The expert is question is city watchdog Bill Scheirer, who was a statistical economist (econometrist) before he retired. Scheirer studied at Princeton, the London School of Economics and MIT.
The survey in question was mailed to 5,000 households at random. There were 1,477 responses, as well as an additional 96 surveys completed in the City webpage. Dr. Chris Borick, from the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, stated that the margin of error was +/- 3%. He has a 95% level of confidence in the report.
Scheirer last night told Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan that the response rate was"not bad for a mail survey." He also stated that Dr. Borick has a "very good reputation." But he cautioned that, in a survey of this type, "the important thing is the nonresponses." He indicated that a random sample of the nonrespondents should be aggressively pursued, and that if those results differ from those who responded, the survey could be flawed.
So while I believe the citizen satisfaction survey has great value, and blogged about it two weeks ago, I wouldn't bet the ranch on it. City Council President Eric Evans, who hears from residents every day, would be foolish to ignore them. It appears that a real expert, as opposed to some know-it-all who majored i n linguistics, agrees.