By Da Lin

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The controversy over the push to overturn Oakland’s $1 billion garbage contract is growing, with signature gatherers accused of missing the facts.

Waste Management canvassers stationed around Oakland are employing hardball tactics to gather 22,000 signatures. Their signs claim there would be a 50 percent tax increase for waste removal. Voters are signing, but the city says it’s all garbage.

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“People are just making things up out there,” said Oakland Councilwoman Pat Kernighan. “(It) has no basis in fact, there is no tax, period.”

When one signature gather outside of the Lake Merritt Trader Joe’s was asked how he came up with the 50 percent tax, he took out articles that don’t show any mention of taxes but garbage rates instead.

“A fee is a tax; it’s semantics,” said signature gather Nicholas Guillermo. “You can call it whatever you want, you’re just using a different word. But they are essentially the same thing, whether it’s a fee, tax…”

Collecting signatures can be a profitable business. Guillermo says he flew in from Tuscon on his own dime because Waste Management pays him $2 for each signature.

Neighbors upset with the sign, even confronted Guillermo, but he called the cops.

“Their bullying tactics, and they’re lying,” said one neighbor.

Even the man behind the petition said it’s wrong.

“We would ask people to take (signs) down, and they have,” said Waste Management’s political consultant Larry Tramutola.

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Signature gathers were yelling at some people, like KPIX 5 reporter Da Lin, after refusing to read their articles and sign the petition.

“I suggest you learn how to read and maybe take some reading comprehension tests,” said one signature gatherer. “I’m the type of guy who thinks everyone should have a Ph.D before they even lobby. If I was in charge of this country, the first thing I would do is I would eliminate 95 percent of the voters, maybe 99.”

Some people have said they were misled to sign that petition. The city says the only way to get their names removed from that petition is to write a letter to the city clerk and ask for a removal.

Waste management has until the end of the month to finish gathering signatures.





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