Thursday, July 21, 2011

Me and the Tea...Partiers

It was with a little apprehension I approached the Buckley Library Monday evening.

Inside, a group of county Tea Party members were waiting to hear Oklahoma Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones discuss the recent county audit.
I wondered whether the members would treat me rudely. I had, you may recall, written blogs on our new Republican governor that were not exactly kind. To be more accurate, I wrote that I voted for her in the last election and would not repeat that action in the future.

Would I be allowed in? Was there some kind of secret handshake or word that would get me past the front door? I hoped there was not any kind of initiation ceremony that involved paddles or removal of clothing.

So I made my way into the auditorium and SURPRISE! It looked like most of the other meetings I had attended over the years. I just strolled in. Nobody let out a boo, shouted out I was a communist or worse, a Democrat.

No group chants or four-letter words used in connection with the Democratic party. Instead, I was treated like a person should be welcomed.

I saw Bobbie McAuliffe and talked with her a few minutes and she introduced me to a few people. Nobody was rude or sneered at me.

For the most part, the group was middle aged and above. Not many youthful Tea Party people in LeFlore County, but that was to be expected.

Prior to the meeting starting, there was a prayer and we did the pledge. I think all meetings should start this way. If you don’t agree…tough. Go outside. Pick your teeth, nose or whatever

After a few introductory comments (again, no bashing of other political parties, honest) Jones was welcomed to talk about the recent audit.

He said his office was way behind on county audits and displayed a document showing which counties needed audits. When Jones took office, the county was four years behind in audits on LeFlore County.

The auditors were initially planning to do an audit on 2007 and 2008. After hearing about the problem with a certain former commissioner in the district in the northern part of LeFlore County, the auditors added 2009 and 2010.

And the auditors noticed the former commissioner of that district, Carroll Rogers, had a going away party with the county money before he left office. Jones explained that once a commissioner is not relected, the commissioner can only spend half the budget for that district before the officer leaves, er, office.

Jones welcomed and took several questions from the audience. Unlike most public meetings, I found none of the questions dumb. People say there are no dumb questions, I tend to disagree. It’s like a law that somebody always has to disgraces the good people of the county with a stupid question, but not this time.

The group was educated and looking for answers on what could be done on the problem and ways to make sure it couldn’t, and didn’t, happen again.

I didn’t switch my allegiance to the Tea Party during or after the meeting. But I did better understand the group. These weren’t a bunch of destroy the government types. Like most of us, they want our country to be great once again and the elected leaders to be better stewards of money, which they definitely need to be.

And I was invited back to the next meeting.


  1. Don't go to the dark side,Craig. Stay strong and stay Democrat. You must have caught them on a good day....

  2. Very accurate and even funny article Craig!!
    It never hurts to hear what others are saying.. Bipartisan bickering doesn't solve anything. About half crowd was democratic and actually there were a fair number of independents in the room. I appreciated the fact that mr Jones took time to visit with our community. We all need knowledge to understand what the situation is sometimes.

  3. Hi Craig

    Thank you for the positive report on the TEA Party/State Auditor Town Hall meeting. I venture to say Anonymous 1 has not been to one of our meetings.

    We meet on the third Monday of every month in the Library @ 6:30 and everyone is welcome (If they behave themself)

    This was a pretty typical meeting, and yes; about half the crowd was Democrats. Shows everyone is concerned about that shameful audit.

    None of us took offense at your remarks about Mary Fallin. Our TEA Party group supported Randy Brogdon.

    Hope you will join us again.

    Bobbie McAuliffe