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 July, 2009

Head Start For The 2010 Census in Alaska

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Thanks to the Anchorage Daily News for the following report:

By KYLE HOPKINS

About 640 people live in Noorvik. Give or take.

Want the exact head count? Check back next year when the Inupiat Eskimo village is expected to become the first town in America to be counted in the 2010 census.

U.S. Census Bureau officials let news of Noorvik’s preliminary selection spill during a presentation Thursday in Anchorage as the bureau prepares for months of counting households in Alaska’s remote towns and villages.

And the cities too.

The census, conducted nationwide every 10 years, isn’t just about counting people. It represents money, with the results used to determine how much Alaska gets in federal funding for Medicaid and other programs. The numbers can even cost politicians their jobs, as the state redraws voting districts after each census.

Anchorage and the Mat-Su could pick up a seat in the Legislature, for example, while Southeast Alaska stands to lose one because of population declines, said state demographer Greg Williams.

The 2000 census counted 626,900 people in Alaska, Williams said. The state estimates the population has grown by about 8.4 percent, to 679,700, as of 2008.

The latest count comes as researchers puzzle over an apparent migration from Alaska’s villages to larger towns and cities. The Aleutian Region School District, for example, plans to close a school in Nikolski in the fall because of low enrollment, according to the state Education Department.

“You can go all the way down the Alaska Peninsula and out to the Aleutian Islands, and all the districts have been declining,” said Superintendent Joe Beckford.

A recent report by the state Division of Community and Regional Affairs said the population in rural Alaska dropped by 3.6 percent between 2000 and 2008.

High fuel prices last year sparked talk of a rural exodus, but a May 2008 study by the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage said the trend can’t be blamed on energy costs alone.

“What makes this census particularly timely and anticipated is that there’s competing conventional wisdoms and a lot of discussion going on about what is really happening,” said Steve Colt, associate professor with the institute.

“We don’t really even know the extent and nature of migration in terms of who is moving (where), let alone why.”

Trouble in Florida For Hatians

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

There were significant troubles in Florida during the 2000 Census that resulted in many Census Bureau employees being fired from their jobs and a recount taken in certain areas of the state. Will there be similar problems in 2010? Many Floridians, especially minorities, fear just that. Check out the following reports from the Sun Sentinel:

When census takers visit Walter Hunter’s mostly black community in Pompano Beach next year for the big, every-10-years count, he predicts they will encounter a lot of slammed doors.

They are likely to get a similar reception in Delmond Desira’s Haitian neighborhood in Delray Beach, where many don’t understand how filling out the 10-question form would improve their lives.

Hunter and Desira live in South Florida enclaves the U.S. Census Bureau ranks among the hardest to count: pockets of Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Park, Delray Beach and Belle Glade.

In those areas, with heavy concentrations of immigrants who don’t speak English, poor people and rental units, almost half the residents did not return mailed surveys for the last big count, in 2000.

Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade are among the 50 counties in the nation with the most people living in hard-to-count areas, according to a report released in April by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a children’s advocacy group.

This time, the Census Bureau plans to work harder to reach these people, through the schools, a more creative multi-language campaign and a shorter survey form — 10 questions that take just 10 minutes, the catch phrase goes. Volunteers will put up signs in beauty salons and convenience stores and get the word out at houses of worship and nonprofit centers.

This fall, grade-school children will study the census in math and geography classes, and they will take home census materials for their parents. In January, the Census Bureau will launch an advertising campaign in 28 languages urging participation. The form is not available in Creole, however, and critics say that will hinder the count of South Florida’s large Haitian population.

And another story:

Some of the people that make up Florida’s Haitian community may not partake in one of the most important events of this nation – the 2010 Census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, heavily concentrated areas where Haitians live, such as Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach are very hard to tally when it comes to the once-a-decade count. This is mainly due to the language barrier that most Haitians, many being immigrants, encounter when it comes to understanding and completing the surveys issued by the Census Bureau.

Although the Broward County‘s Census 2010 Complete Count Committee is strategizing ways to get to those who were missed back in 2000 by producing informational guides in various languages, including Creole, the actual census is not offered in Haiti’s national language. Despite the Bureau’s outreach effort, it may still have difficulty reaching these communities. As a Haitian-American, I can attest that many Haitian residents, especially those who do not speak English, will probably disregard the survey once they receive it in the mail. This is simply because they do not understand the importance and / or the basis of the Census. In other words, such a survey is considered junk mail.

I believe an effective strategy would be to educate the community on what exactly the Census is, the concept behind it and why it is imperative that they participate. Nevertheless, the fact that the Census Bureau is launching an advertising campaign in 28 languages, except for Creole, will contribute to the hindrance in the counts, at least in South Florida. While some Haitian immigrants and / or residents may rely on their English-speaking children to translate the Census survey, a majority of them will not have that advantage. Those who come to the United States together as a family, but are without relatives in the country, will be the hardest to reach.

