City Council Parks & Rec

Is Mystery Measure C Survey within Campaign Finance Regs?

The mysterious YES on C survey tests pro and con arguments, and targets sitting council members
Written by lalahpolitico

Herein you can read the entire text of the “Mystery Measure C Survey.” The Los Altos Town Crier floated a story about it last week on its front page. [Measure C — formerly known as Save Our Parks — would mandate that any sale or lease (longer than 180 days) of City land – Parks, Open Space, and Parking lots –  would require a popular vote in an election.] [Not too familiar with Measure C? See the official text of the multi-page Measure C — formerly Save Our Parks —  and an attempt at analysis, in our April post.]

Imitation –
the Sincerest Form of Flattery

The Measure C survey text mimics 10 years’ worth of Godbe Research surveys commissioned by the City.

These include two Godbe surveys to assess the prospects of passing bond measures by 66 2/3 percent. First was the 2008 Phase I Civic Center Bond. It showed inadequate voter support in the Godbe data. Hence the bond effort was canceled by then-Mayor Val Carpenter. And the second bond survey was for the 2016 Measure A that failed at the ballot box.  An overly optimistic council decided to put it on the ballot even though the Godbe data flashed ‘yellow.’ These Godbe surveys tested arguments FOR the measure and arguments AGAINST the measure, just the like the Measure C survey does.

The  ‘Mystery Measure C survey ‘ also mimics a number of Godbe surveys that attempted over the years to measure satisfaction with downtown and with the city at-large. In particular, the most recent City survey from last December 2017 irritated some people. Council was annoyed because they weren’t asked by City Manager Jordan to participate in the drafting of it. Some citizens were annoyed because some ‘leading’ questions made it pretty hard to convey DISsatisfaction with the City.

Here are a couple of links to some of the Godbe Surveys:

Los Altos Civic Center $65M Bond Effort—Val Says…

Los Altos Downtown Survey Shows Split Opinions

Slide from an 2012 Godbe survey testing  support for a Bond Measure to pay for Phase 1 of a Civic Center Master Plan. YES support drops from 59.6% initially to 54.8% after the con “messages. “Likely Voter support was too low. Mayor Val Carpenter shelved the effort.

Origins and Intentions
of the Measure C Survey?

Lalahpolitico: The origins and intentions of the ‘Mysterious’ Measure C survey may have been somewhat mysterious to those people who took the survey either by phone, at least initially when they first agreed to take the survey.  It seems the LATC reported sponsor of the survey – Jim Jolly – wanted to remain anonymous.  And why not?  He is not a household name. [But he is a sponsor of Measure C along with City Council candidate Teresa Morris.  And the social network spreads from there. ]

I wonder what exactly was the Measure C survey respondent recruitment language?  I haven’t seen that. Was there something in that recruitment message that made phone and online volunteers think they were about to take a city-sponsored survey?  That would be not nice.

What kind of recruitment message did the Gravis Marketing and Survey Monkey use to induce volunteers to take the survey by phone or online?

Is the Measure C Survey language
below Authentic? Apparently.

In the LATC article, Measure C survey sponsor Jim Jolly denied ownership of an online version of the survey. Perhaps, as ‘CEO of Measure C’, he just did not know the details of the survey fielding plan…that it included phone and online collection?  Lalahpolitico does not think he purposely lied.

A number of citizen sources who took the phone survey have told me that the online written survey they were shown was like the one they took by phone. Citizen sources sent me their email survey recruitment message.  The emails have legitimate email addresses at the Gravis marketing firm, and legitimate references to real survey ‘fielding’ servers.  As for Los Altos Town Crier, Gravis ignored my email.

Lalahpolitico did not take the survey in either of its two forms.

Campaign Finance Regulations

If the Measure C survey ‘s proprietary findings are used to benefit three different campaigns – Measure C, Anita Enander, and Thersa Morris – where will the donation of the survey be reported? In one campaign, or split somehow?

