Survey is worst of the worst
August 8, 2006
Just for the record, this is how my telephone survey about “Aspen planning” went down on Sunday, July 23.I called the 800 number and got a woman named Jean, who said she was right in the middle of something but could she call me right back? I said, “Sure – who’s paying for this survey?”She said, “CRG Research,” and I said, “I mean, who hired them?” and she replied, “The Aspen City Council.”The whole town was talking about this survey, so when Jean called back I asked again, “Who did you say was paying for this?” and she explained that Inquire Market Research, for whom she worked, had been hired by CRG Research and that CRG had been hired by the Aspen City Council.She then launched into the questions, which were based on the false premise that decisions about the land use code were going to be made in September and did I agree or not? I said the land use code was currently under review – the whole purpose of the moratorium – so how could I answer?”The proposed code would not allow an owner to build a duplex on the property and live in one half of it. Strongly in favor, somewhat in favor, somewhat oppose, strongly oppose, neutral?”There being no options for “The question is fatuous,” and knowing that if I refused to answer the interview would be terminated, we forged on through a blizzard of my snide remarks.Halfway through, I said, “I do not believe that the City Council is paying for this survey.” Pause. Then a profuse apology. Sorry, sorry – you’re right – it isn’t the City Council, it’s the Aspen Planning Commission.I let that pass until the survey was over, then pressed the subject. “Do you mean the Aspen Planning and ZONING Commission commissioned this survey?” This time there was a very long pause and when poor Jean, who was in California with a rainstorm coming in, apologized again and said that she was really sorry but she had looked back into the information and it didn’t say WHO was paying for the survey.Now what the hell was THAT about? Twice it was the City Council, then the Planning Commission (whatever that is supposed to mean) and then – surprise – none of the above.A “coalition of several Aspen property and homeowners” (translation, anonymous backers who don’t have the civility to stand up and be counted), The Connections Group, CRG Research and Inquire Market Research then released the results of the survey, in full page ads, “to clarify what we were asking, to apologize, and to share the results.” Right. “Share the results” are the key words here, the only way to publish the results without identifying the backers.”I think collaboration between [sic] developers, residents, the City Council and planning commission is a good way to manage growth in Aspen.” Eighty percent – duh – agree. Who wouldn’t think it wonderful if these disparate groups could reach consensus?”Should anyone desire a written report, please e-mail us at email@example.com requesting a full copy of results and we will send a hard copy version as supplies last,” the ad said. As supplies last? In these days of Xerox and e-mail, how could supplies run out? I sent for mine but am not holding my breath.Su Lum is a longtime local who thinks this survey was right up there as the worst of the worst. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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