They’re back! Petition signature gatherers are trying to grab us (sometimes literally) at stores and events around Livermore - at Walmart, the Farmers' Market, the library, and elsewhere. They call out to us as we walk past, or follow us trying to engage us. We may be preoccupied with our errands and in a rush, so they use our hurrying to their advantage, pressing for a “quick signature.” They also take advantage of our goodwill, our desire to be good citizens and help our community. Unfortunately, what they want us to sign can sometimes damage the community. If we were allowed the time to look petitions over, we would see that.

The majority of these people are paid petitioners from out of town, hustling to earn $6 per signature. The latest crop is paid by JUUL, working to overturn Livermore’s recent moratorium on sales of e-cigarettes and vaping materials targeting minors. They don’t know Livermore’s issues, or who (children) will be affected. Most have only a sketchy idea of what’s in each petition, and some have no qualms about lying or even harassment to get that $6.

How do you protect yourself, our community, and in the case of the JUUL petition, our kids? First, ask signature gatherers if they are being paid; they must tell you. Then ask them if they have literature, or a copy of the petition you can take with you to read when you have more time. Volunteer petitioners will have handouts and fliers for you. They are pleased when you want to learn more about their issue. Paid petitioners have nothing to send along with you and want you to sign on the spot. This is when it’s time to put on the brakes.

Tell them “not now.” Ask for a website address, or take photos of the petition (be sure to take pictures of a couple of inside pages too – the front page, as with the current e-cig petition, can often be deliberately deceptive.)

It takes big money to promote an initiative or a referendum and collect thousands of signatures. Ask yourself where the money comes from and who stands to gain. Take your time, examine the issues, and THINK before you sign anything. A lot depends on it. Our kids depend on it.