By Doug Porter
Paid signature gatherers, many from out of town, fanned out across the city this week trying to persuade voters to support a Chamber of Commerce led effort to block a minimum wage increase for San Diegans.
City Council President Todd Gloria, a very high profile local politician and author of the minimum wage/sick days ordinance, had the presence of mind to make an instagram video as he was approached outside an uptown post office.
“Have you signed the petition so the state can’t force the city of San Diego to increase the minimum wage yet?” the signature-gatherer asked. “I support raising the minimum wage,” Gloria answered.
Here’s a snippet former State Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña’s encounter, left as a comment at SDFP yesterday:
Today I had my 1st interaction with a petition gatherer, at the Sprouts in Clairemont. I had just finished loading groceries in my car. He yelled out “are you a registered voter in the city of San Diego?” and I knew it was time to try my strategy: read the details.
He started out by asking if I wanted to help raise the minimum-wage. I told him that had already been done by the city Council.
He countered that the mayor had vetoed their action. I replied that they had overridden the veto a few days ago.
Then he told me the purpose of the petition is to keep the Council from “running roughshod” over voters. This is according to man who also admitted he is not from San Diego.
And, of course there’s my interaction:
He told me that the increase in the minimum wage passed by the City Council would threaten the very existence of small businesses because wages would JUMP BY TWENTY FIVE PER CENT over the State’s minimum come January 1st.
That sounded like Republi-Math (™) to me, so I whipped out my official pinko cell phone calculator:
State Wage: $9
City bump: $9.75
That would an 8.3% increase by my calculation.
So that’s three encounters. Three different stories, ranging from pathetically lying, to ignorant, to math challenged.
It shouldn’t surprise anybody that the arguments used by representatives of the so-called Small Business Coalition are lies. After all, this “coalition” is merely the latest incarnation of right -wing ideological and financial interest groups seeking to promote economic and political oppression.
Lies are their stock-in-trade. They lied about Proposition 187, denying access to state services for immigrants; they lied about Proposition 8, denying marriage equality for same sex couples, and they lied to get the Barrio Logan Community Plan thrown out.
Now they’re lying to take away a long overdue pay increase for those at the bottom of the economic scale. They’re lying so sick employees have no choice but to come to work.
Who are “they”? They are the parasites with a symbiotic relationship with reactionary politicians and screw-it-I-got-mine millionaires. People with no ethics; no sense of right or wrong.
The guy who is spokesman (He seems to get a thrill from seeing his name published, so I’ll pass) for the anti-minimum wage campaign once reportedly mailed a knife to a ex-cop to express his displeasure (h/t John Lamb) at a deal gone bad. He’s proud of his involvement in a political campaign that made fun of a double amputee Iraq war veteran.
Proud. Think we should trust anything this guy says?
Business Coalition Pinocchio Speaks
Here’s what he told KPBS about the Todd Gloria encounter:
“It sounds to me like this individual merely just got the script backwards or at least confused,” Jason Roe said. “We will not tolerate anyone misrepresenting this.”
He could not provide training materials given to signature gatherers. Roe said the organization has dozens of people circulating the petition and they just completed training the day prior.
“And we will just continue to train our folks but they’ve only been doing this for less than 24 hours and given the complexity of the issue, I don’t think anyone’s terribly surprised that somebody might not have gotten the script perfectly right,” he said.
Let’s run this in slo-mo.
These guys have got virtually unlimited resources. The buy-in for businesses who agree with this campaign is reportedly $10,000. Yet somehow they haven’t been able to develop a script.
They’ve known they were going to run this campaign since the middle of July, when the Facebook page in support of the effort was created.
The issue isn’t that complex. The petitions are asking voters to put this question on the ballot in June 2016.
And somehow the guy running the campaign just couldn’t come up with a copy of the training script.
I’ve worked in politics (and sales) off and on over 40 years, and every professional campaign has a script. And you get fired if you don’t follow it.
So this is horsepoop. These guys are lying. They’re lying because that’s how they do business. And enabling a business model based on exploiting its employees is a big part of why they lie.
