Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Election Epilogue

The election is over.  It's time to take stock in the numbers and see what they mean. In the City Council race I received 765 votes (not including the absentee ballots).  This was 864 votes short of winning a seat on the council.  I did receive a positive response to my platform from those who heard my message.  It does get sobering when the actual numbers come in.

Percent of votes cast (n=8,633)
% of voters (n=2,179)
Sylvia J.
King (Democrat)

Britt (Democrat)

Marie A.
Mock (Democrat)

Vitovich (Democrat)

Amsdell (Republican)

Ricci (Independent)

WRITE-IN (No Party Specified)

Bottom of Form

I received 8.9% of the votes cast.  There were 8,633 total votes cast.  Because voters could vote for up to four candidates in this race, there were 2,179 total voters in the race.  When dividing by the total voters I received 35.11%.

Looking at the 20 precincts in the city, my best showing percentage wise was 11.6% in the 2nd and 3rd precincts in the 8th ward (the Roxbury sections of town).  This makes sense as I had volunteers working the polls all day there on that cold rainy/snowy day as the picture below shows.

In terms of how I placed relative to the other candidates, my best pacing was 5th out of 6 candidates In the 11th ward and in Kernville ahead of the only Republican in the race, Mark Amsdell.  I tied Amsdell in the second center city and in the 7th ward.  You can see a summary of the precincts here.  Amdell's best finishes were in the 2nd thru 4th precincts in the 17th ward (Moxham) and in the 21st ward (West End) here he placed in the top 4.

In other local races, Charlene Stanton ran a write in campaign for Mayor.  There were 495 write in votes in that race.  Assuming that they didn't all vote for her, I had about 300 more votes than her as this race covered the same precincts at my race.

Terry Smith and Seki Taranto ran a Green Party and an independent challenge respectively to the four Dem/Rep candidates for the Greater Johnstown School board.  This race covered 8 more precincts as my race which means I can compare their race to mine by looking at precentages of the vote.  Smith had 7.3% and Taranto had 7.2%.  A difference of 9 votes between them.  I did vote for both of them.

Voter Turnout was reported to be higher than expected in the county with a turnout of 30%.  This was above the predicted 25% turnout.  Shirley Crowl, Cambria County's director of elections attributed the increased turnout to the contested race for district magistrate between Max Pavlovich and Susan Gindlesperger.  I believe that the candidacies of Amsdell, Smith, Taranto, Stanton, and my own as well as any other challenger in the local races contributed to this increase as well.

I called this post election epilogue rather than election epitaph as I see this election as a step to other things rather than an end.  This was a learning experience.  I passed out over 1,000 flyers at events, grocery stores, high school football games and every other large event I could think of.  Likewise over 1,000 people saw my posts on social media.  In both arenas the response was generally positive and I received 765+ votes.  As I kept my campaign spending under $250 and had a few volunteers, it may have been the best result I could expect.  Thanks to Larry Blalock, Woody Weaver, Catherine Anne McCloskey, and Dave Casker for all they have done for my campaign.

**Related Posts**

A Successful Campaign Kickoff Rally for Labor Day

Friday, November 3, 2017

Vote for Paul Ricci on Nov. 7 for City Council

The campaign season is heating up.  I am here to make a final plea votes here in Johnstown, PA.  I have been profiled in the Johnstown Tribune Democrat.  I have met thousands of city voters and given out many flyers.  The voters are concerned about their future.  I share many of these concerns and am looking forward to make efforts to address them as their city councilman.

People here are concerned about the shrinking population (3rd fastest shrinking in the US), the opioid epidemic, urban blight, and the lack of jobs here.  I have a plan to address those concerns:
  • Body Cameras for the Police
  • End Corruption by Improving Enforcement and Transparency in City Government
  • City Wide Wifi
  • A living wage for city workers
      • State law prevents the city from raising the minimum wage for all its workers
  • Consolidation of Local Communities with Johnstown
  • Fight the Drug Problem in the City through Better Treatment and Education
  • Get rid of urban blight with a $2 entertainment tax to pay for the demolition of decrepit  houses (This idea was originally Joe Warhul's who ran for council in the primary)
  • Lobbying the state and federal government to bring back revenue sharing
The response to these ideas has been overwhelming.  The city cannot move forward by clinging to the past.  The free Wifi will attract people to the city (people who work from home, college students from the Pitt-Johnstown campus, and daily shoppers) to improve our tax base to address the need for improved infrastructure.  Consolidation with neighboring communities will further improve our tax base.

