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It's the season; Politics center stage in Kootenai County

by Brian Walker
| April 15, 2010 9:00 PM

POST FALLS - They came. And they kept coming. On the eve of income tax day and a year after the first Tea Party was held in Coeur d'Alene to protest what they believe has been wild government spending and threatened freedoms, about 2,500 packed into the Greyhound Park and Event Center on Wednesday night to show their fight isn't over.

POST FALLS - They came.

And they kept coming.

On the eve of income tax day and a year after the first Tea Party was held in Coeur d'Alene to protest what they believe has been wild government spending and threatened freedoms, about 2,500 packed into the Greyhound Park and Event Center on Wednesday night to show their fight isn't over.

"I guess we've outgrown downtown Coeur d'Alene," said Post Falls attendee Joe Watson, referring to the first tea party in Kootenai County a year ago.

Wednesday's rally was the largest of the five held by the Tea Party Patriots of North Idaho. Traffic on westbound Interstate 90 was delayed 15 to 20 minutes trying to exit to the event. Seating had to be added to the upper level of the facility. And the rally started a half hour late to accommodate those caught in traffic.

Keynote speaker C. Mason Weaver, a radio talk show host in San Diego and author, said the Tea Party movement isn't racist as some have said. It's not about Democrats or Republicans, either.

"It's about freedom or slavery," he said. "We are the people and we mean no. We don't want (the government) to control our lives or our health care. Get your hands out of our pockets."

Weaver said it's a great time to be an American because 2010 is a chance to bring the country back to its Constitutional roots at the polls.

"We have the opportunity to re-establish who we are as a country," he said. "Freedom is in your heart. You must protect it. This year let's get back to freedom. It's time."

Attendee Susan Billings of Spokane said tea partiers are true and independent Americans - not racists - who believe it is their duty to protect their rights given to them by the founding fathers.

"I'd also say there's a few ticked off taxpayers here," she said.

Speaker Ron Nilson, CEO of Ground Force Manufacturing, said parties need to work together for the common good of Americans.

"United we stand; divided we fall," he said. "It's our choice."

Nilson said while doing business in poverty-stricken countries he's reminded that many other places want what America has, so its principles are worth fighting for.

"They talk about the Constitution," he said.

Nilson said the country is headed in the wrong direction.

"Limited government works for us," he said.

Coeur d'Alene High junior Gianinna Damiano spoke on behalf of youth.

Damiano said several of her relatives have had the opportunity to take part in the American Dream since her great, great grandpa left Italy in the late 1800s and was determined to succeed in this country.

But she said the government's move toward socialism, bailing out banks and getting involved with health care is a step backward.

"Our government has greatly reduced the opportunities and freedoms Americans have had in the past," she said. "Will I be able to advance my standard of living?"

Government is also creating a tax burden on future generations, she said.

Gov. Butch Otter will be among the speakers today at a tea party in Spokane at 4 p.m. at the floating stage behind the Spokane Convention Center.

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