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If results are bad, change the data about them

Police in Houston, Texas put pressure on a Rice University professor to alter negative data compiled while studying Houston’s red light camera program, according to documents released in a lawsuit against the city. Houston Mayor Bill White had selected Urban Politics Professor Robert Stein to create a report on the engineering safety performance of the first fifty automated ticketing machines installed (view study released in December). Stein represented an ideal choice because his wife, Marty, is employed by the city of Houston as a top aide to the mayor. In a November 2007 email, White emphasized his personal interest in the subject at the beginning of the project.

Realizing that an early copy of Stein’s work would be critical in understanding the truth about Houston’s red light camera program, a pair of attorneys made a request for a copy of the report’s first draft. When the city rejected the request, Randall L. Kallinen and Paul Kubosh filed a lawsuit forcing disclosure of the correspondence between Stein and the city. After reviewing the documents, Kallinen gave Professor Stein partial credit for his work.

“While Stein at first seemed to have leaned toward the police he rejected most of their attempts to change his report,” Kallinen told TheNewspaper. “He did however mislead the public through the report and to the press when he said accidents were increasing citywide when he knew for a fact they were decreasing citywide.”

The Newspaper

“Sir, results we’re what we expected.”

“OK, redefine success to be failure and vice-versa.”

“That makes no sense… why?”

“That way I can go on TV, claim we ‘succeeded,’ and we both get rich and famous.”

“But that would be destructive to society at large…”

“You think these assholes care about you? Get your pile of cash and get out of the game, m’boy.”

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