Friday, August 28, 2009

Lebo Republican Survey Released

UPDATE: A copy of the results of the survey can be found here.

The Republican Committee of Mt. Lebanon has compiled the results of its recent survey and has released them. It will surprise very few people that a clear majority of the close to 1000 people who responded oppose the proposed high school renovation as currently budgeted and would vote against the project if it were posed as a referendum.

I hope that someone with more time than I have will put the full results online.

I went to the RCML website at , but neither the survey nor the results are posted there. The website is slick. Why not use it? Put the results up there.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok- the obvious question- what is the political affilation of those who responded (and since the survey required identifying data, this is pretty easy -for those who have the results- to track). That being said, it may be that this is not a partisan issue- it may just be that the survey is inherently flawed.
~Gina Niewodowski

August 28, 2009 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Mike, you're right in assuming the clear majority is against the HS project as it now stands... in the survey.
The DeJong study poll was clear too that a $110+ million wasn't favored by a majority of its repondents, yoursouthhills. com poll said that and from what I've been told board members email mirrors that conclusion too.
So it'll be be interesting to see if it influences the project in any way.
And I can't wait to read the opposition's debunking of the survey results.
Dean Spahr

August 28, 2009 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Dave Franklin said...

Gina, I would gather that most respondents were Republicans, simply because it was on their website. However, why on earth does it matter what the political affiiation is of the responders? I hardly see this as a partisan issue. And if it is, why the hell aren't the Republican school board members and candidates aggressively trying stop the speeding $115 million train? I've not heard that rallying cry from all of them - have you?

And as flawed as the survey may be (I'm one of its loudest critics), I'm pretty sure that if you went door-to-door and asked the residents if they favored the $115 project, you would get the same majority saying "no". That's an easy prediction.

What can be gleaned from these results is that this is clearly an issue that is separated by age. 60% of survey's respondents are over the age of 50. (Over 100 people skipped the age question so that percentage is probably higher - after all most 22 year olds aren't bashful about admitting their age.)

Frankly, you probably could have predicted as much by reviewing the responses to the earlier questions. I wouldn't expect follks over 50 to be doing backflips for a new high school, improved athletic fields or increased taxes (regardless of the reason).

I would love to chat with the 100 people who support spending OVER $115 million on the high school. The first question I would ask: Where do you work?

Next: Are they hiring?!?

August 28, 2009 7:54 PM  
Anonymous David Brown said...

It won't be hard to debunk. The second question asked how much people wanted to spend on the high school. The highest choice was the amount of the current estimate, and the other four were below it. How is that legitimate? They didn't even give it a chance of producing an unfavorable result. So of course the majority of respondents wanted to spend less!

August 28, 2009 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This (the high school) is not, I truly hope, a "partisan issue". It is a community issue. It is a fiscal issue. If a $110 million project is not favored by the majority, just wait until they see what the final cost will be after the over-runs and change orders.
Joe Wertheim

August 28, 2009 9:19 PM  
Blogger Tess Carter said...

If there is one thing I've learned from surveys & research, it's that the biggest flaws are that you're only looking at whoever took the time to respond or knew about the survey. Regardless, I really doubt that this would be a party issue. While I definitely think that most people wouldn't favor spending so much (as the project stands now), it's definitely not hard to debunk that survey... and that's true (at least IMHO) of any survey that doesn't really get everyone. *shrug*

I'd also be really curious to hear the arguments of people wanting to spend more...

August 29, 2009 1:37 AM  
Anonymous James Cannon said...

What should be pointed out is that only registered Republicans were given this survey. Even then, it appears as though less than 6% of the people bothered to respond at all. This suggests that only those people with a strong opinion bothered to answer.

August 29, 2009 7:12 AM  
Blogger Mike Madison said...

In response to James C.:

No, the survey was not given only to registered Republicans. So far as I can tell, *anyone* was entitled to respond, regardless of party affiliation. I was offered the ability to respond to the survey -- several times, by people who brought it to my door and by people who handed it to me at a First Friday -- and no one asked my party affiliation.

I did not respond to the survey, because I share the view of those who have said that the questions were poorly constructed.

