Bob Dunning

Bob Dunning: Poll dancing, direct from Las Vegas

By From page A2 | July 30, 2014

It’s revealing to note that shortly after last month’s election, our cash-strapped city thought it was well and good to hire a “research consultant” to help our beleaguered City Council determine exactly what the fine citizens of this town are thinking.

The poll, paid for with the tax dollars of those same fine citizens, was conducted by an out-of-town firm, since there clearly is no one in Davis smart enough to do polling and assemble the data into an intelligent format.

Reminds me a little of the $75,000 awarded to two out-of-town artists to paint the East Area Water Tank because, as we all know, Davis is painfully short on talented artists.

The stated reason for the poll was to determine how Davisites might vote on a parcel tax that would be used for any number of projects, some much more worthy than others.

I don’t know about you, but it strikes me as completely inappropriate to spend city money polling residents on how they might vote, obviously with the intent of crafting ballot language, parcel tax numbers and campaign arguments to achieve the two-thirds “yes” vote necessary to pass such a tax.

Instead of handing some out-of-state, out-of-mind firm our precious dollars — the pollster I spoke with admitted he was calling from Las Vegas — council members and city staffers might consider simply reading their emails, watching the letters to the editor and paying close attention during public comment to determine how we might be feeling about things.

According to Dave Ryan’s front-pager: “The city hired a research consultant to conduct a series of 504 separate telephone surveys from June 12 through June 16. Godbe Research, the consultant, said the survey sample represented Davis voters in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and political party type.”

Or so they thought. As reported here earlier, I was one of the 504 lucky residents polled by a chap I’ll call Godbe With You, and I told Godbe I was a 22-year-old male native of Transylvania who was closely affiliated with the Vegetarian Party. Godbe responded by asking me to please talk more slowly so he could accurately write everything down.

According to The Enterprise’s Ryan, the poll showed that “any new tax proposed would likely fail by a wide margin if the election were held at the time of the survey.”

The poll result was immediately disputed by City Mother Rochelle Swanson, who noted that the polling took place so close to the June 3 election that the results probably are skewed, which begs the question as to why the city commissioned such a time-suspect poll in the first place.

Oddly, even though our leaders claim to have abandoned their multimillion-dollar plan to buy out PG&E and provide the residents of this town with low-cost, squeaky-green power forever, Godbe nevertheless asked me several questions about that very topic. Makes me wonder if that supposedly dead plan is buried under six inches of red tape and not six feet of Portland cement.

According to the results released by Godbe With You, just 47 percent of Davisites were in favor of a $149 parcel tax for 15 years. That already low figure is diminished considerably when you realize that more than a third of those saying “yes” put the word “probably” in front of their answer.

Hardly the two-thirds majority the city is looking for.

Not surprisingly, when the parcel tax drops to just $99, support zooms up to 58 percent, and when the tax is lowered even further to $39 and includes free ice cream for a year, support actually eclipses the magical two-thirds threshold.

Now, of course, the fun begins. The council will start by paying the bill for this suspect research, then will set about “educating” the unwashed masses of the Second Most Educated City in America.

Now that should be interesting.

— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]

Bob Dunning

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