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Tea Party protesters get results in Rhode Island

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By Michelle Malkin  •  April 21, 2009 02:25 PM

It’s not just about protesting in the streets. It’s about demanding accountability from your government at all levels — and getting it. In Woonsocket, RI, Tea Party activists swarmed the City Council and stopped massive new supplemental tax hikes to bail out the public school district. The tax measure, which had been expected to pass 6-1, went down by a 4-3 vote (hat tip – Granite Grok):

Faced with a heavy outpouring of opposition from property owners, the City Council last night narrowly defeated a supplemental tax bill to wipe out a School Department deficit of $3.7 million.

The vote paves the way for the School Committee to file a lawsuit against the city under the Caruolo Act, a move advocates of the supplemental tax bill contend will only deepen the School Department’s — and the city’s — financial problems. Caruolo gives school departments the power to file suit in Superior Court to compel their municipal counterparts to provide revenue to wipe out operating deficits, and the School Committee had vowed to vote in favor of such an action no later than tomorrow if the council balked at supplemental taxes.

After some five hours of discussion, at just about midnight, the council did just that, voting 4-3 against the measure…

…The measure would have given the city authority to hike all classes of taxes — residential, business and business equipment — about 10 percent. The average homeowner would have paid roughly an extra $231 this fiscal year.

Though the hike would have been about the same on small businesses percentage-wise, they would have paid significantly more since they are already taxed at a higher rate.

Before the vote, dozens of residents and business owners weighed in on the supplemental tax hike, many of them expressing anger and frustration at the fast-growing cost of local government. Some urged members of the City Council to find more spending cuts in order to avoid worsening the burden on property owners, while others challenged the council let the School Committee sue the city and fight the Caruolo Act in court – advice the council apparently took to heart.

“I challenge you to vote no to the supplemental tax,” said city resident Jim Hoyle. “We can’t afford it. Challenge the Caruolo Act. We feel like we’re being held hostage by the School Committee with this act.”

A local government official smugly dismissed the protests last week as “just noise,” according to Granite Grok.

The New Hampshire Democrat Party chief derided the protesters as an “unhinged mob.”

Politicians in both parties underestimate the Tea Party movement at their own peril.

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