Rick Barnes, left, shown with his wife, Tami, on their ranch west of Craig, is organizing a "Tea Party" protest at noon April 15 at Loudy-Simpson Park. The tea party, part of a nationwide grass-roots effort, was created to give people a platform to voice their disagreement with the recent increase in government spending.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Rick Barnes, left, shown with his wife, Tami, on their ranch west of Craig, is organizing a "Tea Party" protest at noon April 15 at Loudy-Simpson Park. The tea party, part of a nationwide grass-roots effort, was created to give people a platform to voice their disagreement with the recent increase in government spending.

Moffat County's rattlesnake

Local resident organizes tea party protest against government spending


Moffat County resident Rick Barnes, 43, a coal miner with Trapper Mining for the past 3 1/2 years, sees a particular significance in the historical Gadsden flag.

Known for its depiction of a coiled rattlesnake against a bright yellow backdrop emblazoned with the words, "DONT TREAD ON ME," the 234-year-old standard bears a strong meaning for Barnes.

"The rattlesnake will give you numerous warnings before it strikes," he said.

"It won't attack unless it has to, until it has to either attack or die."

Barnes and his wife, Tami, 44, said they now feel backed against a wall, and it's time to start speaking out.

"I'm tired of the government," Barnes said. "They don't listen. Basically, they've gone from 'by the people, for the people,' to 'by the people, for themselves.' It's too big for its own good."

He plans to vent his frustrations with other likeminded residents at noon April 15 at Loudy-Simpson Park for a Tax Day Tea Party.

The event is part of a nationwide protest partially organized by The 9-12 Project, which is described on its Web site as "a nonpolitical movement" for citizens to retake control of local, state and federal governments.

"This is not a Democrat or Republican thing," Barnes said. "It's for everyone who feels like they're not being heard."

According to taxdayteaparty.com, four other tea parties are planned for Colorado, including events in Denver and Grand Junction.

Barnes, who spent Thursday morning watching Congress debate the budget live on C-SPAN, said he has experienced the federal government's cold shoulder firsthand.

"I've spent about $40 in long-distance calls to (U.S. Rep. John) Salazar, (U.S. Sen. Mark) Udall and (U.S. Sen. Michael) Bennett," he said. "I call them every time they have another vote for stimulus payments or bailouts. I can't even get them to return my calls."

"Tea Party" is a reference to the Boston Tea Party, a 1773 protest against English law for "taxation without representation."

"The government is not listening to the people, so they're not representing us," he said. "Take this $780 billion spending bill they just passed for the banks. Maybe 10 people read it. Shouldn't they have taken more time to understand how to spend our tax dollars? Who are they listening to?"

Unlike the 1773 protest, however, Barnes doesn't plan to dump barrels of tea leaves into the Yampa River.

"This one is just picket signs," he said. "People just have to bring a sign of what they want the government to hear."

Barnes will fly the Gadsden flag during the rally and carry his own sign, but he has yet to decide on what it will say.

At this point, he only knows why he feels compelled to organize for the first time.

A gun-licensing bill recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., known as Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009, could be the start of tearing the Bill of the Rights apart, Barnes said.

It would require all owners of handguns and any other semiautomatic weapons with a releasable magazine to give a thumbprint, sign a pledge to keep the weapon out of reach of children and release all of his or her mental health records to the U.S. Attorney General.

"They're trying to destroy the Second Amendment," Barnes said.

Fast-paced initiatives to transform the country's power supply into green energy also signal a dangerous surrender to special interests, he added.

Government proposals for a cap and trade system on greenhouse gas emissions would not only affect his job as a coalminer, but Barnes said it would dramatically affect every household's utility bill, every driver's gas bill and, by extension, nearly every other product available for purchase.

"They're thinking they can pay for all this spending with the money they make on cap and trade," Barnes said. "What's going to happen to you and me when we can't afford to buy anything, including food? They're not worried about that."

Barnes isn't the only local resident concerned about government spending.

John Ponikvar, Moffat County Republican Central Committee chairman, said he recently received a phone call from Barnes about the event.

Although he will be unable to attend because he plans to fly to Florida that morning, he said he would be there if he could.

"People are concerned about what's going on with this government now," Ponikvar said. "Even our own state Legislature. They put the fees on our license plates and registrations, but Colorado has had a tradition of the people voting on our taxes. Now, they're not calling them taxes, they're calling them fees.

