WF and engaged residents obtained the annexation petition filing complete with signatures and completed its initial review of the purported 1,243 signatures collected from early July 2022 until late September 2022. The result? The number of valid signatures collected was sufficient, but the collectors’ productivity shows what was really at work in this effort: money.
- Only 80% of the 1,243 signatures collected — 1,038 — were from registered Wilkinsburg voters. So, only 1,038 signatures were valid. This number could be only further reduced by handwriting analysis, a rare step only executed on the harshest of challenges. Nonetheless, this does pass the required 635 signatures.
- 54.5% of the valid signatures were collected by paid circulators, which is legal under state law. 8 of the 25 circulators were paid.
- 47.7% of the valid signatures were collected by one person, a paid collector who is not a Wilkinsburg resident. The Court rejected in December 2021 a Wilkinsburg resident’s challenge to the validity of signatures collected by a non-resident, no-standing collector.
- The four lead plaintiffs collected fewer than 9% of the valid signatures themselves together, as many as 32 and as low as eight signatures.
These statistics reflect that this annexation is an effort by a small number of people not personally committed to the work backed by a non-profit charity funded by real estate speculators and investment banks. Wilkinsburg annexation is not a grassroots effort with popular support. As a wise man put it, “don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.“
Moreover, there was an overlap between the government study commission petitions — which WF supports — and the annexation petition. 57 annexation petition signers also signed the government study petitions. Also, contrast the collection periods: the petitions for the GSC collected more than 400 valid signatures in three weeks, more than 90% of which were collected in three days, followed by the candidate signatures, collecting more than 1,000 signatures in three weeks. That’s 1,400 signatures in less than a month on the GSC effort.