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, 2010

2010 Census workers can’t report child abuse…

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

NBC Miami shares the following:

The government’s census workers are out and about in South Florida neighborhoods and beyond, going door to door and being invited into homes, but a little-known law is being criticized by local child advocates.

Under the law, census workers can’t say anything about or report sex abuse, child abuse, or any type of abuse of kids they may get a whiff of while visiting a home.

In fact, Federal law not only prohibits them from speaking out, but anyone who does could get a $5,000 fine and five years in jail if they do.

Census Workers Can’t Report Child Abuse

Census Workers Can't Report Child  Abuse

WATCH

Census Workers Can’t Report Child Abuse

In Florida, teachers, doctors, nurses, the clergy, and law enforcement officers must report child abuse when they see it.

Lissette Labrousse, attorney with Legal Services of Greater Miami, said there’s a reason for the law.

“The Federal law is designed to have people come forward and speak to census workers without fear,” said Labrousse. “Under the law it is required that the census worker keep everything confidential, they cannot release any information to any government agency.”

The census told NBCMiami that it’s very unlikely one of its workers would run across abuse, but if they did the law stops them from reporting it.

But child advocates claim the law hurts their efforts to get the public to come forward anytime children are being abused.

Trudy Novicki, Executive Director at Miami‘s Kristi House, which provides counseling for about 750 abused kids each year, said she called the Census Bureau when she was told of the law.

So the Census Bureau won’t pay for toilet paper in New York but will pay to rent out a radical mosque in Virginia?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

UPDATE: The Census Bureau’s Public Information Office told me:

“Office leasings for the federal government are handled by the General Services Administration (GSA).  Lease payments for the Census Bureau’s Alexandria, Virginia office are made to Phillips Properties of Alexandria, Virginia.”

I’m looking for more details on this situation. I didn’t intend for the headline to appear like a mirror image of FOXNews, but if these claims are valid (the “toilet paper” in the headline is a reference to a piece I ran yesterday about New York), then FOXNews will probably soon be all over this story from AOL News:

By Chanan Tigay

(May 10) — The U.S. government is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent to a Virginia mosque that law enforcement officials have identified as “a front for Hamas operatives,” according to a new report from an Islamic terrorism watchdog.

In preparation for the 2010 census, the General Services Administration leased office space throughout the country for the Census Bureau. According to the report by the nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), one of those spaces is in an Alexandria, Va., building owned by the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center.

Muslims fill up the driveway and pray after the mosque was full at  Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, 2006.

Alex Wong, Getty Images
Worshippers pray in the driveway of the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a Falls Church, Va.-based mosque.

The Falls Church, Va.-based mosque was once the home of radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been linked to both Fort Hood gunman Nidal Malik Hasan and Christmas Day “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the IPT says.

According to the report, the lease contract, initially signed in 2008, is worth $582,026 for 25 months.

The IPT bases its claims about the mosque’s terrorist links on documents it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Those documents state “that Dar Al-Hijrah was ‘associated with Islamic extremists’ and was ‘operating as a front for Hamas operatives in U.S.’ ” and that “the mosque ‘has been linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing,’ ” the IPT says.

It further quotes from a report, also obtained under FOIA, saying Dar Al-Hijrah “has been under numerous investigations for financing and proving (sic) aid and comfort to bad orgs and members.”

AOL News left phone messages seeking comment from both the General Services Administration and the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, but they were not immediately returned.

The IPT was founded in 1995 by Steven Emerson, a journalist and terrorism analyst who won a George Polk Award for his documentary film, “Jihad in America.” Emerson’s work has upset many Muslim groups, and the nonprofit Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has characterized it as an “unrelenting attack against Arabs and Muslims.”

Census Bureau employees are victims of crimes, yet also perpetrators of crimes…

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

With 635,000 people on the job for the non-response follow-up (NRFU) operation, it’s not surprising that there are a few bad apples in the bunch. On the other hand, it’s tragic to learn that a Census Bureau employee in Connecticut became a carjacking victim. Here are the tidbits about these situations:

According to Connecticut’s NBC affiliate:

A Census Bureau worker was the victim of a carjacking in Hamden, and the suspect is just 14-years-old.

