Signature-gatherer falsely claims petition will save Comic-Con

Who the guy was working for remains a mystery

All that and a bag of chips? No petition being circulated is directly related to Comic-Con.
  • All that and a bag of chips? No petition being circulated is directly related to Comic-Con.

On June 2 in front of Vons in North Park, at 30th Street and Howard, a paid signature-gatherer stood next to a sign. It read: "Please sign the new Comic-Con petition."

The signature-gatherer at the North Park Vons on June 2 was not there the following day.

The signature-gatherer at the North Park Vons on June 2 was not there the following day.

Reader contributor Dryw Keltz asked the gatherer about the purpose of the petition. The gatherer said that the petition would raise hotel taxes to keep Comic-Con in San Diego. Keltz asked the gatherer if this was really a petition in favor of a downtown Chargers stadium. The gatherer did not respond to that question. Keltz figured that a petition raising the hotel tax was put out either by the Chargers or attorney Cory Briggs, who has another initiative. Both those initiatives want to raise the hotel tax sharply.

Keltz called me. I got to Cory Briggs. He said his initiative stopped gathering signatures at the end of April. I emailed Fabiani, asking if this was a Chargers signature-gatherer and if the team is authorizing its gatherers to say that the purpose of the petition is to keep Comic-Con in San Diego. Twenty-four hours later, I have not heard from Fabiani.

I emailed David Glanzer, chief communications and strategy officer for Comic-Con International. I asked him if Comic-Con authorizes anyone making the claim that that the initiatives raising hotel taxes will keep Comic-Con in San Diego.

"Absolutely not," replied Glanzer. "We are on record as being in support of a contiguous expansion [of the convention center] and have even had to resort to issuing statements in opposition to signature-gatherers who use our name in their efforts."

At one point, signature-gatherers were claiming "Save the Chargers and Comic-Con." To thwart such dishonesty, Glanzer wrote a piece for the Union-Tribune. The lead paragraph said, "Some proponents of a non-contiguous plan...seem to use Comic-Con as an instrument to rally their supporters. Some signature gatherers even featured signs reading, 'Keep Comic-Con in San Diego,' giving the false impression that Comic-Con supported those efforts. And recently Comic-Con was mentioned in a statement from the San Diego Chargers as the team announced its support of a multi-use stadium facility unconnected to the current convention center." (Italics mine.)

And then in his email to me Glanzer re-emphasized, "We do not support separate facilities from the current center."

The following day, Keltz returned to the North Park site and the signature-gatherer was not there. Keltz also drove around Mission Valley today (June 3). He asked one Chargers signature-gatherer if the petition would help save Comic-Con. The fellow was vague — thought it might, but couldn't say for sure.

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Those Charger signature gatherers (and perhaps the Chargers as well?) are getting desperate.

But to be fair, when the Briggs initiative was gathering signatures, I had a guy come to the door saying that the Briggs initiative would get a new stadium built for the Chargers, it would create thousands of jobs, blah, blah, blah.

I haven't signed either petition, and I certainly have no intention of signing the petition the Chargers are pushing.

aardvark: Interesting. This guy was pumping the Briggs initiative and claiming that it would get the Chargers stadium built. The Briggs initiative claims that public money won't go into a stadium. However, that could be accomplished through phony accounting.


AND ANOTHER GUY IS PUSHING COMIC-CON IN A PETITION. I just got an email from a lady who says that she was shopping at Vons at Clairemont Square. "The signature gatherer told me to sign the petition to save Comic-Con. He was in his late forties, long brown hair tied up in a pony tail."

Please report these incidents to me at the Reader: [email protected] Best, Don Bauder

Fraud. All signatures should be invalidated.

Flapper: If the Chargers are collecting signatures that are not valid, their petitions should be challenged. If the City won't do it, then a lawyer should do it in a civil case. Best, Don Bauder

Aguierre already has a full plate. Which lawyer is going to do it, and how will the suit be financed?

Perhaps Briggs will end up suing the county registrar, as now he has been grumbling that the county registrar and the city are teaming up against him. The random sampling of the signatures chosen for verification from the Briggs initiative didn't reach the threshold necessary to avoid verifying ALL of the signatures.

aardvark: I wouid hardly be surprised if the registrar and the City are teaming to battle Briggs. Southern California Edison and the CPUC banded together to pull a scam on ratepayers. Best, Don Bauder

Don: Actually, I would be surprised. I think it's more like Briggs panicking a bit. All the crap that some of his signature gathers spewed while trying to gain signatures should come back to bite him in his wallet-carrying area.

aardvark: We don't know that Briggs used the Comic-Con falsehood to gather signatures. We DO know that the Chargers used Comic-Con at one point. Briggs says he stopped collecting signatures in late April. Best, Don Bauder

Perhaps Briggs didn't directly, but one of his signature gatherers did when came to my front door months ago.

aardvark: If that is true, then we definitely can pin this on the Briggs gatherers, as well as the Chargers promoters.

