Why I am Voting a Straight VCP Ticket

by Jane Curley

My children once came home from school outraged that a classmate lied to manipulate the outcome of a high stakes, competitive school contest. But when questioned, my sons revealed that they had no actual evidence their cutthroat classmate had lied.

That didn’t go over well. Because you don’t call someone a liar if you are not damn sure they are, in fact, a liar. And you definitely don’t publically accuse them or gang up in a group to make or spread your accusation. This holds true even if you do a search and replace to substitute “alternative facts” for “lies.”

I hope my sons haven’t repeated this behavior. I know they went back to school the next day and apologized to their classmate, and there were no further consequences from Capture the Flag-Gate 2007 at Anami Montessori School.

It’s too bad politics in Scarsdale can’t be conducted with the same maturity and willingness to acknowledge mistakes.

Ryan is, at best, grossly incompetent. Nobody with any credibility has looked at what Ryan did and said, “Yep, this was a good process with good results.” They can’t, because he is unable / unwilling to provide documentation.

Maybe worse, the tentative roll was released about two weeks before the grievance deadline. It took me about ten minutes casually browsing through it to see that there were very big problems. Which brings me to a question that I still haven’t seen answered – how did this happen? How did this roll get filed without someone proofreading it?

Fortunately for Scarsdale, several things have reduced the seriousness of the situation.  First, almost 20% of property owners filed grievances. Then, the BAR worked though over 1,000 of these grievances. Many property owners got relief, still more obtained relief through SCAR proceedings. Finally, during the past year or two, the prices of Scarsdale’s more modest homes seem to have gone up more significantly than the prices of higher end properties. This is a very happy coincidence that could just as easily have gone the other way.

People overestimate the ability of statistics to “prove” things. For example, I don’t think anyone has “proven” that global warming exists, much less that it is manmade.  But the expert consensus is that global warming has been demonstrated adequately to conclude it is “real.” Given my non-existent knowledge of climate science, I certainly don’t go around telling people global warming is not real, fake, a lie, or, in the parlance of some Scarsdale residents, an “alternative fact.” Most people will remember from Stats 101 that the level of confidence is never 100% – because statistics don’t “prove” things. Sometimes, statistics can be helpful in drawing conclusions.  However, in order to draw conclusions, you have to design your analysis properly.

In recently published analysis, Post BAR / SCAR Values (PBSV) from Tyler and Ryan were compared to 185 recent sales. Even if this analysis had been designed properly, it would not have proven anything. However, the results presented were far from overwhelming and, more importantly, the analysis improperly designed.

The 185 sales included sales where the Ryan PBSVs had been changed from the tentative roll values on the basis of the same sale prices that were included in the data set of 185 recent sales. Now, suppose that the Ryan PBSVs for all 185 recent sales had been changed from the original tentative roll values to exactly match their recent actual sale prices. It would prove that the Ryan revaluation was perfect. It would be a statistical miracle!

In actuality, only about six of the sales were incorrectly included. However, including them introduces bias into the analysis and that is very, very bad. That said, this happens all the time, usually innocently. However, once something like this is identified, it needs to be acknowledged.  When you don’t acknowledge it that is the statistical equivalent of a lie.

There is no proof that Ryan PBSVs are better than Tyler PBSVs. There is also no proof the Tyler values are better, because it is very hard to prove anything. I wouldn’t even claim to have proof the sun is going to rise tomorrow. But I will claim this, it is more likely that the sun will fail to rise tomorrow than John Ryan did a good job.

Given this, it isn’t appropriate to question the honesty and motives of those who voiced opposition to the Ryan revaluation. Objecting to particular methods, fine, but resorting to accusations of dishonesty and generating misleading “proof” that the Ryan revaluation was in any way defensible is much worse than anything any of the Voters’ Choice Party (VCP) candidates or campaign chair have done.

I don’t think the current officials or the CNC candidates are liars. And they haven’t called anyone a liar. But their supporters are calling people liars, presenting proof where none exists, and some – with credentials that imply they should know better – are proving slow to retract biased analyses.

Unfortunately, the CNC candidates haven’t disavowed these tactics and current officials still have not said, “Oops, we messed up. This is how it happened, this was my role, this is what I am going to do to try and make it right.”

That is why I will vote for the VCP candidates across the board. And because I think they deserve it, because I don’t understand the fear and vitriol their challenge to the status quo is inspiring, and because Bob Berg tried to warn us about the incipient train wreck we now know as the Ryan revaluation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *