San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

April 12th, 2009
Letter to the Editor: The right to assemble

To the editor:

On this Wednesday, April 15, citizens across our nation will not only be finishing up their last minute taxes, but will also be standing up county by county for the National TEA Party. There are multiple events scheduled locally in San Marcos, with an event at the county courthouse.

Average people will be making signs and waving them to draw light on the skyrocketing national debt, the corporate bailouts, and to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right of peaceful assembly and free speech.

But, I have received word that the county commissioners may not want to support these rights, and to deny a group of Hays County citizens the right to peacefully assemble. I am hopeful that this is not substantiated, and that the comissioners realize that San Marcos and Hays County citizens can peacefully raise their voices, and let our elected officials know our feelings on what is affecting us (and our children) the most.

I have seen first hand in March how a group can come together to let the San Marcos City Council know that their citizens care about their rights. Over 250 people came, peacfully assembled, and won the right for a choice in their own home and property. I hope the comissioners court can see the wisdom is following the lead of the San Marcos City Council and city police.

Rob Roark
San Marcos

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0 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor: The right to assemble

  1. I am confident that our County Commissioners recognize that the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution is the law of the land and that no special permits should be required, unless an assembly of citizens might temporarily infringe upon the rights of others, i.e. in a street parade or the like. The right to peaceably assemble and petition for a redress of grievances must be respected.

  2. Where was all this outrage when Bush turned our surplus into debt and infringed on our liberties with the Patriot Act? We could have used you then. I understand the thought, but you’re a little late to the party. Suddenly, the stuff many liberals were talking about five years ago matters? We were told to just “shut up”. Oh, and the current administration is actually lowering taxes for most people, so what exactly is your problem? Oh that’s right Glen Beck and Sean Hannity have TOLD you to be outraged, because they are whack-job nutters. It’s “my country right or wrong” when it’s a fundamentalist republican in the White House, but “we’re going to be turned into scary socialist Europe” when it’s a black man who has actual thoughts in his head, and can form complete sentences. First off, we will never be socialist, and secondly most of the “teabaggers” (snicker) don’t even know what socialism is. Conservatives tried to ruin this country and lost because of it. Deal with it.

  3. There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding the basis of this protest. This is not a partisan protest. The republican congress authorized the TARP funds for the banks which the taxpayers(both republicans and democrats) will have to pay for. The democrats are now compounding the problem with the stimulus package and the unbalanced budget which the taxpayers(both democrats and republicans) will have to pay for. The problem is simple. Government spending is out of control. When government spending goes up, taxes must go up. If government spending goes down, taxes can go down.

  4. Jesse check your facts on gov’t spending at the moment. Also the tea bag earrings I want some! Thirdly I highly doubt anyone is going to get in the way to a rightful peacful protest. Also Jesee you have a right to your opinion and who youu choose to vote for and you have the right to voice your concern. God Bless America.

  5. Just remember you racist commissioners that your jobs are on the line in Hays county. How dare you deny the peaceful assembly of the Hays County citizens.

    You are a bunch of hypocrites.

  6. Welcome to Newstreamz Linda. Haven’t seen you post before. Were you in Commissioners Court to support their unanimous vote to cancel the KBR contract? Were they hypocritical then? And I am not sure how you equate racism with your right to protest against federal taxes… You just sound kind of angry. Is it really the Commissioners Court you are angry at? Or just government in general?

  7. I still want to know where these tea party folks were 6-8 months ago. That psycho tin-foil hat Glenn Beck is supposed to be in San Antonio for one in about a week. Maybe instead of spending time complaining and protesting, you should be working on finding individuals to vote in to replace these Congresspeople that have mismanaged your tax dollars.

    I’m sorry, but these “tea party” protests come off as hokey and unsophisticated, and unlikely to get the desired results. Spend your energy finding a replacement for Lamar Smith, Lloyd Doggett, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. All four of them have been involved in pushing through the various bailouts and/or have contributed through policy votes to our current economic situation. Oh? You’re not willing to vote any of them out? After all, they’ve each done an admirable job of “bringing home the bacon.” Then I guess you don’t care THAT much.

