The only things missing were pitchforks and torches. And this crowd didn’t need any.
Despite a foot of snow on the ground and freezing temperatures, we filled the Newark Council Chamber on Monday night.
C4L’s New Castle County Coordinator, Brett Zingarelli, started the blaze of glory at 7:00p.m. For the next 6 hours, he and dozens of citizen activists went toe-to-toe with the legislators, delivering one fiery speech after another on property tax hikes, water rate hikes, taxing the rain, and pay increases for the legislators.
Mayor Polly Sierer didn’t like being asked questions by the citizens. Ironically, she felt the council did not have to answer any questions at the public meeting designed for citizens to have their concerns addressed regarding city policy.
“This isn’t the place for these discussions.” – Polly Sierer
Still, when the dust settled at 1:00a.m. on Tuesday morning, the final score was 3 to 1, in favor of the citizens.
The biggest breakthrough of the night came from Council Member Stu “Tax Man” Markham during the vote to approve the 2014 budget, changing citizen anger into fits of rage.
He was concerned that our citizen protests would stop certain agenda items from getting passed, which would then cause the proposed budget to be invalid.
You see, the projected money from all the controversial proposals up for a vote that night –- the water rate hikes, rain tax, and salary increases for the mayor and council –-were already in the 2014 budget!
That development was so incredible — we just have to say it twice.
The Newark City Council had already embedded their proposed water rate hikes, rain tax, and personal salary increases into the budget for next year, and they planned to approve that budget BEFORE officially passing the controversial measures into law.
When the citizens demanded answers about this “minor” detail, City Manager Carol Houck gave the quote of the night…
“Because it’s always been done that way.” – Carol Houck
Council Member Margrit Hadden tried to slip in a property tax hike during those budget discussions. It was narrowly defeated, but Margrit Hadden, Doug Tuttle, and Polly Sierer voted in favor of raising property taxes.
The water rate hikes were passed, with Stu Markham, Luke Chapman, Doug Tuttle, and Polly Sierer voting for the higher rates.
The rain tax was tabled (put on hold) and is now tentatively scheduled for a vote on February 24th at 7:00p.m.
Congratulations and mark your calendars — we’ve still got work to do.
And the salary increase for the mayor and council members?
It went down in flames. Not one politician voted to increase their own pay after the 6-hour verbal beating they endured.
Watching the battle at Newark City Hall was more fun than the head-to-head NFL match-up on TV that night.
Please contact us at 302-729-2235 if your town or county is proposing similar measures that need to be defeated.
Thanks for all of your help on these victories in Newark. Let’s stay vigilant and keep the pressure on.
Delaware State Coordinator
Campaign for Liberty
P.S. Political pressure from our local activists beat back a storm of bad legislation in Newark on Monday. We stopped THREE of the four bad proposals and exposed the bad assumptions the council was using in their budget.
The rain tax in Newark is tentatively rescheduled for a vote on February 24th at 7:00p.m. Be sure to mark your calendars.