The Downtown Creed: Deny, Deflect, Defer
Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the suits at the Chamber of Commerce keep their distance from these lies, but they won’t denounce them. And that’s all the proof anybody should need that they condone this behavior.
And don’t get me started by saying ‘everybody does it’. Politicos of all bents have lied for centuries. That does not make it right. Nor can we roll back the clock. Let’s talk about now.
It’s obvious to me that the system of redress or direct democracy intended by the right of the people to initiate a referendum is broken. It’s unlikely that any legislative fix can change that reality because we live in an era where corporations are considered people and huge piles of cash are considered free speech.
Since apparently we are denied the ability to change the rules of the game, I’d like to suggest a another path, one in keeping with our nation’s anglo-puritan traditions: Shame.
Yammering about what might of been or what could have been does nothing but suck the air of the room. A better life for nearly 200,000 people is what we’re talking about today.
Show us your script, Mr. Small Business Coalition. Fire the “independent contractor” who violated it. Prove that you’re the better person.
Denounce the lies, Mayor Faulconer. Apologize to Todd Gloria on behalf of the business community you claim to represent.
Show us that you’re honest business people over at the Chamber of Commerce fighting for what you really believe in. Try making a sincere argument. Prove to us that you’re not complicit.
And…I’m betting that will never happen.
So let us not mince words. Let’s call these rascals out for what they are.
Let Jerry Sanders catch hell from a waitress. Let Kevin Faulconer see signs on the street calling him out for abetting (what should be) a crime. Let the owners of the corporations funding these lies see picket lines in front of their restaurants.
It’s a nice fantasy….I’m sure it doesn’t poll well.
And I’m sure the consultants on our side of the fence are horrified by the thought. After all, they could be next.
- Take the pledge not to sign the anti-sick days anti-minimum wage petitions.
- Inform as many people as possible that the earned sick days and minimum wage policy HAS PASSED, and that any signature gathering effort is an attempt to TAKE IT AWAY!! Tell your friends: DON’T SIGN IT
If you see a signature gatherer, text the following hotline:
(619) 930 – 3300
On This Day: 1762 – Ann Franklin became the editor of the Mercury of Newport in Rhode Island. She was the first female editor of an American newspaper. 1964 – Martha & The Vandellas’ “Dancing In The Streets” was released. 1986– The Kerr-McGee Corp. agreed to pay the estate of the late Karen Silkwood $1.38 million, settling a 10-year-old nuclear contamination lawsuit. She was a union activist who died in under suspicious circumstances on her way to talk to a reporter about safety concerns at her plutonium fuel plant in Oklahoma.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@
Personal (unpaid) plug: Public Banking Institute www.publicbankinginstitute.org is in the process of organizing a San Diego Chapter. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Alan Collinge says
Minimum wage in San Diego should be $15/hr if not higher.
Thanks for posting this. Good Piece-
Anonymous Operative says
The organizer of the Small Business Coalition, who will now be referred to as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”, has also had other issues in regards to ethics.
In 2007 he resigned as deputy campaign manager for the Romney Presidential Campaign after only four months. The campaign stated he left because of “familial obligations.”
Maybe it is just a coincidence that just a few days before he resigned, that Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fl.) was being questioned by the FBI for taking an all expense paid Scotland Golf Junket with the infamous Jack Abramoff.
“He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” was Feeney’s Chief of Staff during the trip.
The FBI were also interested in interviewing “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” regarding an email he sent to a journalist saying, “Any assertion that this office knew Abramoff paid for the Scotland trip is a g–d—– lie.”
sd abroad says
Paid Signature gathering in America is one of the most despicable activities in public. I have seen these leeches slam voters, change people’s political parties, reverse pitch the voters. These people know how to manipulate the public into signing. The will tell people what they want to hear based on what the potential signer says. So if someone says they are for the minimum wage be sure they will say signing the petition will allow the voters to weigh in to increase the minimum wage. There is no need to sign since it has been passed.
They did this with fervor saying sign so a Billionaire won’t break up california, when it actually was for it.
