San Juan residents protest earmarks, 'unconstitutional' health care reform law

Richard Ledford, holding a sign that says
Richard Ledford, holding a sign that says 'Dissent is the Highest Form of Patriotism,' chats with Pastor Archie Brooks during a gathering Thursday to protest federal spending, particularly legislative earmarks and the health care reform law.
— image credit: Ron Bates

At least 20 islanders, referring to themselves as Tea Party supporters, gathered during the noon hour in front of the county courthouse Thursday to protest what they called an "assault on the average taxpayer" by government.

Specifically, they opposed the recently approved federal health care reform bill as unconstitutional. They also opposed what protester Jenny Ledford called "the continued padding of all legislation with earmarks."

An "earmark" is a provision in a bill that directs funds to be spent on specific projects or directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees. Earmarks can be added on to appropriations bills, causing more money to be spent; or they can be "carved out" of bills, which means the same amount of money is spent, but restrictions are placed on how the money is spent.

Government is "spending us into oblivion," Ledford said.

Protesters carried U.S. flags and "Don't Tread on Me" flags, and signs with "Taxed Enough Already," "Dissent is the Highest Form of Patriotism," and "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Dave Vandaveer estimated that about 50 percent of lunch-hour motorists who drove by the corner of Second and Court streets honked horns or waved in approval.

Protesters included Archie Brooks, pastor of Transformation Church; Cindy Carter, chairwoman of the San Juan County Republican Party; Dennis Hazelton, former Friday Harbor port director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and Richard Ledford, former Friday Harbor High School football coach.

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