    And given the turnout at these protests in other cities (San Antonio expecting 9,000, so I would expect around 700-800 at the Hays Courthouse), Hays County can require a parade/assembly permit for a protest to ensure safety and that the rights of others are not infringed upon during the protest. They need to make sure sufficient resources are in place for public safety. It’s administrative, not some attempt to oppress. I’ve filled out those forms before and it took me maybe 10 minutes. Texas State does the same thing with its free speech area in the quad. Virtually anyone can use it for virtually any purpose, but the university wants to know in advance for logistical purposes. And I don’t know where Linda is coming from with accusing the Hays Commissioners Court of racism. That court may be a lot of things, but racist is not one of them.

  8. First I would like to thank Newstream for covering this issue. I have “suggested” to all the other local media outlets that this would be an interesting story. So thank you Newstream.

    Second I would like to say that I am completely insulted that Jesse B would imply anyone who would be interested in going to a Tea Party is racist. Also that Linda would call the commissioners racist. For both of you this is completely unacceptable. I would like to have a intelligent discussion while not name calling or using such foul sentiment.

    Third this is not a democrat or republican issue nor is it a white or black issue. This is an issue that will greatly change they way all of us have always lived our lives. When spending you HAVE to raise taxes for everyone. Economists are know stating that the new Tax Freedom will be changing to the end of May next year. What does that actually mean? it means that we will be working almost 6 months a year just to pay what our personal tax burden will be.

    My fourth and final point is; we have to start somewhere. I am hoping that these Tea Parties will open millions of eyes and minds so that when the 2010 and 2012 elections come around these people will then change who is currently in office, between Congress designing these bills and the president signing off. If we don’t change who is office we can kiss our way of life goodbye.

  9. 6-8 months ago, NotSoQuietGuy, we where protesting the Bush bailots. I remember celebrating when they rejected the 2008 bailout on the first vote and Doggett voted against it. IIRC, he voted against it the second time too, although he may have waited until it has passed and then voted no to appease the party bosses and his constituants.

    The problem back then was that everyone of “media signifigance” was supporting it. Bush, Obama, McCain, Bernanke, Paulson, Cheney, the self-professed and Fox/MSNBC annointed economic pros where all preaching doom and gloom if it failed. It was spun so much and so fast you’d get vertigo just looking at it. There was a Congresswoman from California who started her speech by saying her consituants where strongly opposed, but finished by saying the only sane vote was yes.

    The problem is gerrymandering-practically every district in this county is gerrymandered one way or the other. Hays County leans every so slightly blue but we’re clumped in with 3-1 Strongly Democratic South Travis who outvote us by over a hundred thousand. Doggett only needed about 140,000 votes to keep his seat. He got almost 130,000 just by being the Democrat on the ballot in south Travis. You could literally take his name off the ballot in Hays County and he would have still won easialy.

    Cornyn/Noriaga wasn’t really an option, they both supported the bailout/stimulus/smile time happy fun money. And in a state (well, really a country) where the party leaders (on both sides) preach “All R/D’s are bad. All D/R’s are good.” and visa versa it’s hard to get the message across that, just because so-and-so is a Democrat (or Republican), just like you, doesn’t mean he best represents you. On campus we had the College Democrats telling people left and left to just to go in, vote straight Democrat, and leave. They said it was easier for everyone and people didn’t really need know anything about the candidates other than the letter next to their name.

    I’ll close by saying this. This Liberty, “Tea Party” whatever movement isn’t just something that came out of thin air to oppose Obama. It’s been building up for, well at least the past two years. We’ve got good candidates running for everything from City Hall to D.C. If you haven’t found them yet feel free to take a look around or talk to me, but don’t go spouting around like you’ve got everything figured out because it doesn’t look like you’ve done any research.