"The stimulus package that Congress has put out is another thing. It has certainly stimulated people in other ways."

Although Barnes said he has "almost zero" faith in politicians - though he cited Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers and Craig City Councilor Byron Willems as two exceptions - he hopes the tea party can start a new movement within American politics.

At the very least, it's something he feels he has to do.

"Even if I'm the only one there," he said, "I'm going to feel like I'll get my voice heard."

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.


Frank Estey 7 years, 12 months ago

Bobby Rush. Is this the same Bobby Rush that I remember from the 1960's ?

Bobby Rush Is an American Politician and represents what Americans despise most in our politicians.

Bobby Rush is a Democratic Member of Congress who represents the First District of Illinois, which includes roughly half of Chicago's South Side. Nearly two-thirds of the residents of this district are African American, as is Rush.

Member of the Progressive Caucus In 1968, went AWOL from the U.S. Army .

In 1969, served six months in jail for an illegal weapons conviction. Advocates reparations for African Americans. Co-founded the gangster-ridden Illinois branch of the Black Panther Party (BPP), renowned for intimidating local business people into making "donations" to Panther "charities.

In 1992 the socialist magazine In These Times would praise Rush, who was, by then, a fledgling congressional candidate, as someone who "has continued to support progressive policies and has never disavowed his Panther past."

We need new politicians D&R


nikobesti 7 years, 12 months ago

I'm kind of confused here, guys. Can you answer some questions for me?

Why weren't you organizing a tea party when President Bush spent $1 billion a week for a war in Iraq? The administration didn't even pay its bills-we went trillions into a deficit, borrowing that money from China. Everyone agrees that government has to provide at least some basic services for its people, like education and infrastructure. Are you saying you would rather have us borrow that money from China than to pay our own bills?

And maybe I'm not up on the news, but since when has your taxes increased under Obama? Are you very rich, so you're worried about Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy expiring? If you're not, then your taxes will go DOWN. We'll start receiving refunds from the government soon. Isn't that what you want?


jeff corriveau 7 years, 12 months ago

Once again the uninformed masses have spoken; Thanks Nikobesti for that. Catch this bit of trivia:

If you add up ALL the deficits created by our presidents since George Washington, the Obama presidency has doubled that number, in only barely 70 days in office!!! After all this spending will come the taxing. We've already seen it on tobacco, planned taxes on ammunition and the cap and trade fiasco. And if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire, our taxes will GO UP!!!! So, Nikobesti, there are some examples of our taxes going up. Please, for everyones benefit, take off the blinders and see what's going on in Washington. We are surely headed down a path to Socialism. If you don't think so, please take a moment and find the definition and look at the takeover of the banking industry and GM and see if it applies. WAKE UP FOLKS!!!!!


DONTTREADONME 7 years, 11 months ago

nikobesti you want to talk about taxes when you go to register your vehicle the fee is double and dont let it expire more than 30 days then there is another $100.00 added to it thanks to the democractic colorado goverment I think thats a new tax that will hit home if you own a vehicle


nikobesti 7 years, 12 months ago

Silentman, you need to retake 3rd grade math. Or just buy a calculator.

Our national debt grew by over $4 trillion under George W. Bush. That was the biggest increase under any president in US history. Here, I'll even cite my sources (hint): http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2008/09/29/couricandco/entry4486228.shtml. When your boy Dubya took over, there was a $5.727 trillion dollar dept (and I'm sure you know Clinton actually had us at a budget surplus when he left office). By January 9, 2009, it had almost DOUBLED, to over $10 trillion. http://nationaldebtbusters.blogspot.com/2009/01/newest-national-debt-statistics-posted.html. I'm not even sure if this number reflects Bush's $700 billion bank bailout, TARP (as some of this hasn't been spent yet). Forget about that, silentman?

Okay, now let's look at what we've spent under Obama, shall we? Sure, he signed the stimulus bill, clocking in at $789 Billion. A lot of this was tax cuts, which I thought you guys liked. That's "only" $89 billion more than Bush's TARP. Obama is spending in part to get us out of a recession which was not his fault. Bush spent trillions on a war in Iraq, which was directly his fault.

What about Democrats and Republican presidents in general? From 1978-2005, Democratic presidents increased our national debt by 4.2%. Your Republicans? 36.4%. How do you like them apples? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_by_U.S._presidential_terms.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that under Obama's budget, national dept would increase by $1 trillion a year http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20090320/pl_mcclatchy/3193602_1. This money hasn't even been spent yet, so the dept he has run up is mostly just the stimulus package. That's a lot, but not as much as Bush. Bush = $4.5 trillion. Obama = $1 trillion.

