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 September, 2009

MyTwoCensus.com Plays Significant Role In Decision To Dump ACORN

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Just hours after the below letter was circulated to members of Congress, Census Director Robert M. Groves decided to drop ACORN from its role as a partner organization with the 2010 Census:

Spot Check: ACORN

Dear Colleague:

I would like to direct your attention to the following post by Stephen Robert Morse on MyTwoCensus.com, an independent watchdog blog on the 2010 Decennial Census.

Mr. Morse was attempting to determine whether ACORN is recruiting census workers.  The Census Bureau has assured the Subcommittee on the Census that it instructed ACORN over the telephone not to recruit enumerators.  However, I am concerned that this message has not been thoroughly transmitted to the entire organization.

We will be requesting documentation that the Census Bureau has sufficiently notified ACORN of its approved responsibilities as a 2010 Decennial Census partner.  Simple written instruction from the Bureau to ACORN would help allay public fears about their involvement in the census.

The majority of recruitment of temporary census workers will not begin until the end of the calendar year.  I and my colleagues on the Subcommittee will continue to stay vigilant regarding ACORN’s involvement in the 2010 Census and work with the Census Bureau to ensure an apolitical and accurate decennial count.

Sincerely,


PATRICK T. McHENRY

Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Information Policy,
Census, and National Archives

BREAKING NEWS: CENSUS BUREAU CUTS OFF ACORN, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY!

Friday, September 11th, 2009

The following comes from Hope Yen of the Associated Press, but has also been reported by nearly every major news outlet:

WASHINGTON — The Census Bureau on Friday severed its ties with ACORN, a community organization that has been hit with Republican accusations of voter-registration fraud. “We do not come to this decision lightly,” Census director Robert Groves wrote in a letter to ACORN, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

In splitting with ACORN, Groves sought to tamp down GOP concerns and negative publicity that the partnership will taint the 2010 head count.

“It is clear that ACORN’s affiliation with the 2010 census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 census efforts,” Groves wrote.

Stephen Buckner, a census spokesman, confirmed the letter, but declined additional comment.

ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson did not immediately return a request for comment.

In recent months, Republicans have become increasingly critical of the census’ ties with ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The group, which advocates for poor people, conducted a massive voter registration effort last year and became a target of conservatives when some employees were accused of submitting false registration forms with names such as “Mickey Mouse.”

ACORN has said only a handful of employees submitted false registration forms and did so in a bid to boost their pay.

Partly citing ACORN’s role, Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and David Vitter, R-La., earlier this year blocked a full confirmation vote of Groves for several weeks. Rep. Michelle Bachman, R-Minn., also has been calling for a census boycott because of her concerns about whether the group would tamper with the high-stakes population count.

Up to now, the Census Bureau had defended ACORN’s involvement, explaining it was one of 80,000 unpaid volunteer groups that the bureau hoped would be able to raise local awareness. But in his letter, Groves said it no longer had confidence that ACORN was effectively managing its partnership.

ACORN fired two employees who were seen on hidden-camera video giving tax advice to a man posing as a pimp and a woman who pretended to be a prostitute. Fox News Channel broadcast excerpts from the video on Thursday. On the video, a man and woman visiting ACORN’s Baltimore office asked about buying a house and how to account on tax forms for the woman’s income. An ACORN employee advised the woman to list her occupation as “performance artist.”

In a statement, ACORN Maryland board member Margaret Williams said the video was an attempt to smear ACORN, and that undercover teams attempted similar setups in at least three other ACORN offices. Williams said no tax returns were filed and no assistance was provided.

The ACORN Investigations Continue…

Friday, September 11th, 2009

We hate to keep beating this story to a bloody pulp, this is yet another day where ACORN has been featured prominently in the news for its wrongdoings. When I woke up this morning, the following story was the #1 headline on CNN.com:

(CNN) — Two employees at the Baltimore, Maryland, branch of the liberal community organizing group ACORN were caught on tape allegedly offering advice to a pair posing as a pimp and prostitute on setting up a prostitution ring and evading the IRS.

The footage, which appears to have been edited in places, was recorded and posted online Thursday.

The footage, which appears to have been edited in places, was recorded and posted online Thursday.