This was very much the case for my parents, until my siblings and I came into the picture. Though they were able to survive on their own, the fact that we came around made life much easier for them. For example, learning about the Census at school allowed me to go home and look out for the surveys, as well as assist my parents in answering the questions. Now they have a better understanding of the Census and are capable of filling it out on their own.

Hopefully, the Haitian children that are starting school this fall will not only learn census in math and geography classes, but will also be able to pass on the knowledge to their parents. If not, then the Census Bureau may want to develop a new marketing campaign in Creole.

Youtube Video from the Census Bureau: Swearing In of Robert M. Groves

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Update: Details About Vangent’s Call Center In Utah

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The following is an excerpt from a longer article in The Salt Lake Tribune:

About 1,200 full- and part-time jobs, expected to last only about 10 months, are coming to the Salt Lake Valley beginning in January as part of the 2010 census. Information on pay ranges for the call center jobs offered by Vangent Inc., for which hiring will begin this fall, wil be available in another month, but they are coming under opportune circumstances, if not an at opportune time. Employees will work in a former Discover Card call center in Sandy. “They [Vangent] are not only coming into a ready-made facility, but they are coming into a ready-made labor force,” said Mark Knold, chief economist for the state Department of Workforce Services. “We have a lot of call centers in the area, and there have been layoffs at various ones.” Utah’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.7 percent from 5.4 percent in June, and unemployment claims are running at a clip of 3,000 a week, compared with a normal 1,000 or so. “Too bad they can’t do it right away,” he said of the projected January start time for the new jobs. Vangent, a Census Bureau subcontractor based in Arlington, Va., will operate the nearly 19-year-old facility in Sandy as one of three national call centers, said spokeswoman Eileen Rivera. Workers will answer hot line questions from Americans about the upcoming U.S. census. Other centers will operate in Lawrence, Kan., and Phoenix. Rivera said salary information and a breakdown about the number of part-time and full-time jobs should be available in September on Vangent’s Web site, www.vangent.com. Vangent has a track record for operating information centers for the Census Bureau during the every-10-year counting of the U.S. population, she said, noting that the company “had a similar role” during the 2000 census. “It’s such a big task that the government has to contract out parts of the census because they don’t have the manpower,” she said. Vangent was awarded the 2010 contract three years ago. The census is providing temporary job opportunities for more than 2,000 Utahns. In January, the bureau recruited 1,000 workers for two- to three-month positions to handle neighborhood-canvassing duties. The jobs paid $11.50 an hour and up.

Long and boring 2010 Census hearing…

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Click HERE to watch a long and boring Congressional hearing (from July 21st) chaired by Carolyn Maloney and featuring testimony from many former directors of the Census Bureau.

Vangent’s Data Breach Lawsuit

Monday, July 27th, 2009

A few minutes ago we learned that Vangent Inc. will be running a major call center for the U.S. Census Bureau. In April, there was a favorable outcome for Vangent/Gap Inc. in regards to a data breach lawsuit that resulted from stolen laptops (the Census Bureau has a long history of stolen laptop woes), but it still makes one wonder if this company was the best choice for the Census Bureau:

By Julie Zeveloff

Law360, New York (April 07, 2009) — Finding that a Gap Inc. job applicant failed to support a negligence claim in a putative class action accusing the retail giant and outsourcing company Vangent Inc. of losing 750,000 job applicants’ personal data, a federal judge has granted summary judgment in favor of Gap and Vangent.

Judge Samuel Conti of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday granted summary judgment in favor of Gap and Vangent on the remaining claims in the suit and denied lead plaintiff Joel Ruiz’s motion for class certification as moot.

The suit, filed in November 2007, accused Gap of negligence, bailment, and violations of California privacy and business law after two laptop computers containing applications for retail positions at Gap were stolen from Vangent, which processes the retailer’s job applications.

In March 2008, Judge Conti granted Gap’s motion for judgment on the pleadings as to Ruiz’s bailment, unfair business practices and right to privacy claims, but he maintained Ruiz’ negligence claim and an allegation that Gap’s online application system violated California Civil Code by requiring applicants to input their social security numbers.

In that order, Judge Conti also denied Gap’s motion to strike class allegations and dismissed Gap’s declaratory judgment counterclaim against Ruiz.

Ruiz added Vangent as a defendant and asserted a breach of contract claim against the outsourcing company on Feb. 9, and Gap and Vangent moved for summary judgment on the remaining claims on Feb. 13.

While Ruiz has standing to bring the suit based on an increased risk of identity theft, that risk “does not rise to the level of appreciable harm necessary to assert a negligence claim under California law,” Judge Conti said in Monday’s ruling.

Ruiz’s reliance on California-based future medical monitoring cases to support his negligence claim was misguided, because lost-data cases are not analogous to medical monitoring cases, and Ruiz did not present evidence sufficient to overcome the kind of evidentiary burdens that apply in medical monitoring cases, the judge found.

The court also rejected Ruiz’s argument that he should recover damages for money spent monitoring his credit after the information breach, finding that Gap offered affected applicants one year of free credit monitoring and fraud insurance, but Ruiz did not take advantage of that offer.

