Rob Means for Milpitas City Council

Standing for Green Jobs, Democracy, and a Future that Works for All of Us.
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How to make a pole for gathering signatures.

Original concept from Bob Lord (on left in above photo) modified by Rob Means (middle) to the version held by Carol (right).

This petition pole provides a convenient surface upon which to sign a petition or fill out a form. The PVC platform adjusts up and down the pole to accommodate people of different heights. The sign at the top of the pole advertises your effort.

  • We used 1" i.d. PVC pipe and fittings combined with a 1 3/8" x 6 (or 7) foot wooden pole. Knowing that makes most of what follows self explanatory.

  • The most challenging part is boring out the vertical T to accommodate the pole. Bob used a wood rasp. Rob used a rasp to clean up the hole after using a 1 3/8" butterfly drill bit (after opening up the first 1/4" of the T so the bit would go in). Unless you have a workshop with vice and tools, go with Bob's all-rasp method.
    Bob writes: The pole I used is what's sold as a "clothes pole", what you hang clothes on in a closet. They were purchased at Home Depot. The diameter on the poles seems to vary quite a bit, even from one end of the pole to the other. I'd recommend taking a 1" PVC T fitting to the lumber department and use it to select a pole that fits. One might just find a pole that fits the T to a tee.

  • Rob made three modifications.
    1. Rob used a T rather than a cap at the end of the support platform.
    2. Bob's sign has a plastic cap inserted into the top of an empty paper towel roll - over which he attaches his sign. Rob's sign starts with a 1 1/2" bushing reduced to 1/2" threads onto which is screwed a sprinkler riser (cut-off type). Then a standard 24" x 18" coroplast campaign sign is folded in half and taped around the edges (making a double-sided sign 18" x 12"). A notch is cut into the top fold for the riser. Tape your paper message to the sign.
    3. The top of the pole must be sanded/filed down to fit into the bushing.

In the photo on the right, notice how I use my foot, knee, and arm to help stabilize the pole, while my other hand helps stabilize the clipboard.

When and where is it lawful to pass out leaflets, on both public and private property?

A handout from the CA Clean Money Campaign from 2015 regarding the rights of signature gatherers states that in strip malls containing multiple businesses "you have the right to canvass and collect petition signatures." That is true only if the strip mall allows you to do so. Or, put another way, you can do it but must leave if challenged.

Two points that bear repeating:
1. Yes, the famous Pruneyard case made it lawful to distribute materials in privately-owned commercial malls BUT it did so ONLY in areas that could be considered PUBLIC FORUMS, i.e., areas where people tend to sit, congregate, and socialize.
2. In 2012 the CA Supreme Court limited the Pruneyard case in the Ralph's Grocery case, which found that in a privately owned mall the sidewalks, entrances and exits of businesses were NOT public forums and leafleting could be prohibited there. Some strip malls may have policies that allow leafleting on their premises. You must check with them to find out.

Bottom line: It is highly unlikely you will be allowed to distribute literature on private property. Stick to public property.

Contact Webmaster Rob Means at 408-262-8975,
    1421 Yellowstone Avenue, Milpitas, CA 95035