Services

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Consulting to Election Officials

Election directors, at any level of government, have many more issues to address than just the accuracy of voting machines. RAS offers several specialized geographic and mapping services for elections departments: (1) geo-coding of registration addresses to illustrate the geographic distribution of registrants to help in the positioning of precinct boundaries; (2) responding to requests from the U.S. Bureau of the Census for electronic versions of city and county precinct maps; (3) consultation on the geographic considerations of complying with the federal Voting Rights Act, and (4) consultation on management of precinct geographies following districting or redistricting processes.

MAJOR PROJECTS:

Mohave County, AZ – Consulting advice on feasibility of changing from three to five supervisorial districts, 2007.

Pinal County, AZ – advice on creating two more supervisorial districts; accommodating current elective terms; moving to staggered terms, 2005.

Yuma County, AZ – determining best alignment for splitting voting precincts, 1998.


Demographic Analysis

In the broadest context, a demographic analysis examines socio-economic characteristics and the relationships between characteristics.  The results of such analyses are used to assist governmental agencies, non-profit associations, business owners, grantwriters, lobbyists, political parties, and others to guide their decision-making.

A plethora of demographic data now exists on the Internet, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s vast store of historical and current data on population, housing, commerce, and international statistics, to your city or town’s most recent election results.

Examining a single characteristic of a population provides useful information about that group, however, when the statistical associations between combinations of characteristics are examined, not-readily-apparent relationships are revealed, providing the researcher and client with even deeper knowledge.

MAJOR PROJECTS:

Perkins Coie-Brown & Bain Law Firm, Phoenix AZ – Demographic analysis in connection with Vail et al. v. Tusayan litigation, 2009.

Maricopa County, AZ – Preparation of Head Start Community Assessment Document, 2007.

Catholic Social Service, Phoenix AZ – Demographic analysis and site location study for new facility, 2004.

Washington School District, Phoenix AZ – Update of student enrollment projections, 2002.

Phoenix Union High School District – Analysis of effect of Census 2000 population changes on Governing Board Election Districts, 2001.

Phoenix Union High School District – Study of demand for new student health care facility at Metro Tech campus, 2000

Phoenix Union High School District – Demographic studies, enrollment projections to 2010, and redrawing of attendance boundaries, 1998.

Washington School District, Phoenix AZ – Demographic planning study, including enrollment projections and recommendations of solutions to overcrowding at some schools, 1994.


Evaluation of Public Programs

Public programs are periodically subject to objective evaluations by consultants, who are contracted to perform cost/benefit analyses, examination of outcomes and other performance measures, and assessment of service delivery options.  A variety of research methods and tools can be used in these types of evaluations, including demographic and GIS analysis, scientific survey research, key informants and focus group research, funding and resource allocation modeling, and review of current practices.

A comprehensive understanding of public policy development and public administration is fundamental for any consultant who practices in the field of public program evaluation. Ideally, consultants with expertise in evaluation methodology should be involved very early in the development of a program to help define the measures to be used in subsequent evaluations.

MAJOR PROJECTS:

Area Agency on Aging, Region One – Wage and retirement benefits comparison study, 2008.

Maricopa County, AZ – Funding, activity, and future projections study of Community Services Areas, 2008.

Maricopa County, AZ – Preparation of Head Start Community Assessment Document, 2007.

Arizona Fire Districts Association – Development of GIS-based budget, revenue and activity information system, 2005, with annual updates.

Maricopa County, AZ – Analysis and recommendations for changes to allocation formulae used to distribute funding to Community Action Program agencies, 2003.

Arizona Community Action Association – Statewide examination of the effects of welfare reform on the economies of local communities (all Arizona counties and 51 cities and towns), 1999.

City of Phoenix, AZ – Examination of workplace outcomes for Phoenix residents trained under the City’s Job Training Partnership Act programs; evaluation of City’s program and policy options in preparing for increased demand resulting from federal and state welfare reform sanctions, 1998.

Espiritu Community Development Corporation, Phoenix AZ – Analysis of wage rates in education in Arizona; calculation of “trial” salary schedules; analysis and recommendations on cost-of-living-adjustment and performance bonus methods for Charter school system, 1997.

City of Phoenix, AZ – Express Bus Ridership Study:  Focus group research and tabulation of on-board survey questionnaires; GIS mapping analysis of demand on certain routes, 1996.

