Rallies from left to right mark session openingby John Kennedy | March 4th, 2011
Organizers across the political spectrum Friday began taking aim at the state Capitol for next week’s opening of the two-month legislative session.
The Facebook-drive Awake The State protest has about 30 rallies planned Tuesday from Key West to Pensacola — with critics of Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature’s budget-cutting the focus.
Teachers, government employees, cops and firefighters form the core of those pushing back against proposed pension overhauls, but expected reductions in schools and health-care programs are drawing more opponents, said Damien Filer of Progress Florida.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people who say, `this is going to be my first rally of any kind,’” Filer said. “I’ll be interested to see what kind of momentum remains among people after next week.”
A West Palm Beach rally is planned from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, in the 100 block of Clematis Street.
Tea Party activists expect to counter-punch, with several thousand Scott supporters expected in Tallahassee.
“Sorry, it’s time we all take some hits in Florida because of this economy,” said Billie Tucker, a leader of Jacksonville’s First Coast Tea Party. “It’s time those who’ve enjoyed the gravy train in Tallahassee get off it.”
Conservative activists plan to rally Tuesday at the Old Capitol — a few hours before Scott’s State of the State speech.
“We’re ready to do an intervention on those legislators who are still addicted to spending,” said Patricia Sullivan, a Lake County leader of the tea party Patriot Army.