My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Archive for May, 2009

Inside the 2010 Census form: Question #8 and Charlie Rangel

Monday, May 18th, 2009

June Kronholtz, who covers the 2010 Census for The Wall Street Journal, just reported on long-term Rep. Charlie Rangel’s latest wrangling (okay, it’s Monday, we want to be funny and use puns to keep you on your toes):

Race and ethnicity already are complicated questions in the decennial census. Now, Rep. Charles Rangel and a fellow New York Democrat want to make them even more complex.

Question 8 in the 2010 census form asks if the person being counted is “of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” and, if so, from where. That person has a choice of four check boxes:
–Yes, he or she is Mexican, Mexican American or Chicano
–Yes, he or she is Puerto Rican
–Yes, he or she is Cuban or
–Yes, he or she is “another,” and is asked to fill in a blank.

The form offers the prompt: “for example, Argentinean, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard, and so on.”

Rangel, who represents a district with a big Dominican population, has introduced HR 1504 that would require the Census Bureau to offer a separate check box for Dominican-Americans. Similarly, Rep. Yvette Clark (D., N.Y.), who is Caribbean-American, has introduced HR 2071 that would require a check box for “Caribbean extraction or descent.”

The 2010 census forms already have gone to the printer, so there’s no chance of a change this time around. But Terri Ann Lowenthal, who writes a census newsletter, says both bills are likely to figure into the discussion about the 2020 form.

Census drafters talk about the limited “real estate” on the decennial form—they want to keep it to one page and 10 questions in order to assure most people answer it.

But ethnic and racial interest groups regularly lobby for inclusion. Question 9 on the 2010 census asks for the race of the person being counted, and then gives the option of nine Asian groups, plus a fill-in blank for anyone not already covered; a check box for native Americans and a fill-in blank for the name of their tribe; a fill-in blank for “some other race;” a check box for “black, African Am., or Negro” and a check box for “white.”

Groups representing Caribbean blacks, African immigrants and Arab-Americans already are asking for check boxes of their own in the 2020 census, says Lowenthal.

The Census Bureau doesn’t ask anyone except Asians and Hispanics about their nationality or ancestry on the decennial census. For everyone else–the one-quarter Italian, half-Czech, one-quarter Scot–that question is left to the American Community Survey, a household sampling that the bureau conducts yearly.

In case you missed it…Friday’s NYT Editorial

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Just as MyTwoCensus was reporting live from Washington about the Robert Groves’ confirmation hearing, The New York Times published an unsigned staff editorial titled, “Building a Better Census Bureau.” Here it is:

After years of mismanagement by the Bush administration and months of fumbles by the Obama team, the Census Bureau may be getting back on track for the 2010 count. On Friday, the Senate is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for Robert M. Groves, President Obama’s superb nominee to run the bureau.

A University of Michigan sociologist and a leading authority on survey methodology, Mr. Groves served as the bureau’s associate director from 1990 to 1992. With the 2010 census less than a year away — and at high risk of failure — the Senate should quickly confirm this top-notch nominee so he can get to work.

Congress also must do more to revitalize the bureau, which has long suffered from inadequate financing and political meddling and, as a result, weakened leadership.

A bipartisan bill pending in the House would help resolve those problems. It would take the Census Bureau out of the Commerce Department and establish it as an independent agency, akin to NASA or the National Science Foundation. It would also extend the bureau director’s term to five years so that census preparations are not upended by the presidential election cycle.

Seven former bureau directors from both parties have signed a letter in support of the measures. The census is a 10-year project, they noted. But as part of the Commerce Department, it is subject to budget decisions that change annually, resulting in chronic underfunding, especially in the project’s crucial planning phase.

The former directors also asserted that Congressional oversight would be improved if the Census Bureau were independent and could deal directly with Congress. Independence would also put bureau officials in a stronger position to push back against undue meddling by the White House or Congress, such as attempts to politicize hiring decisions or spin scientific data.

The census is vital to democracy — and to American citizens. It is used to decide the number of representatives from each state, draw Congressional districts and allocate federal aid. It and other bureau surveys also supply the underlying data for an array of government statistics on education, crime, health and the economy.

To do its important job well, the Census Bureau needs a strong leader, like Mr. Groves, and it needs to be an independent agency.

Person to watch: The GOP’s John Ryder

Monday, May 18th, 2009

One of the many after-effects of the 2010 Census, in addition to funding changes, is redistricting. Thus, both major political parties will be jockeying to ensure that the redistricting process favors their interests. Yesterday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele called upon Tennessee native John Ryder to spearhead the Republican Party’s redistricting efforts. Here’s the article from the Memphis Flyer about the appointment:

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Memphis lawyer John Ryder, who has served as Republican National Committeeman from Tennessee for most of the last two decades, has been named by RNC chairman Michael Steele to chair the party’s national redistricting committee.

Ryder has been the lynchpin of the state Republicans’ redistricting efforts after each of the last two census revisions — in the periods 1989-1994 and 1999-2003 and was instrumental in the party’s deliberatons as far back as 1976.

More than a decade ago, then state Republican chairman Randle Richardson bragged on Ryder’s redistricting expertise during an address to the Shelby County Republican Party steering committee and quipped, “That’s his idea of good sex!” (The modest and somewhat embarrassed Ryder would later contradict that metaphor, claiming propensities that were normal and red-blooded, but Richardson’s remark did summarize the Memphian’s zeal for a subject that many others considered esoteric and difficult.)

Said Steele in announcing the appointment: “I am proud to announce the appointment of John Ryder to this Republican National Committee leadership post. John has been a tireless advocate of Republican principles both in the state of Tennessee and across the country and I look forward to working with him to prepare state parties for redistricting efforts following the 2010 national census.”