The 50-year-old Hamden resident was sitting in his car, clearly marked with a Census Bureau sign, on Hamden Park Drive Thursday around 6:00 p.m., according to police.

The victim told police the teen came up to him with a gun and ordered him out of the car, then stole money from him.

Jumping in the car, the teen sped away, but returned a short time later and ordered the victim to drive him to the First Street area, police said.

The teen jumped out of the car at First Street and fled on foot.

Working with several leads, police arrested the 14-year-old suspect around 9:00 p.m. Thursday night.

He is charged with carjacking, first-degree kidnapping with a firearm, first-degree robbery and larceny.  Police did not release the teen’s identity because of his age.

And from the Fox affiliate in Indiana, a Census Bureau employee raped a woman whom he had previously enumerated…weird:

Census worker charged with rape

Posted: May 11, 2010 4:18 AM

A Southern Indiana Census worker sits in jail, charged with brutally raping a mentally handicapped woman.

Now deep concerns from within the neighborhood where police say it took place.

Connie Fry said she was asleep in one room and her daughter in another and had no idea someone was in her home attacking her daughter.

“At one time she told me he was putting his hand over her mouth and he was choking her,” Fry said as she was describing the attack on her daughter.

She said the attacker is 39-year-old Daniel Miller.  Fry said he is not a complete stranger, but someone she had met before.

“Three days prior to the night he got here he came from the Census Bureau.”  That day – Fry said Miller was dressed professionally and was polite only taking her information for the Census.

Officials with the U.S. Census Bureau confirm Daniel Miller is a numerator, someone employed to go door to door gathering information.

At around 4:30 Saturday morning, police said Miller broke into a home at 5602 South State Road 60 in Pekin, Indiana and brutally attacked and raped Fry’s 21-year-old daughter.

“She had blood shot eyes and bruises on her shoulders and her arms.”

Fry said her daughter is handicapped and could not have defended herself.  “She’s got Cerebral Palsy and mild retardation.”

Fry said it was easy to figure out who attacked her daughter because he left behind plenty of evidence.

“He left all his clothes, his wallet and everything in the bedroom.  He went out of here with her pajamas and her panties.”

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Miller at his apartment on North Eastern School Road in Pekin across the street from Eastern High School.

“Sometimes we’re here by ourselves because my husband works out of town,” said Evelyn Wisman Fry’s neighbor.

Even though police say they have arrested the right person, neighbors along Indiana 60 in Pekin are concerned that someone trusted by the government to go door to door is now charged with such a serious crime.

“That’s scary for him to know exactly who’s in the home,” Wisman said.

Miller is charged with rape and burglary and is in the Washington County Detention Center on a $150,000 full cash bond.

Census officials tell Fox 41 a background check is performed on all employees and anyone with a criminal history is not hired.

Breaking News from Houston: Man killed in home invasion after suspect poses as census worker

Monday, May 10th, 2010

HOUSTON—A man was killed and his family members beaten after three suspects barged into a north Houston home Saturday afternoon, police said.

Investigators said one of the suspects pretended to be a census worker to gain entry into the house, located in the 400 block of Truman.

Family members said the victim’s son opened the door for the suspects, believing they were with the census.

Larry Johnson Jr., the nephew of the victim, said the suspects tied up and beat his cousin and aunt after barging into to the home.

Johnson said his uncle, Reginald “Pete” Haynes, walked in on the crime and was ambushed.

“They tied him up and stabbed him and tried to submerge him in water,” Johnson said.

Haynes later died at the hospital.

Family members said the men ransacked the house for two hours.

“They were looking for money and my aunt gave them everything that they had and it wasn’t enough for them,” Johnson said.

Neighbor Randell Harmon said he even watched the suspects leave after the crime and had no idea what had happened.

“I saw three gentlemen walk out and I didn’t think anything of it,” Harmon said. “They didn’t look at me. They got in the truck and they left.”

The incident left people in the community fearful about who might come knocking at their door.

“They’ve taken something precious from us,” Johnson said. “They really have.”

Neighbors said census-takers started working their street weeks ago.

According to HPD, the suspect who claimed to be a census worker showed no ID badge. Investigators said they don’t have a good description of any of the suspects.

