Downey forwards more petition complaints to DA

DOWNEY - The city of Downey has forwarded three additional complaints to the Los Angeles District Attorney in an attempt to persuade the DA to investigate accusations of voter fraud among petitioners working on behalf of the Downey Firefighters Association. The fire union is attempting to amend the city charter, which requires two-thirds voter approval before Downey can contract out fire and police protection services. Union officials say Downey is already violating the charter by hiring outside EMTs and jailers.

City clerk Adria Jimenez initially contacted the DA last week after the city received complaints that signature gatherers were lying to residents in order to get them to sign a petition. Jimenez included a letter from retired city clerk Joyce Doyle, who claimed to have heard a petitioner tell a resident she would save $1,000 by signing the petition. On Monday, Jimenez sent the DA four additional complaints received by the city.

In one complaint, a Downey couple claim a petitioner knocked on their door and said, "In the case of a natural disaster, the city does not have any joint response with other city, state and local agencies to assist us and if you sign this petition, this will give Downey that assistance."

Another resident, Scott Knox, claimed a petitioner "was very aggressively in the face of the patron as they argued about the petition" outside the Downey City Library.

"I witnessed only about 20-30 seconds of the incident and then it was over," Knox wrote. "The patron entered the library and was upset enough to comment to me about the petitioner's behavior as she walked in. I saw no physical contact between them.

"Since I live and work in Downey, please accept this as a complaint from a Downey resident."

Resident Erna Tersi lodged a complaint after a petitioner "misrepresented the issue to her son who was about to sign the petition prior to her intervening." Tersi said she "ran them off the property."

The fire union said they take such complaints seriously.

"We ask the signature gatherers to be honest and when we hear otherwise I am in continual contact with the [petition] company to have them rectify the problem," Steve Davis, president of the Downey Firemen's Association, said last week.

Meanwhile, city officials also prepared a letter addressed to "Downey business owners" suggesting they contact police if petitioners refuse to leave their property.

"The City of Downey wants to ensure an enjoyable, distraction-free shopping experience for customers of businesses throughout the City," reads the letter signed by assistant city manager John Oskoui. "To that end, we ask that if signature gatherers refuse to leave your business after being asked to do so, that you contact the Downey Police Department so that officers can investigate the situation and take the appropriate action, including removal of the signature gatherers from your business."

********** Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43

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