Live-blogging Robert Groves’ Senate Confirmation Hearing…

Friday, May 15th, 2009

8:20 – Arrive at hearing. Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post and a couple of cameramen from C-SPAN are the only people present in the room.
8:25 – A committee staffer named Dierdre, who is clerking the hearing, says that only 3 Senators are expected to attend today.
8:29 – Robert Groves walks into the room, sets down his bag and a stack of papers, says a quick hello to me, and then walks out of the room.
8:35 – 4 women and 4 men, who appear to be family members of Robert Groves, walk into the room.
8:36 – Groves re-enters the room and hugs/shakes hands with his family members. He appears confident.
8:38 – Bob Groves comes over and introduces himself to me. He recognizes me from MyTwoCensus. He invites me out to “Suitland” – aka Census Bureau HQ to see the inner workings of the Bureau. I hope to take him up on his offer.
8:52 – Groves is schmoozing with other Census Bureau officials. They share some laughs.
8:57 – There are 3 reporters here other than me (Wash Post, CNSNews.com, NPR). Thus far, there’s been a whole lot of hype without a whole lot of action.
9:10 – Maintaining the status quo. Only 20 people total in the room. This will likely be a pretty darn quiet event.
9:20 – Nothing to report.
9:25 – Still nothing to report.
9:26 – Approximately 35 people in the room right now. No sign of any Senators.
9:27 – Senator Carper is here.
9:28 – Carper has his arm around Robert Groves. Senator Levin is here too. Three of them chatting like old chums.
9:31 – Carper just sat down, everyone is quiet, ready to go.
9:32 – No other Senators except for Levin (who is introducing Groves) and Carper.
9:33 – Senator Levin giving introduction of Robert Groves.
9:37 – Levin says, “Groves has been endorsed by 6 former Census Directors from Democratic and Republic administrations.”
9:39 – Senator Levin finishes introduction and departs.
9:40 – Senator Carper is discussing the hearing in Philadelphia from Monday.
9:42 – Carper mentions that 2000 Census had 500,000 temporary employees.
9:43 – This is the most expensive census in history. Estimated cost: $100 per household, rather than $56 per household in 2000. Why such a disparity?
9:44 – Carper acknowledges that the investment into handheld computer technology has been a colossal “failure.”
9:45 – Sounds like Carper is wrapping up…”Since no members have arrived yet…” Carper is looking for ways to kill some time.
9:46 – Groves’ financial statements have been reviewed by the government and he is all  to go.
9:47 – Groves is sworn in by Carper. He introduces his guests – family and colleagues.
9:51 – Groves mentions non-partisanship. (We will post his official opening remarks soon).
9:52 – Sen. Akaka (D-Hawaii) just entered the room.
9:54 – Groves is very articulate. His commitment to running the Census Bureau in a non-partisan way sounds legitimate.
9:55 – Groves discusses the statistical sampling issue. Groves agrees that statistical adjustment will not be used for redistricting.
9:56 – “My job is to constantly search for ways that censuses and surveys are conducted.”
9:57 – Groves finishes his remarks.
9:58 – Senator Carper mentions that many other Senators have returned to their home states, hence why they are not here today. He introduces Sen. Akaka.
9:59 – Senator Akaka praises Robert Groves.
10:01 – Carper telling stories about his son going on a road trip. The point of the story is that people may get counted twice, especially rich college students.
10:05 – Sen. Collins (R-Maine) has arrived at the hearing.
10:08 – Groves explains that working with leaders in subgroups of the population is important to encourage participation.
10:14 – Akaka asks how Groves plans to attract highly qualified staff members to the Census Bureau, as 25% of Ccnsus Bureau employees are scheduled to retire within the next year.
10:15 – Groves says that very few American students are studying statistical methods many are foreign students at American universities). Groves notes that there are very few American schools that offer statistical analysis programs. Groves suggests that restrictions on foreign workers working for the Census Bureau should be lifted.
10:17 – Groves says there is a need for interdisciplinary programs.
10:18 – Akaka asks how Groves will improve diversity within the Census Bureau.
10:19 – Groves says that he wants to increase diverse staff to increase a diverse population.
10:20 – Sen. Collins is now speaking. She is asking questions.
10:21 – Collins praises Groves’ statement that a non-partisan, objective 2010 Census is necessary.
10:22 – Collins, “What safeguards will you take to prevent the decennial Census from being influenced by partisan politics?”
10:23 – Groves discusses transparency and assures that he will speak out against interference if that occurs.
10:24 – Collins, “Would you be prepared to resign if you were asked to do something when there has been interference?”
10:24 – Groves, “Not only would I resign, I would make sure I stop abuses.”
10:25 = Collins asks about statistical sampling. She wasn’t here when this was discussed earlier.
10:26 – Collins asks if Groves would want to use sampling in 2020. He says, “I have no plans to do that.”
10:27 – Collins, “In this information age…the Census is using paper and pencil to collect data…What steps will you take to bring the Census into the 21st Century? What will you do to ensure better management of technology contracts by the Census Bureau?”
10:28 – Groves discusses Research and Development and management.
10:30 – Senator Collins concludes and exits.
10:31 – Carper discusses that the federal government has many problems with technology.
10:37 – Groves discusses the over 1,000 partnerships that Census Bureau created for 2000 Census. Groves says that local leaders play an important role in this. He supports grassroots campaigns to get people counted.
10:39 – Grovces explains that different societal sub-groups have different sub-groups. He discusses Australia’s method for dealing with Aborigines as a successful method. (Bill Bryson’s work suggests otherwise.)
10:49 – Just fell asleep for about 7 minutes because Sen. Akaka has been droning on and on while prefacing a question. I see no less than 10 other people with their eyes closed right now. Final question: How will you reach the grassroots?
10:52 – Akaka asks Groves about field workers not following procedures according to the Inspector General’s report.
10:53 – “I am not briefed on the training or non-response follow-up. I find those things interesting. I will pay attention to those. – Groves
10:55 – Carper now speaking about IG’s report – “This almost jumped off the page at us. I urge you to familiarize yourself with this report.”
10:56 – Carper says he has 2 more questions.
10:59 – Groves acknowledges there will be problems with the 2010 Census, but pledges quick, calm, collected, responses to issues, with full transparency.
11:00 – Carper asks if Census Director should have a fixed 5-year term and if reporting to the Secretary of Commerce makes sense.
11:01 – Groves says that it’s problematic that many Census Directors are appointed in years that end in the number 9 – meaning right before the decennial headcount. Groves says this is “meritorious of serious discussions.”
11:04 – Carper asks if there is enough funding for the Census Bureau.
11:05 – Groves says he doesn’t have enough information to answer this question.
11:06 – Carper finishing hearing now.

Final Update: Confirmation hearing, here we come!

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Click HERE to check out the official memo and video (though the latter appears to be a dud as we couldn’t get it to work on PCs or Macs) about Robert Groves’ Senate confirmation hearing that is now less than 9 hours away!

For those people who are interested, this hearing will be airing live from 9:30am-11:30am EST on C-SPAN 2. (Stream the video live on your computer using the links on the RIGHT SIDE OF THIS PAGE!)

MyTwoCensus will be providing live updates throughout the day.

