By Doug Porter
Sources close to Raise Up San Diego are telling us the company collecting signatures for the Slave Wage Jobs Coalition will be National Petition Management(NPM).
Today we’ll take a look at what they’ve accomplished in recent years, and why you might want to wash your hands after engaging one of their ‘contract employees’ asking for signatures to overturn San Diego’s minimum wage and paid sick days ordinance.
NPM and their likely local affiliate, Victory Consultants, Inc will start deploying signature gatherers at suburban malls shortly after the city council over rides Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto later this month. They’ll have 30 days to collect 34,000 or so signatures. Meeting that threshold will suspend the new minimum wage and earned sick days ordinance until after the June 2016 election.
The company brags on its website that it has “an unparalleled track record of 100%” of qualifying initiatives. And as we said yesterday, the Chamber of Commerce has been busy raising money for a referendum.
And that’s true, if you accept the qualifier “qualifying.”
Carl DeMaio: You Guys Are Dead Men Walking
Let’s look at an example where they didn’t succeed; former LA Mayor Richard Riordan’s attempt at pension reform back in 2012.
Six weeks and $800,000 into a petition gathering drive he pulled the plug, blaming union opposition and a lack of financial support from local millionaires.
From the LA Weekly:
To gather his signatures, Riordan hired National Petition Management, which brags on its website that clients turn to the company “when failure is not an option.” The website says the firm has “a near perfect record in the worst of conditions and shortest time frames…”
…As the Dec. 28 deadline approached, Riordan increased the spending per signature in hopes of speeding up the process. His budget ballooned, but the raise had little effect.
Riordan fired his consultant and hired one who had worked on the San Diego campaign. But by mid-November it became clear that it was too late. In a conference call with Riordan and his team, [Carl] DeMaio was blunt, he tells the Weekly.
“You guys are dead men walking,” DeMaio told them. “You do not have time. You’re going to throw good money after bad.”
From the Folks Who Said the Navy is Leaving Town…
National Petition Management was the company used by San Diego’s shipbuilders and the Chamber of Commerce is qualifying Propositions B&C for this past June’s ballot.
From Dorian Hargrove at the Reader:
They hired local lobbying firm,Southwest Strategies which in turn hired National Petition Management to begin hunting down the 50,000 plus signatures needed to put the item on the June ballot.
Weeks later, signature gatherers were posted outside big-box retailers and grocery stores telling residents to sign the petition or be faced with a mass exodus from the maritime industry.
Among their selling points, gatherers said the Navy would likely set sail from San Diego as it had in Long Beach and San Francisco decades prior. Shipbuilders too would ship out in search for cheaper ports. In all they claimed, 46,000 jobs could be at jeopardy and $14 billion in revenue could be flushed down the toilet.
Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp ruled that, despite the lies and misrepresentations being told by NPM’s ‘contract employees,’ there simply wasn’t a clear legal path to disqualifying the petitions.
Which means we can expect a steady diet of lies, lies and more lies, coming soon to a shopping mall near you. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always muscle– which can take many forms.
Signature Gathering is Big Business
The San Francisco Bay Guardian published a report back in 2010 on an effort by the non-profit Repair California, who launched an initiative campaign without help from the major companies that do this sort of work.
Repair California was asking voters to support getting a couple of measures on the ballot aimed at calling a limited constitutional convention to reform state government. By carefully crafting the language in their proposals, they avoided several hot button issues (Prop 13 and same sex marriage) and put together a business coalition and $3.6 million in funding.
The signature gathering industry didn’t like the idea of including reforms changing the way initiative campaigns were conducted.
From the Guardian:
Paid signature gatherers were shouted down in the streets, threatened with the prospect of never working in the industry again, and spied on by informants from signature-gathering firms that then placed them on blacklists, according to Grubb. The nonprofit also alleges that representatives from these firms were seen throwing stacks of signed constitutional convention petitions into the trash.
There are six major signature-gathering firms in California that contract with political campaigns to circulate petitions for ballot initiatives. Through a network of regional coordinators, they hire independent contractors who are paid by the signature to stand on the street with clipboards soliciting voters’ support.
The firms take in millions of dollars from each campaign, but for circulators who carry half a dozen petitions at once, the work comes in temporary bursts and moves from state to state. Paid signature gatherers who spoke with the Guardian said that being blacklisted could spell disaster — a hefty pay cut or being frozen out of a job completely.
Attorney Steven Miller, who works with the firm Hanson Bridgett and is representing Repair California, sent a cease and desist letter to at least three of the six major firms Feb. 2, a first step toward possible litigation. Miller told the Guardian that the firms’ activities constitute an illegal boycott and a violation of antitrust laws. Their tactics also interfere with rights guaranteed in the California Constitution to circulate petitions and place initiatives on the ballot. “Nothing surprises me anymore, but this really surprised me,” he said.
