FRIDAY EVENING: A reader alerted me to the Walnut Creek police daily bulletin which said that a petitioner was arrested at the Palos Verdes mall just after 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Someone called the police to say that “petitioners being overly aggressive.” The RP (Reporting Party) has received "several complaints from customers."
The log indicates that police arrested a 59-year-old fellow named Dwight Benina for an “outside warrant,” and that he was booked into County Jail in Martinez. The log doesn’t indicate what the “outside warrant” involved, including what charge, or which jurisdiction issued it. I’m hoping that Walnut Creek police can fill in some of those details.
I’m guessing, but haven't confirmed, that Benina was working for the company funded by Michigan-based mall owner Taubman to gather signatures from registered Walnut Creek voters. This petition drive is to force the Neiman Marcus project to a citywide ballot.
Taubman is the owner of Sunvalley mall and the potential retailer developer of San Ramon’s proposed City Centre. Taubman is reported to be funding the petition drive in an effort to block luxury retailer Neiman Marcus from coming to Broadway Plaza, which is owned by Taubman’s rival, Macerich.
It’s not likely that Benina was working for an opposing petition drive that supports the Neiman Marcus proposal. That’s because those petitioners were to wear bright yellow T-shirts and to start hitting the streets of Walnut Creek after a kick-off rally Saturday, according to an announcement from Walnut Creek’s Downtown Business Association:
Three local citizens have put forward a voter initiative that would approve the project set to bring Neiman Marcus to Broadway Plaza. This is in response to referendum petitions backed by an affiliate of Taubman Centers that have targeted the City Council approvals for this project in downtown Walnut Creek.
Proponents of the initiative are former Walnut Creek Mayor Gwen Regalia; David Smith, a leader in the Rossmoor community; and Carole Wynstra, former Walnut Creek Arts Commissioner and a member of the Walnut Creek Library Foundation.
According to Broadway Plaza representatives, the city will see new signature gatherers with bright yellow T-shirts and signage that say: "YES -- Support Neiman Marcus at Broadway Plaza." Proponents say their petition-carriers will include local volunteers, local students and non-profit groups who know the Walnut Creek community.
They hope to gather 10,000 signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot. A rally to kick off their efforts will be held this Saturday, 10 a.m. at the former David M. Brian site.