The purported signatures of singers Linda Ronstadt and Diana Ross, as well as hundreds of other apparently spurious names, appear on a petition with 1,700 signatures that backed a special election to fill a vacancy on the Hawthorne City Council.
"I got kind of floored on this one. I will just have to eat it, I guess," said Mark Young, organizer of the petition drive.
"It looks like there are maybe 450 bad ones out of the 1,700. . . . Someone slipped in some bad ones. . . . I collected them from all over the place. It is hard to say where they came from. . . . As the spokesman for the group, I have to take the blame for it because I didn't check them out well enough before I turned them in. . . . I will apologize to the council."
The phony signatures, which were uncovered by the Daily Breeze, add another twist to the controversy following the Nov. 5 election in which Councilwoman Betty Ainsworth was elected mayor, creating a vacancy on the council.
Supporters of Ginny McGinnis Lambert, who finished third in the elections for two council vacancies, had argued that she should be appointed, and cited the appointment of Chuck Bookhammer to the council in 1983 when the election of Councilman Guy Hocker as mayor created a similar vacancy.
Opponents argued that the situation was not similar because Bookhammer came in close to the second-place finisher and far ahead of the fourth-place finisher, while Lambert trailed the two front-runners by about 400 votes and finished 41 votes ahead of fourth-place Dick Mansfield.
As both sides gathered names on petitions backing their positions, the council opted Nov. 25 to fill the vacancy in a special election.
Deputy City Clerk Joan Fitzsimmons said this week that she had spotted the name Bruce Miller five times on the petition backing a special election.
On two sheets, all the signatures appeared to be written by one person, she said. "You can see the repetition of the same handwriting in many cases," she said. "Here is another page where it looks like someone took turns."
Examining a page beginning with "Kyler Worthy," she said, "I don't see any difference from one signature to another. I'm not a handwriting expert, but, geez, the 'm' and the 'n' are a dead giveaway."
Councilman Steve Andersen, who made the motion backing a special election, said he would not have changed his mind if he had known some of the signatures were spurious.
"There is enough of a controversy that I would have voted to go ahead and have an election. . . . Enough of those signatures are valid that it justifies the conclusion that there is a real controversy here," he said.
Andersen said that 600 to 700 signatures backing a special election had been turned in by his mother, wife, daughter and personal acquaintances whose integrity he vouched for.
Bookhammer, who seconded the motion to have a special election, said, "I still don't think the council has done anything wrong in setting an election and giving it back to the voters."