As to Ruiz’s claim under California Civil Code, Judge Conti found that while applicants must enter their social security numbers before submitting their applications, Gap and Vangent do not actually require applicants to use their social security numbers to access the job application Web site.

The court also found that Ruiz could not support his breach of contract claim, which accused Vangent of violating its employment screening services agreement with Gap by failing to preserve the security and confidentiality of applicants’ data through encryption.

“Because Ruiz has not been a victim of identity theft, he can present no evidence of appreciable and actual damage as a result of the theft of the two laptop computers,” Judge Conti said.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this case,” a spokeswoman for Gap Inc. said. “We regret that this instance happened entirely, but we believe the court made the right decision.”

An attorney for Ruiz did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Ruiz is represented by Finkelstein Thompson LLP and Barnow and Associates PC.

Gap Inc. is represented by Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Vangent Inc. is represented by Zuckerman Spaeder LLP.

The case is Ruiz v. Gap Inc. et al., case number 07-cv-05739, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Another 2010 Census Contract To Investigate…

Monday, July 27th, 2009

It looks like someone managed to bring some pork home to Utah. Check out this report from the AP:

Census contractor to hire 1,200 in Utah

The Associated Press

Updated: 07/27/2009 09:41:40 AM MDT

Sandy » A government contractor has negotiated a lease on a Sandy office building where it plans to staff a call center for the next U.S. Census count.

Vangent Inc. says it will hire 1,200 workers starting in January at the former Discover Card building.

The Arlington, Va.-based company will operate a hot line for citizens with questions about the 2010 Census.

The operation also will make outbound calls to gather information for incomplete forms or to verify data.

On the Net:

Vangent Inc.: http://www.vangent.com

Pauline Medrano named Vice Chairman of 2010 Census Advisory Committee

Friday, July 24th, 2009

From The Dallas Morning News city hall blog:

Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano has been named to an advisory committee that will work on the 2010 census.

Medrano will serve as vice chairman of a committee that provides advice on the design and implementation of the census, according to a city press release.

The census has long been a source of political tension, particularly when it comes to getting an accurate count of minority communities. Such counts determine the allocation of vast amounts of federal dollars.

Medrano, whose family has long been tied to Dallas Democratic politics, said in a prepared statement that she wants “to make sure everyone across the country and especially in Dallas are counted in the 2010 census.”

“Twenty organizations are represented on the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, including data users and experts in the statutory and constitutional uses of decennial census data. The committee membership also includes ex-officio members representing the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives,” the release stated.

It’s Too Late To Stop The Presses…

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

The following is a press release from the U.S. Census Bureau:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, JULY 23, 2009

Jack Martin/Shelly Lowe                               CB09-CN.17
Public Information Office
301-763-3691                                                2010 Census Web
site
e-mail: <pio.2010@census.gov>                         2010 Census sample
form

Printing of 2010 Census Questionnaires Under Way
New 10-Question Survey Among Shortest Since First Census in 1790

The U.S. Census Bureau has begun printing 2010 Census questionnaires as
the agency continues preparations for next year’s count of the U.S.
population. The new questionnaire, which every residential address will
receive, is designed to be one of the shortest since the first census in
1790, asking just 10 questions and taking about 10 minutes to complete.

“Our goal is to count everyone living in the United States once, only
once, and in the right place,” said Census Bureau Director Robert M.
Groves. “Making that happen begins with the 2010 Census questionnaire, a
powerful tool that provides critical data that will guide representation in
Congress and the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds to
state, local and tribal governments every year.”

Beginning in mid-March 2010, more than 120 million questionnaires will
be delivered to U.S. residential addresses. To meet the goal, the Census
Bureau will print more than 1.5 million documents every day.

For the first time, more than 13 million questionnaires will be
bilingual (English – Spanish). The move is based on tests showing that
targeting the bilingual questionnaires toward areas with high
concentrations of Spanish-only speakers will improve response rates.
Questionnaires are also available on request in Spanish, Chinese
(simplified), Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. Language guides, which
provide instructions on how to complete the questionnaire, are available in
nearly 60 languages.

“The Census Bureau has gone to great lengths to make the printing
process as efficient and eco-friendly as possible,” Groves said. “The
printing of 2010 Census questionnaires uses
30 percent less ink than 10 years ago and will be printed on 30 percent
recycled paper.”

Another critical factor in the success of the census is the quality of
the address list used for delivering the questionnaires next March. This
spring, Census Bureau workers walked every street in the nation to match
actual residential addresses on the ground with those provided in lists
from the U.S. Postal Service and local governments.

The 140,000 workers who verified addresses operated out of 151 local
census offices in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.  In the fall, an additional 344
local census offices will open.

The Census Bureau will hire approximately 1.4 million people to conduct
the 2010 Census, including following up with households that do not return
their questionnaire.