Census Bureau Official: The Worst Local Census Office In the Nation

Monday, May 10th, 2010

The following piece comes from an anonymous Census Bureau official in New York whose identity has been verified but will remain protected by MyTwoCensus.com. This work below does not necessarily represent the views of Stephen Robert Morse or MyTwoCensus.com:

From the outside our LCO looks great. It sits in a high end commercial office building with beautiful views of Park Avenue and the Grand Central Terminal. But on the inside the office is the prime example of the appalling waste, lack of accountability, sabotage and finger pointing that has become widespread here at the 2010 Census.

Our LCO contains the upscale doorman buildings of the East Side, the multi-million dollar condos in Union Square and the Lower East Side, Fifth Avenue retail stores such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Bergdorf Goodman and famous restaurants such as Tavern on the Green and Smith & Wollensky. The average rent for a one bedroom apartment is upwards of three thousand dollars a month. For months, numerous employees warned everyone the demography of the residents and the high real estate prices was going to be a problem finding applicants for $18.75 an hour and free training space. The recruiting and partnership assistants had trouble finding partners that would donate space that we could use five days a week for eight hours a day. The LCOM made clerks cold call high end banquet halls, and conference rooms in private office buildings but most of them refused because in such a recession these businesses could be generating revenue instead of donating their space. Some spaces though were nice enough to say that if we would be willing to offset some of their custodial, security costs or even the cost for toilet paper they would offer us the space. But the Census Bureau was adamant about not paying a single cent for space.

The other problem was recruiting enough applicants. The office clerk rate of $14.25 and field employee rate of $18.75 an hour was chump change for what is considered one of the highest real estate prices in the country. Most of the people who take a job for these pay rates are students, public housing or subsidized housing residents or retirees. For this very reason we were ranked last in the nation when it came to recruiting enough applicants to do the census.

To no one’s surprise since recruiting numbers were not being met the career census employees at regional census center (RCC) and headquarters pointed fingers, blamed the local census office managers and bring in outsiders. They brought in regional technicians and other recruiting assistants from Queens to show us how to plaster and flier neighborhoods with posters. Nevertheless they didn’t even make a dent in the recruiting numbers. Looking for someone to blame the RCC fired the recruiting manager and asked another one to take over. When the second one refused to work with the LCOM, the solution was fire her too. Then they offered it to a Westchester manager who declined also. (smart move) And the regional technician from Queens spent a week there before he was fed up. Are you starting to notice a trend? You know there is a problem when people would rather be fired than work with the LCOM.

The employees refused to work with the LCOM because she was condescending, oftentimes publicly humiliating and sabotaging other managers from getting their job done. Most of all, the LCOM had it out for the AMQA. She [LCOM] diverted a strong OOS from quality assurance to recruiting and told recruiting assistants to refrain from finding training sites and questionnaire assistance centers (QACs). When the area manager sent partnership assistants to help look for additional QAC sites the LCOM diverted them also. Then they sent a regional technician to help her. He mapped the geographic location of all the QAC sites and figured out the hours they would be most effective. Then he coordinated some recruiting assistants to help telling them exactly where he needed QACs and what hours he needed them. She threw away the work and tried to get the regional technician fired.

At the climax, when the LCOM resigned her going away party featured a clerk who impersonated her in a wig and stormed the lobby like a drama scene from a reality television show. After the LCOM left, an RCC employee became the acting LCOM. Like other RCC employees he offered little constructive help but sitting at his computer falling asleep or basically hovering, standing over, watching as temporary hourly employees slave away at processing work on an antiquated system that does not work.

When it came time to hire enumerators for non response follow-up our office still didn’t have enough training spaces but told to select applicants anyways. Despite being the worst LCO in the country the office managed to select almost 2,000 applicants, hiring a negligible number of non-citizens and those who scored below 70 from an applicant pool of about 5,000. (the original applicant testing goal was over 12,000 applicants) Instead of finally compromising and paying for much needed space RCC asked the LCO managers to create a schedule to take advantage of every single seat in a classroom, moving and splitting crews of enumerators from one training site to another each day. A great idea from the outlook; but when you try to implement this it can be a logistical nightmare. We promised jobs to thousands of applicants but couldn’t fit them into training space so all this week we fielded phone calls from thousands of irate applicants who were desperate for work or enumerators who don’t even know where and when their next day of training is. While the office is fielding phone calls headquarters is making sure we key enough hires in the system. The office resorted to training their employees in the hallway of a high end commercial Park Avenue South office. The managers have to work from morning to midnight, sometimes through the night and everyday there are employees who basically break down and burst into tears in the office. The Census Bureau could of saved themselves money simply by pay their partners a stipend to offset custodial or security fees or even the toilet paper than pay the wages and overtime for the entire office which is probably in the tens of thousands.