  10. To me this whole Teabag thing is a FOX Noise collaboration with the far-right, pro-war, anti-Obama republicans to prove some relavance. It screams desparate and ignorant.
    My raising prevents me from repeating here the definitions of teabagging, but anyone can go to the and read it for themselves.
    I find it all quite humorous, including their fake scare of possibly being denied the right to assemble.

  11. Griffin, you have just given me my new favorite description of the bailout: “smile time happy fun money.” I’m not disagreeing with the purpose of the “tea-parties”, I just question whether this is the best method to effect change. The budget situation has now transcended partisanship, at least at the grassroots level (though morons like Hannity and Beck are making it appear far more partisan than it really is). That said, you said yourself that this began two years ago, which coincides with the democrat takeover of Congress. The spending spree started in earnest around 2003, under MasterCard Republican leadership. We had a balanced budget in 2000; even with 9/11 and its fallout, we should have been doing PAYGo and simply adjusted taxes, tariffs, etc for the worthy cause of fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. Instead we irresponsibly cut taxes. The measure of a worthy program or effort is whether citizens are willing to sacrifice to get it, whether that means cutting another program or stomaching additional taxes, fees or even fredoms.

    We need to be searching for potential candidates, regardless of party affiliation, that are willing to take on the establishment, but have an electable personality. We need to find folks to elect that are willing to say no to people and are willing to sacrifice re-election in order to act in the best interest of the country. Meanwhile, we are stuck with MasterCard Republicans and Visa Democrats. Our fundamental issue (besides the stalwort 2-party system), is that conservative democrats and progressive republicans were virtually eliminated during the 1980s, with fiscal conservatism disappearing altogether in the late 90s.

    Funny you should mention the College Democrats… that’s precisely why I did not join them while in college… and my conservative friend didn’t join the College Republicans for similar reasons.

    Rick: glad somebody finally mentioned the urban dictionary version of this. I heard an old lady the other day say she had been teabagged, referring to the teabag pinned to her shirt.

  12. The New American Tea Party is a coalition of so-called grass roots organizations. If you look beyond the veil (on their website), they are actually a group of “astroturf” organizations (fake grass roots), including:

    The Coalition for a Conservative Majority, co-founded by Tom DeLay and J. Kenneth Blackwell in 2007 (need I say more?)

    The Heartland Institute, a Libertarian think tank that publishes a bunch of the crap put out by the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation; thinks global warming is a myth and wants to prove it; Board includes the Economic Policy Analysis Director of GM; and who Exxon-Mobil has given $560,000

    Americans for Tax Reform, established by good old Grover Norquist. Abramoff used this group to pass through funds to our elected representatives so they couldn’t be traced (they did, however, take their cut along the way)

    National Taxpayers Union, Grover Norquist, again, served as execuited director from 1978-1982.

    Freedom Works (used to be called Citizens for a Sound Economy), chaired by Dick Armey and Steve Forbes (remember him?) serves as vice-president of their FOUNDATION. They are all about free market. Folks, isn’t that how we got here in the first place?

    Young Conservatives Coalition, this nice young bunch of kids includes their president who has worked on 3 (count ‘em) presidential campaigns (including Bush and McCain) and their vice-president works on K Street.

    These are not grass roots organizations. They are very well funded (by corporations) and employ professional staffs. And they want to use you.

    If you are buying into this crap, then do I ever have a bridge to sell you….
    Read the fine print folks. And don’t buy into it until you do. It’s just like in the Wizard of Oz. You have to pull back that curtain, then decide if you really want to sign on or not.

    Don’t forget – the Boston Tea Party was a bunch of rich white guys who didn’t want to pay their taxes. They got drunk and had some fun down at the harbor. The actual war was fought by people like us. I imagine they are having quite a laugh about this one as well. Don’t let history repeat itself. Wise up. Turn off the TV. Think for yourself. And then take the appropriate action.

  13. Sorry. I forgot a couple:

    Americans for Prosperity. They are against regulatory restraints by the government. But hey, they’re nonpartisan.