Obviously, I don't know who actually responded.

August 29, 2009 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from marching each and every registered voter into Blaise's office, swearing them in and documenting their vote, I'm at a loss how to gauge opinion pro or con for the project.
Even putting it to a referendum, (which would be a castastrophe, undoing everything to date) there would be arguments that it wasn't accurate.
Only say 60% of eligible people voted, the questions were poorly written, hanging chads etc. etc.
So the question remains, the board continually states the process is open and they want public input. How do they get input and do they need to follow it once they do?
Dean Spahr

August 29, 2009 8:29 AM  
Anonymous James Cannon said...

Mike: Perhaps I should have said that the survey was only sent directly and specifically to registered Republicans. I know of some registered Democrats who asked to participate who were ignored.

August 29, 2009 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James Cannon, you are not correct. The survey was hand delivered by many volunteers to homes all over Mt. Lebanon, not only Republicans. Street lists do not show party affiliation. Just because your daughter is in the Dem. minority does not mean you need to try to trash the other party. Find out the facts before making accusations.
Joe Wertheim

August 29, 2009 11:09 AM  
Blogger Mike Madison said...


What do you mean by "Dem. minority"? I thought that the Democrats had a registration advantage in Mt. Lebanon as a whole. Do you mean minority on the School Board?

Why, oh why, can't Mt. Lebanon leaders and voters stop looking at schools in Democratic v. Republican terms? That's a post for another day.

August 29, 2009 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democartic minority, for now, on the school board.

August 29, 2009 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Republican committee went out of their way to make the poll open to everyone, even offering a $100 prize incentive to get residents to respond.
They went door to door, put it on their website, accepted mailed in responses. They did asked for a name or email, which I suppose turned a lot of people off, but how do you prevent some individual or group from "stuffing" the vote?
The survey I firmly believe was an honest attempt by a group of our neighbors to get a read on issues confronting Mt. Lebanon.
None that I know of are professional pollsters or marketing people.
Could it have been worded better...probably.
To suggest they conspired to deceive residents is mean-spirited.
As I wrote in my first comment, it would be interesting to read the debunking.
To David Brown's comment over 100 respondents favored spending over $115 million. So there was a choice higher than the current price tag.
To James Cannon, as Joe points out it wasn't sent out only to Republicans, you are inaccurate.
Is the survey sampling primarily republicans or over 50+ probably.
That isn't the committee's fault.
Dean Spahr

August 29, 2009 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Dave Franklin said...

I'm with Mike. If the Rs and Ds have differing views on education, I'd love to know what they are. And since the clear majority in the community (myself included) have no idea how this project will be funded, you can't even argue that fiscal policies are involved.

August 29, 2009 1:13 PM  
Anonymous James Cannon said...

Joe Wertheim: Both political parties have street lists of every registered voter, Republican and Democrat. I watched the person passing out the surveys on my street, and since I am surrounded by Democrats, I was the only one who received a survey in my immediate area. One of my neighbors noticed ( nice Democrat lady) and asked what that was about. When I showed her, she laughed and said that it was too bad she was not one of the “chosen”. I cannot speak about other areas of Mt. Lebanon, only my street. Actually, I could not figure out why this survey was even conducted. It essentially is asking for an opinion on something that has already transpired, and since the majority of the school board members are registered Republicans, I have to wonder at the motivation of whoever dreamt up this survey project. Since I first voted for Barry Goldwater, I have considered myself a Republican and was saddened by my daughter falling by the wayside. I can honestly say however, that we still speak with her and some of my best friends are Democrats, (well maybe friends, not best friends).
We are, nonetheless, very proud of all three of our children who have all served their community and country with great distinction.

August 29, 2009 3:04 PM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...

Would anybody care to tell us what you learned from the Survey? Or, are some of you just more interested in discrediting the Survey because other peoples opinions don't agree with your own?

August 30, 2009 1:20 AM  
Blogger Tom Moertel said...

Dean Spahr wrote, "Aside from marching each and every registered voter into Blaise's office, swearing them in and documenting their vote, I'm at a loss how to gauge opinion pro or con for the project."

