|Man Without Qualities|
Friday, June 27, 2003
Davis Descending VII: Demons At The Shopping Mall
The San Fransisco Chronicle reports:
Opponents of the move to recall Gov. Gray Davis are asking their supporters to intimidate signature gatherers and complain of harassment at stores where recall petitions are circulating, stepping up the political battle taking place in front of Wal-Marts and Home Depots across California.
In an e-mail message and Internet posting titled "How to Advocate Against the Recall," Davis supporters were told, "It is OK to stand in front of their table or approach potential signers before they do, or otherwise inhibit their activity." The memo instructs people to say they are "offended by being harassed" and file complaints with managers of stores. "Remember, the longer you engage them, the fewer signatures they can collect," said the memo distributed by Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall, a union-funded group. The memo also includes a telephone hot line to report the location of recall petition circulators.
California election law makes it a crime to threaten petition gatherers with violence or damage their property. It's also illegal to bribe petition circulators to abandon their work. Recall petition workers across the state said intense feelings about the recall are prompting fights and verbal assaults. Some petition supervisors say they were threatened from the start -- with a boycott by the major signature- gathering companies if they handled the recall petition at all.
"I've been a coordinator for three years and collecting signatures for 11 years, and I've never seen anything like this," said Paula Wagner, 48, who supervises about 50 petition gatherers in Orange County. ....
Tom Bader, coordinating the signature-gathering effort for the Rescue California recall committee, said confrontations involving petition workers in San Francisco were so frequent that he scaled back and concentrated his efforts elsewhere, including San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties. Recent figures from the secretary of state show that only 7 percent of the recall signatures are coming from the Bay Area.
"These people are actually being told on the Internet to file false complaints," Bader said about the memo. "The circulators have been threatened all over the state that they are not going to work on any other petition. Then there is the physical aspect of it." ....
The memo to Davis supporters twice instructs them to engage recall circulators in conversation in order to distract them from their work. The memo was posted on the Web site www.stoptherecall.com. .... Petition manager John Burkett, who has 100 people collecting signatures in Riverside County, said his workers have been approached and offered more money to work on the plebiscite. ... "A few weeks ago," said petition circulator Gloria Anderson, 48, who was working at a Home Depot in Redlands (Riverside County), "I had some guy walk up and try to yank my sign down. He called me a Republican bitch. I'm not even a Republican."
There have been numerous complaints as well about circulators misleading people in order to get them to sign.
A MWQ prediction: It will all get worse. Much worse.
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