Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Update

The past few weeks have been rough.  I battled the flu, worked.  I have been writing for other online publications.  I have two posts on The Hill Talk, one is on new hate crime data from FBI while the other is on new data from the Census Bureau on poverty in every county in the US.  I also published on the website  on how logistic regression can be used by data journalists to investigate relationships between a categorical outcome and more than one predictor variables.

I should have more time to elaborate on these posts later this holiday.  I'll leave you with this video I took at the Midnight Mass at the Cathedral in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2015.

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Season's Shootings

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Minimum Wage and Veterans at the State Level

In my last post on cities with living wage ordinances and the percentage of veterans in that city, the percent of the city who are veterans was negatively associated with the amount of the living wage that was passed.  For this post I thought I would take a look at what variables were associated with the amount of the minimum wage passed at the city or county level.  

All but six states have their own minimum wage laws:  Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Tennessee.   Georgia and Wyoming have minimum wages below the national minimum at $5.15/hour.  Thirty states plus DC have minimums above the national minimum of $7.25/hour.  

First I looked at the univariate relationship between veteran percentages and the state minimums.  I coded the states without minimums as zero.  All of the zero states except Alabama had percentages of veterans above the national rate.  There was a weak negative correlation between these two variables of -0.214 which accounts for only 5% of the variability.  This relationship was not statistically significant at p=0.13.  The graph below shows the nature of the relationship.

Next I thought I would conduct an analysis of the 30 states plus DC with minimum wages above the federal minimum.  This was done to make it comparable to the analysis I conducted for the living wage cities and % veterans.  This time the univariate correlation was significantly negative with a value of -0.389 and a p-value of 0.03.  This relationship accounts for 15% of the variability in the state minimum wage.  The graph below shows this relationship.

The relationship at the state level is not as strong as it is for the living wage cities.  There veterans accounted for 28% of the variability.  To see which other variables might be at play I added the percents of the 30 states plus DC that voted for Trump.  When I did this the effect was no longer present for veterans but it was for Trump's % of the vote.  There was a fairly strong positive correlation of 0.55 for these states with suggests that states with higher veteran populations are more politically conservative.  For all states the correlation between veterans and Trump's % was slightly weaker at 0.46.

Standard Error
t Stat
Trump %
% Veterans

The District of Columbia was included in both the analyses for cities and states.  Removing DC did not radically alter the results.

**Related Posts**

Veterans, The Elderly, and Living Wage Cities/Counties

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Net Neutrality and CSI wo DB

I have been busy working and writing for the Hill Talk and Data Driven Journalism.  I was going to post on a further analysis on Veterans and minimum wage and on new hate crime numbers from the FBI. However there is a more pressing issue for this website and others like it, Net Neutrality.  The other posts are forthcoming.

Currently it is hard enough in the current web climate to get ones message out to the masses for websites like this one.  The competition for eyes and ears is fierce.  Removing net neutrality rules will make it even worse.  The airwaves are public domain.  It is shameful that the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) will sell out the public domain to large corporations to increase profit and diminish dissenting views.  I urge you to contact your representatives in the House and Senate to pressure the FCC not to do this.  The FCC will vote on December 14.

In the spirit of giving Tuesday, I have added a donate button to the right side of the site for those who want to support the work of this site.  It takes time to write posts for this site so any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

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The Need for CSI Without Dead Bodies (& Similar Websites)

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.

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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.

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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

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?