One reasonable method would be to survey a random sample of Mt. Lebanon residents, using a survey designed to reduce bias and correcting for the people within the sample who chose not to respond. We could reduce the need to correct by keeping the survey short and by informing the community of the survey ahead of time, making those sampled more likely to participate. The whole effort would require little more than a handful of volunteers and a evening or two.


August 30, 2009 11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom you might be right,but it would still be a randon sampling, and some one who disagreed with the survey results would find some excuse to discredited it.
They'd probably say the volunteers were Ds or Rs, seniors, PTA moms, but I'm sure they'd find a problem with it somewhere.
We've had a bunch of surveys, flawed as they may be the results remain the about the same or at least I haven't seen one where a majority or residents favor a $115 million project.
So I'm back to my earlier question... does the school board have an obligation or a need to follow the results of any survey?
If 80% of your survey respondents said build a $250 million HS, is that what the board should do?
Dean Spahr

August 30, 2009 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess Dean Spahr has never heard of scientific polling companies...yes Virginia they do exist.
Better yet, maybe the school board reps running in November can tell us very simply what their spending number is for the new school project. Say what you will about Messrs Fraasch and Hart (limited spend and temporary fix) and Mrs. Posti ($115m), but at least they are on record. When can we expect to hear CLEARLY from the mushy middle of Messrs Silhol and Remely. We are waiting gentlemen...what is your total spend number?
Stuart Getz

August 30, 2009 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Stuart, working in advertising I'm very familiar with polling companies, surveys and methods.
Do we want to hire one, and again I'll ask the question... does the board have to folow the results?
Your last comment is a pretty good question. Just what is the final number from all the board members. It appears that it changes with every presentation. Dan hoped for a design in the 70 to 80 range, we were at 100 to 110, then it went from 110 to 114.8. Now they're talking about adding parking spaces at $2,500 a pop. Except for Hart and Fraasch are we approaching any board members limit?
Also, what was the outcome on the Taylor meeting?
As for survey questions, for all those that think the R survey was poorly worded. I'd like to read an example of their questoions.
Dean Spahr

August 30, 2009 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Dean. It does change with every board public meeting. As I said, give credit to Mr. Fraasch, Mr. Hart, Ms. Posti - people may agree or disagree with their positions, but at least they have positions. Again. Mr. Remely and Mr. Silhol...let's have that spend number for each of you.

August 30, 2009 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad we could agree.
We know where Hart and Fraasch stand. You're asking for Silhol and Remely to take a position.
Earlier on this blog Silhol stated he wasn't happy with a $110M or even $100, but as yet he seems willing to proceed even though we're at $115. Ms. Posti's OK with $115, but I don't think she's drawn a line at any number.
There are 4 other members, Cappucci, Rose, Kubit and Stepanovich (spelling?).
They seem willing to wait for new revisions and new numbers at each board meeting.
I'd hate to buy a car with any of them.
Just imagine the conversation, how much would it be with an automatic, OK that's good how much is cruise control. Ooops, forgot about GPS, how much is that? Getting crowded, can we move up to an SUV? Great, does it come in blue? Oh wait... I've got to check with my spouse! Dang, forgot... we also have to get approval from the bank.
Dean Spahr

August 30, 2009 11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just remembered-- a full size SUV won't fit in the garage. Maybe we can get a variance and widen it so it'll fit!
Dean Spahr

August 30, 2009 11:28 PM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...

What is your “spend number” is a very good question.

The most heavily answered question had 956 respondents. For me, that is a large enough sample to do away with questioning the Survey on the basis how many Republicans or Democrats answered questions. For a copy of the Survey, my email is

The Survey was interesting to me because both the school and municipal questions reflected fiscally conservative responses.

Question 1 from the school district side was, “Do you favor spending $114.1 million on the High School Project?” 69.9% said, “NO.” One Director’s, “Line in the Sand” was higher than $114.1 million because $875,000 of commissioning costs were added.

Question 2 was, “How much would you be in favor of spending on the High School Project?” 56.3% answered below $70 million. Two Director’s tried for $90 million without success.

Question 3 revealed 58% want a phased approach over a longer period of time.

