VOLUNTEERS FOR the Recall Sam Adams campaign gathering signatures outside Albina Community Bank on August 6 got a strong taste of one man's opinion of the recall. According to recall campaign chief Jasun Wurster, a man approached the volunteers and asked to sign the petition. But instead of signing, he took the pen and scribbled across the entire page's eight signatures, announcing, "Here's my signature!"
The volunteers, Gaye Harris and Joe Favata, snapped a picture of the scrawler's license plate and filed a police report. One week later, Portland police arrested Lee Perlman, a reporter for the Hollywood Star News and other neighborhood papers, for the incident, charging him with criminal mischief in the third degree.
"We're deeply disturbed that he thought he could silence eight citizens," says Wurster, who planned to prosecute Perlman "to the fullest extent of the law."
"I'd much rather be thinking about some of the other crimes that happen in this town," says District Attorney Mike Schrunk. "It's not like it's armed robbery, but it seems to be interfering with the process, and there should be a consequence for doing that."
Originally held on $1,000 bail, Perlman was released on his own recognizance on Thursday, August 13. But just days later, the district attorney's office scratched the idea of prosecuting Perlman.
It turned out that Perlman did not actually destroy any signatures—the city auditor's office reviewed the defaced petitions after Perlman's arrest and found that all of the necessary information was still legible despite the pen markings. Citing lack of "substantial inconvenience" to any property owner, the district attorney's office decided on Monday, August 17, not to pursue Perlman in court.
Asked for his thoughts on the matter, Perlman declined comment. He also declined nearly $400, which Portland Mercury blog readers donated to his legal defense fund, saying any legal expense was his own business.