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.

Photo of the Day: Waste on the streets of New York

UPDATE: I have word that the New York regional office is up in arms over this photo. Please note that I received it from a college friend who does NOT work for the Census Bureau. I don’t want anyone to be falsely accused/needlessly fired over something that they didn’t do…

423 West 127 Street, New York, New York

Multiply this by the 494 local census offices around the country…and know that this happens on a daily/weekly basis.

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31 Responses to “Photo of the Day: Waste on the streets of New York”

  1. end the census Says:

    :( What is the solution? I don’t know.

  2. JAG Says:

    Looks like a picture of boxes…..just because they are throwing things away doesn’t mean it’s waste. Many of these boxes appear to be resealed. What would it look like if the boxes were filled with used materials that were being thrown out because they’re no longer needed?

  3. CACL Says:

    at least they’re marked “recycle”…

  4. techy Says:

    “Multiply this by the 494 local census offices around the country…and know that this happens on a daily/weekly basis.”

    Actually…. no. Recycling or destroying that much material happens about… 4 times in 2 years. All other paper waste (which amounts comparibly to any office of equal size) is regularly shredded and recycled.

    Hyperbole ill suits you.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    SRM… I can’t tell, but are those 2009 dates on the boxes? Why on earth would they recycle old materials?!

  6. Anonymous Says:

    “Multiply this by the 494 local census offices around the country…and know that this happens on a daily/weekly basis.”

    [citation needed]

  7. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    The 494 is the number of offices. The rest is my commentary…And yes, I have word that the boxes contain surplus printed materials. SRM

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for the clarification. We now understand that you are mixing fact and fiction.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I believe it! Looks like our LCO.

  10. Maiasaura Says:

    Wait a minute–They told me in training that discarded census materials were to be specially processed, shredded, bleached and carted to a double-secret landfill in Indiana. Please don’t tell that’s not true. I might lose my faith in the US Census Bureau.


  11. Former AMFO Says:

    The boxes seem to be recruiting and testing materials..Almost every office has so much of this leftover stuff.

  12. Park Avenue LCO Says:

    My office put out at least 50 dumpsters worth of stuff! They have been thowing out materials over the last couple of months. And some poor schmuck gets paid to do it.

  13. Ex-IT Says:

    I wish we only had that much.

  14. SexyEnumerator2232 Says:

    I work in this LCO and everyone is trying to find the culprit. Never since the manhunt for Osama bin Laden have I seen such diligence. We were told when they find this person they are going to shred this person like they do the PII and Title XIII information.

    The new directive we were told today is that we are to only throw out materials in unmarked boxes and a census employee must now stand watch until the garbage truck comes to pick it up.

    The headquarters and RCC staff are the same people who ordered us:
    * paid to have all this stuff printed and delivered to the LCOs
    * estimated and told us to hire all these enumerators and office clerks
    * paid Harris Corp to develop the HHCs
    * paid to develop the PBOCS (pee box) which doesn’t work
    * to box all this material and clearly label it for disposal
    * get it ready for the disposal truck at 2:00pm which never came.

    Now they are yelling at us and telling us to quietly destroy this material to cover their asses so they can save their jobs.

    Thank you MyTwoCensus. It’s about time someone aired out their dirty laundry.

  15. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    @Anonymous – no, this is not fact and fiction. it is reporting mixed with commentary, like most news in this country and around the world. wake up to reality!

  16. JAG Says:

    You heard this from a college friend? Did he open the boxes to see what was in them or just assume? I say it is highly unlikely to have this much going out daily as you claim. If that was so, they’d almost be receiving daily shipments that they are carting right out to the trash.

  17. Enumerator anywhere USA Says:

    I don’t know about New York, but the recycling in my area requires everything to be separated. You can’t just put out cardboard boxes of paper materials to be recycled. You have to take the paper out, put it into a separate bin, and collapse the cardboard boxes.

    But then perhaps it’s reflective of the overall paranoia, that they are doing the right thing by recycling the discarded paper goods, but expect that no eyes will be laid upon it nor the contents, thus putting it into boxes that are sealed, and having huge hissy-fits when somebody photographs the piles of boxes. Hello, everybody has trash; and usually recycled stuff is put onto a big conveyer belt and people look at everything to make sure that there is nothing in there that can contaminate the load, for example, a discarded candy wrapper amongst all of that paper.

    I expect that our LCO will have similar discards once all of our barely-used manuals and training materials (along with the errata thereof which were received after we had completed training) are all brought back in and will need to be recycled.