Question 4 said 71.1% want a referendum.

Question 5 said 53.1% would vote against the referendum.

Question 7 asked, “Would you be in favor of issuing debt (with possible appropriate increase in taxes) to address the following: Athletic fields, Private roads, Swimming pool.” 73.3% said they were not in favor of debt.

Question 6 raised the issue of increasing expenses and flat municipal revenues until the issue of the 2002-assessment freeze is resolved. It asked how you would resolve this shortfall. 35.4% want to Review Employment Benefits, 33.2% favor Changes in Services, 15.7% favored Personnel Changes, 13.1% favored raising taxes, and 2.6% would increase debt.

Are the majority of Directors out of touch with the conservative attitudes reflected in the Survey? Is the willingness of residents to borrow and spend on government services not as flexible as it used to be? Will the economy, unemployment, and conservative attitudes force change in educational programming and school benefits and staff to keep taxes reasonable?

August 30, 2009 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Ryan Miller said...

James Cannon, I think you are wrong about the distribution of the survey. I just moved back to PA and bought a house in Mt. Lebo and wasn't even registered to vote when the survey showed up at my door.

The prior owners, who I'm fairly sure were Democrats, moved out nearly a year ago and established another residence in Mt. Lebo, so you can't say it was intended for them, either.

September 01, 2009 7:32 PM  
Anonymous David Brown said...

Dean: I stand corrected. I was going by memory at the time I posted because the results weren't posted yet. There was indeed one choice above the current estimate, (unfortunately an open ended interval). The one choice that included the current estimate had the estimate at the high end of a large interval, and there were four choices below that range. So it was still skewed. It would have been better to have one less range below and one more above, and to have the current estimate in a much smaller band. That would have given it enough degrees to freedom to satisfy me. I probably would have completed it then.

September 02, 2009 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see your point, but I think you need to keep in mind the committee isn't a professional marketing research firm. Just neighbors trying to find out some information on community issues.
Will the party and its candidates use it for their own benefit... I hope so.
Hope that all the candidates evaluate the responses and tell us their positions.
If they're SB candidates and think the 11% that want to spend more than $115M on the HS are right. Make the case before the election.
At least we'll have more info. than they lived in the district for XX years, have X lovely children etc.
Dean Spahr

September 02, 2009 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the point of the Republican survey was to merely assist the party in vetting candidates then I have no issue.

(Of course this survey focused on residents and not candidate views so are you saying that we can expect some direct outreach to candidates regarding the listed results?)

However, if this survey- conducted by a group that "isn't a professional marketing research firm"- is used to formulate school board or municipal policy then I am very concerned. Obviously this survey was designed by a partisan group, to help "the party and its candidates", with results tabulated solely by a partisan group.

If the elected officials were truly interested in this why not engage a "professional marketing firm" to develop a sound survey, have it properly promoted in a non-partisan manner, and then have the results independently tabulated? I find it hard to believe that any elected officials would believe that these questions were the best that could be constructed to truly inform and solicit a sound opinion.

But again, if its just to be used as some partisan tool- then by all means have at it!

Nick Jones

September 02, 2009 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it's primary use was partisan, nice that they shared it though.
Whether any candidates, current officials, or parties will do anything with the survey results is up to them I suppose.
I doubt that this survey or any survey will move any individual's position on any of the topics, nor should it.
As for a professional survey, the $85,000+ DeJong forum polled attendees in the final sessions. I know a totally new school wasn't favored and if I remember correctly the majority opinion mirrored the Republican survey results.
Dean Spahr

September 03, 2009 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To qoute Mike Madison's opening on this topic... "It will SURPRISE VERY FEW PEOPLE (my caps) that a clear majority of the close to 1000people who responded oppose the proposed high school renovation as currently budgeted and would vote against the project if it were posed as a referendum."
So my question to you and I've asked it several times, does the board need to follow the community's opinion or are they free to act independently?
Up to the limit legally I guess they can and once it goes $1 over the limit a referendum is required.
Dean Spahr

September 03, 2009 12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nice that they shared it though"- Where did they share it? I know they sent the results to those who completed the survey but I checked their website and could not find the results there. If it wasn't for Blog Lebo I would not have seen the results at all.

