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Measure A, MALT, and the Godbe Research survey

This 80% support data has formed the basis for the Board of Supervisors to pursue Measure A renewal, and proponents of Measure A have cited the Godbe finding at every turn.2

In direct contradiction to Godbe's claim that 80% support for Measure A are two polls conducted by Marin County Parks.3 These polls demanded significant changes to the 2012 Measure A ordinance, namely - by a 6 to 1 ratio – respondents demanded the decrease in allocations to farmland preservation, and a full 71% of the respondents stated that they will oppose Measure A unless there is a complete cessation of funds for MALT. 4 5

Godbe claims the radical disparity in survey results is because Godbe's data is derived from a more "scientific random sample." 6 A more plausible explanation is that Godbe's survey omitted all mention of MALT from its test questions 7 and then chose not to include the survey data demonstrating low voter approval for funding private agriculture in general. 8

With over $14.3 million granted to MALT since Measure A passed in 2012, why would an ostensibly impartial pollster sidestep questions about allocations to MALT and simply discard the result that may not fit with a desired outcome?


According to Godbe Research’s own description of itself, the company is a “results-based” 9 firm that offers “customized,” 10 “results-oriented data.” Thus, Godbe conducts surveys that seem designed for marketing purposes, never intended to be unbiased.

For at least 15 years, Godbe has provided similar “result-oriented data” 11 for Marin County. In 2009, the Marin Independent Journal requested an audit of the public opinion contracts the County had given to Godbe Research, 12 including two contracts for the failed 2007 and 2008 Measure A campaigns.13 That audit followed what Marin IJ staff writer Nels Johnson called “a firestorm of protest from newspaper readers, some calling [Godbe’s surveys] a scam and a waste.”14

However, despite the audit and the clear public remonstration, Godbe’s data was again used during the 2012 Measure A campaign. On June 26, 2012, sitting adjacent to MALT’s executive director, Bob Berner, Godbe presented his new findings to the Board of Supervisors. 15

Angry articles were subsequently published in the Marin Independent Journal, one entitled "Poll Focus on Winning not Need." 16 The author denounced the use of a "survey whose clear purpose is to figure out how to get a tax increase passed." In a later article, the same author states, "It seems that every time a governmental entity in Marin County wants to raise taxes and needs political cover, they commission a survey by Godbe Research. Every time."17

Apparently, nothing has changed

Marin County does not benefit from contrived, "custom designed" 18 polling. We need transparent, impartial survey results, like we received from the two Parks surveys, so that an ordinance can be drafted that reflects the public's wishes.

Parks Director Max Korten testified before the Board of Supervisors that the survey by Godbe Research was "funded" by the Marin Open Space Trust (MOST), a private advocacy organization.19 In fact, it was purchased by the Measure A recipient committee.20 As such, the Board of Supervisors relied on survey data - purchased by the pro-Measure A campaign – that was selectively used to produce the “customized” “results-oriented data” that the campaign ordered.

The Marin Open Space Trust and the "Yes on Measure A" campaign should be ashamed of themselves for an action that seems solely designed to mislead the public and the Board of Supervisors about Measure A funding for MALT.

--- Endnotes ---

1. This description was used in Parks Department “Staff Reports” presented to the Board of Supervisors and to the Marin Parks and Open Space Commission on October 9, November 14, and December 14.

2. Proponents of Measure A have cited this Godbe finding at every turn. The “80% support” figure was first presented to the Board of Supervisors by Bryan Godbe himself at the initial meeting to consider extending Measure A (See: at 3:02:41). Two Marin Parks “Staff Reports” prominently referencing the poll number were presented to the Board of Supervisors[1] and the Parks and Open Space Commission (See: ). Marin Parks referenced this data point in its published presentation material about the proposed changes to Measure A (See:, and Parks Director Max Korten presented the results while testifying in-person before both the Board of Supervisors and the Parks and Open Space Commission (Parks’ “Proposed Changes” document was presented to the Parks and Open Space Commission on November 4, Board of Supervisors on December 14).

3. The two polls were the “Community Survey” about Measure A priorities (See: and the subsequent online “Comment Form” organized by Parks to assess the public sentiment about the proposed changes to the measure based on the first survey (see: (In an email dated December 3, 2021 that can be provided upon request, Parks Director Max Korten referred to the poll and “the comment form on our website to provide comment on the proposed changes to the measure A expenditure plan.”)

4. See:

5. The second poll – the “Comment Form” - not only mirrored the former results, but significantly exceeded their irrefutable rejection of Measure A allocations to MALT and “agricultural stewardship.”[1] An overwhelming 86.2% of the overall comments of the “Comment Form” were focused on private agriculture and MALT’s easement acquisition program. Of those 197 comments, 85.5% of respondents demanded a complete discontinuation of funding for MALT, while only 14.4% supported the allocation to private ranchers.[1] (Half of the responses who supported continued Measure A allocation for private ranching came from MALT staff, MALT board members, their families, or past recipients of MALT easements). This is a nearly 6:1 rejection of funding for private ranching and MALT.


6. See: "MALT defends Measure A funds for farmland easements,” Dec 13, 2021

7. See:

8. After assertions were made by Dr. Martin Griffin and Barry Spitz that Godbe may have manipulated the poll (see:, the Marin Open Space Trust asked Godbe to clarify. Godbe responded by letter, not by addressing whether MALT was in any of the test questions, but by stating that a question was asked about whether the public cared to “Protect and preserve Marin County farmland>” That result was 63.3% and was not included in the presentation materials submitted before the Board of Supervisors, nor clearly was it represented in the 80% favorability number. (See:

9. See:

10. See:

11. See:

12. See:

13. “[Godbe] surveyed public opinion for county supervisors in 2007 and 2008 on prospects for a sales tax increase boosting open space, fire protection and agricultural programs.” See: Marin opinion survey bill totals $270,500, Feb 14, 2009

14. See:

15. See: at 23:50.

16. See:

17. See:

18. See: Marin opinion survey bill totals $270,500, Feb 14, 2009

19. See: at 3:01:10.

Also see:

20. See: at page 8.


MALT, Measure A, Parks