in Houston, Texas
Austin residents give City Hall high marks in $36,000 survey
Friday, Oct 12, 2012, 10:26AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Austin, we’re taking a stool at the counter, ordering a cup o’ joe and tucking the napkin in the front of our shirt for that double-wide slice of humble pie, and we don’t mean the band that rocked the Fillmore East so hard in 1971.

We’ve picked on you for everything from your cash-bleeding, hardly-anybody-toting $1.3 billion MetroRail, to your obsession with outlawing plastic grocery bags, to your scheme to turn private contractors into city employees with real living wages and bountiful pensions.

But even though you pay our police force more extravagantly than any other in Texas and secretly pine to put a solar panel in every pot, your residents think you’re doing fine. And not just fine, but really fine.

Go ahead and say it loud, Austin, “You like me. Right now, you like me.

And how do we know this? Because you paid $36,000 for roughly 1,300 Austinites to tell you, according to the Austin American-Statesman today.

With this city’s mania for buying local, we’re not sure why you brought in ETC Institute, a marketing survey outfit from Olathe, Kansas, but it sure came out all right, didn’t it?

Nearly 70 percent of the people surveyed found the customer service offered by city departments satisfactory or very satisfactory, the Statesman story says.

Most thought the city spending for city services was about right and could, maybe, be bumped up a little.

Overall, those surveyed thought just about everything about Austin was peachy. Except maybe its planning for growth, street maintenance and traffic.

Maybe nobody told them about MetroRail.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of Austin skyline by flickr user treasuresthouhast, used via a Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, 10/16/2012 - 06:10AM

Huh, my wife was called on that survey and she gave them an earful. Guess she was in the minority. It was a loooong survey, too, and, said the missus, not really probative regarding the city's real problems or the public's needs but instead very PR driven, along the lines of a) do you think everything is alright? and b) if the answer to the first question is "no," which of these six great things the city is doing do you think might help make things better? Etc.

There's a reason campaigns don't make their internal polls public. Unless a poll closely examines one's own weaknesses, you can't honestly evaluate strengths. Polls in which pollsters know the public will immediately see the language are written differently, and for different purposes, than secret, strategic polls, which are a far more valuable bit of information.

BTW, $36K is not THAT much for a 1,300 person poll that's as long as that one was. A little high on its face, but that's a freakishly big sample for a local poll and a lengthier-than-usual script..

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