By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Friday, December 28th, 2007 at 12:58 pm in Contra Costa politics.
Chevron is reportedly polling Richmond residents on their attitudes about its expansion plans and the company’s fight with Contra Costa County over its property tax assessments.
An email to Assessor Gus Kramer from Richmond resident Don Gosney (I’ve pasted it below) outlines one Richmond resident’s take on the questions and the tone of the poll. It contains some interesting observations.
Here’s the email of Dec. 27 addressed to Assessor Gus Kramer:
Earlier this evening I participated in a telephone poll about the state of affairs here in Richmond.
I know better than to ask the pollster who sponsored the poll but usually from the tone of the questions you can get an indication or two. This one was very obviously paid for by Chevron. I could tell because almost every question either made them look very good or made you look very bad. Most of the time it did both at the same time.
Asking whether I strongly approved, somewhat approved, somewhat disapproved or strongly disapproved of various people and groups, she asked about Mayor Gayle McGlaughlin, the Richmond City Council (as a whole), the Richmond Firefighters Union, the Progressive Alliance and Assessor Gus Kramer.
She asked a barrage of questions asking for the level of support I had for the Assessor and again for Chevron after she posed several scenarios. I’m going to be a little bit facetious here but I’m nor stretching things too far with this farcical scenario: Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer is illegally trying to force Chevron to turn over the monetary award given to them when they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
More in line with her scenarios she would state that Chevron was following the laws as passed by the legislature and the people of California and that Assessor Gus Kramer was illegally and in violation of the law (both phrases repeatedly emphasized) assessing Chevron property taxes based solely on the fact that they had made a meager profit and could afford to pay the additional taxes. She also put the same scenario where Chevron should be required to pay because the community needs the money. She suggested that since Chevron had been an integral part of our community for at least three years longer than the City of Richmond existed, that we would naturally embrace Chevron and take sides with our good neighbor over the lawbreaker from Martinez.
Many of the questions also had to do with my thoughts on Chevron’s planned expansion and whether I might be willing to tell my elected representatives of my thoughts on the matter. It seems that we’ve all been misled—Chevron’s only reason for this expansion is they can meet the energy needs of the good people in Northern California.
The questions went on and on but the tone was the same. Chevron=Good—Gus Kramer=Bad.
Even though she specifically wanted to know my name (with correct spelling) and my telephone number, I was assured that this was for statistical purposes only. Of course, she also wanted to know whether I was a registered voter and what the chances were that I might be voting in the near future. She also asked what the chances might be of my speaking to my elected representatives (like I could ever remain silent).
Whenever I speak with a pollster or a tech rep over the phone I’m always curious where the call emanates from. When I asked this young lady I asked specifically where she was calling from. Her first response was that she was of Asian descent but their headquarters was in Orem, Utah. She didn’t say that she was actually calling from Utah but that the company’s headquarters was in Utah. She did not sound Indian but she definitely sounded foreign. I say this because she had great difficulty in pronouncing “Chevron” [One of her questions asked me to list the things I thought was wrong about Chevron. Number four on my list was Chevron and when she asked me to elaborate one of the things I mentioned was that they outsourced their jobs to people from out of the State. It seems that this is even so when it comes to their polling.]
What I got from this poll was that Chevron is trying to drum up support for their legal right to pay a lower property tax even when the lawless County Assessor ignores the law and doubles their tax rate. It also sounded like they were going to try to discredit Mayor McGlaughlin and the Progressive Alliance.
I’m sure you’re aware that Chevron is none too fond of you right now and you’re probably also aware of this polling. Just in case, though, I though I’d pass along my thoughts and recollections.
For the record, I’m for the expansion as long as Chevron meets certain reasonable conditions and I’m very supportive of our County Assessor and his efforts to make the refineries (all of them—in spite of what this pollster was claiming) pay property taxes that are based on reality.