After Tea Party activists have attempted to work together with County officials to schedule a Tea Party rally for Saturday, April 24, the Greene County Commission together with the Greene County Administrator Howard Poston denied a request from citizens to meet for a peaceful rally on the grounds of the Greene County Court in Xenia, Ohio. The organizers were notified by Lisa Hale, Director of Risk Management that the meeting application did not meet the county’s 14 day notification policy and requirements and therefore cannot take place: “After consideration of the points of our Public Use Policy and the time requirements therein, we are unable to approve your request received yesterday 4/19/10 for use of the Courthouse on Saturday April 24, 2010.”
The rally planned for April 24 would be a “call to arms” for Xenia and Greene County residents and a call to stand up to out of control regulations, government abuse, tax increases and political corruption, all which cross political parties and ideologies.
The meeting anticipates music, speakers like Seth Morgan, John Anderson, John Mitchell, local Tea Party activists and supporters, and other local politicians and candidates, and it was planned as a political rally and as a meeting to express political dissent. As it was decided upon on the spur of the moment, Greene County officials turned down the request under a “Permit of Use” clause which requires a two week notification for the use of County facilities and grounds. The policy does not seem to make exceptions for meetings and rallies falling under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protecting “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“The word ‘permit’ implies that we need the government’s permission to protest, demonstrate and rally. We do not. The Greene County Commission is stifling peaceful political speech under the guise of facilities use and bureaucratic policy.” said Virgil Vaduva, the organizer of the rally, and candidate for Greene County Commissioner.
Vaduva said he explained to County officials that the meeting will take place on a weekend, when the building is closed and it will not interfere with official County business, and that organizers are not asking to use County buildings or facilities, rather just the open, public space in front of the County Courthouse; the officials refused to reconsider their decision.
“The meeting will go on as planned and we will be there at 4:00 PM on Saturday,” said Vaduva. “The lawn of the Greene County Courthouse is a public area funded by taxpayers, the rally is a peaceful assembly for the purpose of political speech, with families and children attending, and is protected by the Constitution of the United States. Greene County does not have the authority to stop families and citizens from meeting peacefully, from petitioning and criticizing their government, and discussing the issues facing our communities,” he said.
On the Greene County Commission are seated Alan Anderson, an incumbent and opponent of Virgil Vaduva in the Republican primary elections on May 4, Marilyn Reid, Executive Chair of Greene County GOP and Rick Perales; all Commissioners are Republicans.
Lisa Hale declined to say what will take place if the meeting goes on without a permit from Greene County, and how several hundred attendees will be affected should they decide to attend the rally.
Virgil Vaduva can be contacted at 937-687-8683
Lisa Hale can be contacted at 937-562-5213