Recent complaints about the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's involvement in the 2002 Community Survey appear to be much ado about nothing.
It seems some were surprised angry even that RRC Associates, the Boulder company that conducted the survey, included a chamber mailing list of businesses as part of its survey sampling.
Never mind that the chamber list was just one of four used by RRC to mail out the 4,080 surveys. Never mind that the city made the survey available to anyone who wanted to be surveyed. Never mind that thousands of residents who received the survey chose not to complete and return it.
The mere fact that a chamber mailing list was used was enough for some including current and former City Council members to suggest the results were somehow skewed.
Yes, the chamber mailing list did include business owners who do not reside full time in Steamboat. Yes, nearly 40 percent of the survey participants were business owners, a rather high percentage for the population at large.
But let's keep it in perspective. Of the 500 surveys mailed to part-time residents who own local businesses, just 144 13 percent were returned. And don't those residents, who provide employment for many full-time residents in Steamboat, deserve to voice their opinions to city government?
It's worth noting that the chamber had nothing to do with its mailing list being used. The City Council asked the consultants to use the mailing list in an effort to make the survey more inclusive.
"We wanted use as many lists as we had," City Council President Kathy Connell said. "And one of the things we wanted to be sure to sample from were people who own businesses who may not live in Steamboat Springs. Getting business input is as important as (getting input from) people who don't own businesses."
Connell is right. Adding the chamber list simply ensured the survey reached as many of the people who make up the Steamboat community as possible.
Another point critics of the survey failed to mention the survey data can be extrapolated to include or exclude specific respondents. For example, the data can be isolated to second homeowners or to year-around residents. If desired, the council could exclude non-resident input in evaluating certain survey responses.
There is a vocal segment in Steamboat that is critical of anything that has the Chamber Resort Association's name attached to it. In some ways, that's healthy it helps keep the chamber's influence in check.
But surely the chamber's critics can find a better fight to pick than this one.