The video footage — which has been edited and goes to black in some areas — was recorded and and posted online Thursday by James O’Keefe, a conservative activist. He was joined on the video by another conservative, Hannah Giles, who posed as the prostitute in the filmmakers’ undercover sting.

The video shows the pair approaching two women working at the ACORN Baltimore office and asking them for advice on how to set up a prostitution ring involving more than a dozen underage girls from El Salvador.

One of the ACORN workers suggests that Giles refer to herself as a “performing artist” on tax forms and declare some of the girls as dependents to receive child tax credits.

“Stop saying prostitution,” the woman, identified by the filmmaker as an ACORN tax expert, tells Giles. The other woman tells them, “You want to keep them clean … make sure they go to school.” Video Watch tape of alleged advice on prostitution »

Both women appear enthusiastic to help.

Calls to ACORN’s Baltimore offices were not immediately returned Thursday. A local spokeswoman told The Associated Press that both employees seen in the video were fired.

“The portrayal is false and defamatory and an attempt at ‘gotcha journalism,’ ” said Scott Levenson, a spokesman at ACORN’s national offices. “This film crew tried to pull this sham at other offices and failed. ACORN wants to see the full video before commenting further.”

The conservative filmmakers unsuccessfully attempted similar ruses at the group’s offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, California, and New York, Levenson said.

Law enforcement officials in the Baltimore area wouldn’t confirm whether they are investigating the alleged incident at the local ACORN office. However, authorities said that under Maryland law, such undercover video may not be admissible in court as evidence.

CNN attempted to reach O’Keefe and Giles; O’Keefe was not available for comment and Giles canceled an interview scheduled for Thursday.

ACORN — an acronym for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — made headlines last year when Republican groups seized on allegations of voter registration fraud by the group in Florida and several other states, claiming its workers were trying to push the election in Barack Obama’s favor.

On Wednesday, arrest warrants were issued for 11 Florida voter registration workers suspected of submitting false information on hundreds of voter registration cards, according to court documents. The Florida investigation was triggered by ACORN officials who noticed irregularities in forms they were receiving.

ACORN turns in Fla. workers on voter fraud charges

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Just a week after I announced the findings of my spot check of ACORN’s activities in regard to the 2010 Census, the organization is back in the news in a very bad way. Check out the following report from Curt Anderson of the Associated Press:

MIAMI — Armed with a tip from the grassroots group ACORN about its own workers, authorities on Wednesday began arresting 11 people suspected of falsifying hundreds of voter applications during a registration drive last year.

ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has long been accused by Republican and conservative activists — fed by talk-radio hosts — of fraudulently registering voters. But Miami-Dade prosecutors gave credit to the group for coming forward and ACORN officials said they felt vindicated.

“It shows that we take the integrity of our voter registration work with the utmost seriousness,” said ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring. “We turn in people who try to game the system.”

Although ACORN is nonpartisan, its registration efforts focus on low-income and minority populations who tend to vote for Democrats; critics contend those efforts frequently bend or break registration rules. At times during the 2008 presidential campaign, people attending rallies for Republican nominee John McCain broke into chants of “No More ACORN!”

Last year, ACORN’s national drive produced some 1.3 million voter applications.

ACORN first detected problems in Miami-Dade County in June 2008, according to a letter the group wrote to prosecutors. Investigators eventually determined that 11 canvassers, who were paid between $8 and $10 an hour, were turning in fake registration cards, mostly from the Homestead area.

“This is really about money. These are people who decided not to work,” said Ed Griffith, spokesman for Miami-Dade State Attorney Katharine Fernandez Rundle.

The 11 workers each face multiple counts of two felony charges: false swearing in connection with voting and submission of false voter registration information. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The suspects collectively turned in about 1,400 registration cards, of which 888 were later found to be faked. Some contained names of celebrities such as actor Paul Newman, while in other cases the same real voter’s name was used on multiple applications. There was no evidence anyone voted who should not have.

The FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement had made five arrests by midday and were looking for the remaining suspects. ACORN officials said the group regularly reports suspected fraud to authorities nationwide but the Miami prosecution marks one of the few times the complaints were taken seriously.

ACORN itself last year was the subject of fraudulent registration complaints in Missouri, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina, among others.

