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Tax protest party set for Wednesday in Willmar

WILLMAR -- Taxpayers who feel the need to vent a little after popping their tax returns in the mail Wednesday will be meeting in rallies across the country, including Willmar.

The "Taxed Enough Already" event -- or Tea Party -- will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the patio of Tiffany Square on South First Street.

"We want to make it fun and lighthearted ... especially for those who just dropped their check in the mail," said Paul Hoffer, co-chair of the Kandiyohi County Republican Party.

Fashioned, of course, after the 1773 Boston Tea Party that helped connect the words "taxation" and "representation," the modern-day Tea Party is also designed to let people put action behind their words.

It's a "reaction to a $3.6 trillion federal budget and bailouts for people that have made less-than-wise decisions," said Rollie Nissen, co-chair of the Kandi-yohi County Republican Party, sponsor of Wednesday's event in Willmar.

There are events planned in 14 Minnesota communities and nearly 600 nationwide.

Nissen said government leaders need to hear "how ordinary people" deal with their budgets and follow suit.

"The stimulus package doesn't help the people around the kitchen table," Nissen said.

Protesters are encouraged to make signs with legible slogans and "be loud, visible, happy" and to "wave your signs, makes lots of noise and move around to get attention," according to a posting Nissen put on the group's Web site.

"We want to call attention, in a public way, to how the average person thinks about their government and spending," Nissen said.

On the Web site promoting the Minnesota tea parties, Nissen also gives advice on how the protestors should talk to the media in short, clear sound bytes.

Getting people together in a visible venue will hopefully generate press coverage of Tea Parties across the country, said Nissen, which will educate politicians and potentially lead to changes in collecting and spending tax dollars.

"We wanted to get some press coverage so we can talk about these things and get a conversation going," he said.

Nissen said lawmakers need to listen to the "rank and file of the average citizen."

The event is being billed nationwide as nonpartisan.

But when Nissen listed the local politicians he had contacted about the event, only Republicans were on the list.

On the Web site, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., gives a video message dissing her fellow members of Congress for recent budget decisions and encourages people to attend the Tea Party rallies.

Hoffer agrees that there probably are more Republicans involved, but insists the issues are nonpartisan and are attracting people from all political parties.

"You don't have to be just a conservative Republican to come to this," Hoffer said.

Nissen said: "It's a kitchen table issue."