The living wage for city employees and body cameras for police will improve the morale of the city employees and foster better relations between the police and the city.  

If you live in the city limits and are registered to vote I ask for your vote on November 7.  If you know someone who lives here please share this post with them.

**Related Posts**

A Successful Campaign Kickoff Rally for Labor Day

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Veterans, The Elderly, and Living Wage Cities/Counties

I asked others in the field of demographics on my last post on the percentage of veterans being a negative predictor of the amount of living wage enacted in the 38 cities/counties that have passed living wage ordinances.  One expert in the field suggested one variable that I hadn't considered.  

Chris Briem over at the blog Nullspace suggested I look at age as a possible variable that could mediate this relationship.  He stated that there are higher concentrations of veterans among the elderly.  This makes sense as the draft existed before 1970.  I did obtain the % of the population over the age of 65 for cities in the 2010 census and added it to the model seen below.

Standard Error
t Stat
Lower 95%
Upper 95%
% veteran
% over 65

The % of veterans in the city/county still significantly negatively predicted the amount of the living wage passed while the % over the age of 65 did not predict it in either direction.  These cities did have lower percentage of veterans (mean=4.95%) than the US (6.22%).  Likewise these cities did have lower percentages of those over 65 (mean=11.77%) than the US (13.00%).  

I looked at the correlation between the % of veterans and the % over 65.  There was a non-significant positive correlation between the variables as can be seen in the graph below.  Only 8% of the variability in the % over 65 was accounted for by the % veterans for these cities.  There are cities with high elderly populations and low veteran populations such as Palo Alto and El Cerrito, CA

It may be more informative to look at the % of elderly veterans vs. younger veterans as a predictor of the amount of the living wage.  I'm not sure where that data is available but it is a good area of inquiry.

**Related Posts**

What do Living Wage Cities Have in Common?

Veterans, the Living Wage, and the McNamara Fallacy

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Veterans, the Living Wage, and the McNamara Fallacy

In the first post for the eighth year of the blog I was going to reflect on the Ken Burns film about Vietnam.  My first impression was how little things have changed since then with all of the protests.  The second thing that jumped out at me was President Johnson's defense secretary's obsession with collecting data (mostly body counts) to determine who was winning the war.  This is called the McNamara fallacy and is discussed below.

In my blog and my other writings I use statistics to enlighten people and to shed light on various social phenomena.  For example, for the Hill Talk, I looked at various variables which may predict the magnitude of the increase in the living wage for the cities/counties that have passed such ordinances.  

The graph below shows the strongest predictor which is the percentage of veterans in that city/county.  As the percentage of the veteran population increases by one percent, the amount of the living wage decreases by an expected 59 cents.  This relationship accounts for 28% of the variability in the amount of the living wage passed. 

The mean % veterans of the 38 living wage entities is 5% while the US as a whole has 6.2% of its population who are veterans.  Case in point Seattle, WA passed a $15/hour living wage ordinance while nearby Tacoma, WA passed a $12/hr wage.  Tacoma has 9.34% of its population as veterans while Seattle has less than half at 4.54%.  All of the cities that have passed a $15/hour wage or higher have % veterans that are lower than the US as a whole.  Six of the nine cities/counties with wages $15/hr or higher are in California.  

If one spends too much time looking at the leaves and the twigs on a tree, one can miss the surrounding forest.  This is basically what the McNamara fallacy is.  New findings with statistics can reveal important features of the forest as I believe this analysis has with regard to the forest activists must navigate to pass a living wage ordinance.  

The percentage of veterans in a city/county was the most robust variable negatively associated with the amount of the living wage increase after considering the % poverty, the % foreign born, the % change in the population, the % uninsured, the % in poverty, median household income, median housing value, and the % with a high school education or higher.  The full data set used in this analysis can be seen here.  The amounts of the minimum wage increases were found from the National Employment Law Project or NELP.  The demographic information on the cities/counties that have passed these ordinances was found from the Census Bureau at Census.gov.

