You may or may not have read the Your Town column by our own Bob Burton, about the shenanigans surrounding the consulting contract awarded to John Millar’s Divaris Real Estate to do a highly dubious study of Iowa City’s downtown. Well, the other shoe is beginning to drop: all University Of Iowa students, faculty and employees were favored with an E-Mail from Mr. Millar, asking us to participate in a survey about the downtown:
Divaris Real Estate has been commissioned by the City of Iowa City and the University of Iowa to create a strategic analysis of retail opportunities in Downtown Iowa City.
We are seeking ideas related to enhancing the shopping experience in the downtown area. We’d like to know what you like now about downtown and what you would like to see changed or added?
Please help us by providing answers to the on-line questionnaire at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Downtown_Iowa_City.
Your assistance is greatly appreciated in this effort. Thank you for your help!
If it wasn’t clear already that Millar is a ridiculous excuse for a consultant, I’d argue that this E-mail removes all doubt. From what I know about the science of polling, there is no way to derive any meaningful conclusions from a self-selected sample. Mr. Millar is basically hoping that the University population will do his work for him, and his report to the City will comprise a bunch of vague suggestions larded with statements cribbed from the essay boxes of this Webmonkey.com survey.
And the survey itself is idiotic. Consider this question:
9. What are the top three disadvantages to shopping in Downtown Iowa City?
OK, so, as a frequent retail customer of the Iowa City Downtown, I’d say NONE of those are disadvantages I perceive about downtown Iowa City. Yet this survey wants me to choose three.
The biggest problem for me of down town Iowa City for me is that there are not enough interesting, independently owned businesses there. There’s too many places to buy pizza and beer, and not enough unique retailers. I really appreciate all the local businesses that have found a way to survive in our downtown. But the biggest disadvantage for both customers and retailers both in Downtown Iowa City isn’t an option on this survey: THE RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH.