Repeal SMART turns to paid signature gatherers

Repeal SMART turns to paid signature gatherers

With 17 days to go before the deadline, Repeal SMART co-founder John Parnell has conceded that his volunteers are not likely to get the number of signatures SMART contends is needed to force a repeal vote. But in a guest opinion piece that will appear in Wednesday’s Press Democrat, he says the group “should hit the 15,000-signature mark” by the Jan. 27 deadline.

So the repeal campaign is offering to pay signature gatherers in hopes of reaching the higher limit. “We are offering a job to anyone of voting age in Marin or Sonoma counties to work as a petition-circulator,” Parnell writes. “We will pay you $1 per valid signature.”

Parnell contends that volunteers average between 10 to 15 signatures an hour. He says his group “would rather spend our money giving temporary jobs to some of our unemployed neighbors, instead of fighting SMART in the courts.”

His pitch is similar to one Repeal SMART has made on its website which offers to pay $100 “per completed signature booklet (95 signatures, 80 percent validity required) submitted by January 25th.”

SMART contends the campaign needs more than 39,000 signatures to force a repeal of Measure Q, the quarter-cent sales tax supporting the commuter train. But Parnell and others argue that under rules established by Proposition 218, the effort would only need 14,902. I’m not so sure Parnell and Mitchell aren’t right about the number. (Why would SMART be exempt from this?) But it’s certain to be ironed out in court unless the campaign comes up with more than 40,000 valid signatures of registered voters, or turns in fewer than 14,000. We’ll find out soon enough.

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