PLATTSBURGH - The Upstate New York Tea Party has begun its movement to shake up Washington, D.C.
Coordinator Mark Barie of Rouses Point opened the first meeting of the UNYTEA Party to a standing-room only crowd at the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce Sept. 20. The meeting, set against the backdrop screen of the Web site www.USDebtClock.org - which shows the growth of government debt by the second - drew more than 140 people.
During the meeting, the UNYTEA group gave an overview of the independent political committee's mission to combat excessive government spending and reduce taxes and the size of government. The group plans to do so through letter-writing campaigns, sponsoring public debates, direct mail efforts and TEA Party rallies to "send a message to their elected representatives in Washington," noted Barie.
"We are a grassroots organization of North Country residents who believe that partisan politics must give way to common sense and dollars and cents," Barie said. "We cannot spend our way out of debt, nor should we insist on taxing those who work in the name of those who won't."
The UNYTEA will join nearly 750 other similarly-formed groups around the country who are not affiliated with any political party but who are concerned and frightened about the direction in which the country is headed and believe they have a patriotic duty to stand up and make a difference, as their forefathers did many years ago.
The group is actively looking to build its membership in the North Country, with the goal of 1,000 members by this time next year. Although, given the enthusiasm of the participants to date, Barie said he wouldn't be surprised reached that number very quickly.
"We will work tirelessly to ensure that we only send those individuals to Washington," Barie said, "regardless of their party affiliation, who believe that those that govern least, govern best and that the American system of Free Enterprise is the only proven system of success for generations to come."
Recognition was given to Jonathan Nelson, who is credited with initiating the group first gathering in Trinity Park. Also introduced were members of the steering committee, which included Nelson, John Ianelli, Greg Laduke, Dr. John Middleton, Kirk Stallsmith, Jim Wemett), and John VanNatten. In addition to the steering committee, the group is looking for coordinators for every county, town and village in the North Country.
The group also heard from local individuals who attended a recent TEA Party rally in Washington, D.C. with more than 1.5 million people in attendance. Pictures of the rally and impressions of those in attendance were shared with the group.
The meeting closed with several individuals in the audience adding comments, concerns an support to the mission of the UNYTEA.
The group's next event will be a healthcare forum to be held tentatively Sunday, Oct. 4, in which all three candidates for the 23rd Congressional District seat - Republication Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava, Democratic Party candidate Bill Owens and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman - have been invited to attend. To date, only Hoffman has accepted an invitation but the event is planned to be held regardless of the other candidates' attendance.
For more information about UNYTEA, visit their Web site at www.unytea.com. The group may also be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.