Home » City Council, Community » How Do We Assess “The Will of the Voters at this Point?”

How Do We Assess “The Will of the Voters at this Point?”

Special to the Sedona Times Publishing and SedonaEye.com by contributing writer, Judy W. Bowden.

The National Council on Public Polls distributed to conscientious journalists nationwide a set of reporting standards relative to how to report public surveys, which is entitled:

“20 Questions A Journalist Should Ask About Poll Results”  by Sheldon R. Gawiser, Ph.D. and Director of Election Reporting at NBC News.

Amongst those standards is this one;

The National Council of Public Polls  and the  American Association for Public Opinion Research  require that conscientious journalists reporting on public issue surveys ask;

“From what area (nation, state, or region) and what demographic group were respondents chosen?

It is absolutely critical to know from which group the interviewees were chosen.”

Yet, in the Behavioral Research survey, I didn’t notice any distinction amongst respondents as to whether they lived and worked in the Yavapai County portion of Sedona or the Coconino portion of Sedona.  Citizens of Coconino Sedona are not going to be affected much by the failure of Council to accept an 89A turnback. But, the citizens of Yavapai Sedona will be!  Let’s face it, about 75% of Sedonans live in west Sedona.  Keeping in line with proper polling techniques, respondents should have been weighted according to which part of Sedona they live in.  Was that done in the Behavioral Research survey? I didn’t see it!

But, far more important, however, is this reporting question required by both the NCPP and the AAPOR, which is:

“What other polls have been done on this topic? Do they say the same thing? If they are different, why are they different?”   Still quoting… “Results of other polls – by a newspaper or television station, a public survey firm or even a candidate’s opponent – should be used to check and contrast poll results you have in hand. If the polls differ, first check the timing of the interviewing. If the polls were done at different times, the differing results may demonstrate a swing in public opinion…unquote”

As the NCPP further says… “Events have a dramatic impact on poll results.”

Because of the fluid nature of the negotiations between the City’s and ADOT’s negotiating teams, the most salient facts relative to the consequences of Council’s decision tonight to take back 89A, or not,  have changed almost weekly since the subject survey was done, thus rendering it irrelevant anyway.

Yet, the Red Rock News printed only one of seven polls…namely the Behavioral Research survey about a month after it was completed and before most of the other polls were taken. Furthermore, The Red Rock News never reported much to its readership about the other six polls taken on the 89A turnback issue and certainly never focused on the four most recent polls which showed a clear-cut majority of respondents favored a turn-back of 89A. In other words, the Red Rock News ignored the principles of reporting surveys laid down by the National Council on Public Polls and the American Association for Public Opinion Research.   Then, it published its own editorial opinion denigrating, in advance, any Councilor who didn’t recognize that he or she would be breaking their oath of fealty to the majority will of the voters as expressed, in the opinion of the Red Rock News, in an uncontested, accurate, and current survey…none of which was true!

So, I ask Council if we really know what the will of the majority of Sedona’s citizens is, right now? It seems to many that we can’t answer that question tonight, since reporting of comparative surveys on the 89A turn-back issue was grossly inadequate when viewed in light of journalism industry reporting standards.

As of this day and meeting, due to the ever-changing mutually agreed upon terms of the SR89A Transfer Agreement and due to inadequate reporting of poll results, I think there is simply no way that any Councilor can cast a vote on this contentious issue in order to serve the public’s current known “will” because no one knows what the majority preference is as of this date. You can’t break a promise to an undefined and indeterminate class of people. Nevertheless, the will of the vast majority of Sedona’s voting citizens was made crystal clear in the election that put four on you on this Council. Please vote on the SR89A issue based upon the unequivocal mandate of the last Council election, and not the confused reporting status of any recent surveys.


  1. P. Revere says:

    My research on “the will of the people” revealed that this terminology only refers to elections, not administrative procedures. This is because to be efficient, generally the Council has to consider and decide on matters quickly. The 89A route transfer or ADOT process was strictly administrative. Normally, the public would not be involved in administrative processes, but our four new councilors who were elected by a majority of residents because they were dedicated to negotiate further with ADOT, wanted the public (as well as themselves) properly informed prior to their making a decision.

  2. Eddie Maddock says:

    If “the will of the people” wasn’t relevant in the “administrative process” of the ADOT 89A route transfer, then why in God’s name did the City Council retain and pay the firm of Behavioral Research to conduct a professional survey?

    If the “will” of the four City Council members who approved the route turn-back had been reflected in the results of the professional survey, then at this point in time would the “will of the people” still be deemed unimportant as is pointed out by P. Revere?

  3. N. Baer says:

    Several methods of assessing the public’s reactions to the two choices the City had was tossed about. Certain individuals decided they wanted a “professional survey,” however the timing of the survey occurred before the public education process was even underway.

    If you had been at the February 22 City Council meeting you would have heard the discussion about the discrepancies between the “professional survey” that had been done prematurely, the poll the City did soon after that and the other subsequent polls done by DORR, sedona.biz. and a resident in front of Bashas’s. It was decided that the results indicated that once residents had become properly informed they chose the route transfer. The fact that the newspaper, the Chamber and other key community figures successfully suppressed the facts served their own interests to keep people confused, as many still are.

  4. Matt says:

    DORR, sedona.biz, and a resident in front of Bashas Food Store represent “informed” citizens??? They represent about as much as the idiot poll that the SnoozeNews asks. These people represent vocal minorities and not mainstream opinions. DORR represents rabid Dems, sedona.biz represents itself, Bashas represents people with more time on their hands than the good sense to buy groceries elsewhere. Snippets don’t make for more than sound bites and never should be used as a baseline for policy

  5. Warren says:

    Nailed it, Matt. Too true and very funny. Thanks for the laugh.

  6. Rick and Judy says:

    The Red Rock News Poll on Recall appears to be rigged! Judy and I voted Saturday in the Red Rock News poll. To test the reliability of it, we both tried to vote again on Saturday, and the RRN website recognized our computer’s cookies and rejected our second votes, as it should have.

    But, this afternoon we thought we would both vote again to be sure…and, sure enough, it accepted our votes again. Have they taken off the daily cookie firewall so that all their buddies can cast second and third votes for a recall?

    As multiple voting is possible, it seems to us that the Red Rock News poll is patently dishonest.

  7. Bob in VOC says:

    no offense to those that did but no fan here & rich and judy at least proved why there’s no reason to answer a poll question

    congrats to those two for letting others know the poll isn’t legit

    i’m with you matt – where’s the sense in this town –

  8. Don T. says:

    A group of friends met for lunch today and we talked about your newspaper and Amy emailed me the story that we all were talking about and I’m hooked. Even read a dozen others before calling it a day. Noticed that your stories and ads changed while reading. Send me new stories at (removed). Thank you and good luck.

    (SedonaEye.com Editor’s note: Welcome. Thank you (and your friends) for subscribing.)

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