As there is another hearing scheduled for 2:30pm in the same room, we don’t expect Groves’ hearing to extend past lunch time.

Here is the list of Senators who are expected to attend the hearing:

Democrat Republican
Joseph I. Lieberman Chairman (ID) (CT) Susan M. Collins Ranking Member (ME)
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Carl Levin (MI) Tom Coburn (OK)
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Daniel K. Akaka (HI) John McCain (AZ)
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Thomas R. Carper (DE) George V. Voinovich (OH)
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Mark L. Pryor (AR) John Ensign (NV)
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Mary L. Landrieu (LA) Lindsey Graham (SC)
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Claire McCaskill (MO)
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Jon Tester (MT)
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Roland Burris (IL)
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Michael Bennet (CO)

If you’re in the Washington D.C. area and interested in the 2010 Census, this hearing is open to the public.

IBM, Lockheed Martin, GPS, and the 2010 Census

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

We stumbled upon this most interesting piece on OpEdNews.com:

From April 1st, 500,000 census workers, part of a $700 million taxpayer-funded contract, will travel all known streets and roads to identify every living quarter where people live or could potentially live. Each structure also will receive Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates to make sure it is recorded in the right location.

Below are excerpts from a video of the US Census Bureau ad, A New Portrait of America:

“On April 1st, 2010, our nation will be counted, every person whoever they are, wherever they live, and what we learn will transform what we know about ourselves. The 2010 Census, it’s a new portrait of America.  The 2010 Census is an exciting milestone for America. It promises to deliver accurate information about our diverse and growing population. And it’s important for the future of each community. Census Data will be used to allocate $300 billion in Federal funds every year.  It is the foundation of our Constitution. Communities use the data to plan for their future, like disaster and emergency services, health care services, schools, transportation, libraries, senior centers and more.

“The 2010 Census builds on the success of previous Censuses and is the best plan and most well researched Census ever.  The 2010 Census is important. This census is the commitment to the American way of life. To Be Counted as a resident of the United States I think is one of the proudest things that can happen to you in this country. It’s important to stand up for yourself, be counted. Let people know you’re out there. It’s a new portrait of America.”

Cue to the American flag….A video shot of diverse and multicultural people ranging from Hispanics, Asians to African and echoing the words, “It’s easy, it’s important, it’s safe!” Flashes on the screen pacify the end user: “It’s safe!”  The words, the mantra: “It’s safe!” burn into your subconscious.  Let’s remember that.

September 20, 2007 marked the day the U.S. Census Bureau awarded IBM Global Business Services a contract worth $89.5 million over nine years to provide data tabulation and dissemination services in support of the 2010 Census Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) program.  Fantastic news to one of the biggest IT companies in the world, otherwise known as Big Blue. It’s also known as the Nazi Nexus Hollerith Machine company to the Jewish families and other non-compliant races who lost their loved ones in WWII to the Third Reich. We will focus on the IBM Nazi nexus later in the article; let’s focus on what is currently happening with the US Census.

As we speak, US Census Bureau agents are pounding the pavements in the USA. Armed with a device, the HTC Census running on an Intel Bulverde 416MHz processor. Yes sir! Census agents are getting on with their business with an attitude of ‘I’m just doing my job’ as they capture your GPS front door coordinates. The catch phrase of these public servants echoes the hand that feeds them, the USA Census Bureau. “What are we doing on your doorstep?” Um, we are “Helping YOU make informed decisions,” replies the USA Census Agent, and don’t you think anything else!

Each US Census Bureau worker is assigned a funky HTC Census dual-band CDMA/EV-DO device that is WiFi but also comes with a phone jack, allowing it to be connected to a land-line network. The HTC Census is biometrically protected to the user, as this Census Bureau YouTube video explains. The ‘worker Census bees’ must have no problem with biometric harvesting, and soldier on collecting GPS co-ordinates for the Queen bee.

Once the GPS (Global Positioning System, formerly known as GNSS – global navigation satellite system developed by the US Department of Defense) co-ordinates are matched to the mapping address, the HTC spits out a ‘you have successfully completed this address’ which motivates the Census worker bee onto the next address.

This little viewed YouTube US Census Bureau video depicts a lovely lady who courteously knocks on the door and introduces herself. “Hi! My name is Elizabeth from the US Census Bureau.  We are in the area today, verifying addresses for the 2010 census. Here is a copy of our privacy act along with my purpose here today. What is your address? Is this also your mailing address. Great. Okay, thanks, that sums it up. If you don’t mind, I’ll be up front updating my maps.” The Census worker thanks the resident and they bid farewell to each other. How lovely!

Now back to the real world.  The reality is that US Census Bureau Agents are conducting themselves in a covert, shifty and stealthy manner. US citizens who have experienced US Census Bureau agents first hand have commented they seem untrustworthy, reveal very little when questioned and get the job done regardless.  In this home video, a Census worker gets upset he is being video taped. ‘Getting the job done’ means getting your GPS coordinates. But remember the US Census Bureau advertisement: “It’s easy, it’s important, it’s safe!” “It’s safe!”  Ah, I feel better after drinking the GPS Census Kool Aid.

The US Census Bureau goes on to say, “We honor privacy, protect confidentiality, share our expertise globally, and conduct our work openly. We are guided on this mission by our strong and capable workforce, our readiness to innovate, and our abiding commitment to our customers.” Who exactly are these customers? A bit of a clue to our readers who are not up on their history: the customer is NOT you. It’s DARPA, the CIA, FBI and other domestic spy agencies.

Let us remember these public servants responded to the US Census Bureau job ad which read: “Thousands are needed for temporary jobs. Conducting the census is a huge undertaking. Thousands of census takers are needed to update address lists and conduct interviews with community residents. Most positions require a valid driver’s license and use of a vehicle. However, public transportation may be authorized in certain areas.”

Would these temporary public servants be as gun ho if they were made aware that IBM had a dark and sinister story hiding in their blue chip closet?

What if the US Census advertisement read as follows?

If we stepped back in time, we would realize that census data is extremely powerful in anyone’s hands, but what if those hands were Hitler’s? That infamous war criminal relied on IBM Census data in WWII to fuel the war machine. The census data provided by IBM to Nazi Germany was used for planning invasion and occupation plans for Europe and provided key information to the Nazis to exterminate the non compliant races.

