Survey Debate

The initial post about the survey has generated significant discussion; although it seems very straightforward, Raj seems convinced that the questions should be interpreted differently.

survey question 9

The following questions (10 and 11) are not limited to those who responded “yes” to question 9 — those who indicated that they do most of their non-grocery shopping outside Oak Ridge; it includes people like me, who do most of our shopping in Oak Ridge, but invariably have to go elsewhere for some things that simply cannot be purchased here.

10. “Do you think the proposed shopping center would help Oak Ridge retain more of your shopping that is currently being done in other areas?”

11. “How often do you travel to Knox Co. to go shopping: every day, a few times a week, twice a week, once a week, or less often?”

Even people like me who do MOST of their shopping here might have a valid opinion about whether the proposed center would retain more of their business — in my case, it absolutely would.  Even people like me who do most of their shopping here could provide an answer; in my case, the response to question 11 would be “less often.”

My only doubt about the survey is now knowing that Raj’s house was called twice (because he has several land lines), while mine was not called.

Look, I don’t have any gripe with people who have a different opinion about the project than I do, but I do have a problem with folks trying to mislead others with charts and graphs and obfuscation.  One of the most common difficulties people encounter with math is making something more complex than it really is.  If someone asks you, “what’s half of two-thirds?” you don’t need to find a common denominator, cross multiply, or anything like that; it’s as simple as “what’s half of two?”

Half of two-thirds is one-third, plain and simple, just like half of two is one.

I’d love to know what the survey would have said after people attended the several informational meetings that occurred following the survey, but there simply wasn’t time to wait.  One thing the survey does tell us is that the more information people have about the return on investment, the more likely they are to be in favor of it.

23 Responses to “Survey Debate”

  1. on 28 Feb 2007 at 8:38 am AT

    This question is misleading anyway. I would fall into the 66% doing most of my shopping in Oak Ridge, as I don’t have the time/inclination to drive out to Knoxville.
    In short, I settle for whats available here. I would like to see the Target open up in town both for the addition of an additional shopping selection, as well as the satellite retailers that the Target will attract.

  2. on 28 Feb 2007 at 9:51 am girlfriend

    I probably travel to Ktown 4-5 times a week but if Target was here it would be limited to 1-2. I could find most of what I need at Target but Wallyworld is only available to me in the wee hours of the morning because I hate being in there with the crowds.

  3. on 28 Feb 2007 at 10:29 am Jacket

    Isn’t part of the idea here to set a trap for out of towners to stop in Oak Ridge? If out of town money gets dropped in the economy there every dollar spent should circulate throught that economy about 7x’s. That is a good return.

    I recall as a young kid that Oak Ridge was THE place to shop for people living outside Oak Ridge. Most of my clothing came from Sturm’s Youth World or JCP. Oak Ridge had huge shopping in the 1960’s and early ’70’s. I recolllect the decline started when West Towne Mall opened.

    Again, the point of this development is to be a net to catch shoppers that were actually traveling down HWY 62/Illinois Avenue. If they are going to shop at Target at Turkey Creek, they might as well save that gas that just jumped .13 and stop at O.R. Target. If Target is interested.

  4. on 28 Feb 2007 at 11:48 am Raj

    Edited and reposted because the computer ate part of the post. Please delete earlier version. [earlier partial duplicate deleted per request — NM]
    Netmom;

    We are a suburb of Knoxville and it is a fact of life that we will go to Knoxville to buy things that are not available in Oak Ridge. We are Oak Ridgers and not people from a few valleys north for whom going to Knoxville is “going out of town for a vacation”.

    The TVA’s Leakage Study indicates that we lose 4% of our “Crest Pointe” class of retail to Knoxville only at the margins.

    So “most” to me means 96% of non-grocery retail. It does not mean that Oak Ridge residents who respond that they do most of their shopping in Oak Ridge do not go to Knoxville. To me it means – when they do not find something in Oak Ridge they go to Knoxville.

    Interestingly last year I did most of my shopping in Knoxville. I bought over $25,000 worth of building material and appliances from Knoxville (because of lack of choices, unreliability, higher price, delivery struggles, and lack of inventory at our local Home Depot) but I would not respond that I did most of my shopping in Knoxville.

    Understandable, the question is vague and could have meant differently to different people but the bottom line is how much of Oak Ridge dollars go to Knoxville and how much of those dollars can be prevented from leaving Oak Ridge if we build Creste Pointe.

    I have tried to run some numbers and from my analysis it is anywhere from $0 (less than) “dollars that can be prevented from leaving Oak Ridge” (less than) $20 million.

