Tagged: Daily Citizen

Why the Searcy Paper’s Judge “Poll” is Useless

Well, the Searcy paper finally found a way to run the headline that they’ve been dying to run for months: “LINCOLN LEADS JUDGE RACE.”

Why do they say this?  They ran a poll.  Why is the poll crap?  I’m about to tell you, because this so called “poll” is an insult to poll-lovers and statisticians everywhere.  I would accuse them of being ignorant, but they have been proven to be much more deliberate at their attempts to influence opinion for me to believe they are really just this stupid–or that they think the people of White County are this stupid.

(I know the paper is trying to hide behind a local university political science professor that they mention in their story to loan credibility to their poll, but I can almost guarantee he would agree with my analysis below.  He may have drafted the questions, but I am highly confident that he didn’t endorse this methodology.)

I ran this poll by a Republican political consultant who has worked on gubernatorial campaigns, ran targeting on congressional campaigns, and has run a targeted 527. Needless to say he has done more than a few polls. He agreed that the poll “has multiple issues with accuracy, and cannot be used to conclude that Lincoln has any kind of a lead.”

The alleged results of the poll:

  • Lincoln: 49%
  • Haynie: 34%
  • Undecided: 17%

And that huge “15 percent” number the paper tosses around can be a little deceiving.  The margin represented by that 15% is only 63 votes.  They called 410 folks, who we can only assume are actually registered voters, but based on the rest of their “methodology,” I’m not sure that’s a smart assumption.

1. They didn’t poll ‘likely voters.’  This is kind of a big deal.  The paper, according to their own story, didn’t make any effort to identify people who were actually likely to vote in the primary.  Sure, they asked people ‘do you definitely plan to vote,’ but that’s essentially crap.  There is much more that goes into determining likely voters than asking people on the spot, who will almost all say yes out of fear of being considered a ‘bad citizen.’  “Likely voters” should only be defined as people who, based on their voting history, are actually likely to vote.  I know, I’m a conspiracy theorist.

2. They didn’t poll identified Republicans, meaning those who are either registered as Republicans or have consistently voted in Republican primaries.  Oh, I’m sorry, you’re doing a Republican primary poll and including Democrats?  I’m sure my ‘ultra-partisanship’ will blind me to why this is a good idea.  But seriously guys, this is crap.  You aren’t getting meaningful results here and, once again, you are misleading the public by purporting crappy poll results as credible.

3. Lincoln’s name was placed first in the poll question.  See, the paper knows this is shady because they preemptively defend any attacks by saying, “Well, he’s going to be first on the ballot!”  More bull.  This isn’t the same as someone going into a polling booth and looking at two options.  The results will be slanted heavily towards the first person identified because people want to get off the phone.  The order of the names should be randomized.  Lincoln easily gained 5-10% from this trick.

Now, just because the results are ‘crap,’ that doesn’t mean we can’t still glean something from them, both statistically and politically speaking.  What have we learned?

1. Despite the attempts to slant this poll, Lincoln doesn’t even receive 50%.  This is the real story here.  Think about this:  a 6-year incumbent judge cannot even break 50%, despite being listed first on the poll which easily gave him 5-10%.  Subtract 10-points and a nearly 5% margin of error, it is very possible that this race is actually tied (Lincoln -15%, erasing his “+15%”).  As an entrenched incumbent, Judge Lincoln should be easily polling above 60% right now, and my consultant friend agreed.

2. This is a very close race.  Look, if this wasn’t a close race, the paper wouldn’t be running sketchy polls in an attempt to help out their favorite judge.  It’s really that simple.

Despite what you’ll read in the paper, these poll results are very good news for lovers of liberty & transparent government in White County.

White County Republican Judge Debate Tonight…Moderated By A Democrat?

There will be a Republican primary debate tonight at Riverview High School between incumbent county judge Mike Lincoln and challenger Bill Haynie.  There is no Democrat challenger for the seat, so the winner of the primary will be the next judge, making this race very important for the future of our county.

You may be interested to know that the debate is hosted by our wonderfully biased local newspaper & will be moderated by (recently) former White County Democrats chairman Winston Collier.

The story here isn’t about partisan politics or my general preference for Republicans.  It’s just about what is proper & fair to the voters of our county.  I can tell you from personal experience that the local paper does nothing by accident.  Everything is an orchestrated effort to advance their agenda.

So, we must ask:

  • Why would the paper have a leader in the Democrat party moderate their debate?  
  • Which candidate stands to benefit most from this collusion? 
  • Why is the judge going along?  Doesn’t he have a platform to say this is inappropriate & raise some questions?

I am sure many of you are also wondering, “How do the Democrats benefit when there is no Democrat candidate?”

We will start answering these questions over the next few weeks here on The Patriot.  This story is a piece in a much larger puzzle.  It’s time to start putting the pieces together.

 

Transparency In Decline: Searcy Repeals Notification Ordinance, Averts “Huge Box” Crisis

Well, they thought they could sneak this one through–and they almost did.  But alas, at 11:00 on Friday night, I ran across this dandy of a headline in the local paper: “City repeals notification law.”  I knew it couldn’t be the ordinance that was passed in 2007 that required the city to send out postal notices to all registered voters before a special election on the city’s tax rates could be held.  But it was.  And they did in fact repeal it this week.

