Friday, October 2, 2009

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

In a previous post, we promised to address the most heinous statements CFS-LLC President and CEO, Annalisa Cariveau, made in her direct mail propaganda campaign titled "Planting the Facts: Seeding the roots into the community for a growing future." It is a daunting task as the mailings are fraught with vague, inaccurate, misleading, and often contradictory statements.

We'll start with a post on Ms. Cariveau’s statistical reporting errors. After comparing her numbers to the actual survey results that she quotes, it appears that not only are some of the reported percentages inaccurate, and the survey questions misquoted, but the attribution is also incorrect. Ms. Cariveau refers to both the 2008 Town of Russell Comprehensive Plan Survey Results and the 1999 Town of Russell Land Use Survey as the Land Use Plan Survey. She quotes the 10 year old survey results when the new survey does not support her assertions. Perhaps Ms. Cariveau believes that the residents of the Bayfield peninsula will not read the Town of Russell Comprehensive Plan Survey Results and figure out what she’s up to. You can view the Survey Results yourself at We are disappointed that Ms. Cariveau shows a lack of respect for the intellect of the citizens for whom she is so eager to do “something incredible that could really give back to the area."

Ms. Cariveau states in “Planting the Facts, Vol. 2”, “We believe a large majority of residents of Bayfield County support the project.” To support this statement, Ms. Cariveau uses statistics from the Town of Russell Comprehensive Plan Survey Results. She writes, “More than 75% of respondents say that residential development should be encouraged and allowed selectively.” What Ms. Cariveau doesn’t mention, however, is that this 75% represents 31 Town of Russell residents. This is clearly not a majority of Bayfield County residents. Ms. Cariveau also doesn’t mention the type of residential development these 31 people would encourage - affordable housing, and elderly/assisted living. The majority of respondents agree that Bayfield County doesn’t "need any more" vacation homes, high-priced housing, and condos.

Ms. Cariveau, you are selectively using and misrepresenting statistics to “Plant propaganda.” We don't believe that 31 people in the Town of Russell who encourage affordable housing, and elderly/assisted living can be described as a large majority of Bayfield County residents supporting the Shadow Wood Landing commercial development and jet landing strip.

Ms. Cariveau states, to illustrate community support for the Shadow Wood Project, that “70% felt that clustering residences in order to conserve open spaces should be allowed.” The actual question on the survey is, “Should Bayfield County allow the option of clustering or grouping of single family residences on a large acreage in order to conserve wooded areas, open spaces or scenic views, and provide for the efficient provision of public services with no increased density over conventional development.” [emphasis added]

The portions of the question that Ms. Cariveau left out, "single family residences," and "no increased density over conventional development,” are extremely significant. Ms. Cariveau's proposed development is for high density housing, rental units, condos, and a hotel in the midst of forest and agricultural land. The survey respondents were not asked if they support the type and density of development that Ms. Cariveau plans. Ms. Cariveau has misrepresented the expressed desires of residents by selectively omitting the portions of the survey question that do not support her argument.

There are many more examples of the inaccurate, false, or misleading use of statistics in the "Planting the Facts" mailers. In the interest of brevity, we'll leave it to you to read the Survey Results and see who is planting what.