“The 2010 Census is easy, important and safe,” Groves said. “The Census
Bureau is ready to undertake this massive domestic operation and looks
forward to everyone’s participation in the national count.”

The 2010 Census: It’s In “His Hands”

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

The following report comes from MyTwoCensus Washington, D.C. correspondent Dominique Kelly who was present for yesterday’s swearing-in-ceremony of Robert Groves as Director of the U.S. Census Bureau:

It’s the first of many long days to come for the newly sworn in director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Dr. Robert M. Groves.

With his wife, Cynthia, and son, Christopher, by his side, Groves, known to many at the Census Bureau as Bob, stood proudly reciting the oath that was the final step in his long journey to become the 23rd director of the U.S. Census Bureau.  Groves’ previous post was at the University of Michigan Survey Research center and the University of Maryland’s Joint Program in Survey Methodology.  Although Groves’ duties as director commenced on July 13, 2009, today is his first official step in leading “one of the important and most difficult challenges,” the 2010 decennial count, as explained by Rebecca Blank, Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs.

Blank rendered the opening remarks where she expressed her joy of having Dr. Groves as the new director.  “I’m absolutely delighted to have Bob Groves here as the Census director,” said Blank.  Blank and Groves are long time colleagues, having worked together for more than ten years at the University of Michigan.  Blank expects to work closely with Groves and “develop a shared vision of what the Census is and what it can be,” as she eagerly expressed during her speech.

As Census employees, distinguished guests, and media personnel anxiously awaited the speech and words of comfort and encouragement from Groves, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary, Gary Locke, eased the restless audience with humor by saying, “I especially want to thank them [former U.S. Census Bureau directors] for not saying anything to scare Bob away.”

However, Groves is no stranger to the Census Bureau. He served as Associate Director of the Bureau for Statistical Design, Methodology, and Standards from 1990-1992.  Locke and others agree that the job of directing the 2010 Census is very challenging and it calls for a well seasoned, highly noted individual to take on the task. “The job demanded someone of outstanding academic credentials and management skills, and as it turns out, a lot of patience,” said Locke during his introduction of Groves.

Groves began his speech by intimately speaking to the Census Bureau staff, and telling them words he feels they don’t hear very often: “Thank you for what you do.”  He went on to make a promise to the staff, by saying that while he is in office the Census Bureau will have a culture of mutual respect, while celebrating their mission to serve the American public with the most cost efficient, highest quality statistical information they can possibly produce.

Groves expressed that one of his many concerns is that 45% of the Census Bureau staff is eligible for retirement next year, which we all know is a crucial year for the Census Bureau.  Although that means he has a well experienced staff, he is worried about what will happen in the near future.  Groves urged the long-time employees to seek out the “rookies “in the Census Bureau and teach them what they’ve learned to do so well. Not only does Groves want the veterans to reach out to the younger people, but the “rookies” must reach out to the veterans too.  “As a legacy to your career here, take a little time to pass on your experience to those that you’re going to leave behind. Pass on the wisdom you have.  To those who are new seek out those wise elders, listen to them, and ask them questions about their experiences.  Learn from them actively,” said Groves.

Groves went on to make several statements addressing the usual difficulties that lie with completing a massive count of the American population, and encouraged that when mass amounts of people work together to achieve a common goal everything can happen, and it normally does.  Groves admitted, “Although the product of the Census can be statistically beautifully in its integrity and quality, the process of producing the product is always complicated, messy, and wrought with difficulty and temporary setbacks.”  Groves insisted that his staff act on the difficulties and setbacks with the highest levels of professionalism.

He closed his speech by speaking directly to the long time staff who believes they have heard it all before, and may now be a little skeptical, by insisting that they think back to their earlier years at the Census Bureau and how they felt about their jobs and expediting their tasks when they were new.

“I need you to rekindle that enthusiasm, because we need your ideas,” said Groves.

Robert Groves is aware that he has a lot of work ahead of him, but just as other’s are confident in him, he is confident in his staff, federal statistical agencies as whole, and members of other organizations that provide advice to the Census. Groves looks at all of them combined as a closeknit group of professionals and leaders.

“We need all of these people and the people they work with,” emphasized Groves.

Commerce Secretary Locke Swears In Census Bureau Director Groves

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

The following is a press release from the U.S. Census Bureau:

Seven former Census Bureau directors, as well as hundreds of members of
the statistical community and Census Bureau employees, witnessed Department
of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke publicly swear in Robert M. Groves today
as the 23rd director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

President Obama nominated Groves to head the bureau in April. The Senate
confirmed him on July 13.

Groves takes over the nation’s preeminent statistical agency just eight
months before Census Day — April 1, 2010. The 2010 Census is a count of
everyone living in the United States, and the numbers are used to apportion
congressional seats to states, to distribute more than $400 billion in
federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year and to make
decisions about what community services to provide.

“President Obama knew when he nominated Dr. Groves that the job of
directing the 2010 Census demanded someone with outstanding academic
credentials and management skills — and as it turns out, patience,” Locke
said. “We’re depending on Bob bringing his expertise and commitment to
sound science to the biggest civilian project this nation undertakes.”

