Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Sounds like a Town Hall Meeting to Me

(Cross-posted at Blanton's and Ashton's)

Paying to the Crowd?
As Doug Forrester accepted the endorsement of a black minister on a Newark street corner yesterday, more than 100 local residents were on hand to hold up campaign signs and cheer him on.


According to more than half a dozen of them, they had been promised $20 apiece for their enthusiasm.

"I don't know a whole lot about who is running, but they are offering $20 and I came out to work for whoever needs help," said Sheree Baker, 50, of Newark.

Shakirah Jones, 22, also said she was promised $20 "to scream out his name, I guess."

And scream they did as Pastor Thomas Reddick praised Forrester in front of his storefront Renaissance Church of Newark. But after Forrester left on his campaign bus, many in the crowd grew angry as word spread that in order to collect they would also have to show up outside last night's radio debate at the WBGO. "We got duped!" yelled one man who declined to give his name.

One woman who asked her name not be used said, "they told us we were going to come down here for an hour and we would get paid, period. I have a family to get home to." She said she was one of dozens of people who were driven on two buses from Forrester's local campaign office in Vailsburg to the event. She said she was stranded without a ride home. Her account was echoed by three others.

Sherry Sylvester, Forrester's campaign spokeswoman, said that "about 40" local residents in Newark were paid $20 yesterday for hanging up signs, knocking on doors and putting literature in mailboxes. She said they attended the rally voluntarily.

"They were paid $20 for the work," Sylvester said. "No one was paid to attend the rally."

Ah, politics.

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