    Institute for Liberty. These people scare me. They were established as a think tank for technology policy and national security issues. Here is their mission: Founded in 2005, The Institute for Liberty initially focused its mission on technology policy and national security issues. Its philosophy is one of keeping the government focused on the primary mission of making sure our nation is safe, while keeping it from unnecessarily interfering in the daily lives of America’s entrepreneurs. (I don’t think they have in mind here your everyday Americans….)

  14. With a couple of people excepted, this has been one of the best streams of posts I have seen, a lot of good thinking going on here. I haven’t decided if I will attend the rally or not, even though I will be able to see it from my office window.

    Lila, you do have a good point that many of these organizations are anything but grass root organizations. However something you said disturbed me. The last organization you mentioned you seem to find scary because they were for keeping the government from “unnecessarily interfering in the daily lives of America’s entrepreneurs”. Who do you think creates the jobs and drives the economy? It entrepreneurs, not big corporations or government. Who do you think is getting the bailout money, not the entrepreneurs, but the big corporations.

    I am an attorney in private practice, Consider myself an entreprenerur. As I look out my office window I can see three corner of the square with revitalized buildings filled with nice restaurants that were not there 4 years ago. Those are entrepreneurs, as is the woman who opened a dress shop around the corner from me about a year ago. Three of the biggest employers in this town, Thermon Corporation, McCoys Lumber, Grande Communications, were all started by entrepreneurs. Certainly Emmit Mccoy and Dick Burdick are now very wealthy men, but they did not start out that way, and along the way they have created hundreds of jobs.

  15. What scares me is the name – Institute for Liberty. I don’t need an “institute,” privately funded and run by a board of directors, to protect my liberty. I think the Constitution does that just fine. And if push comes to shove, I’ll rely on our men and women in the armed forces. But I do not need some private group doing it for me, or setting the agenda for what constitutes my “liberty.”

    I don’t have any problem at all with entrepreneurs. I think they are fabulous. But I have found that in the doublespeak of organizations like the Institute for Liberty, when they use the word entrepreneur they are actually referring to global corporations. They couldn’t care less about the people you are talking about. Unless, of course, it is to get them riled up to support their hidden agenda.

    Unregulated, big corporations got us in a lot of this mess. And I am NOT talking about the McCoys or Thermon Corporation. But I don’t think the Institute for Liberty is terribly interested in representing their concerns. I think they ARE concerned about keeping things the way they are for big, global corporations so that the unregulated business climate can remain the same.

    Have I clarified myself for you? I think we are on the same page…

  16. The San Marcos Tea Party is NOT being sponsored by CCM, CATO, Heritige, or anyone of the sort. That may be true in some cities, but here it’s all grassroots. I just got back from the quad where a student organization has been raising awareness for the event most of the day with nothing but cheap flyers and smiles on our faces.

    When I speak about things getting off the ground two years ago, I mean the Ron Paul Campaign (started in early 2007). That brought me and a lot of other activists into the fold. It’s because of the Ron Paul campaign, not some secret backdoor funding, but real grassroots activism that groups like Hays Liberty and the Texas State Campaign for Liberty exist. WE’RE the ones who started talking about “tea parties” and “end/audit the fed” or whatever, back when Bush was still in charge. But as soon as Obama took over all the other guys on the right started to flip and start using our talking points and themes.

    So some of tommorrow’s TEA Parties will be funded by the Beckites and McCainiacs. But the events at Texas State and San Marcos will be non-partisan, not funded from the outside but started, organized, and run by local community activists who are FED UP with BOTH the “MasterCard Republicans and Visa Democrats”.

    Is this the best way to deal with the problem of unaccountable government? By itself, certainly not, but it can do a lot of good in showing popular support for an alternative. But, and I mean this in the least corniest way, it’s up to each of us to make the change we want to see in our world. I’ll do my best to to make my government, at all levels, more accountable, honest, and economically sound, but I can’t do it alone.

