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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The city that keeps polling you (ouch!)

If there's one thing you can say for Portland Mayor Tom Potter's "vision quest" survey, it was inclusive. They paid to translate the survey questionnaire into seemingly every language imaginable. You have to wonder how many forms they got back with responses in Laotian, though.

Now that the city in that one instance cast out its questions to a broad cross-section of the population, is every survey it ever undertakes hereafter, no matter how slanted, going to be credited automatically as truly reflective of the overall population? Take this story from today's Trib. Hearkening back to the Potter "vision quest" survey, the unnamed reporter accepts at face value the city's contention that the vast majority of its residents support new carbon taxes on businesses, taxpayer subsidies for businesses that recycle and reduce emissions, and even taxpayer subsidies for rain barrels.

Apparently some well connected pollster outfit came to these stunning conclusions after polling 500 city residents. Before I believed a word of it, I'd love to see the questions, and hear how the 500 interviewees were selected. I'm sure one or both of those aspects of the poll would be quite amusing.

And what does the latest poll have to do with the "visioning" process? The city has spun the results of the original survey to something that most Portlanders would never vote for. Gone and long forgotten are the many, many responses that expressed strong disagreement with the city's wasteful "urban renewal" projects. Whatever "visioning" might have meant when it was undertaken, its great champion has announced his retirement and seemingly lost interest in it. And so now it's going to be used as a new wrapper for an ever-growing bundle of half-truths.

Comments (11)

Right out of the playbook, Jack. Precisely as predicted. A sham, wrapped in a farce, delivered in a "charette."

At least Potter tried to see what the average Portlander was thinking, still not a great attempt.

Sam won't care about anything more than what his mutual admiration society regurgitates. Say hello to streetcars running past sewer dumps and potholes.

I have to wonder about the how questionaire was distributed. My very old mother got one at her nursing home residence, as did several 'residents', most of whom were not aware enough to answer the questions in any language!
So much for demographic diversity!

Another pseudonym used to fleece the citizenry.
How will Sam, the scam use this to build his hotel?

The Trib story reports the numbers, but doesn't actually use the words "vast majority." Of course any majority will be called "vast" when there's lobbying involved.

****How will Sam, the scam use this to build his hotel?***

Sam is building a hotel? I thought that was Neil Goldschmidt building a tram.

Greg C

See I can use Portland perjoratives to make comments too.

Jack do you know the difference between a lobbyist and a pimp?
Is their a difference?
Now set the wayback machine to the early '80's and try to remember when all the local power lunchs were held in those downtown cocktail joints.
1- Clementines (Across from the Hilton)
2-Carriage House( Across from the Heathmen)
3-The neat little bar in the Standard Insurance Building.
One could see and taste the corruption.
Ah those were the good old days.

Supposedly 15,000 surveys returned representing 585,000 people. I know of many people filling out two or more, for parents, friends, etc. Then, what kind of people fill out these kinds of surveys? Mostly political junkies, neighborhood activists, like myself; but not the general cross section of the citizens. So the press and the politicians are going to take a very small segment of it's citizen's imput and make calls like, "the majority feels...".

Hoping not to be called a naysayer, I'd like to see a list from this Vision that points out the things the 15,000 surveys DID NOT like, or needing change-like PDC, Urban Renewal, potholes, congestion. more traffic capacity.

If we can spend $2 MILLION for visioning, why can't we have a few votes on the important issues?

Oh Greg C, Your misspelled Pejorative has not embittered me at all.
But Sam, the scam can and does.

15,000 surveys answered / 585,000 people = 2.564% of population. Visions are accepted. Vision Quest results = what 2.5% want, goes for everybody.

2004 election Mult Cty 98,439 people voted Bush / 430,693 Mult Cty registered voters = 22.8% of population. Bush wins. Results = what 22.8% want, goes for everybody.

2004 election Mult Cty 259,585 people voted Kerry / 430,693 Mult Cty registered voters = 71.5% of population. Kerry loses. Results = what 71.5% want, doesn't go for everybody.

Conclusion: What the majority wants doesn't matter, what minorities want takes the day.

Got logic: your comparisons are lacking logic. The Vision survey was for the citizens of Portland only, a small defined geographical area. Your taking voter results from only a area representing an electorate of 450T versus the entire nation of 225M, which is the larger pool to do statistical analysis makes no sense.

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