Thursday, June 08, 2006

Old dogs, old tricks

The old dogs of the conservative ballot initiative signature drives are still doing their same old tricks:

In recent weeks, the Mercury has received reports that some petitioners—in particular, out of state petitioners carrying initiatives sponsored by conservative groups—have been somewhat less than forthcoming about the nature of their initiatives.

No shit.

If these signature gatherers actually told people about what they're signing--people wouldn't sign.

A source from inside the signature-gathering industry, who wished to remain anonymous, says he has had multiple conversations with out-of-state signature-gatherers who haven't carried the initiative texts and have been unable to explain the petitions they're carrying—including the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which caps state spending on human services. The result: People who sign the petitions have no way of knowing what they're signing.

Since many of the signature-gatherers on Portland streets are considered by legitimate petition firms to be "mercenaries"—that is, they are carrying multiple petitions for multiple companies—and since so many firms subcontract with other, smaller firms, and since they all have a poor track record of responding to media requests, it's difficult to decipher who is actually arming and training (or, as the case may be, not training) signature gatherers.

One thing that is known, however, is that a firm called Democracy Direct, which has ties to Bill Sizemore and is carrying initiatives to elect Supreme Court judges by district and lower state income taxes, is getting help from Brian Platt, currently under investigation by the state for improperly paying his employees.

Platt, who was formerly involved in B&P Campaign Management, was brought before a Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) hearing on Tuesday, May 30, to answer charges that he failed to pay signature gatherers at the hourly rate they were promised. He brought along payroll records to prove his case—according to witnesses, the "records" were hand-scribbled notes on loose sheets of paper. (There was no final decision at the hearing, but BOLI spokesperson Marc Zolton says the attorney general will be obtaining a judgment against Platt for three wage violations.)

At the hearing, Platt said that he was no longer operating B&P, but was recruiting signature gatherers for Democracy Direct.

Well,well, well...Sizemore and Trickey finally just cut out the middle-man and absorbed Platt, who deserves to go to jail.

The Merc piece also notes that signature gatherers for TABOR and term limits aren't carrying the text of the initiatives with them--which is an apparent violation of state law. Seems par for the course for a Platt-directed adventure. But is the Secretary of State's office paying attention?