Groves is the former director of the University of Michigan Survey
Research Center, and he was an associate director of the Census Bureau from
1990 to 1992. He is the author of seven books and scores of scientific
articles concerning the improvement of surveys.

“In a matter of months, we’ll begin the national operation we call the
decennial census,” said Groves at Census Bureau headquarters in Suitland,
Md. “It is a time-honored tradition. There is no other federal agency
charged with such a large undertaking. It is awesome in every bit of its
aspects.”

The first census — mandated by the Constitution — was conducted in 1790,
counting nearly 4 million people. A temporary census office conducted the
count every 10 years, with the Census Bureau becoming a permanent agency in
1902. The latest census in 2000 counted more than 286 million. The 2010
Census expects to count more than 310 million residents.

The former Census Bureau directors is attendance were Vincent Barabba
(1973-1976 and 1979-1981), John Keane (1984-1987), Barbara Everitt Bryant
(1989-1993), Martha Farnsworth Riche (1994-1998), Kenneth Prewitt
(1998-2001), Louis Kincannon (2002-2008) and Steve Murdock (2008-2009).

MyTwoCensus Investigation Leads to Congressional Letter Requesting Contract Information

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

MyTwoCensus has spent a significant amount of time in the past week investigating the relationship between Draftfcb, GlobalHue, and the U.S. Census Bureau. We obtained the following document from a Census Bureau insider that shows how this site’s reports have led to congress investigating this $200 million contract:

LetterToGrovesDraftfcb (page 1 of 2)

LetterToGrovesDraftfcb (page 2 of 2)

Response from the Census Bureau re: “BS Awards”

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Jack Martin of the Public Information Office sent me the following e-mail in my response to my “BS Awards” post:

There are several inacuracies in Mr. Morse’s post that we feel the need to rectify.

First, our communications plan contractor, draftFCB, had nothing to do with the creation of this video, or entry in the Telly Awards program.  This video was produced internally by our Photo and Broadcast Services Division, a group of talented professionals who have also won many awards, including excellence awards from the Public Relations Society of America, the National Association of Government Communicators, a NY ADDY, an ARF David Ogilvy Award, and two CINE Golden Eagles.

Second, The Telly Awards have for the last 30 years recognized the creative efforts of thousands of people, and are very popular with thousands of organizations  Their website cites “over 14,000 entries from all 50 states and 5 continents” for this year.  Winning entries included commercials made for Wal-Mart and Chrysler, and other video projects for Discovery Channel, Disney, Verizon, ESPN, and AARP. The Telly Awards are popular with many who are “on the ground” creating the excellent work you see on commercial and public TV.  The entries are judged by peers, and usually not by major agency advertising executives.  A category may have several winners, or none.  The excellence of the production is awarded.

We are proud of our communications program and the recognition our contractors are receiving for their work on the 2010 Census

Jack Martin | U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office |

Our response: As has been previously noted, conversations with advertising professionals about the Telly Awards reveal their lack of prestige. The logic behind entering awards competitions that are not prestigious is very simple: Advertising companies, individuals, and in this case the Census Bureau want to call their products “award-winning” as this helps with future/current business, or in this case government oversight. This is easy to achieve when entering competitions that have many, many, many winners. And finally, no mention was made of Draftfcb in this post, other than identifying that the company was also involved in advertising efforts.

Arab-Americans And The 2010 Census

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

If there’s one ethnic group that has been given a raw deal by the Census Bureau in modern times, it’s the Arab-American community. In 2004, when the Department of Homeland Security wanted private/confidential data about Arab-Americans, the Census Bureau happily turned over the data, hypocritically violating many privacy laws. Now, New America Media’s Ray Hanania columnist sounds off about why the government doesn’t treat Arab Americans with respect (click here for full article):

The first question I always get from “Americans” is, “Why do you keep calling yourself ‘Arab-American?’ You are American!”

It represents the rock and the hard place where American Arabs have been pushed by the lack of education among most Americans.
Palestinian American
columnist Ray Hanania.

It’s aggravated by what I also call the U.S. government’s split personality when it comes to American Arabs. On the one hand, they want to know us. On the other, they don’t. Here’s what I mean.

The only time the United States government wants to know about American Arabs is when they are “profiling” us at airport and border security to “protect” the country from “the terrorist threat.”

But when it comes to counting people in the U.S. Census (so they can participate and share in government programs like grant funding awards, defining the borders of election districts for Congress, state legislatures or municipal councils), the U.S. government pretends American Arabs don’t exist.

That is exactly what’s happening now in the massive 2010 U.S. Census drive.

The government is neither completely stupid nor naïve. It is dishing out just enough money to American Arab organizations and PR agencies to do the outreach to the American Arab community.

The government could do it but doesn’t have a positive file on who we are. The government only has “the negative file,” the one where American Arabs have been followed and investigated by FBI agents repeatedly over the past 75 years.