Anyone saying that either of these initiatives helps keep Comic-Con is a bald-faced liar. If either initiative passes, San Diego is likely to lose Comic-Con, which only wants a contiguous expansion and has no use for a convadium. Best, Don Bauder

I highly doubt that Briggs knew about it, but I also think there were quite a few of his signature gatherers who knew exactly what they were doing.

aardvark: I understand that is the case in many signature drives. The signature gatherers know full well they are spewing fairy tales to get signatures (for which they get paid.) Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: Good questions. There are still public interest lawyers in this country, and a few in San Diego. Remember Bruce Henderson challenged the ballpark scam in a number of suits. He got sued by ballpark backers, and had to raise money to defend himself in that matter.

He is not involved in this battle. Mike Aguirre is tied up battling the Edison/CPUC thievery. But there are wealthy opponents of the Chargers billionaire stadium scam. Hopefully there are lawyers who will challenge these signatures that appear to have been collected fraudulently. Best, Don Bauder

Recently, when there was a hard-fought battle about a new shopping center in Carlsbad, many people said they signed the petitions because they "wanted to have the question on the ballot." Many signers also said they actually opposed the measure. Huh? Why would you sign a petition if you don't like it? (In Carlsbad, anything is possible.) But the irony of it was that the developer presented the petition and signatures to the city council, and rather than put it on the ballot, it just approved the measure. There was hell to pay, and finally the council reversed itself, and did put it up for a vote. The vote failed.

I would never sign a petition in front of a store. Those paid gatherers don't know or care what they are pushing. They just show up with a crude hand-lettered sign and start hawking their "wares." We've had one who periodically shows up in front of Frazier Farms market in Vista, who is a real piece of work. He never smiles, and doesn't make eye contact. As you pass by him he, looking away from you, mutters "Are you registered to vote?" If you just ignore him, that's all he does. Poor slob must really be hard up for a buck, and he's not even good at getting signatures!

The argument that one should sign the petition even if one is opposed just "to have the question on the ballot" is part of the signature-gatherer's standard spiel. I have to admit I've fallen for it once or twice in the distant past, then after some thought I realized what a stupid argument it is.

Supposedly some of the measure supporters pay $10-$12 per valid signature to the gatherers.

ImJustABill: If the gatherers tell whoppers to collect $12 a signature, the petition should be challenged legally.

No one dared challenge John Moores in the ballpark scam. But there are a lot of establishment members opposed to the downtown stadium, and there are a lot of people ethically repulsed by the Chargers brass. Thus, the government should not be fearful of challenging dubious signatures. Best, Don Bauder

Visduh: The rumor is that the Chargers are paying the gatherers $12 per signature. Some say it is more than $12. That is another question I put to Fabiani but he has still not replied. Best, Don Bauder

Last night, I had a woman come to my house around 8:30 pm here in RB trying to gather signatures for the same thing. This woman, however, stated they wanted to increase the hotel tax in order to build the stadium as well as expand the convention center to keep conventions ( such as Comic-Con) here in San Diego . She really could not provide any additional information. To be honest, I got a little upset because she said she had obtained my name from voter registration records and wanted me to sign a petition to get this on the ballot. I figured that instead of standing in front of a grocery store where many signatures would ultimately be deemed invalid ( not registered voters) now people are going to voters homes to get a valid signature and a couple bucks. Why the hell does the Registrar Of Voters release names to these people? I didn't register to vote to be placed on a solicitation list for these door to door paid signature gatherers; Daniel Vu, are you listening?

The Registrar of Voters sells voter registration data. It is legally sold to groups and organizations if they declare they are using the information for political purposes. It has been available for decades.

It used to be made available on computer tapes. In the late 1980's, one enterprising individual took the tapes and created a CD-ROM with over 900,000 voters records and then resold it for $100 each. I was in the data business back then and bought one. What a surprise, it had the individuals phone number (whether is was unlisted or not), their date-of-birth, party affiliation (of course), address, PO Box (if they used one) and all kinds of tidbits about their voting habits and patterns. The one anomaly was that households in Rancho Santa Fe did not have an address listed, only a PO Box. While everyone else has to have a residential address on record. (The 1% have their privileges).

