with the second phase or not,” Sheehan
the expansion started, and it has started—the permit was approved,
the city borrowed money last year to build the first phase
of the expansion—from a ‘dollars and cents’ perspective, it
doesn’t make sense to only expand for an additional two years
of life, ” Sheehan said.
Sheehan also informed the council that, from the $11.6 million
in annual revenue generated by the landfill, the city makes
roughly $4 to $5 million. She stressed that all of her numbers
are only estimates at this point, and are based on information
that has been made available to her from DGS. It is difficult
to track down exact costs and profits (as Calsolaro has pointed
out for years), as the city doesn’t manage the landfill in
an enterprise fund, and instead just directs the revenue into
the general fund, and obscures costs in the budget.
The general fund can essentially be treated like a citywide
Sheehan said, instead, that the city needs to use an enterprise
fund for the landfill, “so that all of the revenue associated
with that activity and all of the liability associated with
that activity must be accounted for in that fund. So a municipality
can’t just take five million out of 11 million in revenue.
The municipality has to demonstrate that that is really excess
an opportunity here to learn from the past, and do things
differently going forward,” Sheehan said.
Those who support the expansion of the landfill argue that
the city just can’t stand to losing that revenue stream.
are fortunate because we have this stream of revenue,” said
Councilman John Rosenzweig. “And anyone who is going to vote
against bonding has to explain how we are going to move forward
without the revenue stream.”
The landfill revenue funds valuable city resources, he said.
we close the landfill, people on the council will need to
stand up and state to the public what it is in services that
they are willing to cut. Because to discuss one without the
other is pointless,” he said.
Although Calsolaro assumes that the council will move forward
with the bonding, he considers this most recent hitch to be
a considerable victory.
were never told until this year that that shredder costs $1.2
million a year just to fuel it,” said Calsolaro. “Nobody ever
told us that. Nobody ever told us that every two weeks they
had to replace a timing chain or something that costs $7,000
to replace. They never gave us that information before as
it regarded the landfill. So we are finally getting more information.
We are finally getting information that I have been requesting
for years and years and years. And now we are getting it.
So, I didn’t win the war but I have been winning some of the
battles, and some of the battles have been just getting the
loose ends this week-