Edwin Black, author of IBM and the Holocaust, and an award-winning, investigative journalist for the New York Times, painstakingly documented how IBM’s Dohemag subsidiary was integral to the Nazi killing machine by providing the necessary automation to ‘locate all the Jews of Europe.’ As the Third Reich embarked upon its plan of conquest and genocide, IBM and its subsidiaries helped create enabling technologies, step-by-step, from the Census, to identification and cataloging programs of the 1930′s, to the selections of the 1940′s.

According to IBM’s historical archives, German inventor Herman Hollerith developed and patented census tabulating equipment in the late Nineteenth Century. The mock-up below represents the machine used by the U.S. Census Bureau in compiling the 1890 Census.


This equipment is representative of the tabulating system invented and developed by Herman Hollerith (1860-1929) and built for the U.S. Census Bureau. These machines were first used in compiling the 1890 Census. IBM History.

Hollerith’s patents were acquired by the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. (which later became IBM), and this work became the basis of the IBM Punch Card System.  But when IBM Germany formed its philosophical and technological alliance with Nazi Germany, census and registration took on a new mission. IBM Germany invented the racial census–listing not just religious affiliation, but bloodline going back generations. This was the Nazi data lust. Not just to count the Jews–but to identify them. Hooray for IBM work experience and double hooray for an IBM proven track record!

“We appreciate the Census Bureau’s continued confidence in IBM to support their efforts,” said John Nyland, Managing Partner, IBM Global Business Services, Public Sector obviously reflecting on the fact “Working with our business partners, IBM is helping the Census Bureau with innovative approaches to flexible and timely data analysis and dissemination.” IBM is also supporting the Census Bureau as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin on the Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) 2010 data collection contract. Yes that’s right, the world’s largest defense contractor by revenue is working with IBM to ensure America is counted.  But let’s not get alarmed. Let’s remember the US Census Bureau advertisement….”It’s easy, it’s important, its safe! … It’s safe!”

In 2005, Lockheed Martin won the contract to develop the Decennial Response Integration System (DRIS) in order to:

• Receive, capture, and standardize census data provided by respondents via census forms and telephone agents;
• Provide assistance to the public through the telephone; and
• Receive standardized data collected via hand-held computers.

In 2007, IBM joined the team, subcontracting with BAE Systems, ESRI, Space-Time Research, SAS, M-Cubed, Roundarch, Dataline, FWG, Measurable Results, RCM, PKW, Fenestra, and Acumen Solutions. [12]

In 2009, ACORN – the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also joined the Census team.

So what exactly are we concerned about? Are we saying that IBM and Lockheed Martin have used temporary public servants to undertake their cloaked military GPS Census operation?  That’s precisely what we are saying. Let us be crystal clear: if US Census workers were armed with their GPS and dressed in IBM/Lockheed Martin military apparel, there would be an outcry and perhaps an awakening on what is happening to the constitutional rights of Americans. But IBM has shown great veiling expertise and US citizens have  barely noticed  a massively organized militarization of their information quietly occurring, shrouded in a cloak and dagger US Census Bureau marketing campaign. It can’t get any more intimate and personal than your front door GPS coordinates, can it?

The question we must now ask, ‘Why are they doing this and what will they do with the information?’

Greg Nikolettos writes for We The People Will Not Be Chipped, a group of Neo Luddites who campaign for privacy and the irrefutable fact that humanity has inalienable human rights that are absolute and cannot be debased nor perverted. Human life cannot be degraded to a RFID chip number embedded under your skin under any circumstance.

GOP Budget Committee gives “Boondoggle Award” to the Census Bureau

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Well, your taxpayer dollars are hard at work in many ways, as the GOP Budget Committee has taken up some house.gov server space to criticize government spending on the 2010 Census:

Costly Counting: The 2010 Census

May 12 , 2009

In its zeal to go “high tech,” the usually redoubtable Census Bureau has already assured the 2010 head count of U.S. residents will be the most expensive in history, even after adjusting for inflation. At a projected $14.5 billion, next year’s census will cost more than twice the expenditure for the 2000 enumeration – mainly because agency officials contracted for a half-million hand-held computers, and then mismanaged production of the devices. The result is $3.6 billion in wasted taxpayers’ funds – and the latest Budget Boondoggle Award.

Here is how events unfolded:

  • After the 2000 census, top Census Bureau officials sought to replace the paper-and-pencil method of data collection with automated hand-held computers. But instead of buying off-the-shelf technology and coordinating with those who would actually use it, the agency paid a vendor more than $600 million to “custom-build” 500,000 hand-held devices for its temporary field enumerators.

  • The hand-held instruments had to do just two things: 1) enable enumerators to input information from households who did not return their census questionnaires; and
    2) update the location of every household in the country. They succeeded in neither. Census Bureau officials failed to articulate or oversee technical requirements, resulting in a poorly designed and inferior technology. In dress rehearsals, it became clear the devices were too complex for workers to use, incapable of transmitting the amounts of data necessary, and full of “bugs.”
  • How to solve the problem? Spend more money, of course. By April 2008, the Secretary of the Department of Commerce, home of the Census Bureau, admitted to Congress that the program had “experienced significant schedule, performance, and cost issues,” forcing census officials to scrap plans for the computer devices and spend an additional $3 billion to revert to a traditional paper-based system.

  • This $3.6-billion mistake has pushed the overall price tag for the 2010 census from roughly $11 billion to an unprecedented $14.5 billion – more than double the $6.5 billion spent on the 2000 census. Yet despite the additional spending, the Government Accountability Office and other nonpartisan watchdog groups deem the forthcoming census “at risk,” leaving many worried about its accuracy.

After repeating the same constitutionally required task every decade since 1790, the Federal Government should by now have a handle on how to take a census, from which congressional districts are established, and billions of dollars in State, local, and research funds are allocated. But by trying to “modernize” procedures, the Census Bureau has actually regressed. The results raise doubts about the government’s ability to run, say, auto companies, financial institutions, or U.S. health care

Mayor wants same-sex marriage recognized on 2010 Census form

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

San Francisco’s Mayor, Gavin Newsom, recently announced his bid to become California’s governor in 2010. Today he stepped onto the national stage, as he took a decisive stance on the pro-gay rights issues that he has so vehemently supported. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that “Newsom asked the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Census Bureau to recognize same-sex couples in the 2010 Census.” Is there be time to add “gay marriage” to the 2010 Census form? What legal hurdles would need to be overcome to turn this proposal into reality?

