In a backyard in North Portland last night, about three dozen supporters gathered around folding tables over the course of two hours to listen to Jasun Wurster describe the best way to gather legitimate signatures for their movement to recall Sam Adams.
“Most important is your safety,” Jasun began. I immediately imagined pro-Sam-ers throwing rotten tomatoes and slamming doors on volunteers’ fingers.
“Don’t get heatstroke. Stay hydrated.” Oh.
I looked around. There was Jasun, a twenty-something guy trying his damndest to make local government accountable, and then mostly middle-aged folks drinking beer and munching on hummus and pita (this was a potluck, after all). The younger folk consisted of a couple rugby players, who said, beers in hand, they came to “get educated.”
The highlight of the 20-minute training session was most definitely the discussion on dates. I had no idea that correct date form was so very, extremely, desperately important to the valid gathering of signatures, but was I ever wrong. The use of dashes versus slashes was covered (to be safe, use slashes), the use of zeroes before the date and month (irrelevant), spelling out the month (absolutely do not do EVER), and writing it European style with the date before the month (we’re in the USA, HEL-lo!). The signature is invalid if the date is written wrong. I came away feeling enlightened, but wondered whether discussing the date should have composed half the training session. It felt like being in high school again, when all the what-if questions came out when the teacher would assign an English essay.
One slightly-more-relevant topic covered was who they want to sign. “Go after Sam’s competency,” Jasun stressed. “This is about holding our elected officials accountable.”
So what if potential signers are vocal about their disapproval of Sam’s sexual orientation? “We don’t need their signatures,” Jasun said. “We don’t want them.”
“What about a don’t ask, don’t tell approach?” a volunteer asked. That question was ignored.
Almost everyone I talked to seemed genuinely upset about issues other than Adams’ sexuality, primarily that elected officials need to be held accountable to the truth.
“He willfully lied to get elected. He conducted an elaborate cover-up, and he played the homophobe card. This is about honesty and integrity in government,” volunteer Greg Halvorson said.
“I believe people should have an informed choice. If people understand his lies and still want him, that’s their decision,” Kitty Harmon, another volunteer, said.
Another hot topic was potential retribution against volunteers who may or may not have city/public jobs. Cough. But because of the sensitivity of said subject, no one would go on the record. The training session did, however, cover the fact that city employees cannot solicit signatures for the recall campaign on city property or while on the clock. Their advice? Take a coffee break.