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31,000 Signatures Still Sought : Central-Jail Petition Drive Is Lagging

February 02, 1988|DAVE LESHER | Times Staff Writer

An initiative drive aimed at putting all future county jails in Santa Ana had a resurgence in January, but its founders are still searching for a strategy to gain the nearly 66,000 signatures they need.

Rick Violett, head of the Taxpayers for a Centralized Jail, said the group raised nearly $10,000 in January. But from Oct. 14, when the group was formed, to Dec. 31, the organization raised just $8,000, according to the financial disclosure statement it filed Monday.

"We've had a concentrated effort on fund raising," Violett said Monday. "During the lull of the holidays, everybody was into their own thing."

Violett said the centralized jail group has so far collected about 35,000 signatures, barely half of what it needs to qualify for the ballot.

The group has abandoned its original plans to seek a spot on the June ballot; organizers would have had to file enough signatures this week. Instead, the group is working toward a March 22 deadline to have the initiative placed on the November ballot.

Violett said the group is also considering whether it would be wiser to drop its current drive and start over. If it did, disqualifying all of its current signatures, the deadline for the November ballot could be moved to July 5, he said.

"We have to make some decisions," he said. "It's still in the works."

The initiative drive began in response to July's decision by the Board of Supervisors to build a 6,000-bed maximum-security jail in Gypsum Canyon, next to Anaheim Hills and Yorba Linda.

The petition gathering began Oct. 14 with a rally of more than 1,000 people. Organizers hoped that groups from throughout the county, which had formed in response to the supervisors' search for a jail location, would all join the umbrella organization.

But the volunteers and the contributions have mostly been limited to the area immediately surrounding Gypsum Canyon. The financial statement filed Monday shows just two contributions from individuals outside of Anaheim or Yorba Linda.

The initiative would simply ask county voters whether they want all future jails to be built in the county seat, Santa Ana. The county's main jail is already in Santa Ana.

Supervisors approved Gypsum Canyon site, 3 to 2. They were responding to pressure from a federal judge who is concerned about the county's overcrowded jails.

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