The Tea Party has recently taken the city to task by filing an invoice for some $8500, which constitutes a return payment of the various permits and fees that the city charged for a series of annual one-day rallies over the last three years. Tea Party spokesman Colleen Owens cited the fact that the Occupy Richmond group had been camping out in the same park for almost two weeks, until cleared out on 31 October, without being charged any fees at all. In fact, the city has provided sanitation and other services to the protestors at taxpayers’ expense.
The occupation costs the city $17,640, primarily for police and public works overtime costs, according to a city accounting based on a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the AP.
Owens and others have also cited the clear preference by some mayors and city officials for the Occupation movement, including supportive speeches given by Richmond mayor Dwight Jones at the Occupy site in Kanawah Plaza, and statements that he supports the movement since he is a product of the civil rights era. Other examples of unfair treatment by mayors and city officials have been shown by statements of political solidarity in places such as Portland and Eugene in Oregon and Los Angeles.
The costs did not include a subsequent occupation on the lawn of the mayor’s neighbor.
After the city refused to pay the invoice, it then called for a tax audit of the local Tea Party, as the group had not paid “excise taxes for admissions, lodging, and meals”. Owens said the audit was in retaliation for publicity about the city’s double standard, though a city spokesman claimed that the audit was a mere coincidence, since other groups have received the same audit. Owens also stated that the city office already knew that the Tea Party does not generate any revenue from admissions, lodging, and meals, and was exempt from the requirements. Owens’ statement said in part: “This audit is an obvious attempt to intimidate and harass us for standing up against the unfair treatment and discrimination against our Tea Party.”
What particularly strikes me is the brazen arrogance of the city bureaucrats, with the attitude that they can get away with such parochial political discrimination.