With polls from the GOP Lincoln Club and the Chargers already vying over whether Kevin Faulconer's hurry-up stadium play has gained traction among San Diego's citizenry, the city is about to launch yet another public opinion sampling, this one paid for by public money.
Is the move just more evidence that San Diego’s Republican mayor has his eyes on escaping the financially and ethically troubled city via the political ladder to Sacramento or Washington?
Or could poll results be used by a pro-stadium campaign leading up to a now-questioned January public vote on the controversial new venue?
As earlier reported here by Don Bauder, there is currently no shortage of pollsters working the phones regarding support for the costly new facility.
The Lincoln Club, famous for its big-money savaging of Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher during his failed 2013 bid for mayor against Faulconer, claims 51 percent backing Faulconer's public subsidy plan, if kept to about a third of a $1 billion total.
That survey was done by John Nienstedt of Competitive Edge,the the mayor's long-time local pollster.
Another sampling, by nationally known pollster Peter Hart, also found that would-be voters took a dim view of the Faulconer plan, noted the Orange County Register.
"When asked if they favored $350 million from the general fund being used to pay for the proposed stadium, 65 percent of San Diego voters surveyed said no. Thirty-five percent said they favored using public funds to partially finance the project."
Now comes the city's newly created Performance and Analytics department, seeking someone to do a "citywide survey to determine resident satisfaction," coinciding with the political rough-and-tumble over the new stadium project.
"The Contractor will develop and conduct a citywide resident satisfaction survey using a random sample of respondents in all nine City Council districts," says a July 17 request for quotes regarding the project.
"This random sampling shall ensure statistically valid results by geographic area of the City. The results must yield at least a 95% level of confidence."
According to the notice, the survey is intended to "assess resident views on the quality of life in the City of San Diego" and determine "resident utilization of select City-provided services and facilities."
In addition, the research project will "obtain demographic information" and "establish [a] baseline for future annual or bi-annual resident satisfaction surveys."
Aside from privacy issues regarding the city paying someone to snoop into public opinion, questions of who will have access to the data, and whether it could be tailored for political purposes, have aroused concerns about the contract, proposals for which are due Friday, August 14.
To be conducted in both English and Spanish, according to the document, the study's starting date is targeted for September 14, three days after the now seemingly dubious deadline set in July by Faulconer to have a deal with the Chargers ready for a January public vote.
The survey would take four weeks, and, whether by coincidence or not, "a draft report summarizing the results must be provided by December 31, 2015.”
The city's performance and analytics department, which is in charge of the study and will come up with additional questions and topics for the survey, according to the document, has been in business for a brief time.
"The Performance & Analytics Department, a new department created in Fiscal Year 2015, is responsible for supporting the improvement of City operations through long-term strategic initiatives, including strategic planning, performance management, operational excellence initiatives, and Managed Competition," according to the city's website.
"As such, the Performance & Analytics Department works with all of the Mayoral departments to implement data-driven solutions and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the City's service delivery practices and management structures."
Its annual budget is currently $1.4 million.
The department is run by Almis Udrys, an ex-staffer for North County GOP assemblyman Martin Garrick. Udrys was also formerly intergovernmental affairs director for Republican ex-mayor Jerry Sanders and deputy chief of staff to GOP councilman Mark Kersey.
Listed among prospective bidders on the poll is Nienstedt's Competitive Edge, which could prove a tempting target for Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani, who has criticized Faulconer's political guru Jason Roe, for lobbying on behalf of a Qualcomm stadium food vendor while attending private meetings of the mayor's stadium task force.
"Putting the legal and ethical issues aside for a moment, what sense does it make to have someone who is your chief advisor on political matters, and who advises a potential stadium vendor on business matters, play any sort of role with the 'independent' Task Force?" wrote Fabiani in a February 17 letter.
Roe's client, giant national food-service provider Delaware North, won the Qualcomm deal, triggering an outcry from the city’s previous contractor, Centerplate.
"As you know, during the 90 minutes allotted to Centerplate for its presentation, not one member of the selection committee asked a single question regarding any one of the five different financial proposals put forth by Centerplate in its [request for proposal] response,” Centerplate chief legal and talent officer Keith B.W. King wrote city contracting official Ronald Villa in April.
"Further troubling are the recent allegations raised about [Delaware North's] lobbyist and his apparent connection to the Mayor's office.”