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All taxed out at 'Tea Party'

Posted: April 16, 2009 1:11 a.m.
Updated: April 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Pacoima resident Erik Gulbranson, dressed as the grim reaper, alongside Ashley Surgi, center of Pacoima, and Ingrid Windsor, of Valencia, stand on the corner of Citrus Street and Valencia Boulevard protesting higher taxes Wednesday afternoon.

"Don’t tread on me” flags snapped in the wind, pithy political protests were shouted through a bullhorn and about 450 people lined Valencia Boulevard Wednesday to protest a lousy economy, government spending and bailouts.

The so-called Tax Day Tea Party was one of thousands organized nationwide by grassroots organizations. The protests coincided with the deadline for filing state and federal tax returns.

“We need to fire the politicians and take back our country,” Santa Clarita resident Sue St. George said, holding a sign that read “Change: That’s all that’s left in my wallet.”

“People just need to stand up and get rid of the corrupt politicians,” she said. “Nobody’s talking about cutting spending.”

The crowd, which lined both sides of the street near City Hall, was mixed in age — from gray-haired senior citizens to shaggy-haired college types.

Sheriff’s deputies watched from a distance, and Sgt. John Bomben said he was happy the protest was peaceful.

“Hopefully (we) can persuade enough people to do something,” said David, a Santa Clarita resident who asked his last name not be used. “More people need to be educated.”

Hundreds of sign-waving protesters also turned out in Sacramento for a rally that included attacks on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California lawmakers by the son of former President Ronald Reagan.

“I knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was not only a friend, but he was my father. And Arnold, you are no Ronald Reagan,” talk-show host Michael Reagan said to cheers from a crowd that spilled out from the front of the Capitol.

Reagan and other speakers urged the crowd to reject Proposition 1A. The measure on the May 19 special-election ballot would create a state spending cap and strengthen a rainy-day fund while extending sales and income-tax increases the Legislature passed earlier this year to help close a $42 billion budget deficit.

The budget package also included $15 billion in cuts to state programs and hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate tax breaks.

Reagan’s speech relied on a selective reading of history. Before he became president, Ronald Reagan served two terms as California governor in the 1960s and 1970s. One of his first acts upon taking office was to increase taxes.

“I don’t believe in spending on frivolous things,” 19-year-old Palmdale resident Leslie Ann Klein said Wednesday as rush-hour motorists honked their horns as they drove past the protesters. “California already has the highest tax rate.

“I’m not thrilled with the current administration,” said Klein, who said she is a Libertarian. “Not everybody worships (Obama).”

Not everyone was thrilled with Wednesday’s protests.

“Whatever president would have taken office (last January) would have had to deal with this,” said Ron DeGenova, a Santa Clarita resident. “Where were these protests when George W. Bush was in power?”

DeGenova, who was laid off from his job as a real-estate appraiser for Wachovia last fall, called Wednesday’s protests “anti-American.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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