Ready. Fire. Aim.
This past January, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced its decision to issue licenses for two slot machine parlors on the Philadelphia riverfront at either end of Delaware Avenue. Onto this road—which is already choking with traffic—it is forecast that 20,000 to 30,000 cars a day will be injected into the mix. The nearest subway stops are one mile away.
If this nightmare comes to pass, some 70 to 90 stores will be forced to close, because regular customers—not wanting to sit in traffic for two hours—will evaporate and shop elsewhere (myself included).
The Jan. 11, 2007 issue of this publication described the catastrophe in detail. (http://tinyurl.com/2ozll2).
An organization calling itself Casino-Free Philadelphia came up with the idea of a petition drive for a referendum on the May 5th primary ballot. The goal: an amendment to the city charter that states no casino will be permitted within 1,000 feet of any residential zoned district, school, religious institution, library, playground or park.
The petition campaign turned into a tragedy of errors, boo-boos, faulty research and unbelievable incompetence—a microcosm of what goes on in business every day.
For an amendment to get on the ballot in Philadelphia, 20,000 valid and notarized signatures of registered voters were needed. With expected challenges, 40,000 signatures would have to be gathered. The idea was for 1,000 block coordinators to gather 40 signatures each.
The petition drive was announced by e-mail to block coordinators (I am one) on January 25th. “The deadline for the completion and receipt of the petitions by Casino-Free Phila. is Feb. 10, 2007,” the e-mail stated. “That gives us several weeks to accomplish this goal.”
For starters, Jan. 25 to Feb. 10 is not “several weeks.” It is just 16 days—a horrendous deadline.
The Mechanics of a Petition Drive
This is not rocket science. You start with the voter registration list of South Philadelphia, assign volunteers specific blocks to go knock on the doors of registered voters only, state the problem briefly, get names, address and signatures of all voters in the household, and leave.