On Sunday the 25th, I went to the Wild Oats Supermarket in Saugus, MA, where I was greeted by a petition circulator. I was presented with an Initiative Petition to allow alcohol to be sold in supermarkets. The young man, Mr. Tiontee Johnson, explained how I needed to make my signature legible and added when I am done signing that he has another Petition about Traditional Marriage that he would like me to sign too. "You know", he said, "if you believe in 'Adam and Eve.'" He then added, "this signing on either of these just means you want it on the ballot, it doesn't really mean anything today."
Well, I signed the Petition to allow alcohol to be sold and asked Mr. Johnson if my name would be made public and was told emphatically, "No, these signatures go directly to the Secretary of State." Interesting... I was then asked if I wanted to sign "the traditional marriage petition." When I said no, He told me that he was being paid $1 a signature and that it would really help him if I could sign!
I asked Mr. Johnson for a card (see photo) and he gave me his employer's business card. In further questioning, I found out that Mr. Johnson is not even a Massachusetts resident but one of many that were bussed in from California and put up in hotels all over the Baystate and paid to collect signatures. By the way, the area code on the business card is from Michigan.
There are TWO very disturbing things going on here.
(1) The "people's petition" process in Massachusetts is being undermined by "buck a signature" out-of-state petition circulators all the while petition spokespersons like Kris Mineau continue to spout rhetoric about the process being an expression of "the people's" voice. So cut the bull Kris and tell the good people of Massachusetts who is really behind this Ballot Initiative. I wonder, is this where all the "faith based initiative" money is going?
(2) Signature gatherers clearly feel entitled to say whatever they want to get people to sign even if it is incorrect. So we not only have to worry about The Catholic Church telling people that same-sex marriage is ending civilization but we now have to worry about a "puppy-dog eyed" signature gatherer claiming that the signer is "helping him out financially" and that signing "doesn't really mean anything."
There is too much at stake for this to be allowed to happen. Citizens have a responsibility not to be duped into signing and to hold the petition sponsors accountable for any fraud or deception that might be committed on their behalf by these out-of-state petition pushers.
If you have an experience like mine, report it immediately to Peter Sacks of the Attorney General's Office at (617) 727-2200.
Tom Lang, Director