All readers get cameras out video tape them and send to sec of state if they are lying or misrepresented the issue. These con men and con women need to be penalized for their activities. Of the 25 signature gatherers I surveyed on the California breakup petition only 7 actually pitched the petition correctly. Most just out righted LIED!! I figure it will happen again. And many will make signs that will incriminate themselves.
tom 2 says
Can you point me to any legal guidance for when I am approached by a paid signature collector? Does a petition-gatherer have to either have visible identification, the way door to door solicitors do, or give their name if asked? Can I legally record the encounter, with or without their permission? If I do record the encounter, is there legal redress or anything I can do about blatant misrepresentations? Given that the Barrio Logan court case said that there were falsehoods and problems in the petition-gathering process, but not enough to invalidate the petitions, are there other actions either on the spot, or cease & desist against individual signature collectors, available?
Doug Porter says
Just click on the “Don’t Sign” box at the right hand top of this page. Raise Up San Diego is there to help.
Cant’ find anything on the RaiseUp website about what to do or who to contact if a paid petitioner LIES while trying to collect signatures. Should City Attorney be called? News media?
Doug Porter says
City Atty will just laugh at you. News media can’t be bothered.
If you see a signature gatherer, call or text the following hotline: (619) 930 – 3300
Your not going to get much help out of the City Attorney. Heck, that guy knowingly mislead the city council about state law, claiming the city is not required to defend a city employee in court, when, in fact, it is. The city attorney called it a “bluff”.
I think tom2 has some great questions. I’d like to hear answers from someone a lot smarter than me who can educate us regarding these political tactics.
bob dorn says
Tom 2, and jgeary, you have the right to engage the petition gatherer. Ask them their name and address (they’ll be asking you for yours). Ask them how much they’re paid. Your information will be valuable to Raise Up San Diego.
As to recording the interaction, my understanding is that you cannot conceal the phone you’re likely to be using to record the event. Remember, Todd Gloria, in the column above, recorded the interaction so briefly truncated by the hustler, and if that was illegal you could bet the ratf**ker Who-Cannot-Be-Named would be filing an action against the Council President.
Just click on the Raise Up San Diego Box and give them what you got.
What hourly wages do these signature gatherers make anyway?
I’d be truly surprised if any of them gave more than a first name and the two guys I encountered yesterday were definitely out-of-towners.
And I don’t think they are paid hourly, but by the number of signatures they get. So, obviously, there’s a conflict of interest there — they want signers any way they can get ’em.
Philly Joe Swendoza says
Are these shills required to carry some kind of authorized ID that we can ask to be shown? This is a business after all & businesses must be ready to display their license to stay in business. Somebody hired them & pays them. How about complaining to the Better Business Bureau? What are the legal guidelines for these petition pimps regarding respecting personal space? Respecting public space? Surely somebody trained them & maybe written guidelines exist. If not, aren’t guidelines needed? Don’t we have a right to ask whether they’re paid or volunteers? It seems to me that once commerce comes into play, the right of petition can be regulated by the people constituted as posse comitatus.
Doug Porter says
Lots of questions. (Answers from Ballotpedia)
1) In California petition gatherers are not required to be registered or have an ID.
(In Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a Colorado law that required circulators to wear a badge disclosing their name and status.)
2) Circulators are required in California to disclose whether they are a paid or a volunteer to potential petition signers.
3) California requires that a prominent notice be placed on the petition form stating whether the circulator is paid or volunteer.
4) California requires that circulators must personally witness each petition signature and sign an oath or affidavit stating that he or she personally witnesses the signing of the signature.
5) Laws banning payment per signature are currently working their way through the appellate courts. Pay-per-signature provisions in Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio and Washington have been struck down as unconstitutional in federal district courts.
6) In 1979, in the case of Robins v. Pruneyard Shopping Center, the California Supreme Court determined that “soliciting signatures for a petition to the government” is an activity protected by the California Constitution. Subsequent cases pulled back from that level of certainty, but in December 2007, by a slim margin in the case of Fashion Valley Mall v. National Labor Relations Board, that court appears to have asserted that free speech rights supersede private property rights.