Illegal Aliens…Again…

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

From the National Review (I bolded the one sentence that I think is really interesting):

Illegal-Alien Census Boycott? Bring It On!    [Hans A. von Spakovsky]

The Boston Globe reports that advocates for illegal aliens are urging their followers to boycott the 2010 census. They want illegal aliens to “protest the government’s inaction on immigration legislation.”

Translated from liberal Boston Globe-speak, they mean legislation that would provide amnesty for the 15 million who are here illegally and would end the federal government’s half-hearted efforts to enforce our immigration laws.

I sure hope the boycotters are successful. This would result in two positive outcomes. First, states like California that have more congressional representatives than they should would lose those seats. Apportionment is based on the entire population counted by the census, not just citizens and lawful, permanent residents. It is fundamentally unfair that states get more votes in the House of Representatives based on the number of illegal aliens they harbor, rather than the number of U.S. citizens and legal residents who pay the full measure of taxes and have the proper allegiance to our system of government. California alone has six more congressional seats than it deserves because of its huge population of illegal aliens. States like Ohio and Pennsylvania are short seats because of this type of apportionment.

Second, states with large populations of illegal immigrants would lose the federal funds that are paid out — once again — based on the total population of those states. This provides an incentive for states to do nothing about their illegal-immigrant populations. If they had to absorb the full costs of their illegal aliens, they might change their minds on this issue, and “sanctuary” cities might disappear. As polls clearly indicate, many Americans believe it is fundamentally wrong for illegal aliens to receive government benefits. According to Rasmussen, 83 percent of Americans say proof of citizenship should be required before anyone can receive government subsidies; that is one of the reasons Obamacare is failing. Today’s large numbers of illegal aliens would decrease if local and state governments used their resources to help locate and remove these individuals, and if the federal government did what it is supposed to do — deport them when they are found, instead of providing financial incentives for them to stay.

Uh-Oh, Bad News: New Reports From In The Inspector General

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

MyTwoCensus obtained the following reports from the Commerce Department Inspector General’s Office last Friday, but we thought we’d give the powers that be a long weekend of relaxation before they start to fret…and we must add, they will be fretting. Throughout this week we will be providing commentary and analyses, but for now here are the three reports that you should take a look at:

Census 2010: Problems Encountered in the Large Block Operation Underscore the Need for Better Contingency Plans (OIG-19171-02)

http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/2009/Final%20Census%20Large%20Block%20Flash%20Report.pdf

2010 Census: First Quarterly Report to Congress Report (OIG‐19791‐1)

http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/2009/QTR-1%20First%20Quarterly%20%20Report%20to%20Congress%20080609.pdf

Recommendations from 2010 Census: First Quarterly Report to Congress, August 2009 (OIG-19791-l)

http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/correspondence/QTR-1%20FINAL%20Report%20Recommendations.pdf

Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

To the 1.4 million Americans who have worked/will work on the 2010 Census, enjoy your long weekend! There’s a lot of work to be done in the months ahead!

New Advertising Contract: GA1

Friday, September 4th, 2009

The Census Bureau just awarded another significant media contract. This time, the recipient is Global Advertising 1st, known colloquially as GA1.

Here’s the  press release from PR Newswire:

GA1 will launch advertising recruitment campaigns for the 2010 Census that
spans 28 states.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Global Advertising 1st (GA1), an
award-winning integrated marketing solutions firm, has been chosen to meet the
US Census Bureau's increasing needs to recruit applicants for temporary
positions necessary to conduct the decennial Census in 2010. Since 2008, GA1
has been executing an advertising recruitment campaign in the Philadelphia
region, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Washington,
D.C.

On August 31st, the US Census Bureau contracted GA1 to handle recruitment
advertising in the Boston, Seattle, Kansas City, and Charlotte regions. The
campaigns will launch during the peak recruiting phase of the 2010 Census,
which falls between late 2009 and mid-2010. 

GA1's multicultural expertise has enabled them to reach a key recruitment
objective of the Census, which is to ensure that audiences rich in diversity
have had an opportunity to hear and respond to the recruitment message. The
advertising campaigns in the Boston, Seattle, Kansas City, and Charlotte
regions span 28 states. "GA1 has been proactive in designating teams to serve
each of the regions and the thousands of media placements our team will be
handling until the US Census 2010 goals are met," stated Derrick Hollie,
president and CEO of GA1. The US Census Bureau must recruit approximately 3.8
million applicants to staff temporary census positions for all census
operations nationwide. This formidable task is the largest peacetime
mobilization effort in America's history. Hollie says, "GA1 is excited to be a
part of such an important initiative mandated by the US government, and our
team is prepared to make the 2010 Census a huge success. 