That data is still sold to organizations for political use. But the ROV is more careful in who they release it to. The CD-ROM was a fiasco because it fell into the hands of people not using it for political purposes, but for marketing, skip-tracing, repossessions and serving lawsuits among other things.

Ponzi: The Registrar of Voters should not be able to sell its information. Best, Don Bauder

jemsd: In all probability, she was telling a fat fib. The so-called convadium (combined football stadium and convention center), five or six blocks from the current center is NOT, NOT, NOT an expansion of the current center. It is a completely different center, separated from the existing one. Convention attendees don't want to walk to other buildings -- or even go upstairs. They want everything self-contained under one roof. The convention part of the convadium will only be used for separate conventions and meetings, and will probably not be used much after the novelty wears off.

The convadium is a fraud. For goodness sake, do not vote for it. Best, Don Bauder

I was at the Bernie Sanders rally in Vista last Sunday. Signature gatherers were in abundance as the long line of people waited to be searched by TSA and secret service agents. One fellow approached me and I told him I would sign the petition if it was the Briggs one but not the Charger one. He said it was the Charger one and then lowered his voice to say, "Hey buddy, Just between me and you I've seen polling on this thing and it's gonna go down in flames. It wont matter." I still declined to sign. Then he looked at me and said, "My family really needs the twelve dollars your signature will bring in." I should have signed it 'Sucker for a sad story' but instead I just signed my name.

JohnERangel: The Briggs initiative and Chargers initiative have joined forces. Tell your friends NOT to sign either petition. Also, if they have signed it, such as you have, tell them to volunteer their experience to a lawyer or to law enforcement. (I doubt law enforcement will get involved, however, because of corruption.)

The claim that either initiative will help save Comic-Con is a fraud.

A scam is being pulled on San Diegans. Initiatives that call for a big increase in the hotel tax could in fact drive Comic-Con out of town, rather than save it. Comic-Con wants a contiguous expansion and has no use for the convadium. My guess is that if the convadium is built, Comic-Con will leave San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

sounds like their real plan is finally being realized, give the voters 2 bad choices to choose from, either way the developers win, the tax payers lose.

Murphyjunk: Two bad choices for voters to choose from. Reminds me of this year's presidential campaign. Best, Don Bauder

I have signed many in front of grocery stores. A few months ago a woman gave me the signature page and when I asked for the explanation pages she had nothing. When this began circulating several disreputables were tripping over their words.

shirleyberan: Perhaps the only people more crooked than the signature gatherers are the people that hire the signature gatherers. Best, Don Bauder

Mike Murphy: You are right. The only people to benefit from the Chargers petition will be the Chargers. The Briggs petition will be great for John Moores, but nobody else. Best, Don Bauder

Mike Murphy: Yes, but they don't want to be caught using the false Comic-Con argument. A good-looking sign might raise some eyebrows. Best to pretend it is a rogue signature gatherer. Best, Don Bauder

Heather Rae Morton: Sounds like the Chargers are paying $14 per signature. And we cocked an eyebrow at $12. Best, Don Bauder

Don — If any stadium gets built, the City should buy land and build a parking structure nearby because the money it generates will off set any money the City has to spend on the $TADIUM.

BTW: The upper level should be designed as an urban park so when it it is not filled with vehicles, it can be use as a Park!

Flapper: I agree. Parking receipts won't pay for the money the taxpayers put into a Chargers stadium. And don't be surprised if in the final contract the Chargers get the money from parking. Best, Don Bauder

parking receipts? how much of the cash collected goes unreported ?

Murphyjunk: Good question. If I knew the answer, I would inform the IRS. Best, Don Bauder

Founder: Parking receipts will not offset the taxpayer money used to build the stadium for an out-of-town billionaire family, the Spanoses. If this contract is like others, the Chargers will get to keep the parking receipts, not the City. Best, Don Bauder

Mike Murphy 1: You are right. The only ones to benefit from both initiatives would be the downtown plutocrat crowd. If they want build a stadium, they should be told they can go ahead -- WITH THEIR OWN MONEY. No taxpayer money should support a pro sports facility, especially one sought by an out-of-town billionaire family.

