Mailed Tea Raises Alarms

April 15, 2009|By Sara Olkon | Sara Olkon,Tribune Newspapers

As part of a nationwide tax rebellion, protesters, in a nod to the Boston Tea Party, have been sending tea bags to their representatives. The trouble is, the tea keeps getting mistaken for a hazardous substance.

In Boulder, Colo., the district office of Rep. Jared Polis recently called for help after a lumpy white envelope with no return address arrived in the mail. The Boulder Fire Department's Hazardous Materials Response Team found a tea bag and a note reading "We the People, 1773." Earlier this month in Manchester, N.H., a hazmat team descended on the office of Rep. Carol Shea-Porter after employees opened an envelope marked "tax protest" and found a bunch of tea leaves. Two days later, the Modesto, Calif., office of Rep. George P. Radanovich was evacuated when an intern alerted staff after finding an envelope containing a "granular substance" that turned out to be tea.

With the protest expected to reach a crescendo Wednesday - organizers say some 300 "tea parties" are scheduled for Tax Day - some conservatives are now trying to persuade folks to send just the tag or even write the words tea bag instead.

Protests are scheduled at the Inner Harbor and the City Dock in Annapolis, as well as in Bel Air, Cecil County, Chestertown, Cumberland, Frederick, Hagerstown, Havre de Grace, Salisbury and Westminster.

The send-a-tea-bag idea inspired Mindy McAlindon, a home-schooling mother of three from Tennessee, to start a Web site, teatodc.com, in which she promised to mail a tea bag to the White House for $5 - with 20 percent earmarked for charity. McAlindon said she had sold 1,030 tea bags as of Monday.

But with all the brouhaha over using the postal system, McAlindon has decided to drive to D.C. to hand-deliver the tea bags. She plans to present the tea at an anti-tax party to be held at Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House.

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