About a month ago the “Save Lake Forest” movement was started as a result of the perceived corruption of three of the City Council members (Voigts, Robinson, and Nick) by two developers (Brookfield and Trumark) who proposed building projects with major flaws, not only in the projects themselves, but in the process. That story has been chronicled in length so many times it doesn't need repeating here.
The goal of the people involved was to gather enough signatures to force the Council to put the issue on the ballot. To do this, we needed to get valid signatures from 10% of the registered voters. In Lake Forest there are nearly 40,000 registered voters, so the number was 4,000. But many times signatures are invalid, so the ideal number of signatures to gather in order to come up with 10% valid signatures was closer to 5,000 or more.
Getting enough signatures to qualify to be on the ballot is a difficult task at best. Even petitions with 150 or 120 day time periods experience failure, and getting 10% of the registered voters in 30 days is “hellish” according to one company that specializes in using paid signature gatherers. “For local issues we usually charge twice the going rate because you have to rely on city voters. It’s easier to get signatures for statewide issues by standing in front of WalMart, but it’s hard to find local signers at WalMart and CostCo” was his explanation.
miracle, a few generous people coughed up a few dollars to try to hire his
company. “Confidentially” he said, “Brookfield, the other developers, and the
Republican Party are some of our biggest customers. Even if you had enough
money, which you don’t, we wouldn’t take you as a customer because we’d lose
our big guys.”
Thus was born a grassroots effort that started at zero and had to get in place the signature gatherers, signature pages, ordinances, declaration pages, handouts, signs, etc. On top of this was the logistics. Where do we go? When? Do we need permission? How do we get the materials to the people? How do you educate the people on the issues? Etc. Then public relations. How do you reach the people? How do you deal with the blowback from the developers? from the interested parties? Etc.
Even more problematic, there were two different developers, seeking to build two projects, each of which required its own set of materials along with its own set of deadlines.
Nearly 30 days after we started, the deadline for stopping the Brookfield project by delivering 4,000 valid signatures to the City Clerk by 6 pm Sept 19 is here.
How did we do? That’s the subject for tomorrow. But here's a photo from my desk showing the pile of signature pages on hand at 7:30 am. More are coming in every hour.
Meanwhile, the fight goes on. Our deadline for Trumark is Oct 3 and we are continuing to gather signatures. Please go to our Facebook page - Save Lake Forest - for more information.