Confirmation Showdown: The McHenry Memo

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

This was leaked to MyTwoCensus from a Congressional insider:

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Groves’ hearing postponed, now Friday at 9:30 am

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

For those of you who have been wondering when Census Director-to-be Robert Groves’ confirmation hearing is taking place, the answer is now Friday, 5/15 at 9:30 am. The hearing has already been pushed back twice (each time at the last minute), so we hope this date is set in stone. MyTwoCensus will be live-blogging the whole thing. With Joe Lieberman in charge of the hearing and John McCain in attendance, Groves will certainly face heated questions about statistical sampling and the role of ACORN in the 2010 Census.

Canvassers, in the wild

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
Address canvasser in action

Address canvasser in action

There’s no doubt that it’s Census Season.

In the past few weeks, MyTwoCensus staff have spotted multiple address canvassers on their foot patrols across the San Francisco Bay Area, the home of MyTwoCensus’ West Coast staff.

In one case, photographed above, we spotted an address canvasser walking the hilly streets of Potrero Hill, a residential San Francisco neighborhood. As the garage door opened and a curious homeowner approached, the canvasser promptly announced his presence, and his purpose.

The homeowner, curiosity apparently satisfied, let the canvasser return to his work.

With the billions of dollars being spent on this Census, we’re thrilled to say that the canvassers we’ve seen working in person have been diligent and focused on the task at hand: Verifying every single address on every one of the 3,794,066 square miles in the country.

Is this the norm? Have you seen address canvassers in the wild? Are you one yourself? Share your story, photos or thoughts by emailing us at mytwocensus ( at ) mytwocensus.com

Troubles in Rural America

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

By Reynolds Farley, Ph.D.

I worked as a crew leader for address canvassing from March 23 to May 7. Reflecting the economy, five of the 18 members of my crew had post bachelor’s degrees. Several had given up lower-paying jobs to canvass for the Census Bureau. All had been told that they would have six to eight weeks of work. Canvassing took place from April 17 through May 6.

Our area was a rural one with numerous lakes and isolated homesteads not visible from unpaved roads. In many places, dirt roads lacked names, homes lacked numbers and residents claimed that the post office did not deliver their mail. The vehicles of three canvassers became stuck in mud. Maps on the hand-held computers bore no more than a remote relationship to what we found. Quite often we came upon an array of a dozen or two mailboxes sitting side-by-side at the end of a dirt lane. Some had numbers, some did not. Then there would be a dozen or two homes scattered about a lake, an estuary or a river front. Matching numbers with residences was extremely time consuming, if possible.

Address canvassing went well from April 17 through May 1. Our local census office was located in a suburban area adjoining a major metropolis. Officials there appeared to be unfamiliar with canvassing in a remote rural area. We were told that our district was the only one in the local census office not completed by the week-end of May 2.

Rather than letting us work for another week to finish the job competently, canvassers from urban areas were sent to our area in great numbers and at considerable cost. There appeared to be no interest at all in quality control. The emphasis was solely upon completing the canvassing before an arbitrary deadline.

The canvassers who started with this crew believed they would be employed for six to eight weeks worked three weeks at most. I suspect that the very many new canvassers who were sent in to complete the area had little, if any, familiarity with the rural area where we worked.For my entire career, I have used U.S. Census data in my teaching and research. The area we canvassed is one in which no address list could be complete and accurate. The canvassers working with me were serious and cautious. Two-thirds of the area was competently canvassed. One-third of the 29,000 address lines were canvassed in extreme haste implying that several hundred housing units may not receive a questionnaire when they are mailed next March 17. I hope that this emphasis upon speed rather than quality was a rare happening.

I had the good fortune of working with many excellent an dedicated canvassers in this brief period and a very competent Field Operations Supervision. I am, however, less sure about the dedication of some higher level local census office administrators to the important issues of minimizing undercount in the 2010 Census by getting an excellent address list.

Dr. Reynolds Farley is Professor Emeritus at the Population Studies Center and Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan, where he served as Chairman of the Sociology Department. Dr. Farley’s research interests concern population trends in the United States, focusing on racial differences, ethnicity, and urban structure. A recognized leader among social scientists who study race relations in the United States, Reynolds Farley is among the top echelon of social demographers, a leading authority on the demography of African Americans, and a penetrating and creative analyst of racial and ethnic relations over the past 40 years. His pioneering studies of the causes and implications of massive and continuing racial segregation have enlightened the national discourse on social policies concerning families, welfare, health and education. His current work includes an investigation of the residential consequences of revitalization in the Rust Belt. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and first worked for the Census Bureau in 1962.

The Smoking Gun Report from the Inspector General’s Office

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

We urge all of our readers  to take a close look at the Inspector General’s most recent reports about the 2010 Census (located here: Observations and Address Listers’ Reports Provide Serious Indications That Important Address Canvassing Procedures Are Not Being Follow—OIG-19636-01 [PDF] Report). This report details many significant failures of the Census Bureau’s recent address canvassing operations that were brushed aside by Acting Census Director Tom Mesenbourg at today’s 2010 Census hearing in Philadelphia. Here are the major problems discussed in the report:

During address canvassing field observations, we found that some Census listers were not
consistently following the procedures in their instruction manual. In several cases we observed
listers skipping the procedure for knocking on doors. In at least one case a crew leader ignored
portions of the verbatim training and instead instructed listers to omit this procedure. We
received several additional reports from listers who were specifically told by their crew leader to
omit this procedure. Further, we observed listers map-spotting addresses from their cars when
they were instructed to collect a map spot at or near the main entrance of a structure—usually the front door.

Despite instructions to traverse every road in an assignment area, some listers we observed
completely skipped roads in rural areas when they assumed no houses existed on the road.
Address canvassing in rural areas can be difficult as tree cover and other conditions can visually
obscure structures. Road conditions also can pose significant challenges: for example, rough
terrain may necessitate four-wheel-drive vehicles, and some roads may only lead to fields or
barns, or may dead-end at a physical feature such as a river. Nonetheless, canvassing these areas is essential to accurately locate rural living quarters.

OIG staff observed address canvassing in 15 different locales in 5 of the 12 Census regions. We
identified the failure of listers to conform to address listing and map-spotting procedures in 7
different locales representing all 5 regions. We also received independent information on the
same problems for 2 locales not associated with our sample. Although our observations were not conducted on a statistically drawn sample and therefore cannot be considered representative of the entire operation, the widespread nature of the problem is noteworthy.

