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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 20th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 29 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 29

Sun opinion poll regarding Lompoc City Council tampered with


Somebody in Lompoc really doesn’t like the city’s mayor, Bob Lingl.

The Sun saw more than 12,000 votes pour into its online opinion poll within 24 hours between Sept. 18 and 19, replying to the question: “Who on the Lompoc City Council is most out of line?” The four selectable answers included Mayor Lingl and Councilmembers Jim Mosby, Victor Vega, and Dirk Starbuck, but the overwhelming answer was for Lingl, who had 84 percent of the vote as of the Sun’s press time.

A string of votes made in the Sun’s online opinion poll—which asked, “Who on the Lompoc City Council is most out of line?”—included more than 10,000 votes from a single IP address. The poll saw Mayor Bob Lingl at 84 percent and Councilman Jim Mosby at 13 percent with more than 13,000 votes entered before entries abruptly stopped just before the Sun’s press time on Sept. 19.

According to ITECH Solutions, the company that hosts the Sun’s website, a single IP address was responsible for more than 10,000 of the votes. Two other IP addresses were responsible for 206 and 145 votes, ITECH reported after a preliminary inquiry was made by the Sun about the matter.

The poll ran the same week as a cover story regarding struggles between Lompoc City Council members regarding the recently passed budget and and a possible review of City Manager Patrick Wiemiller’s employment with the city (“A house divided,” Sept. 14).

Sun staff noticed considerable engagement throughout the week, with more than 150 votes registered by Sept. 18, with Lingl and Mosby receiving most of the vote at a close to even distribution. It was when the fraudulent votes poured in—at one point at around 150 votes per minute—that the poll swayed overwhelmingly for Lingl.

The Sun reached out to both Lingl and Mosby multiple times for comment on Sept. 19 but received no reply from either before press time. The Lompoc City Council was set to meet that night, where a vote about another review of Wiemiller was planned.

Joe A. Garcia, with the Lompoc Valley Cannabis Coalition, called the Sun after he noticed the poll results skyrocket. Garcia—who contributed to this week’s Opinion section (page 12)—said that the cover story had been shared across social media by multiple people and organizations in Lompoc.

The subject of Lompoc’s city government has been widely discussed in online forums on platforms like Facebook, Garcia said, from the “finger gun” incident between Lingl and Mosby to the four-months-late budget that was approved Sept. 5.

“There’s been a lot of bickering that the story mentions,” Garcia said. “Each of [the City Council members] have an interest to not be declared the winner. There’s a lot of things happening here, and I’m sure there’s going to be some heat at tonight’s City Council meeting.”

Weekly Poll
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