Last week I was contacted by phone and asked to participate in an opinion poll regarding the Lakes Golf Course. It turned out that the poll was not conducted to get research data, but to try to influence my opinion about the future of the Lakes Golf Course. It was a “push poll!” A push poll is “an ostensible opinion poll in which the true objective is to sway voters using loaded or manipulative questions. This is done intentionally to camouflage the true nature of the push poll (Oxford Dictionary).”
In an earlier commentary I stated my views concerning the Lakes Golf Course. I had my say, and felt no need to comment again. That was before I was asked to participate in a “push poll.” The caller identified himself and asked me to participate in an opinion poll regarding the Lakes property. I asked who was conducting the poll and who was paying for it? The caller said that he didn’t know. I asked if it was a true poll or a push poll — he said a true opinion poll. So I decided to answer the questions.
It soon became clear that this WAS a push poll. The questions were stated in such a way that no matter what my response it would appear that I supported the redevelopment of the property as a housing development rather than a golf course. Further, each “question” was a statement of support for the plans of Pulte Homes and Wilson Gee, rather than a true question. The statements were made as if they were factual in spite of evidence to the contrary. For example, it was stated that executive courses have been shown to be non-profitable. This statement was made in spite of evidence showing success by several courses similar to the Lakes. This is but one of many examples of misinformation included in the push poll.
I confess to having a vested interest. In fact, I have two. First, as residents of the Ahwatukee-Foothills since 1987, my wife and I want what we were promised when we moved here — open green space and ample recreation facilities. Second, I have spent my professional life advocating for healthy lifestyles for all Americans. Keeping the Lakes a golf course increases opportunities for active living in our community.
Pulte and Gee also have a vested interest. They want to make money. I have no problem with that, as long as it is in the best interest of our community. In this case their vested interest is not in our best interest. Further, they are using their wealth to try to convince us that what is best for them is best for us. They have spent considerable money on a bogus opinion poll. If they are truly interested in our community, why is this type of tactic necessary?
Surely Pulte and Gee do not think that the public will be swayed by their disingenuous poll. In golf, you play by the rules. Pulte and Gee, play fair!
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Dr. Charles “Chuck” Corbin is professor emeritus at Arizona State University. He is the author of more than 90 books on fitness and exercise, was the first chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition Science Board, and served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on Fitness Measures and Health Outcomes in Youth. He was a charter member of the advisory board for FITNESSGRAM.