Stadium foes say they have signatures for June vote

Stadium foes say they have signatures for June vote
By Anastasia Hendrix
OF THE EXAMINER STAFF  Saturday, October 24, 1998

Opponents of the 49ers' embattled $525 million stadium-mall deal turned in more than 15,000 petition signatures to The City's elections department, claiming they were enough to put the issue back on the ballot next June.

Last May, Superior Court Judge Raymond Williamson Jr., dismissed a complaint filed by the Voter Integrity Project and the Committee to Stop the Giveaway, seeking to overturn the election because of alleged voting irregularities.

An appeal to Williamson's ruling was filed, and is still awaiting a hearing date, Doug Comstock of Voter Integrity Project said Friday.

The 15,000 signatures turned in by the two groups exceed the 10,500 required to place the initiative on the ballot. The measure would ask voters to repeal their 1997 approval of the stadium-mall deal -- known then as Propositions D and F.

"It sends a message that the people of San Francisco are not happy with the decision, and that people don't feel comfortable with it because since the election a lot of information has come to light," Comstock said.

He said issues of alleged voter fraud are foremost among the concerns.

The signatures were gathered in neighborhoods and Safeway stores across The City, he said, adding that he found it interesting that many of the signatures came from residents in the Bayview District, near where the stadium-mall project is to be built.

Naomi Nishioka, acting director of the Department of Elections, said that for now, there are no plans to do anything with the signatures.

"We accepted the petitions," she said. "We won't verify the signatures unless we're ordered to do so by a court."

Comstock said he was confused by such a statement since Williamson's order was stayed by the courts after the appeal was filed.

"Therefore, it should be treated as any other petition until the appeals court has decided the case," he said. "If they (the elections department) are holding up verification of the signatures, that may not be legal and I think that would show some bias."

Comstock said he hopes the matter is resolved in time for the June ballot, "because June is the soonest possible time."

"And the sooner we drive a stake through the heart of this monster, the better," he said.

The stadium-mall project for Candlestick Point was approved by voters in June 1997, but management turmoil within the 49ers occasioned by co-owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr.'s legal problems in Louisiana has thwarted the project's momentum.

It received a jump-start this week, however, when Mayor Brown announced that a point man had been hired to supervise the project. Rachel Gordon of The Examiner staff contributed to this report.

Copyright, San Francisco Examiner, 1998  


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