"Heaven's to Betsy... what's he talking about now??"
I'll let you in right now and notify you up front that in this post the RAID PAC will be mentioned a few times. You remember RAID right?? I'm talking about the extremely nice folks that banded together to form a political action committee to take on tough issues that faced Kingman in the last couple of years (give or take some months).
There has been a public opinion battle going on for some time now and the battlefield appears at the Kingman Daily Miner's website. For weeks now I have been watching the letters to the editor and blog's at the online site and noticed many more comments from readers chiming in and thereby joining the discussion.
I have to interrupt for just a second and give kudos to the Miner for their enhanced web-site, I truly appreciate the opportunity to read more of the content online instead of the more traditional hard copy version. I don't know of course but it is my best guess that the upgraded website has allowed for more reader interaction, and the content has been enjoyable -- at least to this reader. Makes me want to buy stuff that is advertised on that site even.
Now back to the show... where was I??
Yes of course, RAID. Look, I'm going to try and be as delicate as I can about the following. My record of disagreements with the RAID PAC has been documented and nothing really has changed. While I respect their group as individuals and think that all members that I have met are good people, in my opinion the real positive thing they have done (and it is something they do need thanking for) is that they have helped bring issues out into the open for public consumption. The level of public involvement is at an all time high for the eight plus years since I've lived in Kingman. They should get full marks for that.
Luckily though this is still a free country and disagreements (civil of course) are still allowed. Since their political action committees inception they have come out 'Against' issues that I consider natural and progressive leading to opportunity and a better quality of life for the residents of Kingman.
Go ahead... disagree with me... it is allowed. Nothing I can do to stop how you might feel about how I see the RAID PAC's stance on an issue they defeated that would have led to more demand and a higher value to 160-acres or so of Kingman resident owned land where future funds can be captured and used to support the improvement of community services leading to a better quality of life for the residents of Kingman. I have a strong feeling that we'll see that old land use designation issue come up again sometime soon but for now I'll get back to the public opinion battle. (Hey RAID PAC, how's those plans for Kingman's Central Park and drainage ditch coming??)
A few weeks back now the Miner ran a public opinion poll on the front page of their website. The poll question went something like: Do you think the RAID PAC has been helpful or hurtful to the Kingman community?? The choices were to either select 'helpful' or 'hurtful'.
Now I'm not a big fan of online polls. I see plenty of polls that can be voted on more than once all over the web for all kinds of different subjects. It is easy to skew results by merely a few people voting multiple times rendering the online poll manipulated and useless. However, I have seen better online polls more recently. Like anything online it seems, even polling software can be written to recognize an IP address. When I ran a couple of polls on this blog during the local city office elections I noticed that I couldn't vote more than once from one IP address... unless... one knew how to manipulate the polling software in a way or change their IP address (two things I simply do not have any working knowlege of how to accomplish). The polls here at MOCO certainly were not scientific but the results pretty close as it pertained to who eventually won the last two seats on the city council from the May election. I'll just say that those MOCO polls held some entertainment value at best.
Well the Miner's poll results of the RAID PAC poll showed basically 3 out of 4 respondents clicking on the 'hurtful' option. I immediately thought to myself that the poll must allow for multiple responses at will. Afterall, the RAID PAC folks have been stating on many occasions that they kinda-sorta represent the citizens of Kingman.
From a letter to the editor on Friday, July 18 of this year a RAID PAC member wrote the following...
A recent poll in this paper showed that 75 percent of those that voted claimed that our group does more harm than good for our town. Our answer is to look at the results of the polls in November. Those are the numbers that tell us if we are in tune with the needs of the public, and so far, it has been a resounding vote of support for our accomplishments.
Sounds a little like gloating to me even though last November the 6th after the election the RAID PAC wrote this on their website...
Nov. 6, 2007 – Although it should not be considered a R.A.I.D. victory, but a victory of the voters, the results of the city election this day mirrored the tireless efforts of the members of the R.A.I.D. group. The resounding defeat of all 6 questions sent a clear message to the Mayor and City Council that R.A.I.D.’s position more closely represented the feelings of voters than did that elected body. R.A.I.D. does not gloat but instead suggests to the Mayor and Council that they listen to the message sent by voters and alter their decisions in such a way as to bring about the wishes of the voters of this city.
Your mileage may vary on the perception both statements have led me to.
In todays issue a good friend of MOCO penned a letter to the editor and the readers started to respond in various ways. Click here to see the posting by none other than Ken Herskind. While I'll agree to much of what Ken included in his letter, it is in the following comments that really had my attention. Partly because a reader brought up the subject of online polls and how they are a waste of time because of similar observations that I described earlier.
I was surprised by a response from the IT person at the Miner, and now actually a couple of responses (and I'll simply copy and paste them below so you don't have to go back and forth).
The software used to run the Miner's online Reader Poll looks at the user's IP address, and allows only one (1) vote from that address. While it is possible to spoof an alternate address, it is beyond the average user's ability.
The Miner's poll is accurate.
At the same time, it is not "official" to use your term, any more than a door-to-door survey would be. But it is accurate.
To answer a question that a few people have raised -- "73 percent of how many?" -- 596 votes were submitted to the poll in question; 161 thought RAID was helping Kingman, 435 thought RAID was hurting Kingman. (27 and 73 percent respectively.)
Hope this puts things in their proper perspective for you.
I've made it clear in the past that I felt the Miner played a significant role in the rise of the RAID PAC... the Miner always seemed to be in the right place for a timely photo opportunity of the RAID PAC for prominent front page placement... the Miner was allowing a vocal RAID PAC member to write a regular column (although I haven't seen much from the guest columnist in months)... and on at least one occasion a writing staff member of the Miner came to the RAID PAC defense against other community voices that were not professionally trained op/ed contributors. I'm not saying that the RAID PAC didn't deserve media coverage, not saying that at all... but a front page headline about the RAID PAC playing musical chairs with their leadership?? What's next, a RAID PAC suggested recipe list for Thanksgiving dinner??
