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Local tea party event to feature national speakers

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Oct. 30, 2009, at 1:08 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009, at 8:29 p.m.

Wichita's Tea Party IV will be a much more national affair than the first three, according to organizers who have released the speaking and music lineup.

Instead of the local political figures who have addressed the gatherings in the past, the event scheduled at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Lawrence-Dumont Stadium parking lot will feature leaders of national political action committees and a man who claims to have been beaten outside a town hall meeting in Missouri for his opposition to national health care.

The event will center on a visit by the "Tea Party Express II," a bus tour titled "Countdown to Judgment Day."

The tour started in San Diego and is proceeding north to Washington state before cutting a roughly diagonal path across the country and ending up in Orlando, Fla.

The tone will be much different than the last tea party at Sedgwick County Park, which featured food booths, vendors and inflatables for children to jump on, said Lynda Tyler of Kansans for Liberty, which is organizing the event with the 9-12 Group, the Wichita branch of an organization started by Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.

"They (Tea Party Express II) have a two-hour presentation; we get 10 minutes out of the two hours," Tyler said.

The groups are being allowed to use the city-owned lot free of charge because of the political nature of the event, but would have had to pay if they brought in vendors or rented out booths, Tyler said.

She said it's not exactly optimum timing for a tea party. "It's November, it's outside and it's at one o'clock on a Wednesday," she said. "Hopefully, we'll have a decent turnout."

The lineup of speakers starts with Lew Uhler, chairman of the National Tax Limitation PAC.

He'll be followed by Deborah Johns and Mark Williams, vice chairs of the Our Country Deserves Better PAC; and blogger and tea party coordinator Amy Kremer.

One speaker is Kenneth Gladney, who alleges he was the victim in a video-recorded scuffle that took place Aug. 6 outside a town hall meeting in St. Louis held by Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo.

Gladney claims that he was beaten by members of the Service Employees International Union as he tried to pass out "Don't tread on me" flags. The union says it was their minister, the Rev. Elston McCowan, who was pushed to the ground in the flap, and that Gladney faked being injured for the publicity it brought his cause.

The video, grainy and poorly lit, does show a scuffle but is inconclusive as to what exactly happened.

Three musical performances are scheduled: Lloyd Marcus performing the "American Tea Party Anthem"; Linda Nagy performing "Where Freedom Lies"; and the husband-and-wife duo Rivoli Revue performing "A Bailout Song."

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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