    Lila, you and I could argue for days over what caused the crash, and since we wouldn’t get anywhere I won’t even try. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. But I hope we can both agree on H.R. 1207, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, and support an audit of the Federal Reserve. The bill currently has about 58 cosponsors, 10 of whom are Democrats. That will be one of the things we will be supporting. Lloyd Doggett has not yet cosponsored and I think he would like to know your opinion.

    As for your opinion on the Boston Tea Party….I wasn’t aware being white, rich, or drunk somehow make taxation without representation acceptable.

  17. Right. This was all your own idea. You thought it up all by yourselves. No one put the idea in your heads. Whatever.

    Did you get your flyers off the website? Did you follow their advice for press releases and where to stage your protest? I guess all those other guys just stole the idea from you… LOL. Actually, I kind of like the idea that the mainstream conservative right stole the idea from a bunch of Ron Paul radicals in Hays County.

    I forgot to mention that Ron Paul was the founder of Freedom Works. And of course, he started the first “Tea Party” back in December of whenever (it was the date of the actual tea party, not the IRS filing date) to raise money – for his presidential campaign. Send in $100 for Ron Paul was the Tea Party theme at that time.

    Sorry. I’m just old and skeptical. You can call it your own idea if it makes you happy. But my TV in the other room is giving me another story… Happy Tea Party Dorothy. Have a great time. Just remember, to return to reality, all you have to do is click your heels 3 times and repeat “there’s no place like home…”

  18. I’m a little thrown by the Boston Tea Party comment myself.

    But then, I didn’t learn my history from a bumper sticker.

    The taxed tea was cheaper than untaxed tea by the time the Tea Party happened, so it was not about rich people paying taxes. It was about those taxes going to England and then being used to pay the salaries of local representatives, who were supposed to have local interests at heart.

    There was also the taxation without representation issue, since the taxes were levied by parliament and the colonists had no representation in parliament. For quite some time, the taxes on colonial tea offset the lack of revenue from repealed taxes on tea in England.

    I can’t imagine why anyone would be bothered by that. No.

    Tea was very popular and widely consumed and since the taxed tea was cheaper than the untaxed tea, parliament assumed that the colonists would happily pay the tax and drink their tea. Instead, the colonists saw this as parliament trying to quietly assert their right to tax the colonies and developed conspiracy theories about taxes that would follow.

    Everywhere but Boston, the taxed tea was turned away and “illegal” tea was brought in by smugglers. In Boston, the importers had the support of the governor and refused to play along. Of course, some of them were the governor’s children, so why wouldn’t he support them?

    Thousands of people were up in arms over the whole thing and while I don’t recall learning who the 50-200 who dumped the tea were, or whether anyone ever knew, it is clear that the issue impacted more than just a bunch of rich white guys.

    Sounds strikingly similar to things that go on to this very day. People are always leary of government reaching too far.

    To say that these people are not thinking for themselves, simply because they do not agree with you, only makes me wonder what talking head you get your views from.

  19. I liked the history lesson. And I really like a man who can talk history…
    And I apologize for the sarcasm about the white rich guys.

    But it does seem that everyone is still missing the point in the Tea Part analogy. I think Ted gets it totally right – the colonists did NOT have representation. But we DO have taxation with representation today. You might not like it, you might not agree with it. But we do have it.

    So what’s with the tea party stuff? One party is out of power and wants to get back in. So they pick an issue – taxes – and get people riled up about it.

    But that’s probably not going to make our problems go away. The next slate of candidates will be facing the same very complex financial issues. When you try to boil it down to these silly one-liners, like having “tea parties,” it doesn’t really help people to understand what the real issues are that our country is facing. Or what it might take to solve them. It just makes people emotional.

    I don’t like seeing people manipulated. Especially when they are being manipulated by politicians. You call it a tea party. I call it propaganda.

  20. I like that answer better.

    Of course, the other party is always going to raise issues with whatever the party in power is doing. If they can get enough people to agree that what is being done is wrong, then either the party in power changes their ways, or they lose power.

    If they can’t convince enough people, then nothing really happens.

    The day the Republicans lost power, the only option they had was to start working to regain that power.