But above my last little rant, I see a Miner staff member validate the results of the online poll confirming that KDM readers voted against the RAID PAC... uh yeah... imagine my surprise.
However Mr. Ronnow's foray into the conversation was simply not enough for some folks that left a comment following, so he responds again...
Normally, IT doesn't get involved on a personal level in these comment boards, but because your comment ("...one person can vote numerous times by using numerous IP addresses. If the miner is going to have polls on there website then put some locks in place to correctly tally the data.") implies first that anybody can change their IP address on a whim, and secondly that the software module controlling the Miner's reader poll is insufficient to do what it was designed to do, I feel compelled to respond.
I feel compelled to continue to read on...
Without getting into a technical discussion about network software, modems and DHCP leases, suffice it to say you're wrong. With leases running at least a week or longer on commercial ISP configurations, the vote would be over before you could reset your IP once.
There are no "locks" on the module that controls the reader poll. There is a conditional statement that tells it to compare a computer's IP with those already in the database. If a vote has already been logged from that computer, all subsequent attempts to vote from the same machine will be ignored until the database is cleared. That only happens when a new question is uploaded.
Western News&Info, Inc
Whoah!! I have to admit two things... Mr. Ronnow had me a DHCP leases... and that I have no idea what DHCP leases are (but I Googled it... and still don't fully comprehend). No matter though.
I didn't get all too excited about the poll or the results when I first started paying attention to them on the Miner's site. I never blogged about it... until now (after the Miner standing behind the poll and validating the results). Still though, who knows who actually voted on the thing?? Could have been plenty of folks from outside the area for all we know. Certainly the results are not scientific and even the Miner admits as such. Cool.
My observation about a noticeable change in public opinion is not solely based on the poll at the Miner's website though. It is just a part of it. The other bits stem from the comments in response to RAID PAC related articles, columns, and letters to the editor on the Miner's website. Also the citizens like Barron Yankowitz who seems to have no affiliation with builders, developers, or even dastardly Realtors that have spoke out against the RAID PAC at public meetings including city council events.
But it doesn't stop there... the clear change in the local economy has probably played the biggest role in the change of public opinion... especially as it pertains to growth related issues. $4 dollar a gallon gas has to be a big factor. Yes the higher gas price hurts, but has it stopped familiar friendly Kingman faces from shopping in Bullhead and Havasu at their new retail shopping centers?? Come on... raise your hands if you saw the new movie 'The Dark Knight' since it opened. You didn't spend that retail sales tax money here in Kingman. I believe many residents are realizing the revenue opportunities that our community is losing and it makes an impact on public opinion.
Another factor that could be leading to a change in public opinion is availability of jobs in Kingman. I won't be blaming the RAID PAC for the reports of job losses increasing in Mohave County, but I believe that residents of Kingman are seeing opportunities dry up. Opportunities that used to be prevalent not all that long ago. Before the talk of slowing down growth was a bit more popular, certainly.
The pro-growth sides of public opinion has faults as well, mainly at the voting booth. While the public opinion poll about the RAID PAC indicates one thing... the numbers at the only poll that really counts are lacking. The blame there is not the doing of the RAID PAC, nope they got their voters out, one needs to look in the mirror first before casting blame in another direction. It will be some time before the voters of Kingman cast another vote on city business or for elected officials and public opinion can obviously change again.
What can be done in the meantime?? Well, as stated a few computer screens worth of words above, the RAID PAC has shown the way. Get involved, speak up, organize. Demand the facts on the important issues from official sources and even the local media. Put on your critical thinking hats and play the issues out in your mind, offer up proposed solutions, maybe even compromise a tad here or there to move forward. Pay attention to even minor issues as sometimes they grow to be big issues. Bend the ear of your elected officials... we elected them after all dontcha know.
Here is one more test of public opinion in regards to the RAID PAC. From their accomplishments page on the RAID PAC website...
Oct. 9, 2007 – At the monthly meeting of the City of Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission, R.A.I.D. members vocally contested an attempt to implement a zoning text amendment that would have allowed the placement of large (over 40 ft. tall) wind turbine generators in residential neighborhoods. Stressing to the commission the visual impact, collapse hazard, noise, threat to wildlife, and general commercial nature of the devices and the many siting issues embedded with the operation of the turbines, R.A.I.D. was successful in having the commission turn down the proposal when the short quorum (4 members) voted 4-0 to deny the start of an amendment process. The item may come back at a later time, but for now, the city council will have nothing to consider or implement for the present.
Maybe somebody can recall a more recent Miner website poll about placement of wind turbines in neighborhoods??
The item has come back with a vengeance, I'd say. A 20% (est.) electricity rate hike probably has made an impact on public opinion... that and the wind blows hard enough to create electricity with one of these baby's in your backyard on most days to make up some of that difference (if not all, I'm no expert but I'd play one on TV if they paid me enough).
Bottom line is that public opinion is subject to change. Just because the pro-growth side of some important issues took a few lumps to the chin last November, it doesn't mean that the RAID PAC will always win the day. Hey... hat's off to them last year... they managed to get somewhere near 2,000 voters to cast a vote for their side. The former RAID PAC president is confident that the PAC is looking out for the best interest of the silent majority. I see the silent majority as the many thousands of registered voters that didn't bother to show up last year at the special election. I'd say the jury is out as to how they might see the issues. Personally, I can't wait to hear from them as I suspect a great portion need jobs and opportunity that growth offers and now that they are being affected by the effort to limit growth... maybe they'll show up next time... just like the voices are in the Miner are now.