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Another arrest in billboard showdown

Posted: April 27, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 26, 2014 9:29 p.m.

A continuing battle over the Santa Clarita City Council’s decision to approve electronic billboards along local freeways resulted in another arrest this weekend and a face-to-face showdown between billboard supporters and opponents on the dusty Western streets at the 21st annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival on Saturday.

Friday evening, deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station detained a 57-year-old woman outside a Trader Joe’s store on Bouquet Canyon Road, after another person who was gathering signatures in support of a referendum opposing the council’s actions made a citizen’s arrest, according to law enforcement and other sources.

Four people have been arrested or cited as a result of confrontations between those gathering referendum petition signatures and those opposed to the effort aimed at rescinding the council’s approval of the billboard plan. All but one of the arrests have been citizen’s arrests, sources said.

Referendum supporters are working to beat a May 5 deadline to collect about 11,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for a ballot measure, organizers have said. But several of the petition signature gatherers and petition opponents have told The Signal that they don’t live in the city and were hired to work on behalf of or against the petition drive.

On Saturday morning, the dueling sides took advantage of the throngs of thousands of people attending the Cowboy Festival at the Melody Ranch Movie Picture Studio to get their views across. Festival attendees lining up for shuttle buses to the festival had to walk past a table manned by people collecting signatures to overturn the council’s decision, while inside the festival petition blockers had set up their own tables. Deputies, meanwhile, stood nearby watching.

Tim Middleton, 27, a paid signature gatherer from Hillsboro, Mo., said he welcomed the presence of deputies, adding that opposition to the referendum drive has been organized and intense.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve never seen opposition like this,” Middleton said. “There’s some big money involved here.”

A few minutes later, a woman who declined to give her name but said she was from Hollywood and had been hired to collect signatures in support of the referendum, described the circumstances of Friday’s citizen’s arrest at the Trader Joe’s.

“This woman walked up to our petition board and wrote something in big letters on our board,” she said.
She said she’s been sent across the country to work on other petition drives and occasionally has experienced confrontations over controversial petitions.

A short time later, a young man driving his car through the festival parking lot shouted to a reporter through his open passenger window.

“Hey, are you local? Sign my petition,” he said, steering with one hand and holding out the petition on a clipboard with the other.

“I was one of the ones they (media) interviewed at the Walmart,” he said, referring to a confrontation a week ago that ended with a 45-year-old Illinois woman charged with misdemeanor battery.


scvforall: Posted: April 27, 2014 10:45 p.m.

all the arrests could stop if the City Council members who sold us out would make a statement on the importance of the due process, democracy and confess the real reasons they voted in favor of future bright billboard blight.

In all the years I have lived in the SCV, I have never seen "blockers." These paid thugs are not welcome here.

Checksum: Posted: April 27, 2014 11:21 p.m.

Send a message to the Outdoor Advertisers Association:

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: April 27, 2014 7:31 a.m.

This is obviously a very heated and contested issue..... yet the crooks on the council are in hiding. No statement from our beloved council members? OF COURSE NOT!! They've already made the deal and been paid off. But old Bob Kellar is so sure that the vast majority support these monstrosities. Next logical step is a lawsuit since these billboards are planned to go on land that has been set aside for "open space," once again paid for by the taxpayers. This is a very crooked bunch running the show.

missyJk: Posted: April 27, 2014 9:04 a.m.

in regards to those collecting signatures who cares whose paying or where they are coming from, none of us can afford to take off work and do it voluntarily... the importance is the message we DONT want electronic billboards, especially when you see how cheap the city council sold us out for them, other cities negotiated better deals more money for their coffers

lars1: Posted: April 27, 2014 9:15 a.m.

scvforall, unfortunately the city council members who voted for the billboard deal, do not disapprove of the blockers denying the citizens of their legal rights.

Apparently, there was an employee of allvision that is behind the blockers.
allision is the electronic billboard company that will be making hundreds of millions from this deal.

Once the required number of citizens sign the petition, the electronic billboard deal will be terminated.

chefgirl358: Posted: April 27, 2014 10:22 a.m.

Yep, I too think our crooked city council dirtbags that sold us down the river are hiding from the mess they've created.

aSCVmom: Posted: April 27, 2014 3:21 p.m.

WOW... everybody is missing the point... UNAUTHORIZED signature gatherers are going around... and, because you don't like th the issue, you DISREGARD common sense... AND...print your name, address, THEN finish with your signature... hello... identidy theft by the UNAUTHORIZED signature gatherers ????

pattisoul: Posted: April 27, 2014 6:16 p.m.

There is no such thing as an UNAUTHORIZED signature gatherer as long as they follow the law. The unfortunate reality is nothing gets on the ballot without paid signature gatherers. Prop 13, Prop 8 and the recall of Gov Davis in 2003 for example, would have never made the ballot without paid signature gatherers. After that, it's up to the voters.
Unless they're working as a team, two signature gatherers rarely stand outside the same door of a store. The smart ones, fair ones, won't do that. Typically, they don't compete because they'll get fewer signatures that day, and because they are colleagues in the same industry.
Anyone who disagrees with the issues on a petition can stand nearby and peacefully make their points. That's free speech. But when someone or a group use their arms or body to block one's access to sign their name, refuses to let you sign, refuses to let you read what they're asking people to sign,uses your name, address, etc., for some other purpose or buys or sells signed petitions with intent of not turning them in to the election official, in this case, the City clerk, it's wrong, and in many instances, it's illegal.
Petition blocking like we've seen here in Santa Clarita is not typical. Over the years I've encountered signature gatherers at Target, Walmart, etc. Sometimes I sign, sometimes I don't. Neither I, nor many of the signature gatherers I've spoken to, have ever seen anything like this. It's bizarre. And it feels very dark to me.

chefgirl358: Posted: April 27, 2014 8:52 p.m.

@ASCVMOM, I'm not worried about signature gatherers - there is no such thing as an unauthorized signature gatherer. I am however, worried about the lunatics trying to block citizens from exercising their democratic right to vote, petition, etc.; by force, fear and intimidation! More importantly, who is hiring them?...Metro! Of course it's Metro which tells me there's a lot more to this billboard bs than our crooked city council and metro are letting on.

Unreal: Posted: April 29, 2014 8:26 a.m.

I have seen the same guy in front of State Bros for at least the past couple years. He is paid to gather signatures for many issues. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with THUGS trying to intimidate SCV citizens from signing whatever ballot initiative they wish and I am appalled that the council is making no comment denouncing this behavior. Lack of action speaks volumes.

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