Arizona Department of Commerce, Enterprise Zone Administration – Analysis of poverty and unemployment data to test designation eligibility approaches, 1996.

Maricopa County, AZ – Evaluation of County’s administration of Community Action Programs; analysis and recommendation of alternative funding allocation formula, 1995.

Arizona House of Representatives – Analysis of a legislative districts plan submitted by a statewide Hispanic advocacy group, 1993.

Governor’s Constituent Services Office – Consultation on adequacy of proposed correspondence management software and procedures, 1989.


Expert Opinion and Testimony

As a member of the Forensic Expert Witness Association, RAS Principal Tony Sissons is well versed in court procedures and the expectations of legal teams.  Mr. Sissons is experienced in giving depositions and testimony in state and federal courts.

MAJOR PROJECTS:

Perkins Coie-Brown & Bain Law Firm, Phoenix AZ – Demographic analysis services in connection with Vail et al. v. Tusayan litigation, 2009.

Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Washington DC – Geo-demographic consulting services and expert testimony in connection with The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., et al. vs. Jan Brewer litigation in US District Court, 2006.

Gary Lassen Law Firm, Scottsdale AZ – Demographic research, deposition and court testimony as defense expert in Town of Gilbert vs. Maricopa County (CV2006-004754), in Superior Court, 2006.

Perkins Coie-Brown & Bain Law Firm – Geo-demographic consulting to plaintiff parties on competitiveness challenge to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission’s map of Arizona Legislative Districts; court testimony as an expert witness on redistricting principles and practices, 2004.

City of Flagstaff, AZ – Preparation of legislative maps for submission to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission; consulting on geo-demographics; court testimony as an expert witness, 2004.

Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest – Roosevelt vs. Keegan (CV91-13087), retained by plaintiff school districts to calculate statewide costs to bring school facilities up to particular building condition standards, using condition and square-footage data provided by the Legislature’s consultant, 1996.

Jennings, Strouss & Salmon Law Firm – Smith vs. Salt River Project (CIV94-0118 PHX SMM), U. S. District Court – engaged to assist SRP’s legal team in their defense of the utility against a lawsuit charging that SRP’s method of electing board members, based upon land ownership, was in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act; provided demographic and statistical analysis of census data and voting behavior, 1995.

Lewis & Roca Law Firm, Phoenix AZ – Arizonans for Fair Representation vs. Symington, et.al.,  U.S. District Court Three-Judge Panel – after testifying as a fact witness, retained by the Court to help the judges with the computer technical aspects of creating a court-drawn congressional districts plan, 1991.


Funding Allocation Modeling

Public agencies responsible for distribution of state and federal funds often use computer modeling techniques to determine how funds are to be allocated to clients within their service areas.

A variety of factors may be included in any funding model, such as: service population as a straight percentage of the area’s population; service population share of the area’s poverty (at some agreed-upon Federal Poverty Level), service population share of the area’s unemployment, and the number of clients served as a percentage of all clients served in the area.

Several types of formula are also available for implementation, including: base plus or hold harmless plus, historical, formula-alone and formula with variables. An equitable formula result is more likely to come from a combination of factors, perhaps weighted to reflect the viewpoints of funding administrators and board members on fairness and other policy objectives.  Changes to existing allocation formula models can be constructed to limit the extent of loss (or gain) that may occur for any service population within a given area.  Oftentimes, a base formula is used to ensure that smaller eligible entities have sufficient funding to stay in operation.

MAJOR PROJECTS:

Maricopa County, AZ — Funding, activity, and future projections study of Community Services Areas, 2008.

Maricopa County, AZ – Analysis and recommendations for changes to allocation formulae used to distribute funding to Community Action Program agencies, 2003.

Maricopa County, AZ – Evaluation of County’s administration of Community Action Programs; analysis and recommendation of alternative funding allocation formula, 1995.


Geocoding of Address Lists

Assigning geographic coordinates to addresses allows the locations of addresses to be spatially analyzed in relation to other geographic features.  Examples:

  • How many customers live north of Main Street and west of 5th Avenue?
  • Which of our members live in Legislative District 3?
  • How many additional households are affected by the expansion of the eligibility zone?

We have geocoded student addresses to help school districts examine alternate attendance area proposals; geocoded registered voter addresses to help elections officials examine new voting precinct layouts; and geocoded organization address databases with legislative and congressional district numbers to help them target their lobbying efforts.