The FBI investigated me over a two-year period beginning in August 1975, right after I had completed my active duty military service for this country during the Vietnam War. They said I must be a terrorist, because I was Arab; but they concluded the 45-page report by saying, in small type, that I’m just an American who is concerned about advancing his ethnic community.

During the two years, they talked to banks, employers, neighbors, friends and anyone who had anything to do with me. It was all in the report, most of it blacked out with marker. When I finally received a copy in 1979, it explained why I had been dismissed from jobs, why some neighbors and some friends had stopped talking to me or associating with me, and why several prospective employers had refused to hire me.

Hey, when the U.S. government puts its attention on American Arabs, it’s usually not for a good reason.

That’s why I am upset –- no, angry — that the government is pretending that it cares for us American Arabs by reaching out and asking us to complete our federal census form for 2010.

Congrats, The Census Bureau Wins This Year’s BS Awards!

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Today, the Census Bureau released the following press release about how it won an armload of the least prestigious awards ever received, which are called Tellys. Calls to multiple New York-based ad/marketing executives were met with words like “never heard of them” and “I don’t even think they’re real.” Jim Edwards, a former managing editor of AdWeek, said, “The Tellys are not a high-profile award by any means. They recognize one of the more humble niches of the advertising world, and that means that most people in the business have never heard of them.” Here’s the latest episode that relates to the Draftfcb PR farce from Suitland:

WASHINGTON, July 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A series of 2010 Census promotional videos have won several prestigious Telly Awards as well as a Videographer Award of Excellence — awards that honor the best in video production.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090226/CENSUSLOGO)

The videos were produced by the Public Information Office at the U.S. Census Bureau as part of a collaborative effort between headquarters, regional and contracting staff. They were submitted for consideration by contractors Therese Allen and Corey Petree.

The four- to seven-minute videos, titled “A New Portrait of America,” were produced to reach different segments of the population including the general, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders, and Puerto Rican audiences.

In the nonbroadcast productions category, the videos received silver Tellys for use of music and editing, and a bronze Telly was awarded for government relations. In the Internet/online video category, a silver Telly was awarded for music and a bronze Telly was awarded for editing.

The videos also received the 2009 Videographer Award of Excellence in the government/federal and creativity/video/original music categories.

The “New Portrait of America” videos include diverse images from throughout the country as well as interviews with community leaders. They are used at activities and events to promote the 2010 Census and encourage everyone’s participation in next year’s national count.

The “New Portrait of America” videos may be viewed at the following link: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/multimedia/videos/013879.html.

The real humor in this is that after looking into the “Telly Awards,” it  looks like there are hundreds upon hundreds thousands upon thousands of winners in each category. It seems like the creators of the Telly Awards just want an outlet for ad agencies to impress their clients by paying entry fees to become recipients of this everyone’s-a-winner competition.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Wants To Steal Your Federal Dollars

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Thanks to Corey Dade of the Wall Street Journal for the story below:

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is calling on former residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to claim their old city addresses in next year’s census, drawing criticism for trying to circumvent rules for winning federal funds.

The mayor — encouraged that New Orleans has thrown off its post-Katrina malaise to become the U.S.’s fastest-growing big city by percentage — wants the U.S. Census Bureau to grant an exception for its former residents, currently living elsewhere, who want to rebuild homes in New Orleans.

There’s one problem: The mayor’s plan is illegal, according to the Census Bureau. Federal law requires the Census Bureau to count all U.S. residents where they reside as of April 1, 2010, when the nationwide tally will begin.

“Any individual who does something like that is going to hurt the place where they are living, and hurt New Orleans,” said Katherine Smith, a Census Bureau spokeswoman.

The stakes for localities are high. The census, which occurs every 10 years, is used to determine the disbursement of more than $300 billion in federal grants, as well as the reapportionment of congressional and state legislative seats for the next decade. Both procedures are based primarily on population size, with the largest jurisdictions traditionally receiving the most dollars and elected representatives.

Officials in other Louisiana cities criticized Mr. Nagin for threatening their efforts to secure funds for legitimate population gains, some of which resulted from Katrina victims fleeing New Orleans and surrounding parishes. One parish is Lafayette, located west of New Orleans, where the parish seat — the city of Lafayette — is the state’s only city to show a net population gain since 2000.

Jost: Cisneros Is My Chief Publicity (Read: Oversight) Flack

Friday, July 17th, 2009

MyTwoCensus obtained the following internal Census Bureau document…Look who will be responsible for the oversight of the $200 million contract with DraftFCB, a fellow PR flack rather than an ACCOUNTANT or someone with OVERSIGHT EXPERIENCE:

FROM THE DESK OF STEVE JOST
Associate Director for Communications

I am pleased to announce the selection of Raul E. Cisneros as Chief of the
Census 2010 Publicity Office, effective July 19,2009.  In this role he will
be responsible for the management of the 2010 Integrated Communications
Campaign and the oversight of the multimillion dollar contract with
Draftfcb.
Prior to this position Raul served as Chief of the 2010 Census
Media Relations Branch in the Public Information Office where he was in
charge of public affairs and media relations activities for the 2010
Census.