    For having a better understanding of that “domain” we need to engage the services of a good urban planning and analysis firm who could study the situation and make educated recommendations. I have gotten to know a few from projects that I have worked on in the past and if someone from the city is interested then I can provide some recommendations.

    It will be a wise investment to engage the services of one.

  5. on 28 Feb 2007 at 11:59 am Jacket

    “For having a better understanding of that “domain” we need to engage the services of a good urban planning and analysis firm who could study the situation and make educated recommendations. I have gotten to know a few from projects that I have worked on in the past and if someone from the city is interested then I can provide some recommendations.”

    First, Raj, you appear to not have a clue as to what is needed in this complex problem. You appear to be educated way beyond your intelligence. Urban planning is more of a physical lay out. What is needed is a micro economist to study this micro economy and its needs and if Target will fulfill those needs, not an urban planner who studies land use problems. That should come later when the infrastructure is ready to be planned.

    Now secondly, two other problems with your last paragraph is the following; you don’t want to spend $20 mil on a legitimate government function, i.e. installing infrastructure within their governmental boundaries to allow for development which is in that cities best interest to increase a tax base; but you advocate more study and then want to recommend someone. Hmmm? Sounds like a kickback or political ambitions or me.

    The other problem in regards to your recommending somebody is that you neglected the bid process. I’m sure this will cost more than the $10,000.00 cap on requiring that process.

    What appears to me is that you need to turn in your school project to the teacher and let those that are in the decision-making process look over the projections made by experts. That you aint.

  6. on 28 Feb 2007 at 1:18 pm CrackerNation

    Raj, I am now beginning to understand what the problem is. When some one asks, “Do you do most of your shopping in Knoxville?”, you think the answer is no when the answer is yes and you think the answer is no when the answer is no. It is as if you somehow know that a “no” answer will give you what you want and the truth does not matter.

    The result of your approach is that your “analysis” and your survey “demystification” are inaccurate and misleading.

  7. on 28 Feb 2007 at 1:26 pm CrackerNation

    Raj, when you say, “I have tried to run some numbers and from my analysis it is anywhere from $0 (less than) “dollars that can be prevented from leaving Oak Ridge” (less than) $20 million.”, it reminds me of someone trying to understand the traffic at an airport by only looking at the outbound flights for one airline.

    You still have not realized that there is inbound money to be had even though the numbers you yourself present indicate it. And if you were to consider the other outbound money, you would (if you were being honest) realize that your “less than” value is simply way too low.

  8. on 28 Feb 2007 at 2:21 pm CrackerNation

    Just to clarify, I have asked Dr Scheb about his survey and he said,

    “As I said in the meeting Monday, all questions were asked of all participants. There was no branching (i.e., contingent questions). So the 53% who said they expected to modify their behavior was 53% of the 405 persons who answered the survey.”

    Raj’s creative “analysis” and “survey demystification” are simply fiction and propaganda.

  9. on 28 Feb 2007 at 3:40 pm Netmom

    Thanks for going to the source for that clarification, CN.

    We know that our sales tax revenues have declined for several years; we know that people in (and near) Oak Ridge have not stopped shopping, and we know that the next closest place to buy many goods not available in Oak Ridge is Knoxville — either Turkey Creek or Clinton Highway.

    Thus, we know there is sales tax leakage. We also know that we’re losing out not only on the purchases by people who live here, but people who live in surrounding counties — the “out of town” shoppers that Jacket referenced.

    However, there is at least one other thing that we know all too well: we have a history of spending public money on studies, which usually end up on a shelf collecting dust for fear of risk-taking. I would much prefer to spend the money on something that might generate an actual return on the investment.

    We know what the problem is (loss of sales tax revenue), and we know what the solution is (more retail). We know that some public investment is often necessary to resolve an identified problem — whether it’s a new electrical substation, a new industrial park, or an infrastructure investment for a suitable retail development.

    At this point though, my biggest fear is not losing out on the Target power center, so much as the damage that will be done to our reputation as a referendum-crazed city, to which no one will want to come.

    They’ve done their homework. They’ve presented the facts to us in a detailed and unbiased way. Let’s just get on with it.

  10. on 28 Feb 2007 at 4:19 pm Jacket

    NM hit upon two of my next points, leakage and loss of revenue *potential* and spending money on something not needed to prove some thing that has more of a chance to help than it does hurt the local economy simply because a group doesn’t want it. Further Oak Ridge has enough problems with reputation w/o adding to the NYBY anti groups i.e. environmental questions that will linger forever.

    Finally, the real question if I were funding this thing is: What is Oak Ridge’s debt ceiling, and its bond rating? In other words how much money can be borrowed without raising taxes to make the payment?