A number of factors may be contributing to this breakdown in procedures. Skipping procedures
reduces the time it takes to conduct address canvassing. We have received reports from Census
field staff that they are under intense pressure to complete their assignments within a limited
time frame and to minimize or avoid overtime. Some are concerned they may face termination if they miss deadlines or work unauthorized overtime. Production pressure may therefore be one cause for this breakdown, but Census needs to determine why these problems are occurring.

Failure to follow procedures negatively impacts the quality of the address list, map spots, and the subsequent enumeration. Living quarters that are not included on the address list have a greater probability of not receiving a decennial questionnaire and thus not having their residents counted. Address canvassing is the primary means for identifying “hidden” dwellings, such as sheds and makeshift garage apartments, but the likelihood of missing such living quarters increases if the lister does not attempt the required personal contact. Because of smaller populations, missing a single living quarters in a rural area has a greater impact on the quality of final census population counts.

Failure of listers to correctly use the handheld’s GPS capability—a key component of Census’s
nearly $800 million field data collection automation contract—jeopardizes Census’s ability to
ensure that living quarters are recorded within the correct census block. This accuracy is
particularly important for redrawing congressional and state legislative districts.

The Census is depending on its address canvassing quality control operation to identify and correct errors resulting from listers’ not following procedures. We are therefore expanding the number and breadth of our field observations to focus on this quality control operation, particularly in rural areas. Given the problems we have identified, we are concerned that Census has not completed its contingency plan for improving list quality in the event that the results of address canvassing are found to be deficient.

These shortcuts have cost impacts as well. Quality control operations may take longer to
complete and cost more than anticipated since improperly listed addresses that are identified or
deleted must be recanvassed. Inaccurate map spots can increase the time it takes for enumerators to find their assignments during enumeration and nonresponse follow-up operations and add to their chances of getting lost and enumerating the wrong housing unit or group quarters.

Inaccurately located rural living quarters may have a greater cost impact on subsequent census
operations, as locating and driving to these potentially remote units requires greater effort than
doing so in urban or suburban areas.

Note: We have added a new permanent link on the right side of this site that will take you to the Inspector General’s most recent reviews of Census Bureau activities.

Live-blogging Philadelphia’s 2010 Census hearing…

Monday, May 11th, 2009

12:57 – 25 people at this meeting…poor turnout…90% work for the Census Bureau…Sen. Carper not here…will it start on time?

1:04 – Sen. Carper doing introductions…he shook my hand and introduced himself earlier.

1:05 – Sen. Carper discussing stats about 1.4 million Americans working for Census Bureau (largest peacetime hiring effort)

1:06 -  6 million people missed in 2000 count. 1.3 million people counted twice.

1:07 – Hispanics miscounted 4 times as often as whites in 2000 says Carper

1:08 – Mayor Nutter going to speak…he’s in a rush and has to leave in 10 min.

1:10 – Michael Nutter says Philly will lose $2,300 per person not counted in 2010 Census

1:12 – Challenges for Philly: Locating households, encouraging people to return their forms…accurate address listings from US Postal service very important.

1:13 – Nutter: Master list doesn’t have 56,000 addresses that Philly City Gvnt reviewed and updated for Postal Service

1:15 – Nutter: Afro-Americans disproportionately represented in economically disadvantaged and Latinos in linguistically challenged areas

1:15 – Linguistic issues must be addressed by Census Bureau. INS and deportation issues must be addressed.

1:16 – improve response rate: 1. issue exec order 2. city-wide campaign 3. establish multicultural network

1:17 – Only through raising public consciousness that we can make this work – Nutter says his office will help out.

1:17 – Nutter leaves, Sen. Carper thanks Nutter

1:18- 3 minute video will be shown now…forgot my popcorn

1:19 – This is the same propaganda video stuff that’s available on YouTube on the Census Bureau’s channel…but informative!

1:21 – Still awake, still here…they’re playing sentimental “a photograph, a portrait of hopes and dreams” theme song…is Sen. Carper shedding a tear?

1:23 – De. Congressman Castle talking…discussing differences between allocating $ based on population rather than earmarks and pork legislation etc.

1:26 – Boring Del. Congressman Castle talking about why people don’t respond…this is called preaching to the choir, everyone here works for the Census Bureau

1:30 – Now Mayor Baker of Wilmington is speaking…making jokes, got no laughs

1:33 – 50% of Wilmington residents live in rented homes…this=bigger problems for counting.

1:34 – Mayor Baker thinks door to door messaging is important…like political campaigns.

1:36 – They make Joe Biden jokes about talking off the cuff…

1:37 – Baker says, “Who cares what Rush Limbaugh and FoxNews think” now that they’re in the minority…

1:38 – Baker makes more jokes and finishes his statement. Back to Sen. Carper…

1:39 – Philadelphia Managing Director Camille Cates Barnett is speaking…really sad story about her: http://www.kyw1060.com/pages/1430697.php?

1:40 – Barnett: Census data helps draw City Council districts…she cites 2007 Brookings study – $377 billion allocated based on 2010 Census

1:41 – Barnett: For every person we miss counting, $2,263 in funding lost…

1:44 – Barnett whips out 1 page strategic plan for Philly census…

1:45 – Add 75,000 residents in the next 5-10 years=Goal for City of Philly

1:46 – Since 2000 Philly has added 22,000 converted housing units…56,000 additional addressees have been handed over to Census Bureau from Philly.

1:48 – Economic downturn=people get displaced…complicates counting process.

1:49 – Only 23% of AfroAmerican Philadelphians have high school diplomas and 13% have college degrees.

1:52- Barnett repeats every single thing Mayor Nutter already said…eyelids shutting…

1:53 – Barnett finished with positive message…back to Sen. Tom Carper

1:55 – Carper asks Barnett what she learned from 1990 and 2000 Census.

1:56 – Barnett says major issue in previous Census operations=accurately ensuring population growth is properly recorded

1:59 – Congressman Castle talking about working with clergy…he references US Marshalls getting ministers to have criminals confess.

2:01 – Castle asks if clergy can be of help to get people out…Barnett talks about faith-based groups for outreach.

2:03 – Congressman Castle asks how landlords can help w/ Census. He admits he doesn’t know the legality of this.

2:05 – yadda yadda yadda – hopefully MyTwoCensus gets to ask some HARD-HITTING QUESTIONS. EVERYONE is falling asleep (woman next to me)

2:13- Carper’s aide just passed him a note…he’s now ending with Barnett and Baker…maybe abruptly ending mtg?