Raul has extensive and wide ranging public relations experience and has
worked with public and private sector stakeholders nationally and the state
and local levels.  Before coming to the Census Bureau, Raul served in a
number of capacities at the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2001 to
2008.  He was director of communications and responsible for press,
marketing, audiovisual services, Web design and internal communications.
He was also associate administrator for field operations, deputy chief of
staff and acting district director for Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition to his federal service, Raul has also worked for the state of
California as an environmental engineer, assistant state treasurer and
communications specialist for the California State Senate.  Raul has been a
public relations consultant and commentator for print, radio and
television.  He also has private sector experience as an engineer and
supervisor working for the Campbell Soup Company.

Born and raised in the Republic of Panama, Raul earned his Bachelor of
Science degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.  He lives in
Laurel, Md., with his wife, Anita, and 15-year-old daughter.  He is active
in the community and serves as a board member for the Anne Arundel
Partnership for Children, Youth and Families.

New Information: The DraftFCB $200 Million Scandal

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Editor’s Note: There have never been criminal charges brought against Boschetto, and MyTwoCensus does not claim to have any knowledge about his guilt or innocence. The suit linked to below makes allegations but does not provide supporting evidence to support its claims.

Editor’s Update: Today, Jim Edwards of BNet writes of the Boschetto case:

A federal judge dismissed the case in February 2007, fined the lawyer who filed it $8,000, and ordered him not to bring it again. (He appealed.) The judge also noted that Boschetto was never served in the case — even though he’s a named defendant — and that the complaint was littered with errors, including the plagiarism of several passages from other suits that were also dismissed. The judge wrote, “This intent to humiliate and embarrass is further manifested in the amended complaint which is littered with wholly irrelevant, inflammatory, and embarrassing facts concerning defendants and non-defendants alike that have no bearing on the actions brought…”

The mid 2000s were tumultuous times for DraftFCB.   Wal-Mart pulled out of their $580-million deal with the firm when, in December 2006, Wal-Mart fired two marketing executives who had helped procure the DraftFCB  contract, alleging that the executives had accepted gifts from the agencies under consideration when making their decision to hire DraftFCB.

These problems were further compounded when, in February 2006, DraftFCB’s CEO Laurence Boschetto, was accused of sexual abuse (read the court documents by clicking here) in bizarre incidents related to the Catholic Church abuse scandals. According to the attorney who filed this lawsuit (whom MyTwoCensus spoke with today), this case is still pending in the New York State Supreme Court and Boschetto has never refuted the charges by saying he didn’t commit the crimes (Purportedly, he has only stated that the statute of limitations in this case has expired).

None of these factors prevented the US Census Bureau from thinking that this was the ideal company to carry out its ad/media campaigns for the 2010 Census. DraftFCB was publicly announced as the winning firm in August 2007. Ostensibly the bidding/selection process for this $200 million contract took place while the firm was in the news for its less than positive dealings, which makes one wonder why they were selected over companies that weren’t plagued by scandals. As the Wal-Mart example shows, DraftFCB has no problem providing kickbacks for people to gain contracts.

MyTwoCensus is seriously concerned about the nature of how this contract was awarded and we are seeking information about the bidding process, proposals of other firms, and the high likelihood that Washington power-brokers had an unethical (if not illegal) influence on this bidding process. Unfortunately, we are unable to place an FOIA request to determine the nature of other companies’ proposals and bids due to legal restrictions, but we urge our readers who work for the IG, GAO, or Congress to gather this data.

UPDATE: MyTwoCensus Investigation: Scammers Running The 2010 Census Ad Campaign

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

UPDATE: MyTwoCensus has been informed that Jay Waite, deputy director of the US Census Bureau, was also involved in procuring these contracts. According to his biography, “Waite is the visionary and architect of the 2010 reengineered census. Using hand-held computers for data collection, a major expansion of technology, will dramatically change the way censuses will be conducted for decades to come.”

Well, what scandal have we stumbled upon this time?

Upon doing some further research into DraftFCB’s massive $200 million advertising/media contract with the Census Bureau, I learned that this firm’s parent company, Interpublic Group was forced to pay a $12 million fine to the SEC for accounting fraud in 2008 and also owns a 49% stake in GlobalHue, an ethnic media PR firm that has been assigned to do the Latino/African-American outreach for the 2010 Census. But back in March of this year, GlobalHue was accused of overbilling the Bermudan government by $1.8 million on a $13 million contract. The Bermudans claim that GlobalHue:

    • Overbilled the account by $1.8 million.
    • Prebilled the government in violation of its own rules.
    • Didn’t keep invoices and billing records.
    • Didn’t return discounts and credits to the client.
    • Used a media buyer, Cornerstone, that charged commissions of  up to 181 percent.

