This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

Sept. 4

Prepare to get meta: A new poll shows three-quarters of Americans, across all demographic subgroups, think public opinion polls are biased.

A poll. Of people. Telling us most people don't believe polls.

Distrust is strongest for polls conducted by candidates, political parties and automated voice recording firms, but news media polls are not widely trusted, either, according to the survey of 1,011 Americans conducted July 24 through Aug. 4 on behalf of Kantar, the research and data management division of WPP, a British multinational advertising and public relations company.

The poll, called "The Path to Public Opinion," found that although Americans believe polls are biased, they're not certain who they favor: A very small percentage believe they are biased toward conservatives; a slightly larger percentage believe they are biased toward liberals; and a significant majority (68 percent) just think they are biased in some way.

Also, 67 percent of Americans claim to pay little to no attention to polls when considering for what or whom to vote. Yet 59 percent of Americans say they pay attention to consumer research when considering products or services to buy.


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While poll participants are harder to find, Kantar's research shows that the identity of a poll's sponsor is a key determinant of people's willingness to take part. Academics and foundations have the most positive impact on willingness (41 percent say they are more likely to participate) while social media sites get only 11 percent; news organizations, at 24 percent, run about even with political parties or candidates, at 23 percent.

Surprisingly, only 11 percent of Americans say they view social media as a viable source of information about public opinion on policy and politics, and 60 percent are less likely to take a poll conducted on a social media site. Only 6 percent say they use social media to communicate about issues and causes, while 61 percent say they use it only to communicate with friends and family.

Sept. 6

A bill inspired by BART's shutdown of cellphone service during public protests in 2011 has been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.

The state Senate on Friday concurred in amendments to SB 380 by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, which says agencies could only interrupt cell service when directed by a court order based on probable cause.

BART turned off electricity to cellular towers in four San Francisco stations for three hours during an August 2011 protest about a BART police officer's fatal shooting of a knife-wielding homeless man.

The incident led the Federal Communications Commission to probe wireless service shutdowns, bringing public comments that indicated such shutdowns create more problems then they solve because they impede emergency communications. BART later in 2011 adopted a new standard for when it could interrupt phone service; Padilla's bill, if it becomes law, would pre-empt that policy.

"The tragic events in Boston earlier this year remind us of the vital importance of wireless service to first responders, victims, and families during emergencies," Padilla said in a news release Friday.

"For decades, California law has required a court order to interrupt or shut down traditional telephone service," he said. "SB 380 would extend these protections to the modern mobile communications network, which is critical to public safety and a key element of a free and open society."

Brown vetoed a similar bill last year, saying that giving law enforcement agencies only six hours to make findings about service shutdowns "could divert attention away from resolving the conflict without further threat to public safety."

Padilla's current bill differs from last year's by making carve-outs for hostage and barricade situations, and by adding a process for a shutdown in certain emergencies so long as it's followed by court review to determine whether free speech and public safety standards were met.

The state Senate passed this bill 35-3 in May; the Assembly passed it 77-0 on Wednesday. A roll call is not yet available for Friday's Senate concurrence vote.