    Raj’s *analysis* which is slick but a simpleton approach does not take into consideration these two questions. Also, it does not take into consideration that there will be *natural* growth in the tax base due to increasing property values and new construction outside this venture.

    So if the City can afford to borrow the money and without raising taxes to make the payment it could be a winning situation worth the investment.

    When one purchases a house on a fixed rate for 30 years and can make the payment, their disposable income should also increase over that period due to “pay raises” and income increasing. Same principle.

    Raj,

    The only people that you are impressing are the standard anti anything group. I’m sure they have welcomed you aboard with open arms.

  11. on 28 Feb 2007 at 7:05 pm Raj

    I not “anti” anything I am for business and I am also in favor of higher taxes for better services. There is nothing wrong in paying higher taxes for the good and services that you enjoy.

    Everything cost money and we need to take the responsibility to pay for what we get and be sure to remember our blessings in what we have received in the past because somebody else gave.

    Saying we will get others to come into our community to buy stuff so that we can bask on the sales tax collection is morally wrong an un-Biblical. I have some very strong views on personal responsibility.

    It is like sending kids out to sell Christmas paper and school cheese so that teachers can purchase school supplies. I have never encouraged that neither have I let my children participate in that. We believe if the schools need money then we must provide it directly. For years it is a tradition in my family to include our Temples of Learning in our tithing and holiday giving. If we all did that instead of building church buildings that remain empty but for a few hours a week we won’t have to be scrambling to get Target as a source of revenue.

    My wife and I realized that we had gotten more than what we had given back to the community when our older son graduated from Oak Ridge High school when many children of his age were entering high school. He received the best education that even money cannot buy. So we decided to contribute substantially when the opportunity came for the new high school project.

    The problem in this situation is that we are all pouncing like vultures on a carcass dangling on what looks like a money tree hoping to harvest free money. Nothing comes for free my fellow citizens. I thing we have gotten our priorities backwards. To me children come first and if that means great sacrifice then so be it.

    If each family in Oak Ridge puts $10 (cost of one lunch) away per week for our schools we would have annually collected $6.24 million dollars additionally per year for our schools. Won’t we want to take a PBJ sandwich to work for one day a week for the sake of better education for our children. That’s 1/25 of what we plan to additionally spend ($142 million) in shopping at the proposed shopping center.

    I have come from a foreign land but I am disgusted at the greed that is prevalent in the home of the brave and the land of the free. I have come from a far away land where the concepts of Guru Dakshina – sacrificial giving to our teachers is still the norm. That’s why all our high tech jobs are going to India, not because it is cheap but because they have better skill sets according to Bill Gates.

    It does not matter how the survey is interpreted. Let’s stand back and ask our self – is this the right way to solve the financial problems of our schools.

  12. on 28 Feb 2007 at 7:50 pm CrackerNation

    Raj, give me a break. When you say, “Saying we will get others to come into our community to buy stuff so that we can bask on the sales tax collection is morally wrong an un-Biblical. I have some very strong views on personal responsibility.” Do you think it is OK for use to continue to send our tax revenue to Knox County and support THAT County Commission after what they just did? Do you think that it is Biblical and/or an example of personal responsibility to distort and deceive like you have done with your “analysis” and “survey demysticfication”? You have a funny moral code and I don’t mean “Ha ha” funny.

    When you say, “I am for business” and when a business opportunity comes along that makes sense to most citizens you claim, “we are all pouncing like vultures on a carcass dangling on what looks like a money tree hoping to harvest free money”. Free money? Have you forgotten so soon about the $10.5M investment that is under discussion? It is not Free Money. It is our money that we are paying to support the Knox County Commissioners.

    And finally, when you say, “It does not matter how the survey is interpreted. Let’s stand back and ask our self – is this the right way to solve the financial problems of our schools.” Id does matter when you try to deceive us and then have the gall to try to claim the personal responsibility high ground. And yes, the right way is to offer competitive retail in the community so that all of our sales taxes will not go to other jurisdictions that we have no say over their sleazy operations. Our money should go to our kids’ education. And if someone who lives in Knox County wants to shop here after work or while their relative is visiting one of our medical facilities, it is right, it is good business, and it is moral for us to allow that and we should not descriminate against them just because they don’t live here.

  13. on 28 Feb 2007 at 8:00 pm Raj

    Too bad Nation you will not understand. In life there is something more than sales tax and shopping.

    As a nation we owe the world tens of trillions of dollars, what’s in another few million.

    Guess who buys the majority of our notes notes – China.

    We will be paying interest to the Chinese for the next 20 years so that they can manufacture trinkets for us to buy at Super Target.

  14. on 28 Feb 2007 at 8:14 pm Jacket

    “I not “anti” anything…..”

