I just read in this ridiculous article on Patch.Com that 77% of the property owners in Venice voted in favor of the BID. This is some kind of echo chamber meme being passed around the campfires of the journalistic tribes of Los Angeles. Just look at this freaking Google search if you don’t believe me.1 So I just have to point one thing out. Look at the freaking official ballot tabulation, reporters! Of course, Holly Wolcott created it in Excel and then printed it out and scanned it to PDF just to make it especially useless, but you’re journalists. Don’t let that stop you. Count the total number of property owners.2
There are 338 of them. Of these, 85 voted yes, 79 voted no, and 174 didn’t vote. That works out to 25.2% yes, 23.4% no, and 51.5% didn’t vote. That doesn’t look nearly as overwhelming as the figure that’s being bandied about like gospel truth by our lazy LA media. And not only that, but even if you only count the property owners who did vote, which is part of how the Clerk does it, there were 164 total ballots cast, of which 51.8% were yes and 48.2% were no. Also that isn’t very overwhelming.
But where did that 77% figure come from that they’re all repeating like Moses brought it down from Mount Sinai engraved on freaking tablets of stone? Well, it’s right there on the report on the ballots signed by Holly Wolcott. But God forbid that a reporter is going to read about what the figure means.3 In fact, this is 77% of the weighted value, not 77% of the property owners. In other words, the 51.8% of the 164 property owners that voted own 77% of the property. If 20% of the property owners had owned 51% of the weighted value, the BID still would have passed. A majority of property owners is absolutely irrelevant to the BID approval process and the fact that there was a small one here is nothing more than a coincidence. By glossing over this fact and reporting that 77% figure as if it had anything at all to do with a percentage of property owners, these reporters are at best just adding to the confusion and at worst granting even more legitimacy to the deeply undemocratic process by which BIDs are approved. Not helpful, friends.
- Note to the future: This probably won’t work when you’re looking at this. Sorry!
- It’s necessary to count this by hand because if property owners have multiple parcels they still only get one ballot.
- Although to be fair to the reporters, as much as it pains me to do so, Holly Wolcott has designed this report in an especially misleading way.