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Initiative Foe Cited in Theft of Sign

The Ventura hillside resident contends the 'Yes on Measure A' placard was illegally posted on public property.

October 25, 2002|Holly J. Wolcott and Jenifer Ragland | Times Staff Writers

A 46-year-old Ventura woman has been cited for allegedly stealing a "Yes on Measure A" sign posted by supporters of the controversial ballot measure, police said.

Susan Camille Donnelly, who opposes Measure A, was issued a misdemeanor citation after she removed one of several campaign signs -- placed by both camps -- from the shoulder of Foothill Road near Skyline Drive about 4 p.m. Wednesday, Cpl. Mike Foster said.

A witness, who was not identified, watched Donnelly put the sign in her car and drive away, then reported the theft to police, authorities said.

Foster contacted Donnelly at her home, where he recovered the sign and issued the citation.

Measure A is an initiative on the Nov. 5 ballot that would allow 1,350 homes to be built in six neighborhoods in the foothills and canyons above Ventura.

Donnelly, reached Thursday, said the sign she took down was illegally posted on public property.

She said that she is being accused because of public pressure to punish someone -- because so many "Yes on Measure A" signs have been stolen. About 1,200 signs were initially posted, according to measure supporters, but they don't know exactly how many are missing.

"We've been overwhelmed by the money spent [promoting the measure], and we are all volunteers," Donnelly said. "I think the people of Ventura see it as their civic duty to get out there and take the signs down."

But it's unfortunate that people feel as if they must steal signs to fight the measure, Donnelly added.

She said she has lived in the hillsides for 27 years, and worries that Measure A, if passed, would destroy her quality of life. "I just felt sick to my stomach, so I took the sign down," she said.

Margaret Merryman, spokeswoman for the Measure A campaign, said the incident helps explain why there are so few "Yes on Measure A" signs posted around Ventura. "Obviously, they're being stolen," she said. "It's a shame someone wants to take away our rights to free speech."

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