    Sure you are. You are “anti” this proposal and have used smoke and mirrors to hide facts. That is proven fact by a few folks over at the Oak Ridger Forum (to which I no longer participate). You (or your compatriots) have manipulated numbers, and dodged legitimate questions posed by CN, for your own purposes.

    You have ignored the leakage problem of retail in Oak Ridge to the point of completely dismissing the concept. A few of us older folks remember when Oak Ridge was the shopping mecca for Roane, Anderson, Morgan Campbell and Scott Counties. This would assist in regaining some of that lost revenue. You appear to not be old enough to remember that era. While going back can not repair what has been lost, an effort to regain the leakage is laudable.

    Further you have ignored the natural growth of the tax base in fearing the debt service this proposal will require.

    As I understand it the money put up in this venture for Oak Ridge will be for infrastructure: i.e. roads, sewage, water, and solid waste collection at the site. All are legitimate functions of government. If they do not pay for this in the now, they will in the future when the roads for ingress and egress are turned over to the City for maintenance by becoming a city street.

    Now the real part of it is that Tennessee law under public chapter 1101 requires that a city annexing any property be required to furnish those services or be prepared to furnish those services if the annexation takes place.

    The big question then becomes, why would you be opposed to furnishing those services to a piece of property already within a city when State law clearly requires it for areas under consideration outside the city?

    The answer is unknown but for the reasons I stated above. Political pandering. Good luck on your future run for City whatever. God help the electorate if they elect you though, progress will be stifled at every turn because you are afraid.

  15. on 28 Feb 2007 at 8:16 pm Jacket

    That would be mecca NM. If you would please.

  16. on 28 Feb 2007 at 8:18 pm Jacket

    And every turn. not ever.

  17. on 28 Feb 2007 at 8:45 pm Raj

    Definitions:

    Cult – the church across the street.
    Lie – Everything the person I disagree with says.
    Anti – one who does not share my views.

  18. on 28 Feb 2007 at 8:58 pm Jacket

    Sorry, your statement above is not working. You are still ingnoring facts. Fact 1, the proposal is a legitimate funtion of government. Fact 2, it is required by State law to provide these services to new sections of the City, and you wish to deny a portion of the existing city the same rights. Fact 3, you have continued to ignore legitimate questions. Fact 4, you have purposely refused to acknowledge the debt ceiling and the tax base growth will not hamper the general obiligation notes that this will require. Fact 5, you have wilfully ignored the fact that there are sufficient safeguards in place to keep this from turning into a clone of the “mall deal”. Fact 6, you stated you weren’t “anti anything” when it is obvious you are anti this proposal.

    Please go back to get your undergrad degree before you attempt to put forth such a complex proposal or discredit another.

  19. on 28 Feb 2007 at 9:04 pm CrackerNation

    Raj, when you say, “Too bad Nation you will not understand. In life there is something more than sales tax and shopping” in a disparinging way its as if you do not understand that shopping is to acquire things that you need and the model we have for paying for government supplied services it through taxes. Here in Tennessee, we have two main taxes, sales and property. If you take away sales tax (or export its funding to support the Knox County Commissioners instead of our kids’ schools) you are placing undue pressure on property taxes which may put many an older citizen out on the street if they can no longer afford to pay as that tax rises faster than necessary.

    So while there is more to life, shopping and sales taxes are an integrated part of our society and need to be managed.

    And when you lament about the foreign debt owed when you say, “We will be paying interest to the Chinese for the next 20 years so that they can manufacture trinkets for us to buy at Super Target”, I guess you did not know that WalMart is the place to go for Chinese and Vietnamese goods. Or maybe you just can’t tell the difference. I suggest that you go back to the Wikipaedia article that you referenced in you first “analysis” and you will find that giving our business to Target is a much more moral act than to give it all to WalMart.

  20. on 28 Feb 2007 at 9:05 pm Raj

    Definitions:

    Fact – everything that comes out of my mouth
    Fiction – everything I disagree with.

  21. on 28 Feb 2007 at 9:17 pm CrackerNation

    Raj, “Fact – everything that comes out of my mouth” That is just sooo cute. It is a pretty lame attempt to insolate your behavior from demonstratable fact. The more you talk about it without confronting that issue, the more obvious to more people your true nature becomes. Think about it, “My little children, let’s not love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth.”

  22. on 01 Mar 2007 at 8:42 am AT

    We seem to be leaving the issue.
    It appears that Raj’s opposition to the plan stems from some unusual norms, which doesn’t really reflect the needs of the community at large.
    I’d appreciate it, Raj, if you’d think outside your box for a little while.

  23. on 01 Mar 2007 at 8:57 am Jacket

    Or at least stay in his box.

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