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About 45 islanders protest government spending in local 'tea party'
This tea party had a little bite to it.
About 45 islanders converged at noon on the courthouse lawn in Friday Harbor to protest against government spending at all levels in a local rendition of the anti-tax tea parties taking place today across the nation.
With signs in hand and hats adorned with tea bags, residents of Lopez, Orcas and San Juan islands shared a distaste for the taxpayer-financed bailouts of Wall Street and the banking and automobile industries, as well as this year's $3 trillion-plus federal budget. They had little appreciation for any increase in state or local taxes either.
Orcas Island's Cindy Carter said that her property tax increased by 28 percent this year. She noted as well that a 7 percent increase in garbage tipping fees recently went into effect, that land owners now pay a parcel fee to help prevent stormwater runoff, and that this year the fee for noxious weed control more than doubled.
"I'm as angry as I can possibly be," said Don Pencil of Orcas Island.
The group chant may well have summed up the mood of many: "No more taxes, no more fees, no more bailouts if you please."
Today's tea party protests coincided with the April 15 deadline for filing state and federal tax returns. For many gathered on the courthouse lawn, it was a first-ever plunge into political activism.
With eight children and one son in the military, Debbie Degraft of Lopez Island said she's concern about the size of the national debt and where the Obama administration is leading the nation.
"I'm very concerned about Mr. Obama's direction," she said.
Jenny Ledford of San Juan Island said those politicians who voted in favor of the bailouts should be voted out of office.
"Anybody who voted for the bailouts needs to go," she said.
For some, today's protest was more about the fallout on future generations from the amount government spends, rather than which political party is responsible for ratcheting up the bill.
"It's not about partisanship," San Juan's Koshi Holt said. "It's about our children and our grandchildren and what kind of world we're leaving them. It's an American issue."
According to the online National Debt Clock, the outstanding public debt as of today at 11:03:37 p.m. GMT is $11 trillion — specifically, $11,176,306,318,864.49.
The estimated population of the United States is 306,008,050, so each citizen's share of this debt is $36,522.92.