The Case of the Mysterious Poll
I Aloha Molokai News Release
Can anyone solve this mystery?
Over the past month, Molokai residents have received anonymous calls, asking for personal information and personal opinions about Molokai Ranch, about wind turbines, and about possible “benefits.” The pollster is Ward Research of Honolulu. But if you ask “Who’s paying for it?” the callers say, “Sorry, we can’t tell you.”
Some have answered the survey, others have just hung up, but we all have to guess who’s behind it. Is it a local group? Is it Molokai Ranch? Is it a wind developer?
It’s clearly not government. Sen. English and Rep. Carroll knew nothing about it, and advised citizens not to participate in anonymous polls. Council Members Mateo and Baisa were surprised, and asked to be kept informed. A Public Utilities Commission staffer called Ward Research and was told there are two surveys, one just completed and one just starting. The second concerns “consumer satisfaction with electric service,” and is statewide. But Ward Research refused to tell even the PUC who paid for the surveys.
If the Molokai survey was ordered by a private company, then we need to ask ourselves this question: Is it a good idea to let private interests snoop around, ask controversial questions, and offer hypothetical “benefits,” without saying who they are?
Polling may seem innocent, but this is more than a poll, and it cost big bucks. Even cell phones were called, and the callers had clear targets: “I’m calling males aged 25-49.” Many questions seem designed to test the reactions of different groups. Are they fishing for opinions, pushing opinions, or creating a target map of our community?
Someday soon, results will be announced. Will all answers be reported, or only convenient ones? What about those who hung up? What good is the poll, if we don’t know the buyer, the goal, or who was called?
Most likely, the results were planned. With proper selection and spin, you can show support for anything. Don’t be surprised if we’re told that many of us now think monster wind turbines are a wonderful idea.
Why, in Hawaii, are private companies allowed to masquerade as public agencies, spinning discussion and cooking the books on sensitive public issues? If I put on a ski mask and hold up the corner store, I go to jail. How then can a corporation, wearing a similar mask, interrogate, tempt, and divide a community without even raising eyebrows?
We are I Aloha Molokai, and we believe public business should be conducted in public, by our elected officials. The next time an anonymous pollster calls, we suggest that you tell them to “have a nice day.”