It’s interesting, being in the middle of a movement.
You meet the most amazing, fantastic people, who give up a lot to make sure things get done and the movement goes forward. You make new friends, reconnect with old ones, and find out just how amazing people are.
Until you find out that some people just… aren’t.
Since Josh and I began working on the Houston Tea Party at Discovery Green in February, we’ve struggled to do everything we could to coordinate with the national movement as headed by the internet activists who took Rick Santelli’s rant and ran with it. The original plan was for 3 tea parties in 3 cities. What happened on 2/27 was nothing short of a miracle. Five hundred people in Houston! Fifty cities! All on the same day! A movement was born.
But since then, one member of the unofficial Meetup (the one we separated from to form our own) has become increasingly suspicious. This member has contacted our organization making veiled threats, and then not-so-veiled threats through other people, and suggesting his ownership of the name Houston Tea Party might prohibit us from doing business as the Houston Tea Party.
I found out some interesting things.
Here’s a look at a recent press release: (note the incorrect date) Follow the link on the press release, and explore that site, and compare that with the efforts stated in the press release. This is how I learned not to trust press releases so much.
Here’s a look at recent DBA filings in Harris County:
Isn’t it interesting? One Dale Robertson has purchased DBA names for, among other things, Houston Tea Party, Texas Tea Party, Houston, TX Tea Party, and on and on. But what really interests me is the next page:
He’s also purchased Houston 912 Project, The 912 Project, We Surround You Houston, We Surround Them Houston, and on and on.
A pattern begins to emerge, one of a man bent on either controlling the names available for current movements in Harris County, or on extorting money from the leaders of these grassroots movements. Apparently we irritated him when we registered the name Houston Tea Party SOCIETY, because he didn’t think to get that one. I hear he is offering to sell the rights to the names to leaders of these movements.
So, purportedly a self-described member of a movement that’s against sleazy opportunistic politicians is presenting himself as a sleazy opportunistic non-politician?
Personally, I think that’s a great capitalist idea, and I wish him luck with that.
However, the threats of lawsuits and so forth do NOT sit well with me. The lawyers affiliated with the Houston Tea Party Society are more than ready to take on challenges such as this, should the need arise. We’ll continue as we have been, working hard to coordinate events and give people an opportunity to have their voices heard. We just want to make it clear that there are some people who, perhaps, are in the business of something else when using a Tea Party name.
Addition from Josh: Just to remind people, these are public records.
We like to work with people, and do work some some amazing people who give a lot of their time, talent, and treasure to make this org run. However, we don’t appreciate people busting in, demanding to shake us down for cash, trying to push their agendas onto us, or do things under our name and demanding we work with them and insulting us when we are hesitant. We then hear they are doing the same things to other groups.
It’s not that we’re prowertripping or against other teaparties in the area, we have great relationships with Woodlands, Sugarland, Tomball, etc… teaparties. We do however, have a recognized name we wish to protect. This does take a lot of managing and coordination and create consistency, and such things cause confusion and problems for us (as we’ll get loads of e-mails about it).
If you’re asking to help us, do be patient, we’re having to do a lot of post party work now, we’re still working ourselves into exhaustion trying to keep this together, and the extra stuff doesn’t help.
Sorry to end this night on such a downer, but we’re tired of having to deal with it We’re not corporate lobbyists, we’re not paid for this. We are plugged into the national movement and working with the other big cities and have been here since the beginning, and will continue to do so.