SAN ANTONIO – Officials at the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association were outraged Wednesday over reports that a telephone poll regarding stalled collective bargaining negotiations with the city was being conducted in San Antonio.
“When we have taken our message to the community, we offered 100 percent transparency by announcing on each public outreach item that it was from SAPOA. We also told the truth and used verifiable facts. Whoever initiated this scare tactic is hiding behind a blocked caller ID number,” police union president Michael Helle said in a press release.
The union was alerted to the poll by a woman identified only as Helen R.
She claims to have taken the poll over the phone. In an email to the union she said, “It was an appalling poll and I personally felt it only gave one side of the issue: that of the city’s.”
The woman goes on to list a few of the questions she said she was asked, including: “Do you agree or disagree that the police union should pull the ads and come back to the negotiations? Are you agreed or opposed to the city having to increase property taxes in order to meet the police union’s demands? Agree or disagree that police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every day?”
The “ads” mentioned refer to several radio and television ads in circulation across the city that harshly criticize City Manager Sheryl Sculley for her role in stalled collective bargaining negotiations. The two sides have been unable to craft a deal that would lower the city’s contribution to public safety healthcare benefits, forcing police officers and firefighters to pay for coverage.
The union said residents should be concerned about taxpayer dollars being used to fund the survey. But a spokeswoman with the city said no one from City Hall is behind the poll.
The union’s press release also asked whether the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce was involved, but a chamber spokeswoman denied any involvement.
The woman provided the union with the telephone number associated with the pollster. KSAT 12 called and found that the number is registered to Promark Research Corp., which specializes in polling and consumer surveys.
Union officials called the poll a “push-poll,” which the American Association for Public Opinion Research describes as “an insidious form of negative campaigning, disguised as a political poll. ‘Push polls’ are not surveys at all, but rather unethical political telemarketing — telephone calls disguised as research that aim to persuade large numbers of voters and affect election outcomes, rather than measure opinions.”
Calls to Promark Research to find out who paid for the polling were not returned.
In a statement to KSAT 12 Thursday regarding the union’s claim, a Promark spokesman said, “Promark adheres to the standards of the code of conduct of the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers and abides by the policies against conducting push polls.”