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One year later, tea parties persist

by Brian Walker
| April 12, 2010 9:00 PM

POST FALLS - The party's not over.

A year after tea parties were held across the country protesting pricy proposals by the federal government, organizers of the political rallies say the momentum hasn't wavered with attendance and passion of the messages.

"The numbers are still there and there's a growing level of frustration of what the federal government continues to do," said Leslie Damiano, president of the Tea Party Patriots of North Idaho, which will hold another rally on Wednesday at the Greyhound Park in Post Falls at 6 p.m.

"Where I think you'll see the biggest change (as a result of the rallies) will be at the polls," she said. "People who have never been in politics before are asking, 'How can I get involved?'"

Roughly 1,400 attended the first rally in Coeur d'Alene on April 15 last year. Damiano said the fourth and last rally, held in December at the Greyhound Park, drew about 1,500.

Tea partiers also claim responsibility for recent changes in federal leadership. The Sandpoint group and Sagle grandma Pam Stout were featured in the New York Times in February and recently on The Late Show with David Letterman. The movement also has a national icon friend in Sarah Palin.

C. Mason Weaver, an author, radio personality and motivational speaker, will be the keynote speaker on Wednesday in Post Falls.

The next day, marking the year anniversary of the rallies and income tax day, Gov. Butch Otter will be among the speakers at the tea party in Spokane at 4 p.m. at the floating stage behind the Spokane Convention Center.

Both rallies are free and open to the public.

"We wanted to give people the ability to attend both rallies," Damiano said.

The doors open at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Post Falls and concessions are available.

Weaver, who has a talk show in San Diego and has spoken at several tea parties, will address the misconception that conservatives are close-minded and racist.

Weaver is the author of "It's OK to Leave the Plantation," "The Rope," "Diamond in the Rough" and "Polishing the Diamond in the Rough" which discusses social issues. He said he was a hate crime victim in the Navy when a shipmate attempted to drop steel on him.

She said the parties are intended to protect the Constitution and rally against high government spending, the cost of health care and government takeover of the private sector.

"Most Americans want to take responsibility for their actions, earn a living and give to their communities," Damiano said. "They don't want government telling them, 'You have to do this.'"

Other scheduled speakers at the Post Falls rally include Coeur d'Alene High junior Gianinna Damiano and Ground Force Manufacturing CEO Ron Nilson.

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