Letters for June 27, 2016
Low response invalidates survey
After reading the article about Gary Hooser’s survey of island voters, I read it again. I am not a statistician but it seems to me that if you seek to take a survey of 21,000 people but receive fewer than 1,000 responses (not even 10 percent), that invalidates it as a survey. Sending it without a stamped return envelope might well have led to recipients simply tossing the survey away.
How were recipients selected?
But more important is the reliance on the skimpy results by using a percentage. Of what number? Mention is made of “54 percent of people polled believe …” etc. If 1,000 responded, that means about 450 of the 21,000 had that opinion. Is that enough evidence to quote percentages when making political comments? What is meant by “the people polled”? If it means the 10 percent responders, and there is no way to know if the sample is representative of the voters, how can the percent be valid?
A stronger statistic is the 90 percent who weren’t interested in taking a poll that might have seemed more of a campaign tactic than truly seeking opinions.
Perhaps it is more accurate to say that 90 percent of those sent the poll showed no interest in the subjects. End of report.
Council vote on county manager issue raises questions
The recent vote by only four members of the Kauai County Council to not let Kauai’s citizens vote on their choice of county government has raised some questions and issues, at least in my mind. As a reminder, only four council members were present and they alone decided not to let citizens vote on whether to change Kauai’s form of government to a county manager type of government.
First, this council vote was perhaps one of the most important issues ever for the council to vote on. So, why did the four council members vote on it when three council members were absent? Could they just not have held the vote over to the next council meeting in which all members were present?
Second, why were the three council members absent from such an important meeting? Did they not know that this important vote was going to take place? If all three coincidentally had more pressing affairs to attend to, could they not have convinced their four cohorts to postpone the vote? Is it possible that the three absent council members did not want to officially take a stand on the issue of county manager?
Third, it was reported in TGI that the four who cast the no vote did so out of concern for a potential Hawaii state legal issue regarding a county manager type of government. Since consideration of a county manager for Kauai has been under study by a council appointed committee for many months, why did the legality issue not get settled before the vote? Why didn’t the council get an official legal opinion from the state attorney general, way before they voted on the issue?
Finally, I keep wondering why the four council members really did not want to let Kauai’s citizens vote on the county manager issue. Could it be that one or more of the council members anticipates that some time in the future they may want to run for mayor and they would want to be a mayor with the power that the current mayor’s office now has and which would be diminished with a county manager government?