Updated: Signature gatherers accused of improprieties
Updated 10:44 a.m. Tuesday, April 7
This weekend, I got several emails from folks accusing signature gatherers working to put an Alameda Point redevelopment measure on the ballot of misleading the public on what the measure is about.
They’re saying signature gatherers working at Alameda Towne Centre and elsewhere over the weekend were telling voters that the measure’s intent was to allow Point developer SunCal to clean up the former Naval Air Station, and not that the developer needs an exemption from Measure A to build the housing they want to build there.
SunCal’s folks say they stand behind what their signature gatherers are telling prospective voters.
Meanwhile, both the Alameda County Registrar of Voters and the City Clerk have gotten complaints about the signature gatherers, and I understand that in the midst of all of this a supporter of the plan was arrested at Towne Centre today.
“While I have no qualms with obtaining ballot access, I believe this is a disingenuous marketing strategy. It’s just as bad as saying amending Measure A for Alameda Point would be the beginning of the end for Measure A throughout Alameda,” said Richard Bangert, one of the folks who has written to us about this over the past two days. “The only reason to vote is to allow higher density. And it is patently false that the Navy has been doing nothing.”
Bangert said signature gatherers were telling people that they need to vote on the plan so that SunCal can clean up the base.
Irene Dieter said she spoke with several signature gatherers over the weekend and was told her the measure was being put on the ballot so that developer SunCal can get the base cleaned up because the Navy wasn’t doing it.
Dieter said she’s not against the development and that she’s glad it is headed to the ballot. “But to put it there on false pretenses is unacceptable,” she said.
SunCal spokesman Adam Alberti said he takes issue with the way people are characterizing the signature gatherers’ pitch. “Fundamentally, it is an issue about cleaning up the Point and reusing it,” Alberti said.
He said SunCal will clean up the site faster than the Navy and that it will do more cleanup than the Navy plans to do, including $60 million worth of lead and asbestos abatement in base buildings and additional money to make part of the base safe for residences.
“Clearly, there are folks against the development. But we stand behind what was said,” Alberti said.
I checked in with California Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office to get a handle on the laws regulating signature gathering are; a spokesperson there referred me to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. The registrar’s spokesman, Guy Ashley, said his office has received a number of complaints about the signature gatherers and that they are referring calls to the City Clerk’s office.
Vivian Moran at the Clerk’s office said they have checked in with the city attorney for guidance on this one and are waiting to hear back. She said she hopes to have more to say about it today.
According to the state elections code, anyone who “(w)illfully and knowingly circulates, publishes, or exhibits any false statement or misrepresentation concerning the contents, purport or effect of any state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition for the purpose of obtaining any signature to, or persuading or influencing any person to sign, that petition” is guilty of a misdemeanor.
I went over to Towne Centre to check it out myself on Sunday, and the signature gatherer I spoke with told me his intent was to get the Point plan on the ballot.
Updated: Police arrested one of the signature gatherers for trespassing on Monday. Police said Paisley D. Hudson, 41, of Lancaster was arrested on a trespassing charge after she refused to leave the spot she was in as directed by mall security.
I guess they had warned signature gatherers over the weekend and again on Monday that they hadn’t properly followed procedures to gather signatures at the mall, which include registering with the mall management and setting up in one of two designated spots. Mall security told four signature gatherers on Monday that they needed to move, and police said that Hudson refused, leading mall security to make a citizen’s arrest. She was cited and released.