Census operations and recruitment efforts are divided among twelve Regional
Census Centers (RCC). GA1 will implement recruitment advertising in five of
the twelve regions. RCCs are temporary Census Bureau offices established
during a decennial census to manage census field office and local census
office activities, and to conduct geographic programs and support operations. 

The U.S. Census Bureau is the primary source of statistical information about
the Nation's population and economy, and is best known for the decennial
census of population and housing. By December 31, 2010, the Census Bureau must
deliver to the President, state level population counts and the calculations
for reapportioning the United States House of Representatives. More detailed
counts must be delivered to the states by March 31, 2011 for the purpose of
redistricting.   

About GA1:
Global Advertising 1st (GA1) is an award-winning minority-owned, full-service
marketing solutions firm that specializes in providing innovative approaches
to disseminating our clients' messages. GA1 has created and implemented
campaigns for clients such as the US Department of Education, US Department of
Housing and Urban Development, Gillette, Dodge, the US Department of State and
American Lung Association of DC, and the 2010 US Census. GA1 holds a GSA AIMS
Schedule 541 and does the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as a
qualified minority-owned business for government media placement certify 8(a).
GA1 has also received multiple state and local authorities. For a complete
list of our certifications and awards please visit: www.globalad1.com.

SOURCE  Global Advertising 1st

Tobi Davis of Global Advertising 1st, +1-301-731-4255, tdavis@globalad1.com

Homecoming for Bob Groves

Friday, September 4th, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, SEPT. 3, 2009

Kim Hunter
CB09-CR.05
Detroit Regional Census Center
313-799-1495

Census Bureau Director to Visit Detroit Regional Census Center

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves returns home Friday, Sept. 4, to
Michigan for the first time since he was confirmed as head of the Census
Bureau in July. Groves will visit the Detroit Regional Census Center to
review operational readiness for the 2010 Census and to ensure an
accurate count in Michigan. He will also meet with Wayne County
Executive Robert Ficano.

Prior to his job as Census Bureau Director, Groves was director of the
University of Michigan Survey Research Center. He received his
bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his master’s and doctorate
from the University of Michigan.

With only seven months until Census Day, April 1, 2010, Groves oversees
planning for the 2010 Census, which is on track to be the most accurate
and technologically advanced in our nation’s history. The 2010 Census
will also be the shortest ever with only 10 questions. Census data are
used to distribute 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.

Groves’ visit to the Detroit Regional Census Center is closed to the
media, however, he is available upon request for interviews.

Spot Check: ACORN

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

So, the Census Bureau has assured members of Congress that ACORN is NOT involved in the recruiting process for candidates hoping to be among the 1.4 million Americans who will work for the 2010 Census. I decided to contact a bunch of ACORN offices throughout the country and ask them if they could help get me a job to see if this was true. Here’s what I found:

Note: More than half of the ACORN offices I called had phone lines that were no longer active. Some of the e-mail addresses I contacted were also no longer working and bounced back to me. (Hmmm…Do you think that ACORN’s bad publicity during the past yer could have caused the organization to lose just a little bit of non-profit funding? It certainly looks that way to me.)

When I called each office, I said, “Hi, I heard that you could help me get a job with the 2010 Census. What do I have to do?”

Washington DC ACORN – “We have no idea. You have to take a test with the Census. Do you know how to go to that site? We have nothing with the Census Bureau. You have to go on the web site then go to www.ACORN.org…”

Pittsburgh ACORN – “We don’t have that contract.  I don’t know who has it. You know the Hill House? They have a new employment center. Those people should know who’s hiring for the 2010 Census.”

Philadelphia ACORN – “I don’t know too much about the census. We are one of a couple of thousand partnership organizations. We haven’t had any information yet, but you should try back in a couple of weeks.”

Atlanta ACORN – “Go online to ACORN.org and that’s where you’d have to put the application in. That’s where you would put your application in.”

