RULER OF ALL YOU SURVEY
The “telephone survey” is an excellent example of how Tompkins County authorities validate elitist policy making – while at the same time giving the appearance of meaningful public participation.
The following document uses the Town of Lansing Telephone Survey as a “How To” guide for politicians looking to legitimize “quid pro quo” government and short-circuit future opposition.
How to Create the Perfect Telephone Survey
Preparing the Survey
TIP: Telephone surveys should always be carried out early in the decision making process; before residents have a chance to consider the ramifications or discuss the issues among themselves.
It’s very important to decide on the answers you want before formulating your questions in order to ensure a successful survey.
Include as many respondents as possible who will not be affected by the survey results.
TIP: Avoid displaying any correlation between the respondents and their answers that may weaken your case: for example – people who rent, and only moved into town for ‘convenience’ or plan to stay less than five years, are unlikely to care about the long-term impact of your policies and are more likely to express support.
Make sure your “random” survey has no surprises by instituting quotas of respondents for each of the different demographic categories you’ve created — Hang up any anybody who’s been “apportioned out.”
TIP: “The Devil is in the Dialogue”: Don’t include any questions that you don’t want the answers to, and make sure to limit the choices in your “multiple-choice” questions.
Ask the most questions in the areas you want to have the greatest weight in the results. This is your primary agenda.
Add “filler”: Up to 50% of the questions should be non-arguable demographic questions: this will lend an atmosphere of solidity and worth to the survey.
Generalize to avoid problem areas: the answers can be interpreted as an approval of any specific policy later.
Don’t ask residents if they actually want something: your position is to assume it will happen and ask what they want to do with it.
Ask questions in a way that is psychologically loaded:
Make sure you offer special services to the people as a “rider” so they will support your development agenda: for example – “Is the use of tax dollars for the development of recreational biking/hiking and walking trails important to you?”
Use the elderly and disabled as leverage to get what you want: for example – “Do you support use of tax dollars for [your agenda here] including services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.”
Include the largest topic areas for your questions so that the general can override the specific: for example ask – “Agree or disagree – The roadways and intersections in the county are generally safe for pedestrians” especially if the roads in your town are not safe for pedestrians.
Presenting the Survey Results
Always stress the accuracy of the survey’s methodology to mask the agenda used in the creating the questions and your interpretation of the answers.
Use “pie” and “bar” charts to lend the weight of a scientific fact to your presentation.
TIP: Add requests and suggestions from survey responders to make it seem as if you’re interested in what the public has to say.
If you have followed the preceding guidelines and recommendations, you will have all the material you need to present a clear-cut “mandate” for your project or policy. FINAL TIP: Make sure all the influential “partner-stakeholders” receive a cut to be certain of their continued support.
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