    Have similar problems been going on in America with little oversight? Maybe the GAO and IG’s offices will soon let us know! (For now, click here to download the original accusations from Bermuda. H/t to Jim Edwards of BNET for providing these docs.)

    An confidential source informed MyTwoCensus that New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office had quite the hand in procuring this contract for DraftFCB/Interpublic Group/GlobalHue (ironically she accused the Bush administration of trying to sabotage the 2010 Census), so tomorrow we’re going to give them a call to learn more information. Additionally, Steven J. Jost, the Census Bureau’s new Communications Director (he also served in this role when Ken Prewitt ran the Census Bureau during the later Clinton years), has significant ties to Maloney’s office.

    MyTwoCensus has a pending FOIA request to obtain the details of these contracts.

    *As this is an ongoing investigation, MyTwoCensus asks for any individual with further information about this case to please come forward. We remind our readers that we maintain  full confidentiality with our sources in all circumstances.

California could lose a House seat after 2010 census

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
H/T to Richard Simon of the LA Times for reporting on the following:

Reporting from Washington — Here’s yet another result of the bad economy: California’s congressional delegation is unlikely to grow and could even lose a seat after next year’s census for the first time since stagecoach days.

If the state loses a seat, it could weaken California’s clout in Washington and reduce the amount of federal money flowing to the state. It could also set off a game of political musical chairs, forcing two incumbents to run against each other.

As if that weren’t enough, the state that stands to gain the most new seats is California’s longtime rival, Texas, the second most populous state.

With the possible loss of a seat, “an accurate census becomes all the more important to California,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former staff director of the House census oversight subcommittee and a member of President Obama’s transition team for the census.

As California’s population has increased — through the booms of the 1880s, the post-World War II years and the 1980s — so has its clout in Congress.

The delegation has grown every time Congress has reapportioned House seats to reflect population changes. The state gained nine seats — the most ever — after the 1930 census, seven after 1950, eight after 1960, seven after 1990 and one after the 2000 count.

The delegation now stands at 53, the largest of any state.

California neighbors Arizona and Nevada are expected to gain seats, as are Texas, Florida and Georgia. Texas alone could pick up as many as four. Michigan and Ohio, hard hit by the recession, are among the states expected to lose seats.

California’s population has been growing at a slower rate than those of a number of other states, a key factor in apportioning congressional seats. It grew 1.1% last year, its lowest rate in a decade.

“The economy, no doubt, held down the growth rate in California,” said UC Berkeley political scientist Bruce Cain.

Demographers believe that the size of California’s delegation will most likely remain unchanged — still significant because of its history of growth — rather than decrease by one. But they also say the state is on the bubble.

“I would be very surprised if we lost a seat, but not at all surprised if we didn’t gain any, based on the job growth,” said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.

The state is adding jobs at about the same rate as the national average after above-average job growth from the end of World War II until the early 1990s, when the economy suffered deeply from the collapse of California’s aerospace industry, Levy said.

The Golden State’s share of new immigrants — legal and illegal — has also dropped. The state has been drawing about one-sixth of new immigrants in recent years, down from one-third in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, said Jeff Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.

He added that the percentage of immigrants settling in the mountain states and Southeast has risen.

As immigration has slowed, more people have moved out of California to other states than into California from other states — a net loss of more than 435,000 and perhaps as many as 945,000 in the last four years.

“During recessions, when California’s unemployment rate is higher than the nation’s, as is the case right now, we tend to experience quite a bit of outmigration,” said Hans Johnson, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

The state’s population has grown, nonetheless, because births and continued, albeit slowed, immigration have outpaced deaths and people moving out of California.

“Population is driven by jobs and the economy. So in this next census, I think there will be a strong correlation to the regional and state economies and population,” said Tim Storey of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “There’s little doubt that California is going to feel that in a special way.”

Still, the fate of the state’s delegation will remain unclear until after the census is completed, because the current population estimates vary.

If the state’s estimate of 12.6% population growth from 2000 to 2008 is correct, Johnson said, California could still gain a seat or two in Congress. Under the Census Bureau figures of 8.5% growth since 2000, the state’s congressional delegation is likely to remain unchanged.

Although the subject is arcane, size matters in Washington.

Not only is the census used to apportion strength in the House of Representatives and the electoral college, but dozens of federal aid programs are linked to population figures.

The possible loss of a congressional seat was cited by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month in creating a special panel to “make certain everyone is counted so that California gets its fair share of federal dollars and representation in Congress.”

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders has called for illegal immigrants to boycott the census to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to overhaul immigration laws, but a number of Latino House members from California have spoken out against a boycott, saying it could cost the state dearly. In its decennial count, the Census Bureau does not consider a person’s legal status.

Ironically, declining home values may deter Californians from selling their homes and leaving the state.

Mary Heim, chief of the state Department of Finance’s demographic research unit, said the number of people moving out of California to other states “may not reach the level of the 1990s because the economic slowdown is nationwide this time and not as concentrated in California as it was in the 1990s.”