MAJOR PROJECTS:

Arizona Association of Chiropractic – maintenance of legislative and congressional district targeting system, 1998 to 2010.

Cox Communications, Inc. – mapping of Cox Cable TV subscribers, summation by Arizona legislative district and summation by Cox Media Zones, 2008.

City of Surprise, AZ – Analysis of current and future population demand for a new Senior Center, 2007.

Catholic Social Service, Phoenix AZ – demographic analysis and site location study for new facility, 2004.

Washington School District, Phoenix AZ – Update of student enrollment projections, 2002.

Banner Health Arizona – analysis and mapping of patient admissions at East Valley hospital/medical center, 2000.

Washington School District, Phoenix AZ – Demographic planning study, including enrollment projections and recommendations of solutions to overcrowding at some schools, 1994.


Geographic Information System (GIS) Analysis

A GIS is really nothing more than a spreadsheet or database, with which we are all familiar, combined with an electronic map, where each record in the database is electronically linked with a geographical feature on the map, such as a land parcel, a street, or a voting precinct.  The map and the concepts of location can be used to aid in the selection and calculation of data.

Most of our work in GIS analysis entails gathering, examining and reporting on the relationships between various types of data.  The kinds of data that we are asked to examine include election results, school enrollments, socio-economic characteristics and marketing data, all of which have a strong location component. The practical applications of GIS analysis are limited only by the analyst’s imagination.

Some of our recent GIS projects have included:  collecting and analyzing poverty data to calibrate a funding allocation model, examining the statistical relationship between neighborhood wealth and student achievement, redistricting of city council and county supervisor election districts and developing a business site-selection model using regression analysis of retail market area demographics.

MAJOR PROJECTS:

Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest – Statewide statistical analysis of the relationship between a measure of neighborhood wealth and a measure of student achievement, 2003.

Clearly Water, Ltd., Phoenix AZ – development of a statistical-multiple-regression-based business site location model using market area socio-economic data in a computer geographic information system (in association with Landis Info Freeway, Inc.), 1996.

Arizona Department of Education – Creation and operation of a geographic information system (GIS) application to provide speedy determination of the eligibility of Day Care Homes for Tier I funding under the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program, 1997.


Health Impact Assessment

This important new tool looks at the public health consequences of proposed land use developments, transportation plans, utility projects, laws, regulations, or changes in governmental or corporate procedures.

The geographic scope of a health impact assessment (HIA) can be statewide, regional, local, neighborhood or even just a section of a street.

An HIA is a structured process that uses scientific data, professional expertise, and stakeholder input to identify and evaluate public health consequences of proposals, and suggests actions that could be taken to minimize adverse health impacts and optimize beneficial ones.

For example, we might ask: What are the public health consequences of…?

  • Managing school overcrowding by instituting double sessions
  • Extending a railroad line to serve a business park
  • Cutting back on library hours
  • Building a new four-story parking garage near a day-care center
  • Converting an unsuccessful shopping center to administrative offices
  • Allowing a reduction in the required number of parking spaces for development on inner-city vacant lots.

Obviously, the answer to each example above depends heavily on its context. But that’s the power of a health impact assessment – HIAs thoroughly examine context and trace though the chains of consequences, measuring their effects and providing evenhanded reporting on both the benefits and liabilities of proceeding with a proposal.

Some aspects of a person’s health are ‘off the table’ for an HIA – a person’s genetic makeup, or the good or bad choices they make in daily living – but many other factors affect public health and are examined in an HIA:

  • Public services and infrastructure – transportation, healthcare, education, parks
  • Living and working conditions – housing adequacy, air and water quality, noise
  • Social, economic and political – social inequality, poverty, racism, partisanship

HIA is a tool to get people, especially decision-makers, to think about how projects and policies might impact public health – including unintended consequences. An HIA might be funded by a resident community uneasy about highway widening, or by a city department wanting to identify and mitigate possible objections to a development plan. In some cases, HIAs have been the competitive edge that ‘sweetens’ an application for funding.

Let us tell you more about HIAs. We are learned practitioners of the art, science and craft of conducting them.


Political Districting & Redistricting

The concepts of “districting” and “redistricting” refer to a complex technical, legal and public-involvement process for creating equalized divisions of population specifically for voting purposes, at all levels of representative government.  This includes all cities, towns, and counties, legislatures, the U.S. Congress, community colleges and local school boards, which elect their representatives from particular geographic areas within their jurisdiction.

