Broadband Polls Prove Offensive to Some Officials Companies Say They're Doing Legitimate Research

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Byline: Patrick Waldron Daily Herald Staff Writer

At least two surveys being administered by SBC and Comcast this week are raising the eyebrows of some Tri-Cities officials who have fielded calls from residents saying the surveys are intentionally negative and misleading.

Officials from Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles say residents have contacted them concerned with the "tone" of the survey questions and the possible effect on the April 1 broadband referendum voters in each city face.

Others, including one elected official who was surveyed this week, told city administrators about politically biased questions that left little room for interpretation or objective answers.

"The questions were drafted with certain words that lead a respondent down a certain path," said St. Charles Alderman David Richards, who answered the 15-minute survey Wednesday. "I'm disgusted this is a tactic a company would take."

Richards, a marketing and communications professional, has said and repeated Thursday that he hasn't made up his mind on the idea of a municipal broadband utility.

Voters in all three cities are being asked whether they support construction and operation of a city-owned broadband system to provide cable, Internet access and phone service. The cost, estimated to be about $62 million, would be paid for by user fees but backed by taxpayers.

Richards described the survey starting with questions on customer service satisfaction but then quickly turned to the Tri- Cities broadband issue. One of the questions asked for ratings of the three cities' mayors, Richards said. …