The Tea Party movement gets plenty of attention for its national protests, but the groups are becoming increasingly active at the local level as well. In Currituck County, North Carolina, the local Tea Party Patriots group, led by a man named Charles Carter, is taking aim at county plans to build a local community center in cooperation with the YMCA. The Daily Advance in Elizabeth City, NC reports:
Charles Carter, founder of the Tea Party Patriots, says the agreement between the county and the YMCA is “one sided” and questions the county’s openness in providing information about how the deal was arranged in the first place. “I think it’s an open window to their position on fiscal responsibility,” said Carter. [...]
Carter said he is dissatisfied with the county’s response to his protests so far. … Carter charges that the county has agreed to pay $15 million up-front for the new recreational building, but the YMCA has done little to contribute to the investment.
Like so many of the Tea Party talking points at the national level, these charges are based on misinformation. Carter has charged that the Currituck-YMCA deal was not publicly discussed until after a decision had been made. However, there is video evidence of County Attorney Ike McRee “going over items of the lease agreement at a commissioners’ meeting” as far back as November 2009. Additionally, this deal is far from the “sweetheart deal” and big government spending that Carter alleges:
County plans for building a recreational center abruptly halted in 2008 after the county learned it would cost $28 million. At the time, the county had saved only $11 million and could not afford to move forward, explained Scanlon.
New hope for the center re-emerged after the YMCA offered to build basically the same facility for $15 million. The YMCA can build it for less because it uses the same contractors each time it builds a new facility, a YMCA representative said at the meeting.
Operational costs would also be less, said Scanlon. The YMCA can operate the center for less because it uses the same data base for all its facilities in Hampton Roads.
The editorial staff of the Daily Advance also took Carter to task for dishonestly opposing the deal, stating that the new project is actually a great example of citizen involvement:
Currituck County residents — not their government — have been asking for a wider range of recreational opportunities for more than a decade. Both longtime and new residents have sought the addition of ballfields, parks and other facilities to provide outlets and alternatives for youth and adults in the growing county.
Government in Currituck has responded by looking for opportunities and by appointing citizens to serve on recreation boards to identify recreational needs and help in the planning of facilities. To suggest that citizens have not been involved in the process is not only misleading and unfair to Currituck officials but also to those citizens who have been involved.
The editorial goes on to mock Carter’s attempts to portray the YMCA as evil, stating that the group “is a partner — and a good one — in a worthwhile project, not some middle-man brokering a sleazy side hustle.”
Tea Party and FreedomWorks chapters in Georgia recently also took up an important cause: opposing mandatory trash collection.