How does the Tea Party move beyond its small base?
One indication came Monday night when about 15 to 20 members of the Rockville Centre Tea Party Patriots demonstrated outside Freeport Village Hall.
Tom Kershis, Tea Party coordinator of the event, told Newsday’s Laura Rivera that they wanted to support Freeport residents who oppose a planned incinerator.
“If there's going to be trucks coming from New York City to Freeport ... they'd have to come through Rockville Centre,” said Kershis. “We have a big problems with trucks.”
The organizers tried to make sure that the protesters stayed on message. Their Web site advised members to bring homemade signs, “and please stick to the issue of “No Incinerator In Freeport.”
But the protesters got a chilly reception from the village. In fact, they never got into the meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Apart from the protesters crowding the sidewalk in front of Village Hall, another group of people stood in line waiting to enter the front doors to attend the 7 p.m. meeting.
As it turned out, the meeting hall reached its capacity of 180 before the front doors ever officially opened, leaving dozens of people in the lurch.
One of them, lifelong Freeport resident Elaine Whaley, 58, said when she arrived at 6 p.m., village police told her told her to wait in line until they opened the doors around 7 p.m.
Then, at 7 p.m., when she asked when she would be let in, a uniformed official with the Nassau Fire Marshal’s office said the hall was full and no one else would be admitted, Whaley said.
“We just want people to know that we were locked out of this meeting,” Whaley told Newsday. “We feel we have no voice in what goes on in this village.”
Later, Mayor Andrew Hardwick's brother-in-law, Dale Edmonston, arrived with his mother and was denied entry through the front doors. However, the two were admitted through a back door, even as entry was denied to three reporters.
“I cannot believe that the citizens of Freeport were not let in the building,” Trustee Jorge Martinez said later.
\[Village Attorney Howard Colton declined to comment on the situation. We’re awaiting comment from the Nassau County fire marshal’s office.\]