Your assertion that Obama has ALREADY spent more than "our presidents since George Washington" is completely and laughably absurd. Really, you should look into what you're talking about before posting. You're embarrassing your fellow conservatives.


nikobesti 7 years, 12 months ago

Let me just say, I give props to the folks who turn out the 15th and make their voices heard. I might not agree with your cause (actually, I'm for responsible spending, but the hypocrisy of the right when talking about spending drives me nuts), but I always agree with a little peaceful demonstration. It's what makes us America.


Frank Estey 7 years, 12 months ago

In my own opinion our problem is with both Republican and Democrat Politicians.

While George Bush was president, The U.S. government seized control of American International Group Inc. -- one of the world's biggest insurers -- in an $85 billion deal that signaled the intensity of its concerns about the danger a collapse could pose to the financial system. The Bush administration pumped more than $85 billion of our taxpayer dollars into AIG to allow the giant insurance company to unload all its credit default swaps.

For anyone listening to AIG CEO, Edward Liddy's testimony, the key statement "It appears," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), "that AIG has become a conduit for counter-party transfers of taxpayer money." Amidst all the anger over the $165 million in retention bonuses gifted to AIGs derivatives traders, Hensarling focused attention on the next AIG scandal: counter-party payments. In all likelihood, the counter-party payments will make the retention bonuses look like loose change that fell between the couch Cushions .

In other words, while American taxpayers are miffed about Democrats spending $165 million in bonus payments to a few big shots at AIG, no one wants to talk about the $27.1 billion we forked over in counter-party debts to foreign firms and Wall Street companies engaged in the exact same game of credit default swap Russian roulette as AIG.

Payments called credit default swaps went from AIG to banks in all parts of the world : Societe Generale -- in France. Merci beaucoup! Deutsche Bank--in Germany. Danke schn! UBS -- in Switzerland. Merci vilmal! Wall Street firms: $5.6 billion to Goldman Sachs. $3.1 billion to Merrill Lynch.

Both Democrat and Republican politicians sat of their back side while vast amounts of our money went out the window.


taxslave 7 years, 12 months ago


Ugh, 75 cents a mile on toll roads....sounds like a new tax to me. AND, if they are giving our roads to private industry why on earth are we still paying gasoline taxes?

note to self....mark 15th on calender


DONTTREADONME 7 years, 11 months ago

To nikobesti Where in the Constitution do you find authorization for each and all of the following?" 1. The redistribution of property by force and subterfuge; and the unequal application of tax laws amounting to punitive action against certain groups of American People and providing favored status to other groups 2. A paper money system that is morally and economically equivalent to counterfeiting 3. Willful and purposeful devaluation and destruction of American currency 4. Deploying military to fight undeclared wars 5. Targeting and labeling law-abiding American citizens as domestic terrorists 6. Declarations that disagreeing with policy is unpatriotic or disloyal to our country 7. Intrusions into the privacy of law-abiding American citizens 8. Perpetual massive indebtedness to foreign countries 9. Infringement upon the rights of the People to keep and bear arms through oppressive regulation and taxation designed for the very purpose of infringement 10. Passing laws and taxes without deliberation and without reading the legislation; said action is tantamount to the American People not having any representation 11. Enacting ex post facto laws and Bills of Attainder 12. Granting Constitutional rights and privileges to illegal aliens and prisoners of war 13. Funding mercenary organizations that engage in voter fraud and paid harassment of law abiding American citizens 14. Maintaining and deploying armies in peace time on United States soil 15. Unprecedented and arbitrary federal power, through the United States Treasury, for government intervention into, control of, and confiscation of, private property, private industry including but not limited to banking, insurance, manufacturing, farming and other sectors of the private economy (current and proposed) 16. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law (proposed) 17. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law (proposed) 18. Acts regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press (proposed) Furthermore if you read the article you would know this is not obout obama this is about the goverment in whole. I didn't serve six years in the ARMY nor did every AMERICAN who has served and or spilled blood for this GREAT COUNTRY to see it go to socialism,marcsism,or statesism. so my final words are if you dont like this COUNTRY get the hell out


nikobesti 7 years, 11 months ago

DONTTREADONME, I definitely agree many items on your list make a mockery of our constitution. I especially like these:

  1. Deploying military to fight undeclared wars
  2. Declarations that disagreeing with policy is unpatriotic or disloyal to our country
  3. Intrusions into the privacy of law-abiding American citizens
  4. Funding mercenary organizations

These actions, as well as many more items on your list, were propagated under the leadership of George W. Bush. So again I ask, where were the tea party rallies last year? I guess I should have organized one. But I appreciate your consistency in realizing that for most of these items, both parties are to blame.

