Chico Sales Tax Measure, Step 2: A heavily-led survey that will tell the consultant how to pitch this piece of crap right back at you

28 Feb

Last Wednesday, City of Chico Finance Committee listened the city’s $91,000 consultant lay out their tax measure campaign. First, the private meetings with stakeholders (they listed Enloe, the Farm Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce). Next, a mailer with a survey. Finally, they will craft a series of videos to spread out on social media, telling us what they think we want to hear, based on answers to the survey.

The city needs to spend whatever taxpayer money on this venture that they can before they actually submit their ballot to the county clerk in June. Once the ballot is given a letter designation by the county clerk, the city is no longer allowed to spend taxpayer money. The plan you see above will cost at least $91,000 of our money, money that should be going to infrastructure and services.

This should all be familiar to you – this was the same strategy used to Chico Area Recreation District consultants when they rolled out the ill-fated Measure A in March 2020. CARD consultants used the same game plan – early mailers to get people thinking positive about CARD, then a survey, then videos and more mailers based on what they thought they found out from the surveys.

They decided to do a phone survey toward the end – that’s the easiest way to lead people to the conclusion you want, if they bother to pick up, that is. I remember the CARD consultant discussed the difficulties of phone surveys, starting with the reluctance people have to answer an unfamiliar number. They’d get around that, she said, by using a local number to do the calling – from Oakland. They still gathered responses from less than 1% of the local population, and the questions were heavily led, with a prompter on the other end of the phone to “interpret” the responses.

Measure A, which cost the district over $100,000 still failed, with only 47% of participating voters willing to support it. CARD staff and board all lamented the decision to make it a 2/3’s measure, but you see there, they couldn’t even get a full 51% of the voters to support it.

The board had been misled by the consultants as to the results of the survey. The consultants interpreted huge support in the community. This is how they use these surveys – here they are discussing the effectiveness of different arguments used in convincing respondents to pass this dud.

CARD did several surveys over the years leading up to Measure A. Each time, the consultant reported a positive, supportive response from the public. Come on, that’s how they make their money. The consultants that said it wouldn’t pass were never invited back, I sat through that for several years. While the board spent money on a conga-line of consultants, studies, surveys and mailers, they closed Shapiro Pool due to lack of maintenance and made the community hold fundraisers to fix their skateboard park.

We could still nip this in the bud if we just pushed back hard enough. First of all, don’t participate in any survey. They will turn your participation into “support” for the measure, and council will go forward based on that advice. Instead, contact the council NOW and let them know you will NOT support this sales tax increase. Tell them how much your utility bills have gone up over the past few years, tell them how much groceries have gone up. Tell them how disappointed you are in their “leadership” and their spending priorities. Tell them you’re tired of paying the lion’s share of Staff benefits.

The consultant predicted push back. “We’ll get a lot of cranky folks. But we’ll get folks who think this has been done out in the open…” I love that. If you question this little scam, you’re just “cranky“. Wow, interesting choice of words Mr. Sheister – “folks who think this has been done out in the open…” That’s what they have to convince people of, that this whole thing is all sunshine and lollipops and done for the good of the taxpayers. That’s the line of bullshit they’re casting out across Chico, don’t bite on it.

2 Responses to “Chico Sales Tax Measure, Step 2: A heavily-led survey that will tell the consultant how to pitch this piece of crap right back at you”

  1. Dave February 28, 2022 at 8:14 pm #

    No matter what the Council and the consulting firm claim, the only purpose of the survey is to craft the ballot measure so it is most likely to pass and of course to craft their propaganda campaign to make sure that happens. And they will call their propaganda campaign “community education” or “community outreach” or some other term that is a lie.

    They are trying to dupe you into voting to allow them to take more of your money and you are paying $91,000 for the privilege. And that does not include the staff time of the city employees who will be working with the consulting firm and its results, nor does it include the costs to get the measure on the ballot. And of course it’s possible the consulting firm may get a contract extension or another firm brought in to help. You are going to pay to be scammed and then pay higher sales tax forever.

    And if this passes they will use the revenue from the sales tax increase to float a massive new bond getting the taxpayers even deeper in debt to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    There is nothing conservative about the “conservative” clowns on the city council who call themselves conservatives and are trying to ram this down our throats with their duplicity.

    • Juanita Sumner March 1, 2022 at 5:31 am #

      Yeah, we can’t forget the bond – remember how mad people got when they found out CARD was going to take on a bond.

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