Unlike McNamara and later Donald Rumsfeld and their ilk, I do not claim to have a full grasp of the whole forest surrounding the Fight for $15.  Further research is needed to fully understand the forest.  An argument could be made that it was the arrogance of men like McNamara and Rumsfeld that created the large population of veterans in the US.  One would think that if anyone could use a raise the veterans could.  A significant portion of the homeless population are veterans.

**Related Posts**

What do Living Wage Cities Have in Common?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Seven Years of CSIwoDB

Usually for my anniversary posts I look at the web traffic statistics for the site.  This year I thought I would take stock of where the blog is and where it will go.

Seven years ago I began the blog by conducting data driven journalism before I had even heard of the term.  This year I have been outsourcing my writing skills to the websites Data Driven Journalism, Kolabtree, and The Hill Talk.  These opportunities are nice.  However it takes a long time to put together data driven posts.  Opinion pieces like this one are a lot less time consuming to write.  

This blog was created to fulfill three purposes.  

  • To educate people on how statistics can help people to see patterns that aren't easy to see with the naked eye.
  • To keep my statistical skills sharp.
  • To showcase my skills when I am not working.
After seven years I have had some success on these fronts.  My all time most read post was linked to on the BBC webpage for the program The Joy of Stats and still gets views on the web.  I already spoke on the outside columns that I am making.  There is more and more competition for eyeballs on the web however but at the same time there are more and more eyeballs too.  Sometimes it seems like I'm a voice crying out in the wilderness but it's still necessary to cry out.

On the second point I feel that it has kept my skills sharp for the skills I learned in school. There have been methods that have come out since then that I have not learned such as natural language processing.  Regardless of the new methods that come out it is still important to stress the basics.

I have had more work this year (though most of it unpaid) and I have less time to post so I will have less time to post here at least until my city council campaign ends on November 7. II did get the above note placed under my windshield wiper recently that I had to share with you all.

**Related Posts**

CSI senza cadaveri

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pennsylvania Lags Behind US in Startup Job Creation

Last Thursday I attended the Startup Alleghenies launch event to network with those interested in learning how to create one's own company.  The presentations were interesting.  I went to offer my statistical services to anyone who had such a need.  

Looking at the census bureau's website I came across this article 

Startup Firms Created Over 2 Million Jobs in 2015

The map below shows the % change in startup job creation by state.  The states with the largest increases are in the west the southeast, and Michigan.  These numbers are encouraging but the report states that "this level of startup activity is well below the pre-Great Recession average of 524,000 startup firms and 3.3 million new jobs per year for the period 2002-2006." 

The growth in startups in different states may be reflective of the business climate there. The article does not explicitly state what the definition of a startup company is.  It speaks of old (> 25 years old) and young companies (< 6 years old) but does not state how startups fit into this picture.  It also provides no information on how long startup companies tend to last. 

People love to quote how Apple computer was founded in a garage but often they are the exception to the rule.  Would there be differences between the states in how long startups last?  Usually one discovery raises more questions than it answers.  I'm sure the data exists elsewhere.

On a side note I have begun to write columns for the The Hill Talk online publication.  I have written two posts there so far.  My next post will be the seventh anniversary post where I take stock of the blog.

**Related Posts**

Personal Bankruptcy Rates as a Measure of Underinsurance (Cross Post with PUSH)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Medicare for All Forum in Johnstown, PA

Bernie Sanders has introduced a Medicare for All (formerly single payer) bill to the Senate for consideration.  He garnered 16 cosponsors in the Senate including Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker.  It has no chance of passing the current congress as they are now considering yet another repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) but it can be the catalyst for a better healthcare system in the future.  We must pick up the torch (not a tiki torch or a literal torch) and speak out.  Here is just such an opportunity:

Medicare for All Forum
Cambria County Library Community Room
Thursday, September, 28

A discussion on how universal health care that is not profit driven can save money and lives. 

**Related Posts**

Parallels between 2010 and Today's Healthcare Debate

US Life Expectancy Decreases and Those Who Want the Affordable Care Act Expanded Increases


Santorum: No One Has Ever Died Because They Didn’t Have Health Care |The New Civil Rights Movement