Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Bette White/Eminent Domain "Poll" 
It's on, apparently. Several people on Maplewood Online report having received their calls, and from their descriptions the poll sounds even more moronic than the justification for running it. They ask for respondents by name. Then just a few questions: "Awareness of the Bette White issue and the use of eminent domain to acquire, and then approve/disapprove"

Real opinion polling is done randomly. Respondents are never asked for by name. Before getting to the specific topical questions, they would be asked a battery of boilerplate demographic ones: age, sex, race, place of residence, household income, voting history, education level. Who the respondents are is irrelevant - what's important in a poll is what they are. Without that information, those running the poll have no way of knowing if their sample at all reflects the population under study. Even then, they have to decide how to map those demographics onto the population as a whole. It's not at all an exact science. That's one of the reasons why the current crop of Presidential election polls have such varying results - everybody makes somewhat different assumptions about the population the sample is supposed to represent.

Once they get to the topical questions, real polls generally ask them in several ways, from different angles, to make sure that 1) the respondents understood the question in the intended way and 2) the respondents aren't trying to spoof the results. It doesn't sound like this was done either.

It's no surprise that the polling methodology sounds so bogus - designing, running, and analyzing a good poll is not a cheap thing to do. You can be sure that, when Harris or Zogby runs a poll with 1000 samples, it costs a LOT more than the $1.00/sample the TC allocated for theirs.

The upshot? No matter how the poll turns out, it's bullshit. The TC will have thrown away $1000 of our money. Not to mention the time and expense they wasted in drawing up, advertising, and then defeating their own eminent domain ordinance.

The Maplewood Township Committee needs to get off its collective ass, do its homework, and decide the Police HQ issue on the merits. That means considering neighborhood impact, current economic impact, future economic development, public safety, tax consequences - the lot. They have to decide, and live with the outcome. If that pisses off some of the electorate, so be it - that's how electoral politics works. Do what's right for the town as a whole. The Vic DeLuca/Jerry Ryan era TC made that kind of a call on the property-tax revaluation issue. They publicized it, solicited community input, and then did what they thought was right for all of Maplewood. And it was. And it got them un-elected. And it still was the right thing to do.

There's a phrase I often find obnoxious but which seems particularly apropos here:
Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?