Video of misleading signature gatherers heats up pension reform battle 

An undercover video depicting signature gatherers who wrongly stated facts surrounding ballot measures is the latest fodder a battle over pension reform in San Francisco.

The video, posted on YouTube, shows four signature gatherers for Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s pension reform measure telling an undercover cell phone videographer in the parking lot of the Castro Safeway store that not supporting the money-saving cause might bring on things like nighttime parking meters so The City can raise funds.

Nathan Ballard, political consultant for a group of unions that support the city-sponsored dueling pension reform measure, said Adachi should “start over” on gathering the 72,640 signatures because the video represents “sleazy campaign tactics.” While Adachi says that four gatherers don’t represent the 300 total who were working on the petition and that he isn’t heavily involved at that level of the campaign, Ballard said that’s no excuse.

“There are two possibilities,” Ballard said. “Either Jeff Adachi told them to lie, or number two, he is exercising such poor control over his own campaign, he is allowing dishonesty to flourish.”

Adachi, who is seeking the reform as a private citizen outside the capacity of his elected office, said what matters in signature gathering is what the actual petition says, not the gatherer.

“The video didn’t show anyone signing the petition,” Adachi said. “Each petition has a title prepared by the city attorney and it has to be on the page where the signatures are. People read that, and they read it before they sign it.”

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Dan Schreiber

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