Advocacy Group Favoring Minimum Wage Increases Apologizes to Pasadenans for Email Survey "Blunder"

Published : Monday, January 28, 2019 | 5:57 AM

On Jan. 16, thousands of Pasadenans received a survey purportedly conducted by the City of Pasadena. An advocacy group called POP! said the contractor it hired to conduct the poll erred in identify the City as the source.

[Updated] An activist group working to ensure continuing minimum wage increases for Pasadena workers has announced its responsibility for a mass emailed research survey characterized earlier this month as “fraudulent” by the City of Pasadena.

The City’s reaction came because the Jan. 16 survey for residents said it was sent from the City itself. It wasn’t.

Rather it was from a group known as POP!, Pasadenans Organizing for Progress, which is currently working “to make Pasadena a more just, fair and inclusive city.”

After Pasadenans began inquiring about the nature of questions on the survey when it appeared in email inboxes, City Hall spokesperson Lisa Derderian issued an alert to residents that the City was not involved in the poll.

POP!’s leadership apologized for the “blunder” on Jan. 26.

“POP! regrets any negative impact that this … may have had on City Employees and those who received and participated in the survey,” the group’s leadership said in the statement.

POP! Executive board member Dr. Peter Dreier explained that the group hired a well-known research firm to execute the polling.

“POP! contracted with David Binder Associates, a well-known and reputable polling and research firm, to do a survey regarding the minimum wage. Apparently they hired a subcontractor to send out the survey and [the subscontractor] made a mistake in how they titled it, leading some people to think it was from the city government,” Dreier said.

The email stated in its heading “From: City of Pasadena.”

“POP! had no knowledge of this until we learned that the City had sent out a ‘fraud alert,’” Dreier said.

Dreier said that David Binder Associates reported everyone who opened the survey received a subsequent email explaining that the survey was not a city-sponsored survey.

Binder explained how the process unfolded: The client, POP!, called and expressed an interest in having a survey done to see what Pasadena voter opinions were relative to the minimum wage. Binder’s company drafted a questionnaire and then called KGS Research to say they wanted KGS to “host” the survey for them.

It was KGS that mistakenly identified the City of Pasadena as the surveying entity, according to Binder.

KGS Research does both online and telephone surveys. The minimum wage questionnaire, being of the online variety, required a hosting website and KGS Research asked a company called Qualtrics to provide that service.

According to Binder, the sample of voters receiving the survey was provided by Political Data, Inc., a supplier of voter list information for polling firms.

Binder responded to concerns that the voter registration data had been used commercially, perhaps in violation of both state and federal laws, by saying, “what we did here is standard practice across the state and country, and in no way afoul of laws regarding the use of voter registration data.”

Pasadenans did respond to the survey and that data is in POP!’s possession, Binder acknowledged.

 

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