2:16 – New panel now on the Dais — Tom Mesoundbourg (acting Census Director) speaking…invoking founding fathers. Also on the Dais now: - Pat Coulter, Executive Director, Philadelphia Urban League

- Norman Bristol-Colon, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, State of Pennsylvania

- Wanda M. Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware

2:20 – Mesounbourg LIES! he says operations are going smoothly and address canvassing in philly almost done! – (THE INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT FROM MAY 09 DISAGREES) READ THE MOST RECENT UPDATE: http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/census_bureau/

2:25: Mesounbourg concludes “Our operations are not intended to count many of us, they are intended to count all of us.”

2:26 – Norman Bristol Colon now talking…he has a heavy Latino accent…hard to understand!

2:27 – More Puerto Ricans living in USA than in Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

2:30 – Colon urges Census Bureau to have a plan to count undocumented and documented residents in the same way and counts EVERYONE.

2:31 – Colon insists that Census data remains private and is not released to the INS or other immigration officials.

2:33 – This is pretty much turning into a pro-immigration rally…Colon passionately speaking…only 20 people remain in the room here.

2:34 – Colon says that redistricting will help Latino populations so they can have more representation in gvnt.

2:36 – Colon finished speaking…now hearing from Pat Coulter, head of Urban League Philly – Urban League and Census Bureau have worked together since 1970.

2:37 – Coulter just quoted Dick Polman, my journalism Professor at Penn!

2:38 – Here’s the article Coulter quoted from: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/americandebate/Head_counts_and_head_cases.html

2:42 – Coulter finished speaking, now last but not least, Wanda Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware

2:46 – Wanda Lopez is very well spoken, but unfortunately no new information added.

2:49 – Congressman Castle asking questions then “calling it a day” as Sen. Carper put it.

2:53 – Congressman Castle asks if celebrities can do public announcements to promote the Census…Director Mesenbourg says the Bureau is pursuing this.

2:54 – Mesenbourg says a PR firm has been hired to do this…which firm is this? Coulter mentions Oprah as possible spokeswoman.

2:55 – Wanda Lopez suggests using local radio in addition to ads on Univision.

2:56 – Castle thanks panel. Carper ending mtg. now…NO HARD-HITTING ISSUES ADDRESSED!

2:57 – Carper says President and First Lady and possibly Sasha and Malia could be used to promote 2010 Census…Wondering: Will they be counted in Chicago or DC?

2:58 – Carper acknowledges problems with handheld computers and asks Mesenbourg to weigh in on correction of problems.

2:59 – Mesenbourg: Handheld only used for address canvassing NOT the non-response follow-up operation in May 2010. Too risky to do that he says

3:01 – 8 million addresses given to Census Bureau from state/local gvnts says Mesenbourg

3:02 – “introduced risk mitigation strategies” – aka 5 different strategies to reduce risk for address canvassing…

3:03 – Mesenbourg says in this economy only 12% of hired applicants didnt show up once they were hired.

3:03 – This explains why we are so far aheadin our address canvassing operation…”highly skilled work force” enables us to finish operation earlier than planned.

3:04 – Carper addresses the Inspector General’s report from earlier to Mesenbourg about failures that we mentioned earlier (top article on http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/census_bureau/)

3:05 – Mesenbourg acknowledges that in 6 out of 15 locations that Inspector General visited, the Census Bureau employees were not following orders.

3:06 – Mesenbourg deflects the criticism that Carper addressed — saying that all employees received a text message on their handhelds to follow procedures more closely.

3:08 – Sen. Carper asks more hard-hitting questions (finally)! Impressed that he addressed these issues, though not satisfied w/ responses…

3:13 – Closing statements from Castle and Carper before they “call it a day.”

3:14 – Carper quotes Richard Nixon: “The only people who don’t make mistakes are the people who don’t do anything.”

3:15 – Carper says his office was originally worried about lack of technology used in this headcount, but his fears have now been alleviated.

3:17 – Carper thanks everyone who joined us and Census Bureau staff. Carper quotes Lamar Alexander “hearings should be called talkings.”

Census.gov says ‘Page not found’

Monday, May 11th, 2009

jobs-small

During this economic downturn, we can only imagine that most visitors to the Census Bureau’s web site seek information about employment and jobs with the Census bureau, as the Bureau will hire more than 1.4 million Americans during the 2010 Census, including the 140,000 who have already been verifying addresses across America.

At MyTwoCensus, we regularly browse and comb the www.Census.gov.

Naturally, we had some questions that needed answering, so we clicked on “FAQs.” This brought us to a special section of the Census Bureau’s site devoted to answering Americans’ questions about the 2010 Census through a list of Frequently Asked Questions and an interface to submit questions to the Census Bureau.

On the top of any FAQ page, there is a list of navigational links, such as “Jobs” and “About 2010 Census.” Very disappointingly, both the links to “Jobs” and “Timeline of Activites,” which likely appear on hundreds of Census Web pages, are completely dead links.

deadlinks-small

Not only that, but visitors are not brought to a standard 404 error page, which any teenager who knows anything about HTML could build. Instead, browsers reveal a message that the page doesn’t exist, and visitors must figure out on their own that, to find a job, they need to navigate all the way back to the Census home page, where they can find a working “Jobs” link.

This experience is extremely user unfriendly for job seekers, many of whom are likely older individuals who may not ever be able to figure out how to find the correct “Jobs” page. Just how many potential Census Bureau job applicants were lost because they couldn’t navigate to the proper Jobs page?

Even though these broken links reside within the FAQ section, –which is powered by RightNow Technologies, a firm whose software MyTwoCensus staff has used for other endeavors– when any part of the Census.gov site is updated, the first task should be to ensure that all links lead to the right place.

Here are our recommendations:

  • Fix these broken “Jobs” and “Timeline of Activities” links
  • Set up a proper 404 error page, which will lead anyone who does stumble upon a dead link to a page that helps them find what they’re looking for (check out some 404 inspiration)
  • Run a dead link checker, to ensure all dead links are fixed across the site.

Anything else wrong with Census.gov? Let us know! We’ll follow up in the coming weeks with additional thoughts on how to improve the Census Bureau’s site. For now, fixing broken links should be the top priority!

Chinese Census

Monday, May 11th, 2009

2010 won’t just be the year of America’s headcount, as China will be conducting its 6th national census on November 1, 2010. Will the Chinese face the same issues that America faces? How will technology be integrated into their counting procedures? What questions will be asked on Chinese census forms? Hopefully we’ll soon know more information, but for now, here’s the story:

BEIJING, May 6 (Xinhua) — China plans to conduct its sixth national population census in 2010, the State Council, or the Cabinet, announced on Wednesday.

