City of Lincoln
2008 Media Releases
Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that the City will begin enforcing trespassing complaints against unauthorized petition circulators and blockers on private property. After a review of these types of disputes, City Attorney John Hendry has concluded that petition circulators and blockers do not have the right to remain on private property once they have been asked to leave by property owners or managers. Enforcement will begin at 8 a.m. Monday, June 2.
The Mayor said local businesses contacted him about the impact the activity is having on sales. “While the petition process is an important Nebraska right, that process should not be conducted at the expense of private property owners who have a legitimate interest in the control over their property,” said Beutler. “Businesses have a right to do business, and sales are critical to profits and jobs. Their customers should not have to fight their way past circulators and blockers just to get their shopping done.”
“We would like to thank Mayor Beutler for his pro-business decision to remove petitioners who are collecting signatures by standing in front of the entrances and exits of Lincoln retail stores,” said Kathy Siefken, Executive Director of the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association. “Some customers have been so offended by the tactics used by the signature gatherers that they have taken the time to locate the store manager or owner to let management know how thoroughly upset they were by the incident. We thank Mayor Beutler for taking a strong position on this issue and his willingness to protect citizens from being harassed by the signature gatherers.”
“Retail stores are private property,” said Jim Otto, President of the Nebraska Retail Federation. “Our customers should not have to go through an argument with petitioners before entering a retail store to shop. We sincerely thank Mayor Beutler for his straightforward solution to this problem.”
A previous petition drive led to a court ruling that the City of Lincoln was inappropriately restricting the access of circulators to public property. Beutler said that led to a cautious stance by the City with regard to petitioners on private property. Beutler asked Hendry to review the situation after businesses told him that petitioners and blockers did not comply with requests to leave their property.