The number of signatures rejected in the casino petition was bad news for the people who helped collect them.

In the wake of a failed bid to create a casino in southern Maine, several signature collectors were complaining that they had not been fully paid for their work.

John Merchant, who came to Maine to work on the petition, said he is owed $3,800 for the signatures he collected. He blames Stavros Mendros, who runs the firm Olympic Consulting and who hired him as a circulator.

Not only was Mendros failing to pay up, Merchant said, he was trying to stifle complaints about the matter.

“He said anyone that goes to the news media doesn’t get paid,” Merchant said. “I guess I’m not going to get paid.”

Mendros’ consulting firm was hired by the York County casino backers to manage the signature drive, paying collectors between $7 and $10 per signature.

Merchant was in California this week, where a number of petitions were drawing signature collectors from all over the country. But he said he was having trouble getting work because of his complaints about lack of pay.

“I’m getting blackballed all over the country,” Merchant said.

Others, meanwhile, argued that the lack of pay is a result of the high number of signatures that were rejected by the state.

Daryl Bonner, who worked on the drive at locations in Alfred and Sanford, estimated that 90 percent of his signatures were good. But because so many other signatures — nearly 56,000 — were rejected as invalid, his pay is $2,000 lighter than expected.

“It’s not (the) fault of Stavros,” Bonner said. “This isn’t Stavros trying to scam anybody. I’ll vouch for him any day.”

The problem, Bonner said, is that because so many signatures were deemed unacceptable and the petition failed, Mendros himself was not paid by the client, and therefore was not obligated to pay his crew of collectors in full.

Jenny Breslin, who works for the company Silver Bullet, which was also hired for the signature drive, said that if anything, the signature collectors were paid too much for their work, considering the failure of the petition.

Others just want the money they believe they are owed.

In Florida, a man named Jermaine said Mendros owes him $1,300. 

Glen Witham, a local man hired by Silver Bullet, said he has since been paid for his work after settling on an amount with that company.

Michael Gambrell, now in Florida, said he was told that at least one circulator was mulling a class action suit against Mendros for lack of payment.

On Feb. 2, circulator George Stanley of Greene filed a statement of claim in small claims court for $364 he says he is owed by Mendros.

In his statement, Stanley claims to have worked for Mendros from Jan. 6 to Jan. 24, collecting signatures for both the casino and a marijuana referendum. According to Stanley, he was told he would earn between $2 and $3 per signature on the marijuana petition, and $10 per signature on the casino petition.

But Bonner in Philadelphia said that the blame for the payment issue falls squarely on the circulators who did such a poor job of gathering good signatures.

“They basically got just any Tom, Dick and Harry to sign the petition, knowing that they weren’t registered to vote or weren’t qualified electors,” Bonner said. “It failed, so that means the client is not going to pay the bonus and he’s not going to pay for the balance of the signatures.”

The campaign to bring slot machines or a casino to York County was a project of Harness Racing Jobs Fairness, which has paid Mendros’ company $111,935 to gather signatures, according to state campaign finance reports. Of that, $67,000 was to pay circulators directly for their field work and the remaining money was listed as Olympic’s administrative fee.

Mendros did not return messages Wednesday.


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