90% of Quoted Statistics are Made Up

Where do they stand now?


I recently read a contributing writer to the Times writing about the new Hall County Administrator saying, “The lone objector on the commission was Craig Lutz who appears to oppose any appointment he didn’t recommend, including some district appointments made by other commissioners. Maybe now county government will settle down and go about business.”   I hadn’t remembered Lutz voting against anyone else’s appointment, so I felt like I should go through the minutes to see.  I looked at all the votes through June 23rd and confirmed that Lutz had not voted against anyone’s appointment, however, I did notice where Commissioner Powell voted against one of Lutz’s appointments.

We have never thought much of the Times, so I guess we should come to expect sloppy work.  But it does have me wondering where the commission now stands on their votes as compared to when we looked back in March.  Through June 23rd, the commissioners have met 12 times.  They have voted on a total of 233 items.  197 items have been unanimous at the rate of 84.5%.  This is actually a little higher (80%) than the last time we looked.

The island votes (where you are stuck by yourself on an island) are now tracking at 7.3% which is slightly higher (6%) than before.  Of the 16 island votes, Commissioner Lutz has 6, Commissioner Powell has 5, Commissioner Bell has 2, the Chairman has 2 and Commissioner Gibbs has 1.  I am not sure how to interpret the island votes, but to say that all of Commissioner Powell’s occurred on or before March 10 and the Chairman’s both had to do with trash.  Five Commissioner Lutz’s occurred on or between 3/24 and 4/25.  It almost looks like there is an interesting dynamic.  The thought the Gibbs has only been on an island once (SM&F to represent the Sheriff) is odd and may show that he is the true swing vote.

I remember in Commissioner Lutz’s campaign he made a lot of noise about how often the incumbent voted with the Chairman.  Here is the breakdown of votes with the Chairman (Abstentions and Absences were excluded):

Lutz                        87.39%

Powell                  96.85%

Gibbs                    90.09%

Bell                         91.3%


You can certainly tell that Commissioner Powell and the Chairman are the most alike sharing the wins or loses together at a 97% clip, and I would have figured that Lutz and the Chairman would be the furthest apart.  It is the consent agenda that brings the commissioners together.  Out of the 234 items that have been voted on, 149 have been on the consent agendas (63.7%).  If we take out the consent items, then the numbers will jump out more:

Lutz                        66.27%

Powell                  91.57%

Gibbs                    73.49%

Bell                         75.53%


I think we can say that the voting block between the Chairman and Powell looks to be bullet proof.  If you look at the motions that were not on the consent agenda that have passed, you might be able to gauge the effectiveness of the commissioners:

Lutz                        87.34%

Powell                  79.75%

Gibbs                    94.94%

Bell                         95.38%

Oliver                    82.28%

This can mean a couple of things: Bell and Gibbs are more likely to go across the aisle or maybe Powell just likes to make some sort of point.  Time will tell if Bell and Gibbs have done what is right for their constituencies or if there is another motivation.  Either way, just remember that statistics lie and statisticians are damn liars.

Hugh Hall County Akston


  2 comments for “90% of Quoted Statistics are Made Up

  1. gt183
    July 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Why didn’t you figure in the budget vote? Your cutoff was before the June 30th meeting.

    • Hugh Akston
      July 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm

      The minutes were not posted online when I did the article. When they are posted, I will add them to the tally.

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