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City council refuses to hear tea party activist

From: user 4.
Sent on: Monday, May 11, 2009 2:07 PM
This is pretty close to me. My name is on the proclamation, figured I would pass it on. Everyone should contact the city council and let them know that your are dissapointed that they would not hear Mr. McQueen speak. here is the contact info for anyone who is interested:
City Hall

??? 730 Maine Street

??? Quincy, IL 62301


??? Mon-Fri?8:30 to 4:30

Tea Party organizer McQueen determined to be heard by Quincy City Council on Monday

Quincyan Steve McQueen sits next to the 125-foot-long Tea Party Proclamation signed by many of the people who were at the Tea Party last month in Quincy. McQueen wants to speak to the Quincy City Council Monday, a week after being denied his request to speak to council. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
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Related Articles:

* Alderman defends vote not let McQueen speak
* Statement from Alderman Steve Duesterhaus regarding citizens addressing the City Council

Published: 5/9/2009 | Updated: 5/9/2009


Herald-Whig Senior Writer

Steve McQueen hopes to get a chance to address the Quincy City Council Monday night, one week after he was denied the opportunity.

McQueen isn't sharing details of what he will say, partly because budget amendments will be considered before public speakers are heard and partly because he wants aldermen to be the first to hear his comments.

"I really don't want to make my case here," McQueen said.

During an interview, he said his message and that of supporters is about more than taxes and city budgets.

"We're out to bring intelligent, active and involved Quincy citizens and engage them in government," McQueen said. "Not to override it, but to act in concert with it."

Known locally as an organizer of the Quincy Tea Party on April 4, McQueen had planned to speak last Monday about the recently approved Quincy budget and water and sewer fee hikes.

He didn't get that chance when seven Democratic aldermen voted against his request to speak. Six Republicans voted to hear him, and one Republican alderman was absent.

Shortly after the meeting, McQueen talked about the constitutional right to free speech and the party-line vote. The story about aldermen refusing to hear McQueen went nationwide, and he has received hundreds of messages from supporters.

By Thursday, when he returned to City Hall to file a request to speak Monday, McQueen was downplaying the partisan divide.

"The Tea Party movement by its nature is a conservative movement. It is, however, not a Republican or Democrat thing," he said.

"Our mission is that we need to have people back in government. We need to use those three P's -- peaceful, professional and persistence -- to engage the government and be part of it."

McQueen said the Quincy budget has increased tremendously in recent years. In the current economic downturn, he questions giving pay raises to nonunion employees, which are not required by law.

Rising water and sewer fees -- up 39 percent for a family using 20 units of water -- also are a concern for McQueen, who felt the issue did not get a sufficient public airing before it was approved April 27.

McQueen refutes the argument that he and others did not speak out about the budget or fee hikes before they were approved.

"Many contacts were made by myself prior to the final reading of both those issues, with no response," McQueen said.

He said e-mails, phone calls and some hard-copy leaders were delivered to the aldermen and Mayor John Spring.

"There was specifically a very respectful request that, 'Hey, could we hold off on this for a week, 'cause we're trying to get our grip on where we're going with this water and sewer increase,' " McQueen said.

An estimated 40 supporters arrived with McQueen at last week's City Council meeting. Several were prominent Republicans, but McQueen did not want to frame the vote against allowing him to speak as purely political.

"I think there's kind of a murky hole where that lives, and I don't want to climb down into that hole," he said.

He believes the Tea Party movement is about "a tremendously large group of people," not about his own personal beliefs or experiences.

A 23-year veteran, McQueen said those in the military can vote but are limited in how they can be involved in government. He spent eight years in the Marine Corps, then transferred to the Army and was later on active duty with the National Guard.

McQueen, 43, is now the purchasing manager for the industrial minerals division at JM Huber.

Another speaker is listed on Monday's agenda.

Bill Hrudicka, an unsuccessful candidate for alderman in the 2nd Ward, has requested a chance to speak on the 1st Amendment.

"What gives you the right not to listen to a citizen of Quincy, regardless if you like the subject or not?" Hrudicka wrote in his request to speak.

Michael Black, of 4601 Ethan Drive, also will request that the City Council change its rules so citizen forums will be more automatic in the future. Under Black's proposal, it would take a unanimous vote of the council to terminate the citizen forum before all speakers have made their comments.

McQueen describes the problems of last Monday as "a bump" that should not derail efforts to get people involved in city government.

"I've had a conversation with a Democratic alderman. I expressed to him that I respect that he contacted me," McQueen said.

He declined to name the alderman, saying that would not move the discussion forward and might betray someone who is working to improve discourse.

"I don't know where it's going now, but I know that's the right step," he said.

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