Another example of government waste at its finest is how they bring in huge cubic dump containers to throw out entire storerooms of materials for the group quarters enumeration, recruiting brochures, and questionnaires. I ask myself if it was worth firing our AMQA over lack of Questionnaire Assistance Center sites when entire cubic containers of be counted census forms were just thrown out? In a few weeks during the non-response follow up operation we have to enumerate all the housing units in entire high rise apartment buildings in Manhattan because no one received census forms. This is simply because headquarters and RCC rushed and told people to work faster last year. If New York City is missing entire high rise apartment buildings imagine how many single family homes are missing across America. The joke of the office is if things don’t work headquarters will fly in people who will come in take over and magically “finish the job”. This is simply why places like New York City get undercounted.

So when the newspaper reporters are standing outside our office demanding interviews about why the office won’t respond to applicants request about job training. Why don’t they ask the RCC and headquarters? From the first look you can blame the temporary local census office but the real blame falls onto the RCC and headquarters who evaluate purely on numbers with little regard to the demography and real estate costs of one of the most expensive neighborhoods in America. The New York East 2230 office is the prime example of career level census managers who have tunnel vision. These people are former statisticians, mathematicians and geographers who are great at quantitative analysis but have little management experience and strategy.

If this LCO works just like any other office in terms of the waste it shows what must be happening in 494 offices across the nation every day. The Census Bureau MO “when things don’t work throw more money, resources and people at it.” This is why the census costs 15 billion dollars. The Census needs someone with real management experience and who is a real visionary. The employees at regional census center and headquarters should be ashamed of themselves. And to think the inspector general’s office was here just weeks ago makes it even more appalling. You can be sure I’ll be writing the congressional subcommittee about this.

Photo of the Day: 2010 Census jobs still available

Monday, May 10th, 2010

I took this screen capture last week…

Protectionism 101: Congressman probes why 2010 Census swag is made outside the US

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Though I’ve written about waste for some time on this site, only in recent weeks has my attention turned to 2010 Census swag, particularly because I learned that it has been wasted in large quantities. Now,  Massachusetts Congressman Stephen Lynch, a Democrats, want to investigate why so many 2010 Census promotional materials weren’t made in the US of A. Here’s the scoop from the Boston Herald:

An outraged Massachusetts lawmaker is calling for a congressional probe of the federal government’s purchase of foreign-made census propaganda with taxpayer cash, the Herald has learned.

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-S. Boston) is requesting an investigation into the spending by the U.S. Census Bureau on the heels of a Herald report revealing that census swag including hats, T-shirts, toys and other trinkets were made in China and Honduras.

“It is deeply troubling that with 10 percent unemployment the U.S. Census Department, whose central responsibility is to locate Americans, could not locate an American company to provide its hats and T-shirts,” Lynch said. “This does not inspire confidence. We have contacted the Subcommittee on the Census and have asked them to investigate.”

The Herald reported yesterday that boxes of census promotional materials distrubuted in Boston were made overseas.

Census officials said that $42 million was spent on 67 million promotional items as part of a $1 billion ad blitz. A Census spokeswoman said the bureau bought the items from 2,300 American companies. She conceded that some of the companies may have bought materials from overseas companies.

Census officials said assembly, embroidery, stitching, silk screening and other craft work was done in America and that all payments were made to U.S. companies.

The flap has infuriated labor union officials, who blasted the federal government for not doing more to ensure that products paid for with American tax dollars were made in the United States.

The census promotional goods were part of a massive effort to encourage citizens to fill out their 2010 census forms. Much of the promotional material was shipped to local government buildings for distribution to volunteers and part-time workers.

As of last Monday, more than 72 percent of Americans had participated in the census by mail, matching the rate from the last census in 2000.

