Wrong place, wrong time
The right wingnut blogosphere is apoplectic that Lansing, Michigan’s iconic “Hot Dog Guy”, Clinton Tarver, was a victim of union thug violence at yesterday’s anti-Right to Work for Less rally. The reality is that Tarver is simply a victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He also happens to be married to the Michigan Republican Party’s Ethnic Caucus Vice-Chair — perhaps one of the loneliest leadership positions in the entire state.
A fixture on the local food scene was in the wrong place at the wrong time Tuesday: under the Americans for Prosperity tent on the lawn of the state Capitol when it collapsed, allegedly at the hands of pro-union protesters.
Clinton Tarver operates a popular hot dog stand at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Capitol Avenue, across from the state Capitol, from March to November each year.
In the offseason, he takes on catering work.
Tarver was set up under the Americans for Prosperity tent, his wife, Linda Lee Tarver, said Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, he got caught up in the mayhem yesterday,” she said.Tarver had been hired by the conservative, anti-union group to cater in the tent the group set up.
When the tent came down, allegedly at the hands of pro-union protesters, Tarver and his catering equipment were caught inside.
His cart was not on-site, Linda said.
This is a far cry from the all-caps-can-you-believe-what-these-union-thugs-did freak out by conservatives who would have you believe that Tarver lost his entire livelihood at the hands of union goons. Tarver was set up on some tables under the tent and did not even have his cart. He must have had a very slow day. Anyone who was at the rally and wandered by the two giant AFP tents will tell you that they were essentially empty all day. There were a few AFP folks standing out front, taunting union members and provoking confrontations, but there was not a lot of activity inside the tent where Tarver was.
Nonetheless, much like, Kenneth Gladney, the St. Louis guy who faked getting injured at the hands of union members then solicited funds for his hospital bills even though he had health insurance, a collection has been taken up on Tarver’s behalf. According the article, they have raised over $10,000 for him (UPDATE: MIRS News reports that it’s now over $16,000.) The total value of what he lost in the scuffle?
I wonder what they’ll do with the thousands of extra dollars not needed to buy more buns, hot dogs, ketchup, mustard and a couple of folding tables and coolers?
Certainly Clint Tarver didn’t deserve to be treated as shabbily as he was by the union folks there. His wife claims he was called a “nigger” and jeered for working for the enemy. If true, that’s reprehensible and inexcusable. But the off-the-charts poutrage from the right on this is an absolute joke. Some of the same people decrying the verbal taunts that Tarver experiencde are here on this very website calling union members all sorts of hideous names. So let’s keep it real, shall we?
To their credit, the House Democrats released a statement showing their support for Tarver:
Everyone who works in and around the state Capitol knows Clint Tarver as ‘the hot dog guy,’ a man who is appreciated for his smiles and friendly greetings as much as he is for the food he serves.
The House Democratic Caucus was disappointed to learn that some of his equipment was damaged during ‘right-to-work’ protests yesterday. Violence of any kind is never acceptable, and it’s particularly dismaying when it happens to someone so beloved by the Capitol community. We look forward to supporting Tarver’s business and hiring him to cater a caucus lunch next year.
One more thing: if you’d like to meet Clint Tarver in person, I’m hearing that he’ll be selling hot dogs outside Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville’s office tomorrow, capitalizing on his newfound political fame with Republicans. Stop by and buy a dog.
Adding… Let’s not kid ourselves about what “Tentgate” and “Hot Doggate” are all about: distracting the country from noticing that corporatist ideologues have turned the birthplace of American organized labor into a Right to Work for Less state. It’s a smokescreen, chaff to make sure the conversation is not about screwing union members and is, instead, about the AFP losing a couple of tents.
[CC image credit: ClevelandSGS | Flicker]