By the way, I requested that copy of the ordinance back in October.  I knew that, given the amount of seats the ‘other side’ has on the council, they would soon be coming after this transparency policy.

I don’t know how they do it, but somehow, these people always find a way to leave me absolutely speechless.  And maybe you’re sitting there, reading this, stunned like I am, thinking, “Why would they do this?  What could possess them to so blatantly try to manipulate the system so they can sneak more tax increases through?”  But just wait–you haven’t even heard their ‘reasoning’ yet!

According to the paper, there are three key reasons why the city thought it was absolutely necessary to repeal this ordinance:

  • This ordinance cost the city ‘thousands of dollars.’  Now, granted, they don’t mind the thousands of dollars that are being spent to actually hold the special election–or the thousands of dollars we spend paying their salaries to sit around and turn Searcy into the U.S.S.R.  They only care about the ‘thousands of dollars’ we are ‘wasting’ by informing voters that their taxes are about to go up.  This is about saving money, people!  Can’t you see?
  • The city clerk has a ‘huge box’ of returned notices from the last election.  Not just a BIG box, a HUGE box!  I mean, that’s even bigger than a big box!  And this is absolutely unacceptable.  We can’t just have a huge box of notices sitting around.  Someone might get hurt.  And think of all those trees that were unnecessarily slaughtered.  The humanity.
  • “The notices do not play a major role in voter turnout.”  And yes, that’s a quote.  And no, I do not have any idea how they could possibly quantify that claim or believe that it is true.

But don’t lose heart!  The city has other great ideas for informing voters about their taxes going up!

The first one, and my personal favorite:  “Purchase a large electronic sign on Beebe-Capps Expressway to inform voters about upcoming elections.”  This idea comes straight from the mayor’s biggest brain (yes, that should terrify you), Jay Shock who, by the way, ran former mayor Belinda Laforce’s campaign out of city hall, on city time, against current Mayor David Morris, but now works for Morris.  And while Shock was Laforce’s chief of staff, I believe the council passed an ordinance that outlawed these types of signs for private businesses.  But no matter–government can do what they want!  After all, they do know best.

If you still think this repeal is about ‘saving money,’ keep reading!  It gets better.

The second ‘solution’ to solving the ‘huge box’ crisis: “Posting signs at designated places in the city during times of a special election.”  Well, I’m sure the city can get those signs for free from their friends over at Think Advertising…right?

Perhaps the only sensible thing that was mentioned at Tuesday night’s meeting was Alderman Don Raney’s assertion that “not every resident reads The Daily Citizen.”  And that, my friends, is something we can all be thankful for.

Serious note:  I have at least attempted to use absurdity to illustrate the absurd in this article.  These developments should outrage every Searcy voter.  Make no mistake:  this is nothing short of a concerted effort to make it easier to pass tax increases in the city–something that watchdogs like myself have made somewhat of a difficult task the last several years.  Now the city is fighting back.

I don’t do this very often, but I am going to encourage everyone to let your alderman hear about this one.  They have, once again, really overreached here.  Despite having a new mayor, it does not appear that much has changed in our city government.

Nic Horton

Deranged Editorial Calls Searcy Tax Passage “Mandate for Progress,” A.K.A. More Taxes

As promised, here is a follow-up story on the wonderful editorial that the Searcy paper ran this past Sunday.

After ripping off my pre-election analysis and making some incredibly insightful post-election predictions, they admit that their post-election predictions were incorrect…and they’ve NEVER BEEN HAPPIER TO ADMIT IT!  Never ever!

We were wrong, and have never been happier to admit it.

Searcy voters passed a 1-percent tax increase this past week, but in reality did much more. By a 7-to-3 margin, voters demanded that Searcy move forward and become the progressive community that the current competitive economic climate demands. Our community has been stuck in a vicious cycle of defeating taxes for the sake of defeating taxes, while scoffing at the long-term economic rewards that would benefit everyone. Those who have said infrastructure creates jobs have been derided, despite clear examples of this being true.

On Tuesday, voters said, “Enough.”

Don’t you find it odd that in the same article, the paper admits that they expected the tax to barely pass, but by the end of the article, the margin was a MANDATE for progress (which is code for ‘more taxes in the future’)?  That would be like going on NFL Live and predicting that the Patriots will barely beat Tebow and the Broncos before the game, because the Broncos are a pretty talented team.  But after the game, you come back on air, NEVER HAPPIER TO ADMIT that you were wrong, and say that the Broncos are actually awful because they got beat handily, the Patriots will run away with the rest of their games, and no one can hold a candle to their talent.  In fact, their victory is a mandate for Patriot victories in the future…(okay, it’s not a perfect analogy, but you get my point)

I’d like to know, voters of Searcy:  Did you DEMAND that Searcy become a ‘progressive community?’  Or did you vote for some road improvements?  Because I am pretty sure you have rejected attempts to make Searcy ‘progressive,’ like when you voted down the A&P tax in 2010 by a 10-point margin.  And I was pretty sure that this tax was just about road improvements…right?