The census, which begins on November 1, 2010, will survey population, age, nationality, levels of education, profession and population migration.

The census will also collect data on marriage, housing, and social security of Chinese citizens, said a notice posted on the central government’s official website (www.gov.cn).

Vice Premier Li Keqiang will head a steering committee with members from more than 20 government departments and the army, said the notice.

The last census in the world’s most populous country nine years ago found there were 1.29533 billion people in China.

“The population condition has undergone great changes since 2000. New findings from the 2010 census will provide accurate and scientific information for the government to map out plans for economic and social development,” said the notice.

Public locked out of Census meeting in Denver

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Earlier this week, we reported that the media was locked out of 2010 Census-related meetings with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. Now, The Denver Post reports that the public was locked out of the same meetings. For an organization trying to build its public visibility (and spending hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to do so), this makes little sense. Here’s the scoop from The Denver Post’s staff editorial:


We couldn’t help but notice the irony surrounding actions of new Commerce Secretary Gary Locke when he was in Denver last week for a meeting.

The secretary, speaking to a group that is working to raise public awareness about the importance of the 2010 census, actually closed the meeting to the public.

Sounds pretty counterproductive, if you ask us.

All but the opening 10 minutes of the gathering was off-limits to outsiders, ostensibly so committee members, appointed by Mayor John Hickenlooper, would feel comfortable in speaking their minds.

Surely, there was a better way to solicit candid remarks than by shutting off access during a publicized visit by the commerce secretary.

Frankly, Locke’s visit was the perfect opportunity to draw attention to the very important but, sorry to say, unsexy issue of the 2010 census.

Opportunity lost.

Among the goals of Denver’s 2010 Census Complete County Committee: Achieve a 75 percent return rate of mailed surveys. Make every city resident aware of the census. And ensure every Denverite knows that information they provide the census will be kept confidential.

They are laudable goals. And there are some other good things going on where the 2010 census is concerned.

In a Q&A with The Washington Post published last week, Locke defused a couple of inflammatory issues by ruling out the use of sampling or estimating, in coming up with counts.

He also offered assurances that the count, which is integral to apportioning congressional seats, would not be politicized.

Furthermore, Locke talked about how the census would target specific populations, such as Hispanics or Vietnamese, and send them surveys in their native tongue in an effort to boost participation.

These are all positive developments. Too bad the commerce secretary didn’t see fit to let the people of metro Denver in on them.

Politico: Acorn vs. the GOP

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

We’ve interrupted our Saturday endeavors to bring you this story from Politico…Here are the highlights that discuss the 2010 Census:

But ACORN’s past problems and its new partnership with the Census Bureau has given Republicans more than enough reason to pounce. During the debate over the government stimulus package, GOP lawmakers complained bitterly that federal funds for “neighborhood stabilization activities” and other programs could flow to ACORN. At the time, ACORN’s CEO, Bertha Lewis, denied that her group would be eligible to receive such funds

In an interview with POLITICO, McHenry said that after this week’s law enforcement action in Nevada and Pennsylvania, he would continue to press the Census Bureau to end its partnership with ACORN.

“Not only are we talking about an organization that is a nonprofit and engaged in political activity of a partisan nature, not only are we talking about a group that gets government funds, we’re talking about an organization that has an imprint and stamp of a partnership with the Census,” McHenry said. “I think reasonable folks on both sides of the aisle should be concerned about ACORN’s involvement.”

Big upcoming 2010 Census event…

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Mark your calendars, because on Monday we will be live-blogging from The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia at an event that is sponsored by Senator Tom Carper (D) of Delaware, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security that is responsible for the 2010 Census. If you have any questions that you would like us to ask on your behalf, please submit them to mytwocensus @ mytwocensus.com. Here are the event details:

WHAT:   “Making the Census Count in Urban America”

WHEN:   Monday, May 11, 2009, at 1:00 p.m.

WHERE:   The National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

Kirby Auditorium

525 Arch Street

CONFIRMED WITNESSES:

– Tom Mesenbourg, Acting Census Director

– Camille Cates Barnett, Managing Director, City of Philadelphia

– Hon. Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Mayor

– Hon. James Baker, Wilmington Mayor

– Pat Coulter, Executive Director, Philadelphia Urban League

– Norman Bristol-Colon, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, State of Pennsylvania

– Wanda M. Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware

Closing the doors on the media…

Friday, May 8th, 2009

One major problem with the U.S. Census Bureau is its extremely unfriendly attitude toward the media, which has more likely done much more harm than good. Today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke kicked off a public relations tour with closed-door meetings, including one in Denver:

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke came to Denver on Wednesday to meet with the group charged with raising public awareness about the upcoming census and closed the session to the public and media.

Locke said he wanted to allow Denver’s 2010 Census Complete Count Committee to be frank about their problems and concerns.

“I just wanted to hear straight from them, as candidly as possible, their assessment of how things were going,” Locke told The Denver Post after the 45-minute meeting at the main Denver Public Library.

The committee was formed this year to develop a public-awareness campaign for the April 2010 census. It includes city government officials and community leaders.

“This is more of a briefing for the secretary to get a sense of where things are in Denver,” Kimball said. “So it’s not necessarily a big promotional event to draw attention to what’s going on.”

During his opening remarks, Locke talked about some of the national problems the census faces next year. He said independent reports have found hand-held computers malfunctioning and concerns that the bureau has not had time for dress rehearsals to uncover potential roadblocks.Locke blamed the previous Republican administration for the problems.

However, he told the group that Colorado appears to be in better shape than most states.

The media were allowed in the meeting for the first 10 minutes while Mayor John Hickenlooper introduced Locke to the committee and Locke made opening remarks.

After the remarks, the media were escorted out. Eric Brown, Hickenlooper’s spokesman, said the Commerce Department made the decision to close the meeting.

Locke was available for questions after the session.

Locke told The Post that committee members “were very complimentary of the collaboration between the regional office of the Census Bureau as well as local and state governments.”

Before the meeting began, The Post questioned why it was closed to the media.

Commerce Department spokesman Nick Kimball said the decision to keep it private did not conflict with the Census Bureau’s attempts to publicize the 2010 census.

Security supervisor Lorna McDermott controls entry to the meeting. The media were invited to cover opening remarks, and Locke answered questions afterward.