Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

New Poll "Proves" that Minneapolis Residents Love Pesticides!

A new poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, purports to show that the people of Minneapolis love pesticides and want the City and Park Board to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars injecting said pesticides into ash trees, rather than removing and replacing them.

Guess who paid for the poll?  Arborjet, the manufacturers of one of the pesticides in question.

If that's not reason enough to take these results with a shaker full of salt, here are some of the not-at-all loaded questions respondents were asked:

  • "Do you believe the city should remove 40,000 otherwise healthy ash trees before Emerald Ash Borer kills them, or do you think an environmentally-sound ash-protection option should be pursued?"
  • "If you knew residential and city ash trees could be confidently protected with a small amount of insecticide sealed inside the tree using trunk injection, would you support or oppose that option?"
  • "Would you expect city leaders to adopt an environmentally-sound method to protect the city’s ash trees, to help reduce energy consumption, preserve property values, protect neighborhood character, and save taxpayers money?"
  • "Would you be more or less likely to support a city official who supported a plan to preserve the city’s ash trees while also preserving property values, neighborhood character, and saving taxpayers money?"
They might as well have asked whether Minneapolis residents are supportive of motherhood, clean air, and healthy children.

There's a reason, when a political candidate's campaign releases an "internal" poll that they have paid for, that those polls are treated as suspect and less serious than a poll by a neutral party.  The answers you get depend on the questions you ask.  In that spirit, here are some alternative wordings that may have produced slightly different results:
  • Would you support seeing public agencies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for the next decade or more keeping public ash trees on artificial life support, dependent on a toxic chemical called emamectin benzoate, or would you prefer that public agencies enact short-term taxes to re-leaf our city?
  • Would you support or oppose the government introducing large amounts of a new pesticide into the urban environment?
  • If you learned that bees and other pollinators likely eat ash pollen, and that according to research, "all of the systemic insecticides used to control EAB will impact other species of insects that feed on treated ash trees," likely exacerbating Colony Collapse Disorder, would it make you more or less supportive of widespread introduction of these pesticides into the urban environment?
  • If you learned that an EPA study of emamectin benzoate "identified potential risks to terrestrial invertebrates that forage on treated trees" and that "potential risks to birds, mammals, and terrestrial invertebrates also presumably exceed levels of concern, and potential risks to aquatic invertebrates could not be precluded," would you support spending taxpayer dollars on introducing more of this chemical into the urban environment?
  • Should government wait until the Emerald Ash Borer infestation becomes a crisis, with thousands of standing dead trees in Minneapolis that are at risk of falling on houses, cars and people, to begin removing ash trees, or should government proactively address the issue by planting new replacement trees now?
Unfortunately, I don't have the financial wherewithal to put this theory to the test, because I don't stand to make a lot of money off of selling pollinator-killing pesticides to the people of Minneapolis.

Instead, I'll just counsel you, my constituents and everyone else to ignore this self-serving, manipulatively-worded poll.


At 10:10 PM, Blogger electroken said...

Oh my yes Cam, I agree with you on this one! I have always been suspect of polls worded the way this one is worded. It is like asking the defendent in an abuse hearing "When did you stop beating your wife?"

You have my consensus on this one for sure. We have enough chemicals in the environment already and we need to protect the bees and other life that lives in our trees.


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