    All of these materials, once deemed so important, become mere fodder for the recycling heap. Folks, be sure to buy 100% recycled content paper; who knows, it may contain your 2010 census manual!

  18. pranita veeria Says:

    Just how many boxes are being dumped in NYC ??? I can only imagine

  19. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    Yawn. Much ado about next to nothing, and yet more of S.R. Morse’s “tempest-in-a-teapot” style of journalism.

    Since Morse is obviously paying attention to comments here, even replying to them, I wonder if he’ll do me the courtesy as well.

    I agree with him that this is not a case of mixing fact and fiction. He’s not making anything up here, not lying. But what he is doing is creating the illusion of “controversy” where there really is none, of making a mountain out of a molehill just for the sake of titillating his readers.

    I mean, look: Show me one organization, government, public or private, that doesn’t generate large amounts of paper waste like that seen here. And in the case of the Census, we’re talking about 1) a huge operation that occurs only every 10 years (probably the largest data-collection operation on the planet), and 2) an operation that is by its nature very paper-intensive. Paper is required for each and every aspect of its operation.

    Now, if you are running such an operation, and have hired lots of people to carry out its various tasks (OK, maybe you over-hired, but that’s a separate story), then you need to make sure that you have enough materials for those people to do their jobs. If you think you need 2,000 enumerators manuals, then you order 3,000, just to be sure you have enough. You certainly don’t order 2,000, then find yourself short and needing to make up the remainder on short notice; that’s economically worse than ordering too many and having to recycle the leftovers.

    As someone else said here, this is really a case of hyperbole on Morse’s part. So Mr. Morse, what do you think?

  20. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    By the way, Mr. Morse, as I’ve said before, I’m not knocking your entire effort. There is much material here that is important and ought to be exposed to the light of day. It’s just that things like this, picayune stuff, diminish your credibility and allow people to write you off as just another Internet crank. You’d be doing yourself (and us) a huge favor by being a lot more judicious in your postings. (And using rags like the NY Post as references certainly doesn’t do anything good for your cred.)

  21. LCO-AM Says:

    All PII and Chapter 13 is shredded.

    We’ve recycled at least as much as shown, maybe more, two or three times.

    When the enumerators, crew leaders and such return their unused Census materials and the end of an operation – manuals, ect, they are seperated and recycled or, in the case of things like pencils and supplies – donated to local schools or teachers associations.

    The percentage of waste is probably on par with any business or operation of this magnitude.

    Hyperbole, I probably have to agree, but it was kind of – fun.

  22. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    @LCO-AM: “Hyperbole, I probably have to agree, but it was kind of – fun.”

    Good way to put it. If this was my blog, I would’ve put that photo into a “picture of the day” gallery without comment and just left it at that, instead of making a Federal case out of it like S.R. Morse did.

    It is interesting to see scenes like this to remind us of just how much paper is flying out there in that blizzard of paperwork.

  23. JAG Says:

    I guess SRM would prefer that all these materials should be shipped back to some central storage facility and kept there…..and let the taxpayer pay shipping and rent for who knows how long. Maybe they could use the warehouse from the Indiana Jones movies.

    Seriously, what’s worse? Running out of supplies and telling people they can’t accept more applications because they ran out of materials or having some left over. No, I get it…..just print in advance the exact number needed! That solves all of the problems! LOL

  24. MotleyCrewLeader Says:

    I work in this district as well. The problem is not the boxes being dumped. In fact the initial story is a non story. The LCO needs to get rid of trash. No. To me the issue is the response behind the scenes.

  25. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    @yet another enumerator

    I do play a gatekeeper role in maintaining this blog. I find it essential to throw as much information as possible out into the public sphere because while each individual post may not be monumental, when things are all added up, they can be significant. i get many tips based on each post, so you never know where problems are lurking until they are made public…

  26. To Infinity and Beyond Says:

    Thanks, Stephen.

  27. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    @SRM: Thanks for finally answering me. I know I’ve been kinda hounding you for a while, and though we may disagree about the way you approach these stories, your site in general is a useful one, so thanks for putting it up and maintaining it.

  28. end the census Says:

    It’s also that the LCO’s over-ordered some stuff (nonessentials) and under-ordered some other stuff (essentials) that bothers me. But unlike the LCO that dumped unused boxes of practice tests, our LCO has a strict “shred everything” policy. They have shredded tons and tons and tons of surplus paperwork — surplus because they over-ordered.

  29. your answers are confidential Says:

    YAE: :)

  30. OnStandBy_Again Says:

    I have just one question. What do I need to get going with this next operation?

  31. OnStandBy_Again Says:

    correction….what do I need to do to get going with this next operation?