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Water bond petition workers caught on home surveillance video

Canvassers allegedly working on behalf of the Let Claremont Vote Committee started making the rounds last week, circulating a petition for a measure calling for voter approval on the entire financing proposal to purchase Claremont’s water system from Golden State Water Company.

Let Claremont Vote in a new committee formed by Denise Kruger of Golden State Water and Donna Lowe of CAWA. At around 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16, two canvassers—an unidentified male and female with white clipboards in hand—arrived to the Claremont home of Pat O’Malley. His wife, Shelley, had just finished giving their baby a bath when she passed by the family’s home surveillance monitor and witnessed the couple at their front door.

After watching the monitor for a moment, Ms. O’Malley couldn’t believe her eyes. The man was groping the woman, right there on the O’Malleys’ front porch.

“My wife opened the front door,” Mr. O’Malley explained, “and when they started their speech she said, ‘I don’t care. What the heck are you doing on my porch?’”

When the couple couldn’t find the words to respond, Ms. O’Malley told them, “I saw what you were doing, get the hell off my property!”

The couple walked away without saying a word.

According to Mr. O’Malley, the inappropriate public behavior of the alleged Golden State Water walkers didn’t stop there. A neighbor claimed to have spotted the couple steaming things up in a car just down the street from the O’Malley home and called the police.

One Claremont resident posted the following on Facebook. “After they were done canvassing, they made out in their car on Norwich [Drive] for a couple of hours until someone called CPD,” the resident wrote. “Two cars arrived and lit up the interior of their car. Guess they told them to get dressed. They left the area about 10 minutes later.”

The Claremont Police Department confirms they did indeed respond to a call on Norwich Drive. Officers spoke with a male and female sitting in a car who claimed to be “taking pictures of the mountains.”

For the O’Malleys, this isn’t the first time their home surveillance system has come in handy, as it’s captured vehicles leaving the area after break-ins.

“I’ve got a couple of bad guy cars on here, but this is the most comical one for sure,” he says.

Despite the surveyors’ unprofessionalism, Mr. O’Malley says that, iven Golden State Water’s past actions, he believes the water company won’t do much to apologize.

“[Golden State Water] should care but, given how they treat other things, it seems like they don’t want to deal with the people. They’re all about the dollar and the profit,” Mr. O’Malley said.

The COURIER has reached out to representatives from Golden State Water Company and the Let Claremont Vote Committee. Ms. Lowe, on behalf of the Let Claremont Vote Committee responded.

“I am appalled by the behavior of two individuals who have been alleged to be paid signature-gatherers,” Ms. Lowe said. “I have confirmed that neither of the people in the video have been paid a penny to gather signatures, and that they are not part of the signature-gathering effort to give people in Claremont the right to vote on the $80 million water bond as part of a $135 million takeover plan.”

Based on the video and reports from numerous residents, however, the couple in the video was gathering signatures for the Let Claremont Vote committee, paid for by Golden State Water. The COURIER is working to confirm Ms. Lowe’s claim.

The Let Claremont Vote Committee, Randle Communications and Golden State Water have secured the services of Bader and Associates in Roseville, California, a petition management company that qualifies ballot initiatives using paid signature-gatherers.

When the COURIER called Tom Bader for a comment regarding the video, Mr. Bader hung up the phone. Two immediate follow-up calls requesting comment went straight to voicemail. Hours later, Mr. Bader responded by email with the following statement:

“We are contracted to gather signatures for the Claremont ballot measure that would require a public vote to approve government borrowing for the purpose of trying to buy the local water system. A video of petition-gatherers was taken where the individuals are engaged in inappropriate behavior that is entirely inconsistent with the standards we have for our contracted signature-gatherers. I have reviewed the video and can unequivocally state that they were not contracted by Bader and Associates, Golden State Water Company or through any subcontractor for this project.”

Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, stated that the couple had also knocked on their door stating they were gathering signatures for the water petition.

Keeping the Good in Our Neighborhood (KGNH), a citizen’s neighborhood watch group in Claremont founded by Betty Crocker, reported the couple’s suspicious activity on the group’s Facebook page. In addition, Ms. Crocker confronted the couple and was so disturbed by their behavior, she wrote a letter to Denise Kruger at Golden State Water Company detailing her experience with the couple.

“I found the canvassing couple leaving Redlands [Drive] and asked them who they were. While they were in front of my truck, the young man was groping his friend, kissing  and laughing. It was the strangest behavior I have ever seen from solicitors.”

In her letter to Ms. Kruger, Ms. Crocker then detailed a 10-minute conversation she had with the couple.

“They revealed they were hired by a petition company to collect signatures on a water initiative,”?Ms. Crocker wrote. “They used the same language that [GSW] chose in your press release I received last night, ‘They believe the voters should be able to vote on the entire $135 million.’ I report this to you to call your attention to the fact these canvassers are collecting signatures for the GSW water initiative that you signed. It is my opinion you owe this community an apology...In my seven years of KGNH, this is the very first time I have received any reports of sexually explicit behavior from solicitors/canvassers.”

Golden State Water Company continues to distance itself from the situation, denying any involvement with the amorous canvassers. Julie Hooper of Randle Communications sent the following statement to the COURIER on behalf of Denise Kruger, Golden State Water’s senior vice president of regulated utilities:

“We were made aware of a video capturing extremely inappropriate behavior outside of a local resident’s home. We find the video deeply distributing. We take this issue very seriously and immediately took action to look into the situation. The signature-gathering firm retained to support the effort reviewed the footage and confirmed that both the man and woman in the video do not have a contract to gather signatures for the initiative. Further, the man and woman in the video have never been authorized or paid to secure voter signatures. These activities are not at all reflective of Golden State Water Company’s values and principles. We are deeply sorry for any concern caused by the situation.”

—Angela Bailey

news@claremont-courier.com

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