The process is not simply a matter of designating equal numbers of population within each district. One of the most significant challenges, as well as one of the most important objectives in a districting or redistricting process, is meeting the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The process involves many disciplines – law, politics, geography, demography, cartography, public relations, community-of-interest research, political science, public process management, and computer management of geographic and electoral information. Some U.S. jurisdictions are required by the Department of Justice to obtain “pre-clearance” approval under §5 of the Act.  All jurisdictions in Arizona require pre-clearance.

Redistricting Projects Managed
West-MEC Technical Education District, Phoenix AZ –Redistricting of Governing Board Election Districts, 2005.

City of Phoenix, AZ — Principal consultant for City Council redistricting process, 2002.

Gila County, AZ – Principal consultant for Supervisorial redistricting process, 2001.

Graham County, AZ — Principal consultant for Supervisorial and Community College redistricting, 1993 and 2001.

Merced County, CA – Geo-demographic consultant for Supervisorial redistricting process, 2001.

Yuma County, AZ — Principal consultant for Supervisorial and Community College redistricting processes in 1992, 1995 and 2001.

Phoenix Union High School District — Redistricting technical assistance on creating board election districts in conformance with requirements of the desegregation consent decree in Bencomo vs. PUHSD (CIV90-0369 PHX EHC), and of the federal Voting Rights Act, 1995.

Coconino County, AZ – Redistricting technical consulting on redrawing of supervisorial districts, after county-prepared plan had been denied federal preclearance approval, 1992.

Arizona Western College Board Election Districts, 1992 and 2001

Gila County Provisional Community College Districts, 2002

Eastern Arizona College Board Election Districts, 1992 and 2001

Additional Projects
City of Flagstaff, AZ — Preparation of legislative maps for submission to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission; consulting on geo-demographics; court testimony as an expert witness, 2004.

Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky Attorneys at Law, Washington DC – Geo-demographic consulting on competitiveness challenge to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission’s Congressional districts, 2002.

U. S. District Court Three-Judge Panel — Arizonans for Fair Representation vs. Symington, et.al., — after testifying as a fact witness, retained by the Court to help the judges with the computer technical aspects of creating a court-drawn congressional districts plan, 1991.


Public Policy Research

Who determines public policy?  Certainly, all branches of government participate directly in public policy decision-making. However, the general public, through their elected representatives and special-interest groups, participate indirectly.  The myriad forces brought to bear on a wide spectrum of public policy issues ensures that one side will not prevail to the complete exclusion of others.  Just, how many sides are there to a public policy issue? One pundit suggests that the national average is 8.3.

Ideally, any participant armed with reliable data and solid research will have an improved chance of being persuasive in the public policy debate.  Therefore, anyone who wants a fair chance of being heard and taken seriously in such debates, must do their homework.  Public policy research is just like any other type of research, it is simply focused on the relationship between government and the governed.

Research generally involves such primary research techniques as public opinion surveys and database inquiry, and secondary research methods including literature review.  The complexity of such research necessitates a high degree of understanding of research practices and the ability to articulate findings to support one’s side of the debate.

MAJOR PROJECTS:

Legal Services Corporation, Washington DC – Nationwide analysis of the differences between the legal services needs of Native American and non-Native American populations, 2009.

Miller, LaSota & Peters law firm, Phoenix AZ – Statewide geo-demographic analysis of banking, check-cashing and payday loan business locations; preparation of presentation exhibits; assessment of zoning regulation impacts, 2004.

Arizona School Facilities Board – Creation of a computer model to determine reasonableness of enrollment projections submitted by school districts seeking construction funding under Arizona’s StudentsFIRST capital funding program, 1999, and annual model maintenance until 2003.

City of Phoenix, AZ — Preparation of grant request to National Park Service for funds to rehabilitate the historic Memorial Hall at Phoenix Steele Indian School Park, 2000.

William E. Morris Institute for Justice, Phoenix AZ – Analysis of property values in central Phoenix neighborhood being considered for possible Federal relocation assistance, 2000.

Town of Cave Creek, AZ – Management of Spur Cross Ranch annexation campaign, including setting up public hearings and managing the signature gathering process, 1997.

William E. Morris Institute for Justice, Phoenix AZ – Study of the economic effects of Welfare Reform on the economies of San Luis, Nogales, and Douglas, AZ, 1997.

Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest – Roosevelt vs. Keegan (CV91-13087), retained by plaintiff school districts to calculate statewide costs to bring school facilities up to particular building condition standards, using condition and square-footage data provided by the Legislature’s consultant, 1996.

Maricopa Association of Governments – Regional Affordable Rental Housing Study, 1989.

American Correctional Association – Nationwide survey of 2,100 female inmates, 1988.


Thematic Mapping

A perceptive person once observed, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  So it is with a thematic data map.  The results of a data analysis that would take more than a thousand words to explain can be illustrated on a map, which uses gradations of color to show the geographic distribution of the data. The thematic map of household size, shown below, immediately tells us where the smaller and larger households can be found, in a way that the table does not reveal:

Thematic Map Data Table
thematic-map
Tract HH Size
1101.00 4.01
1095.00 3.36
0931.02 3.10
1094.00 3.18
0931.04 2.57
0928.00 3.53
0926.00 2.91
0929.00 3.11
0925.00 2.82
1100.02 3.75

A well designed thematic map can be a valuable tool.  We have prepared thematic maps for a wide range of clients and purposes, including:  illustrating poverty data for community legal assistance agencies; showing varying levels of support for candidates and ballot propositions; and identifying the market draw of emergency room patients, by Zip Code, for a Valley hospital.

MAJOR PROJECTS:

The Maguire Company, Phoenix AZ – Analysis and thematic mapping of support for municipal voting proposition, 2002.

The Maguire Company, Phoenix AZ – Demographic thematic mapping and analysis services for study of neighborhood preservation and investment strategies, 1998.

Arizona Department of Commerce, Enterprise Zone Administration – Analysis of poverty and unemployment data to test eligibility approaches; preparation of statewide poverty thematic atlas, 1996.

Catholic Social Service, AARP, South Mountain YMCA, Foundation for Senior Living, Cannon & Associates, Roosevelt School District, William E. Morris Institute for Justice, Arizona Foundation for Behavioral Health, John C. Lincoln Health Network, Protecting Arizona’s Families Coalition – numerous maps, 1996 to 2010.


Voting Rights Data Analysis

Voting Rights data analysis is often recommended as an early step in any districting or redistricting process, to ensure that the plan will meet the requirements of  §2 of the federal  Voting Rights Act of 1965.  This section of the Act prohibits “minority vote dilution” – any practice that impairs the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice on equal footing with non-minority voters.

The occurrence of minority vote dilution can be assessed for a given jurisdiction by performing a “racially polarized voting” analysis.  Since public voting records do not indicate who voted for each candidate, or the racial category of any registered voter, the racial breakdown of any candidate’s support is not directly known.

However, most courts have accepted inferential analyses of precinct-level electoral data.  The two commonly accepted techniques are “homogenous precincts” analysis and “bivariate ecological regression” analysis.  Ideally, each analysis should include several election cycles to see if polarized voting is structural – always there at a certain level – and not just the result of an occasional lost election.

The fact that racially-polarized voting exists in some areas should neither surprise nor alarm anyone.  Minority race, language or origin residents tend to coalesce around issues and support candidates of interest to them — choices that sometimes differ from those of non-minority voters.  The data analysis looks at how often the candidates of choice of minority voters are overwhelmed by non-minority bloc voting.

MAJOR PROJECTS:

Pinal County, AZ – Demographic and election analysis services in connection with legislatively ordered changes to the number of Supervisor districts, 2009.

City of Phoenix, AZ – Principal consultant for City Council redistricting process, 2002.

Yuma County, AZ – Analysis of retrogression of voting strength of voting-age minority populations in the supervisorial and community college districts adopted in 1995; response to request for additional pre-clearance review information from the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 1996.

Jennings, Strouss & Salmon law firm – In Smith vs. Salt River Project (CIV94-0118 PHX SMM), U. S. District Court – engaged to assist SRP’s legal team in their defense of the utility against a lawsuit charging that SRP’s method of electing board members, based upon land ownership, was in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act; provided demographic and statistical analysis of census data and voting behavior, 1995.

Lewis & Roca law firm, Phoenix AZ – Statistical analysis of relationship between race and political party registration in Arizona, 1995.

Arizona State Senate – Redistricting technical services in connection with state’s request to U.S. Department of Justice for reconsideration of the adopted, but not precleared, legislative districts plan, 1993; and  redistricting technical consulting services to the Senate Majority Caucus in 1992.