    Is that what is going on here? I have no idea. I must not watch the right shows, because this is the first I’ve heard of this movement and to be honest, the letter to the editor led me to believe that this group was simply promoting the right to peaceful assembly and free speech.

    It wasn’t until I started reading the comments that I even got what it was all about.

    Had I chosen to go, it would have been because I am “FED UP with BOTH the “MasterCard Republicans and Visa Democrats”.”

    It would not be because someone on TV or the radio told me so. So, I have to assume (maybe I am being foolish) that others are participating for the same reason. If some large, well-funded group happened to agree with me, then goody for me, because if nobody with any power agreed with me, my protests would likely fall on deaf ears.

    Perhaps the participants are being manipulated and perhaps they have certain views that are finally being espoused by “important” people. Perhaps the question is not where were these protesters over the last 8 years, but rather, where was their support? Maybe they’ve been here all along, but nobody paid any attention, because the personalities we all love to hate were not on board yet.

  21. I think it’s funny how all the anti-government Ron Paulers like Griffin and I assume his council candidate/client want to be in government so bad.

  22. I never said that just Hays County came up with this idea out of the blue. What I meant was back durring the election, when everyone else in the Republican party was trying to compare themselves to Reagan and Bush, Paul was trying to compare himself to Jefferson. The most recent trend of Republicans talking about the founding fathers etc, Ron Paul’s supporters where doing that over a year before this “tea party” movement somewhere appeared out of the blue. Could they be funded by the RNC? Possibly. But if Pat Robertson suddently came out and said abortion should be legal, would everybody in the Pro-Choice movement be expected to jump ship so they avoid being on the same side?

    At the risk of going off track I’ll say that this Liberty/Ron Paul/whatever “movement” tends to be much more spontaneous and bottum-up than most people are used to. I was at the meeting where Hays Libery decided to have a “Tea Party”. There was no mandate, no order from on high, in all honest there is no “on high” to give us orders. Someone asked if we should host an event here or just go to San Antonio or Austin. We eventually decided to have an event here, and so we sent to work.

    This entire idea that our opinions in San Marcos don’t count because some….less-than-great characters are also doing similar things reeks of the “Democrats always good, everyone else always bad” mentality. If McCain was elected and proposed the same bailots and “stimulus” packages we’d be out there protesting just as hard.

    If you want to carry on this conversation further, well you know where I’ll be tomorrow.

  23. I am not a Ron Pail supporter. But rather a supporter of being financially responsible. If I ran my family’s finances like what is going on in DC (writing checks and not even knowing what I am buying) it wouldn’t be long and I would be filing bankruptcy. I do not agree with what has been happening for the last couple of years with our government. I am not against Obama or the democrats I am against being financially irresponsible. But the Obama Administration and Congress have spent unprecedented amounts of money all on our shoulders and our children and grandchildren. Bush’s spending was out of control, but this is way above what Bush’s administration has done. The way some of you are portraying is sad. How many times do we have to say “this is not a republican or democrat issue, this is a spending and debt issue?”

  24. The San Marcos Tea Party is listed on both the Freedom Works website and the national tea party website ( – gee, it’s not an “org”?).

    Wow. You guys are really independent !!!!!

    I stand by my earlier comments. This is propaganda in action. You would be better off if you stayed home, read up, and got truly informed.

    But I will hand you this, it wouldn’t be as much fun! And I say this with all sincerity (and not poking fun at anyone), politics as theater is truly great entertainment. I’ve engaged in it myself.

    Have a great day.

  25. And I stand by my earlier comment that the real problem is simply out of control government spending which impacts all taxpayers not just republicans or democrats.

    I also looked on Lloyd Doggett’s website where he highlights the following quote while questioning Ben Bernanke :
    “Congress has a duty to ensure the last $700 bilion it approved is being used responsibly. Americans would be better served by more accountability, more transparency, and a better return on their substantial investment.”
    Hopefully he will back up his words with real action and cosponsor HR 1207….to do less would simply make his comments propaganda.

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