"Whether any candidates, current officials, or parties will do anything with the survey results is up to them I suppose." No offense, but duh of course that's true. However your post I was referring to seemed to say that the purpose of the survey was for partisan candidate issues. My point is that I think that elected officials should do more then just rely on a poorly constructed survey whose results were tabulated by a partisan interest group as the basis for their decisions. I don't think that is too much to ask.

You reference a $85,000 survey paid by the school district or municipality that asked similar questions. I have no idea about that, but it sounds like you are saying taxpayer dollars were spent on a professional, independent survey. If taxpayer dollars were spent on a professional survey then what is the significance of the Republican survey beyond their partisan purposes? My point is that I have no problem with the Republican party using such a survey for their own needs, just don't tell me that such a survey is comparable or in the same ballpark as a professional, independent survey. Are we to expect the municipality or school board to contact the Republican party to conduct surveys in the future? And if so, does that mean you support a democratic party survey, conducted in the same manner, as appropriate for official decision making. I say no to both! If elected officials want a survey do it professionally and independently.

Why don't you answer your own question? I think you know that elected officials are not bound by a taxpayer funded survey to say nothing of one done by a partisan interest group. Perhaps you are asking whether or not they should be bound- and to that I say no as well.

The partisan interest group survey is just plain foolish to bind are elected officials- but I do think that if the school board or commission decided to spend our money on a professional, independent survey then they should at least do so with the understanding that they will give serious consideration to its results. Otherwise they are wasting our money! But following the results of any survey just because it was conducted seems to be undercutting why we choose one person over another in an election. If it is just a matter of conducting a professional poll and implementing the results, then wouldn't we just need an administrator to do that?

I do not expect my elected officials to always vote how I want them to or even how the majority may want them to. I do expect them to listen our input and apply appropriate weight to it. But a partisan interest group survey is just that- a partisan interest group survey. Keep it out of official decision making.

Nick Jones

September 03, 2009 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Dave Franklin said...

Based on some deeper digging and private conversations, I think the time for reviewing public opinion polls and surveys has passed. I think what is now clear to me is that we are getting a new $115 million high school whether we all want it or not. There does not seem to be ANY effort on the part of a majority of the School Board to curtail that effort or reduce the scope of the project. I trust the architects and CM will tweak the numbers sufficiently so that the total falls within the borrowing limit - thus avoiding a referendum.

How it will all be paid for and at what individual taxpayer expense remains to be seen.

Why we have not seen any leadership from the Board in simply stepping up and admitting this decision is also mystery, but I gather their silence is due in large part to the fact that they realize that this is not news that most want to hear - including the teachers. I've heard from several people that the teachers are not even remotely excited about the existing plans, but hey, why ask them?

As they say on CNN, officials are no longer calling this a "rescue effort." Sadly, it is now a recovery mission.

September 03, 2009 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose I'm not wording my question clearly.
I'm not suggesting the board MUST act according to the R survey, same as they don't have to follow the demands of the Build Our School Now group, the aquaclub request or Jefferson parents that want smaller classes or any other individual or group wishes.
What I guess I'm asking is should the board respond to any of this in a way that the community feels confident in the outcome.
If surveys, letters, emails, face to face conversation mean nothing then why bother? Why hold forums? Why televise SB meetings? Why ask for input?
The $85,000 survey I referred to were the DeJong forums. DeJong presented info., asked for input on what the community wished for and on the last night presented 4 options ranging from do minimal repairs to building a completely new building (with price ranges).
I thought the majority preferred the 2nd option of some renovation and some new in the $60-100 million range.
I think Dave Franklin's last post is probably on the money. The project will come in just under the cap for referendum!
After all this time, effort and money isn't that curious.
Dean Spahr

September 03, 2009 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$115,000,000 plus cost over-runs plus approved change orders = ?
Just wait until we see the final bill!
Joe Wertheim

September 03, 2009 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think the school board and commission should respond to any question raised on any issue- let alone one with such a price tag!

I think we both can agree that it seems odd that there is any debate about that!

Nick Jones

September 03, 2009 5:24 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home