At this point, her phone line went down and she kindly called me back from her cell phone. She had me send her an e-mail with my request as her land-line phone was experiencing problems. I sent her an e-mail but it bounced back to me.

Among the ACORN offices I e-mailed, I received only one response, and it came from the Southern regional office:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am currently out of work, and I heard that ACORN was hiring for the Census. Can you please let me know how I can work for the Census in our area?

Thank you very much,

Stephen Robert Morse

The e-mail responses:

Dear Mr. Morse:

Thank you for contacting ACORN.

Unfortunately, no one we know of at ACORN has any idea where this notion came from.  We have no census work, never heard of any and don’t expect to hear of any census work.

Please contact the U.S. Census bureau or your local congressperson for information regarding working with the census.

Best regards,

G. Brown

CONCLUSION: At this time, it doesn’t appear that ACORN is recruiting on a national level to attract candidates to work for the 2010 Census, but that’s today, September 2. Local offices, such as the one in Atlanta, were quite quick to help me out.  The major recruiting efforts for the 2010 Census don’t take place until later this fall, so we’ll just have to wait and see what involvement ACORN has in this process.

Los Angeles Times: Census Outreach Is Critical In L.A. County

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Some news from the City of Angels (click HERE for full article) – it’s too bad the LA Times’ new web site looks like it was built for a high school newspaper:

By Teresa Watanabe

With sprawling enclaves of immigrants, crowded housing conditions and pockets of deep poverty, Los Angeles is regarded as the nation’s most difficult county for census-takers to count.

But as they gear up for the decennial census beginning in April, officials are beefing up efforts to reach the region’s far-flung polyglot communities with more community outreach staff and language assistance, including a first-ever bilingual English-Spanish census form.

At a meeting last week in downtown Los Angeles, U.S. census officials met with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, dozens of community activists, nonprofit leaders and state and local government representatives to craft strategies on how to reach the 4.4 million people who live in “hard-to-count” neighborhoods in Los Angeles County.

Census officials give that designation to areas where residents traditionally have low rates of census participation, including immigrants with limited English, African Americans and other minority groups, the poor, the less educated and those who live in crowded housing.

Los Angeles County’s hard-to-count population dwarfs those in all other U.S. counties and is concentrated in the city’s central core, from Sunset Boulevard to Imperial Highway, the Terminal Island area and parts of the San Fernando Valley.

Officials fear funding shortages and mistrust toward the government among many immigrants could result in an undercount with enormous consequences for California: the possible loss of a U.S. congressional seat for the first time in state history and the loss of billions of dollars of federal funding for schools and other services.

Congressional seats and more than $300 billion in federal funding for more than 170 programs are apportioned by population, as determined by the census. By some estimates, each person counted results in $12,000 in federal funds over a decade.

“This is the most important census in California history,” said Ditas Katague, state census director.

Fueling the worries about an undercount next year is a sizable drop in state funding for outreach efforts: $3 million for next year, compared with $24.7 million in 2000.

James T. Christy, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Los Angeles regional director, said the federal government has stepped in with some increased funding. It has expanded the number of Los Angeles community outreach staff to more than 350 people from 50 in 2000 and is offering informational guides in 59 languages, an increase of more than 20%. The new languages include Polish, Russian and Arabic. In addition, Russian has been added to the telephone assistance system, which also operates in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Nonprofit organizations have also tried to fill the gap. The California Endowment, which sponsored the census forum, announced last week that it would provide $4 million for statewide outreach, and the California Community Foundation had earlier announced grants of $1.5 million.

But Christy said the financial woes remain worrisome. “Community-based organizations don’t have the funding to tack on a census message,” he said.

Christy also said that next year’s census, the first since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, could be met with suspicion from minorities who may be wary of government intrusion into their lives. He said the Justice Department had assured the bureau that the Patriot Act, which gave law enforcement broader access to personal information for counter-terrorism investigations, could not be used to force the surrender of any census information. The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that census information must remain confidential, he said.

“No one can get access to census data,” Christy said. “It is rock solid secure.”

To address such concerns, census officials are expanding their outreach staff and dispatching “complete count” committees made up of local government officials and community members. Committees have been formed by Cambodians, Koreans, Filipinos and Sikhs, among others. Officials are pitching the census as “safe, easy and important,” noting that the form’s 10 questions will not ask for Social Security numbers or legal status.