Or will the entire findings, methodology and an anonymized dataset be released to the public domain?  In that case, the sponsor can make the argument he did the research for his own edification and of the public at large. There would be no need to report the survey cost as a campaign donation.  

Of course, as Jean Mordo opined to LATC, maybe  “… the results will not have scientific validity.”  Finally, why did the sponsors use a Florida marketing/research company and not a California one? Friend of a friend?

How will the donation of this survey be accounted for across three campaigns – Yes on Measure C, Anita Enander for Council, Teresa Morris for Council?

Save Our Parks Survey, one



Save Our Parks Survey, two

Negativity in #4  is your only choice

Notice that in question 4 ABOVE, the only choices are NEGATIVE.  There is no way to be satisfied with law enforcement, traffic management, council engagement with the public, street paving, development renewing the old.

And putting ‘local taxes’ – aka city property taxes which rise each year per State Law Prop 13  – and City imposed and controlled user fees in the SAME bucket is obviously designed to elicit an emotional, not a rational response.  For residents don’t ‘user fees’ mainly amount to sewer and garbage fees? Or are voters worried about building permit fees?

Lalahpolitico: This question #4 in the Measure C survey looks like payback to City Manager Chris Jordan for his cheery December 2017 City Satisfaction survey which did not leave much leeway to complain, complain, complain.

#5 TESTING PRO AND CON Measure C Arguments

Save Our Parks Survey, three

Save Our Parks Survey, four

MORE TESTING of PRO and CON Measure C messages

Save Our Parks Survey, one

Save Our Parks Survey, six

Questions to Benefit Anita Enander
Teresa Morris council campaigns

Save Our Parks Survey, one

Testing Strength of a Competing Measure To C

Lalahpolitico: The Council ‘threatened’ to launch a competing measure, but didn’t do so.  However, Council might proceed to create and vote on an ordinance that amends the general plan to ‘prevent the sale of Parks and Open Space’, the key voter attraction of Measure C .  The passage of such an ordinance might happen before the election…or not before…or not ever.

Save Our Parks Survey, eight

Jean Mordo, Mayor City of Los Altos California

Jean Mordo, Mayor City of Los Altos California. Mordo is up for reelection to a 2nd term this November. He seems to be target Numero Uno of the Yes on C coterie.

This Survey Section to help
pro-Measure C council candidates?

Lalahpolitico: It is interesting the Measure C survey asks questions about all sitting council members, even though only Jean Mordo and Mary Prochow are up for reelection. [Mary Prochow was rumored to be dropping out of the race since the beginning of the year and did so officially not quite 2 months ago.] Could the inclusion of the other council members just be just a smokescreen, when the real intent is to assess if Mordo is vulnerable?  Or maybe the SOP + Anita Enander + Theresa Morris election ‘strategy team’ wants to know if a lot of people feel outraged about Council in toto, they way they feel outraged about the council in toto.  [Except for Councilmember Lynette Lee Eng, of course. She is a supporter of Measure C and its proponents.]

On the ‘Quality of Life’ meme is already being repeated as a ‘dog whistle.’ Jean Mordo is portrayed as a destroyer of said ‘Quality of Life.’ Anita Enander and Teresa Morris are saviors. – Lalahpolitico

Save Our Parks Survey, nine


Save Our Parks Survey, ten


Save Our Parks Survey, eleven

The standard demographics section

Save Our Parks Survey, twelve



Save Our Parks Survey, forteen

LosAltosPolitico Bottom line:

Jim Jolly did nothing illegal in sponsoring a survey to benefit Yes on Measure C.  Maybe the survey respondent recruitment message was not as forthcoming as it could have been. No one is perfect. I don’t even call that unethical, just mistaken.

I do worry about the parts of the survey that seem to benefit additional campaigns – Anita Enander’s and Teresa Morris’s campaigns.  Is this survey a campaign donation to those council campaigns?

Perhaps those council campaigns will learn that championing Measure C actually hurts their chances of getting elected, rather than helps?  That is one of the theories the Yes on Measure C strategists are testing out.




About the author


Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she became fascinated with the business of local politics only in the past several years.