In Los Angeles, no taxpayer money goes into such sports facilities. Best, Don Bauder

Mike Dodd: A signature gatherer could, I suppose, have two different petitions to sign -- one for a project in the City, another for one in the County. Best, Don Bauder

Don: I have seen that numerous times over the years. Didn't sign those, either.

aardvark: It appears to be a reason not to sign either petition. Best, Don Bauder

Tammy Lybrand Luckett: The next time you see a signature gatherer who claims that a petition to subsidize the Chargers will help save Comic-Con, get a photo of the guy (or gal) and send the information to us at the Reader. Best, Don Bauder

I won't sign any petitions as long as it's legal to pay for signatures.

FlbrkMike: Good idea. Best, Don Bauder

I wouldn't personally go that far but I would sign only those that I am already familiar with and support.

Jelula: That would be an effective method of preserving your scruples. Best, Don Bauder

Judith Swink: You mean he will move on to another city so he won't be around if the invalid signatures are discovered? Best, Don Bauder

Possibly but would the employer care either once they have their share of the money? As I write this, I find myself wondering just how much the petition originators are being paid if their signature gatherers are making $12-$15 per signature, the range I've seen here and there.

jelula: For the Chargers drive the pay is definitely in the $12-$15 range per signature. Best, Don Bauder

Judith Swink 2: It appears that signature-gathering is a sleazy business. People should learn not to permit a gatherer to explain what the petition is about. Best, Don Bauder

But, instead, read the petition itself (at least, the explanatory paragraphs at the head of the petition).

Jelula: Will anybody read the Briggs or Chargers initiatives? Best, Don Bauder

Don: Briggs and the Chargers are probably hoping that no one actually DOES read the initiatives.

aardvark: I must repeat what I have said many times: the essence of white collar fraud is contrived complexity, Yes, neither Briggs nor the Chargers want people to read the initiatives. Best, Don Bauder

I'm pretty sure Fabiani's moved onto another gig. Like, months ago. I'm pretty sure that's been reported by this publication. You might want to update your Rolodex.

petezanko: A bit ago Fabiani was representing Sheldon Adelson, the Vegas gambling billionaire. I have no information on Fabiani moving from that job or from the Chargers. I wrote here months ago that Fabiani might have to ousted, or be benched by the Chargers, but to my knowledge it has not happened.

I have never lived in a condo. Many thanks for writing. Best, Don Bauder

Well, we're stuck with the machine's fair-haired boy for another four long years.

And Cox ran un-opposed--how does that happen?

Flapper: C'mon. You know how and why it happens. Best, Don Bauder

Flapper: Then why don't you run? Best, Don Bauder

I can barely walk. Besides I have no charisma. And I'm not in Cox's district.

Flapper: That's three reasons. Congratulations. You are off the hook. Best, Don Bauder

This again.

Just as the Chargers aren't going anywhere anytime soon, ComiCon isn't going anywhere. Where are they going to go? Anaheim Convention Center is the most-touted destination, but it provides maybe 100,000 sq. ft. more of exhibit space than San Diego, or a ~12% increase. And that in a facility that's a million square feet smaller. The ONLY other possible destination is Las Vegas, and they've said they don't want to go there. Just like the Chargers, they're very eager to have the San Diego taxpayer pick up the tab to allow them to improve their business, but all we have to do is say no.

ComiCon has a way to solve their overcrowding problems right now... charge more for badges. When they all sell within minutes, leaving large numbers of people who want to go but can't, demand far exceeds supply. Raise the price (they should probably triple it), and more people who really want to be there vs. lucky lottery winners can go.

Yeah, I know what's next... "But a lot of people can't afford to pay more, this is their only chance, blah blah blah!" And THAT'S the type pf attendee we want to attract to San Diego, someone who's put out by a couple of hundred bucks? How much "economic stimulation" do we get from that crowd?

I'm unmoved by the plight of the poor ComiCon promoters.

jnojr: If Comic-Con badges go that fast, then demand is outstripping supply by a huge amount. That means Comic-Con, from a business perspective, should be looking for a new location. Anaheim, LA and San Francisco are all expanding their centers. Best, Don Bauder

Heather Rae Morton: The guy who approached you should be called a beggar, not a signature gatherer. Best, Don Bauder

I held a fund-raiser in my home for Aguirre. I asked him why there was so little disclosure regarding the funding input and spending output. He said, "I'll put it on my (City Attorney) website."

It would be interesting to have a graph showing the expenditures for infrastructure (like street-) maintenance over the last, say 50, years as a percent of miles and/or population and where and how money was spent (city forces vs contracts, for example). I suspect it would be revealing. Also a comparison of street work in election versus non-election years.

Flapper: The independent budget analyst in San Diego has a lot of information on the infrastructure deficit. Best, Don Bauder

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