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Ballot group not allowed to march in St. Pat's parade; Gas tax hike opponent says decision 'just plain wrong'.

Byline: Scott J. Croteau

WORCESTER -- The chief organizers of a ballot question to stop automatic gas tax hikes believe the Worcester County St. Patrick's Parade Committee erred in rejecting their application to march, but parade committee members said the group falls under the "political protest'' clause in the guidelines.

Committee Chairman Stephen Trainor and Finance Chairman Paul Foley said the tradition of the parade is not to allow so-called protest groups. Politicians are allowed to march if they sponsor a band, which organizers consider entertainment for spectators. This year's parade is March 9.

"There are other venues for them to get their point across,'' Mr. Trainor said.

In a news release, Steve Aylward and Marty Lamb, the chief organizers for the ballot question, said the refusal was disappointing.

"This is just plain wrong,'' Mr. Aylward said. "Legally we are a ballot question, not a protest. The secretary of state's office recognizes us. Why can't these parade organizers?''

"Calling us a protest group is inaccurate,'' Mr. Lamb said in a telephone interview. "They allow politicians (to march) and I think that is a double standard there.''

The group said two parade committee members are donors to Democratic politicians, but the committee said its decision was not politically motivated.

"They might have a valid point about taxes, but it doesn't provide entertainment for the kids and the people listening to the bands, watching the clowns or the military groups,'' Mr. Trainor said. "We try to stay neutral of any lines of politics. We're just interested in making the parade fun.''

Mr. Trainor said politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, are allowed to march as long as they sponsor a band.

Mr. Foley's said the committee had concerns upon seeing the group's application and name.

"The flag is up right off the bat,'' he said.

But Mr. Lamb said politics should be either allowed in the parade or not, noting the ballot question is not a random group of people. The group said its exclusion from the parade will not prompt any protests on its part.

The ballot question is expected to be on the November ballot.

Contact Scott J. Croteau at Follow him on Twitter @ScottCroteauTG
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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Croteau, Scott J.
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 25, 2014
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