On SNL, Betty White and Tina Fey recreate Christopher Walken’s classic census sketch

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Here’s the video of the 2010 Census sketch from last night’s Saturday Night Live starring Betty White and Tina Fey. The Census Bureau should drop NBC a thank you note for the free advertising. The classic Christopher Walken SNL sketch can be seen here.

Note: If you look closely, you will see that Tina Fey managed to obtain what appears to be a genuine 2010 Census enumerator bag for this performance. I wonder how she got it if it’s only for employees?

Transcript from most recent Census Bureau press conference now available…

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Click HERE to read the transcript and/or watch the video from last Monday’s briefing at the National Press Club. Stay tuned for analysis of the transcript on Monday, particularly focusing on the failures of the paper-based operations control system (PBOCS) that Dr. Groves and reporters have discussed…

Photo of the day: Census form’s blowing in the wind

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Apologies for being MIA for the past 36 hours, but I was traveling and now I am back to MyTwoCensus work…Here’s a great photo:

2010 CENSUS— A faded bag with a census form hangs in front of a Talkeetna cabin. Enumerators now follow up and go door to door to count residents. Photo by Diana Haecker

A damaging report about the ability of the 2010 Census to fairly and accurately count people in rural areas

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Thanks to the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire for the following:

Rural Census Problems

Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post analyzes yesterday’s report from the Inspector General

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Thanks to Ed for  the following:

Frequent glitches in the computer system built to manage the 2010 Census could jeopardize its accuracy and drive up costs beyond its $15 billion price tag, according to a new watchdog report.

The findings by the Commerce Department’s inspector general come as roughly 600,000 census takers fan out nationwide to visit about 48 million addresses where nobody mailed back a census form.

The quarterly progress report found that problems persist with the agency’s paper-based operations-control system, a computer program developed to manage data collected by census takers. Several local Census Bureau offices are experiencing outages of several hours to entire days, the report said.

Those delays contributed to $1.6 million in clerical overtime costs in the first quarter, and the cost will probably rise in the next two months as census takers complete their work, the report said.

Because of computer delays, local census offices also could misplace completed paper questionnaires that are waiting to be processed.

“Questionnaires can be misplaced, for example, by storing them with questionnaires that have already been checked in,” the report said. If those forms are not processed, “the persons identified in the questionnaires may not be counted.”

The report reinforces concerns raised last week by the Government Accountability Office during a congressional hearing on census operations.

The Census Bureau developed the computer system in 2008 after scrapping plans to use handheld computers built for the agency. The decision left little time to develop the software, and officials have since said the system probably poses the most risk to census operations.

“As we have publicly disclosed to Congress, our oversight agencies and the press, the operational control system is not optimal, and remains a risk,” Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner said in an e-mail. “However we do not foresee cost overruns of the type speculated upon in this report.”

Census Director Robert M. Groves has vowed to keep census operations under budget in hopes of returning funds to the Treasury. But he acknowledged potential operational issues this week in a blog post written to his 600,000 new hires.

“Nothing as large as the decennial census can be trouble-free,” Groves said. “Despite the years of development, things will go wrong.”

$47,000 worth of swag in Florida…

Friday, May 7th, 2010

From the Orlando Sentinel:

If you got a free Census T-shirt at an Orlando Magic game, your swag came at taxpayers’ expense.

The U.S. Census Bureau spent $47,000 on 20,000 shirts given to Magic fans during a nationally televised game, but the bureau’s message wasn’t entirely clear to everyone who received the shirts.

A local television station interviewed people who said they were puzzled by the meaning behind the shirt’s “Be Counted” message.

NRFU Operations: Missing binders or other materials in your area?

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

There have been numerous complaints on MyTwoCensus blogs about missing binders for NRFU (non-response follow-up) operations. Let’s try to track where this is a problem by writing your stories and locations in the comments section of this post. Thanks! SRM

Inspector General’s quarterly report on the 2010 Census now available

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Here it is: http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/2010/OIG-19791-4.pdf

I’m currently reading through it…

Page 19: “The 2010 Census is currently estimated to cost approximately $14.7 billion, reflecting an increase of $3.2 billion over the last 2 years.”

Response to Census Bureau Associate Director for Communications Steve Jost’s comments on this site…Fact-checking his fact-check

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Yesterday, Steve Jost of the Census Bureau wrote the following comment on this site. I am sure you will appreciate my response which is below his remarks:

Factcheck.

