Recall leader cites harassment, intimidation by the mayor as signature gathering continues

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor

Jane Dart collects signatures Saturday by the post office.
Jane Dart collects signatures Saturday by the post office.
Local recall proponents, currently collecting signatures in an effort to remove Lemoore Mayor Billy Siegel from office, are once again crying foul over the mayor’s tactics, which they say border on harassment and intimidation. The latest episode prompted an investigation by the Lemoore Police Department as well as the Kings County Sheriff’s Department.

On Monday, Sheriff Dave Robinson confirmed that an investigation took place, which originated with the Lemoore Police Department which was then handed off to the Sheriff’s Department. “The deputy investigated the allegations and found no criminal violation,” Robison stated.

Recall proponent Jane Dart told The Leader that twice last week, Thursday, April 3 and again on Saturday, April 5, Siegel interfered with and restricted her ability to collect signatures as he positioned himself next to the table where she sat gathering signatures.

On Saturday, Dart, an instrumental figure in the recall movement since its inception, said that Siegel, at one point, picked up a clipboard containing recall petitions and began reading aloud the names on the petition, which would be a direct violation of the California Elections Code. According to the law, only proponents of the recall petition may examine the signatures.

According to the California Elections Code: “This right of examination is not otherwise available to proponents or to the public in general,” meaning Siegel, about whom the recall is for, is not privy to examination of the petitions.

“He picked up the voter petitions and started reading the names out loud,” said Dart who was by herself in front of the post office at the time. “I went to grab it (petition) and he put it down. I told him that was private information and he was not to touch it.”

According to Dart, Siegel arrived at the post office at 11:55 a.m. and remained there until 12:17 p.m.

When asked by The Leader at the scene if he felt his behavior was harassment, Siegel replied that it was not, and that he had a constitutional right to be there. Repeatedly Dart asked him to leave her alone and he refused to leave, again citing freedom of speech and his right to be there.

Dart said she had contacted the police previously about Siegel’s behavior. “The police said on Thursday that if he continues to just hang around and if he doesn’t leave, that’s harassment. He acts like a spoiled child. He can’t always have his way. I think he has a lack of morals,” Dart said.

One local resident who signed the petition referred to Siegel’s behavior as intimidating. David Farrar, a local teacher, witnessed Siegel arguing with Dart as he signed the petition. He said that he thought Siegel was attempting to intimidate Dart and others who may have wanted to sign the recall petition. “I thought he was intimidating her and anybody that wanted to sign the petition,” he said.

“I think we all know what he is. I think he thinks he’s a dictator or the king of Lemoore. It’s embarrassing that he represents me,” Farrar said.

Dart did contact the police and they conducted an investigation, contacting persons who may have witnessed his actions, including a representative of The Leader, who just happened to be picking up his mail at the post office at the time. A Kings County Sheriff’s Deputy also contacted persons connected to the case as part of its investigation.

Siegel also lingered around the post office on Thursday as Dart continued collecting signatures. “He wouldn’t leave,” said Dart who was sitting with a friend. “He argued constantly. He asked why I hated him. Why do you like Jeff Briltz? He said Jeff Briltz cooked the books.”

Dart said Siegel just would not leave and according to her intimidated people into not signing the petition. “They would see him and leave,” said Dart. “So we just packed up our stuff and left.”

This wasn’t the first time Siegel may have interfered with the recall movement or violated California Election Codes. Dart complained that Siegel may have complained to Save Mart officials and the firm that manages the property, Manco-Abbott, that the recall proponents should not be allowed to gather signatures in front of the Lemoore supermarket. The police booted Dart and her friends off the property. Manco-Abbott later had a change of heart and now allows them to continue collecting signatures on the property.

In February Siegel used city resources to respond to the Notice of Intent to recall him. Elected officials, according to California Election Code are not allowed use public resources to contribute to his or her campaign. Siegel responded to the notice of intent using city stationery.


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