Regarding vehicle registration and other taxes or government fees: I'm not a fan of giving my hard-earned money to the government. Who is? Nobody likes paying taxes. But some taxes are necessary.

Do you agree that it is the government's responsibility to build and maintain our transportation infrastructure? This is a widely acceptable role of our local, state, and national governments. So how should the government pay for repairing our roads? You complain when they tax, you complain when the increase fees. That's fine, but again, what are we supposed to do to generate the money necessary for road maintenance?


taxslave 7 years, 11 months ago

We've been paying taxes for over 20 years towards the forever (lies) promise of repairing Hwy. 13 to baggs.

None of our infrastruction has been repaired in decades, heck the bridges are falling down.

All the tax money is going someplace else and not what it is/was intended for. That's why the president told all the governors to get the money any other way they can......so I ask agan.....

Why are we paying the large tax on gas to the feds when it's CLEAR it's not going where it's supposed to.

Hwy. 13 will ever get fixed unless someone does it themselves and puts a toll on it.


ReductioAdAbsurdum 7 years, 11 months ago

Thank you donttreadonme for organizing an event for the Craig community. I am curious why it is going to be out at Loudy Simpson rather than being on the courthouse lawn as it is in Steamboat Springs.

Nikobesti, it would have been wonderful if you would have organized a tea party last year. The tea party is not about Republican or Democrat, but rather "Taxation without Representation". It is but a timing issue that the Tea Party will be during a democrats presidency. Thanks for citing your sources, I found the National Debt web site particularly enlightening.


freeman 7 years, 11 months ago

dont you think they should of had this tea party along time ago when bush was re-elected


taxslave 7 years, 11 months ago

Just posted this morning....the ponzi game. Make sure you watch and listen to interview and know why banks are getting the tarp funds.


DONTTREADONME 7 years, 11 months ago

Let me start with thank you all for the support and backing. The reason i chose Lowdy-Simpson park is there is more parking and we can get a bigger crowd , and if it was at the court house i would have had to get a permit, plus they are trying to conduct business, and also the courts will be in session, there was no need to disrupt ther daily order of business. if you dont agree with my reasoning i'm it just made sense with this being a Peacful Protest. again thank you for all the support. Rick


taxslave 7 years, 11 months ago

I would like to make a suggestion here. First go look up the definition of "Sheriff"....You will find that he is the supreme law enforcement officer of the county. He is the man, number one.

Ok Sheriff Jantz....we're looking to you to affirm your oath of office to the people. We know you stand by the 2nd Amendment and we THANK YOU for that!!

To defend the Constitution of the United States I believe is the oath of office to all of you. Please stand up with us with our right to peaceful protest. You and your officers should be there too. You are the boss as "we the people" know. That's why the election of sheriff is the MOST IMPORTANT vote we'll ever cast.

People should offer as much info as possible, flyers possibly, to explain what's going on. If you watch tv for your news, forget it....it's nothing but spin. We're up to 12 Trillion and yesterday congress said they need 4 trillion more.

I say we produce a form that we all sign "opting out" of the bailout plans for the banks, notorizing them and send them in. At least we should "opt out" our children and grandchildren, (which are all on the hook for 45K). This is insane.


DONTTREADONME 7 years, 11 months ago

Taxslave could you call me or email me. You have very good points and ideas. my number is 824-6991 email is dont_treadonme@hotmail.com Thank you for the support


taxslave 7 years, 11 months ago

Can we meet in the am? I've got grandbabies this evening.


taxslave 7 years, 11 months ago

Sunday 11 am works for me. I'll call later today.


DONTTREADONME 7 years, 11 months ago

Taxslave i checked that bill out it was introduced in Jan. but is sitting in the committes offices we need to get the word out about this and have everyone call or email them to get it on the house floor for a vote also let our Rep. know we know about it and to vote for it. thanks again


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.