While Miller didn’t say exactly which firms he sent letters to, the three names that came up in various off-record conversations on this matter were Kimball Petition Management, run by Fred Kimball; National Petition Management, run by Lee Albright; and Arno Political Consultants, run by Michael Arno.
The Companies They Keep: Anti-Gay, Anti-Environment, Pro-Exploitation
NPM is above all, a mercenary enterprise. They get paid to collect signatures (and sometimes raise money). Mostly they work for rightwing political efforts, with a few politically neutral causes thrown in to pay the bills.
Al though the company has offices in Michigan and California, they have run campaigns throughout the nation.
When the National Organization for Marriage’s affiliate in Maine needed help overturning same sex marriage laws passed by the legislature, National Petition Management was there.
When WalMart opponents in five different cities tried to tame the mega-retailer’s expansionist ways, National Petition Management was there,. And it just so happens that one of those cities was San Diego, where the city council revoked an ordinance requiring an economic impact study rather than face the wrath of the Waltons.
When Mercury Insurance wanted to qualify one of its frequent attempts at manipulating consumers through the ballot box, National Petition Management was there.
When polluters wanted to sabotage California’s AB 32 environmental legislation back in 2010, National Petition Management was there, collecting signatures for the “California Jobs Statutory Initiative”
Like I said yesterday, the onslaught on the City Council’s minimum wage / earned sick days ordinance is going to be ugly. And the bad guys hare bringing in the pros to do their dirty work.
We’re Number 4!
An article at The Intercept about the US government’s widely shared database of “known or suspected terrorists” says San Diego ranks fourth nationally when it comes to its populace qualifying for this dubious distinction.
The other cities are New York; Dearborn, Mich.; Houston; and Chicago. All have large populations of Muslims and peoples of Arab descent.
Nearly half of the people on the U.S. government’s widely shared database of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist group, according to classified government documents obtained by The Intercept….
…In 2006, CBS News obtained a copy of the no fly list and reported that it included 44,000 names, including Bolivian President Evo Morales and the head of Lebanon’s parliament. Faced with a widespread public backlash, the government cut the list down to just 4,000 names by late 2009.
The next year, after the so-called “underwear bomber” tried to bring down a commercial airliner bound for Detroit, Obama loosened the criteria for adding people to the no fly list. The impact was immediate. Since 2010, the classified documents note, the National Counterterrorism Center has “created more than 430,000 terrorism-related person records” while deleting only 50,000 people “whose nexus to terrorism was refuted or did not meet current watchlisting criteria.” The documents reveal that more than 240 TIDE “nominations” are now processed each day.
“You might as well have a blue wand and just pretend there’s magic in it, because that’s what we’re doing with this—pretending that it works,” says former FBI agent Michael German, now a fellow at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. “These agencies see terrorism as a winning card for them. They get more resources. They know that they can wave that card around and the American public will be very afraid and Congress and the courts will allow them to get away with whatever they’re doing under the national security umbrella.”
“Oh Please!” Cries Dougie, “Can We Have Our Stadium?”
UT-San Diego has posted its second editorial in the past five days, following a court ruling Friday that the taxation plan for expanding the Convention Center was unconstitutional.
Here ya go:
Never let a big problem go to waste. It could be turned into a big opportunity.
The U-T believes that both the Chargers and the convention center are assets that benefit the entire region. Financing responsibilities should also be shared countywide. We believe the bulk of the financing could come from a 1 percentage-point increase in the hotel-room tax countywide. Such a tax hike would require the approval of two-thirds of voters in a countywide election. We believe such a campaign could be won.
If they expect to get a two-thirds vote for a stadium deal after cheer-leading a campaign screwing over minimum wage workers in San Diego, they’re crazy. But then again, they thought the country would suffer economic collapse shortly after Obama was re-elected.
Tweet of the Day: Jerry Brown & Tom Waits
So, Arcade Fire is playing “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” by Tom Waits, wearing Jerry Brown masks. It’s awesome.
— Andrew Keatts (@andy_keatts) August 6, 2014
PS- It was an epic concert. Maybe you saw me there in my horse head costume…
On This Day: 1965 – The Voting Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. 1987 – The Beastie Boys sued the city of Jacksonville, FL for including the phrase “mature audience” on their concert tickets and ads. 2011- Some 45,000 CWA and IBEW-represented workers at Verizon begin what is to be a two-week strike, refusing to accept more than 100 concession demands by the telecommunications giant
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