And when did we give the paper unilateral authority to declare a tax increase as ‘progress’ anyway?

This notion that we have been ‘defeating taxes for the sake of defeating taxes’ is an affront to the intelligence of every Searcy and White County voter.  As I have documented thoroughly over the past few weeks, this most recent tax was vastly different than the past taxes that have been proposed.  Previous taxes lacked transparency, definite sunsets, etc.  To say that those taxes were defeated ‘for the sake of defeat’ is outrageous, insulting, and simply untrue. Continue reading

Searcy Paper Rips Off Patriot’s Analysis, Makes Post-Election ‘Prediction’

In an editorial the Searcy paper wrote on Sunday, they accomplished many breath-taking feats, but each deserves its own blog post.  So we will start with their continuation of ripping information off this blog without crediting us.  I’ll follow up with a post or two this afternoon about the “substance” of their article.

S0, here is what the paper said they would have predicted about the Searcy bypass tax, if they had had the guts to make a prediction before the election actually took place:

In the failed county-wide vote, the issue was approved within the Searcy city limits by a 10 percent margin. Nonetheless, we knew many factors — such as concerns about the northern route’s location and the election being held 12 days before Christmas — could create a different outcome. If forced to predict, we would have said it would pass, but only by a nose.

Fascinating, post-election prediction, don’t you agree?  I would say that I couldn’t have said it better myself, except I did…on election day last week:

First of all, I think the results will be fairly close.  I would define close as 5-7%.  This is just gut instinct, based on the way the last several taxes have gone…

Secondly, I think the tax will probably pass.  I say this because, yes, the city faced no organized opposition and the vote was 2 weeks before Christmas.

Great reporting, guys!  While mocking blogs on your Facebook profiles, you have now officially stolen analysis from a blog that you so heartily despise.

#PostElectionPredictions #PlagiarismRocks!

Nic Horton

White County Judge Cuts $1.5 Million from Road Budget

Remember last month when White County passed their 2012 budget and increased total expenditures increasing by 31% from last year?  And remember when I told you that the county was leaving $7 million of their projected revenues unbudgeted?

Well, somehow, despite the huge surplus, county judge Mike Lincoln has now decided that the county road budget must be cut, by $1.5 million to be exact.

The judge blamed the cuts on ‘rising gas prices’ which are causing people to drive less and hurting state turnback totals.  This despite the fact that gas prices have been falling quickly over the last 4 weeks, even in White County where prices typically stay inflated.

What has changed in the last 3 weeks since the quorum court voted to pass the 2012 budget?  It certainly wasn’t an increase in gas prices.

There is an article in today’s local paper about this.  If you have access, you can hop over and read it, but honestly, it’s incoherent.  Perhaps this is yet another thing that we are ‘too stupid to understand’ because we ‘don’t understand how government works?’

The real problem–for elected officials in our county–is that we do understand exactly how government works.  We understand that:

  •  Only in government could you have a budget surplus of $7 million, and then one month later, be ‘forced’ to cut $1.5 million from the road budget
  • Only in government can you propose a ‘road tax’ in September because the county has ‘serious infrastructure problems’–when the county had nearly $12 million in reserves–and say you cannot pay for improvements without a tax increase, but in December refuse to use the money you have to start fixing things.
  • Only in government can you spend $590,000 on a $320,000 building in October, and then cut $200,000 in gravel expenditures in December due to a ‘lack of revenue.’

Folks, I am really at a loss on this one.  Our infrastructure is crumbling in this county.  We have plenty of money to start making some repairs.  What is going on here?  Is the judge punishing us because he did not get his road tax?  Can we only get real improvements if we raise taxes, even though we have millions of dollars in the bank?

I have some theories, but I want to hear what you think.  You can post your thoughts below.

Nic Horton

Searcy Paper: “County OEM Fiasco Unfortunate”

As you know, I really don’t read the paper, so sometimes I miss stuff that is happening locally.  Well how about this.

In a shocking turn of events, today The Daily Citizen in Searcy ran an editorial about the retention of county OEM director Tamara Jenkins following a state police investigation into her misuse of taxpayer funds, making a pretty fair assessment of the situation and the mood of the electorate.

Here’s a particularly pungent quote from the op-ed:

A clear-eyed review of the facts found during the investigation is disheartening. Jenkins did make admit making personal charges with public funds, meaning she was negligent at best. Raff stated in a release last week that the county suffered no financial loss, but the old rule of “no harm, no foul” doesn’t necessarily apply. The public trust is, after all, a fragile thing.

We don’t see how Jenkins remaining within the county government can be beneficial to anyone, but we could be wrong. Perhaps County Judge Michael Lincoln is right and Jenkins’ services to the county as OEM coordinator are irreplaceable. Nonetheless, this is an unfortunate incident for the county government and a public that is already jaded.

The paper also noted that cynicism towards government is at ‘an all-time high’ and it is ‘sad to see local officials adding fuel to the fire.’

I’m happy to give credit where credit is due.  Congrats to the paper for getting this right.

Nic Horton