1. You are mistaken when you write that the 2000 Census lacked a multimillion dollar ad campaign. The 2000 Census was the first to use paid advertising, with a total media buy of $110 million. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $160 million in 2010 dollars.

-Steve Jost, Associate Director for Communications, US Census Bureau

@Steve Jost – It’s quite fun to fact-check your inaccurate fact-checking. And quite frankly, if you truly believe the following, it scares me that you are the associate director of a statistical agency:

I have not had the time to fully check your “fact-check”, but taking a quick glance at your assertion that $110 million in 2000 was $160 million in 2010, I almost keeled over with laughter about the level of inaccuracy. $110 million in 2000 is equivalent to actually $139 million (and change) today. Don’t believe me?

If you want to fact-check me fact-checking your fact-check, I urge you to consult your buddies at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl) or perhaps some other folks with a better inflation calculator (http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/) who provided me with this most sound data. Let’s hope the 2010 Census statistics aren’t released to the media in such an inaccurate way.

Have a good day,

SRM

Inspector General’s report on the 2010 Census to be released later today…Here’s a sneak peak from the AP

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

The Commerce Department Inspector General’s report that will soon be publicly available may shed some light on major cost overruns at the Census Bureau. The AP obtained a copy on Wednesday, and here’s what they said about it:

WASHINGTON — A new audit questions whether the 2010 census can stick to its $15 billion budget because of computer problems that are forcing substantial overtime work.

The report from the Commerce Department inspector general’s office was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press. It says glitches with the computer system used to manage the door-to-door count caused a 40-hour backlog of work over two weeks.

The report notes that the Census Bureau has already notched more than $1.6 million in overtime costs, and says continuing shutdowns could put the count’s accuracy at risk if census data can’t be put into the system immediately.

Census Bureau director Robert Groves says he believes the agency will stay within its budget.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: The Census Bureau PR Machine is at it again…Return rates for 2010 are not better than return rates for 2000, and here’s why

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

In mid and late March, the return rate for the 2010 Census wasn’t looking good. In fact, it appeared that return rates from the 2000 Census (that lacked this year’s multimillion-dollar ad campaign) would exceed the 2010 Census rates. In a comment posted on this blog on March 25, 2010, Steve Jost, the Census Bureau’s Associate Director of Communications wrote “It is tricky business comparing 2010 to 2000 for lots of reasons…2000 had a Long Form and a Short Form. 2010 is a Short Form only Census.” This is an excellent and true point. (The long and short forms for the 2000 Census can be found HERE.)

In 2000, some 16% of decennial census questionnaires were “long form” versions of the census with more than 100 questions — many of which take a significant amount of time to answer. This year, the census is the shortest ever, with only 10 questions. However, since the public was informed that 72% of American households mailed back there 2010 Census forms, the Census Bureau has had no problem comparing apples to oranges as it praises this year’s participation rates over those from 2000. My point is clear: In the 2000 Census, approximately 20 million households received the long form.  Any statistician or communications expert will tell you that it is infinitely more difficult to convince someone to complete a 100+ question form than a 10 question form.

So when the Census Bureau claims that it has exceeded its 2000 return rates, let’s not kid ourselves: In 2010 it’s like every household has to learn first grade math, whereas in 2000, some 20 million households had to learn calculus.

Here are some screenshots from the official Census Bureau analysis of the 2000 Census Mail Return Rates to illustrate my point:

The chart above illustrates that those people receiving the long form in 2000 participated in the census at significantly lower levels than those people who received the short form.

Shocking story from Wisconsin: Census worker accuses police of profiling and harassing him while doing his job

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

H/t to Stephanie Jones and The Journal Times for the following scoop. I really could not believe my eyes when I read this story:

RACINE – A U.S. Census Bureau worker has accused Racine police of harassing him while he was working last week and said he has filed a complaint.

Alexander Avila, 21, of Racine, was out last Friday knocking on doors for the census when police in an undercover car stopped him to ask what he was doing, he said. They then started harassing him about his brother who has warrants out for his arrest, he said. They ended up giving him three tickets for traffic violations, which he said were not justified.

I felt scared, intimidated, threatened and racially profiled,” said the written complaint that Avila said he filed Monday with the police department.

Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen said his department will be fully investigating the complaint.

But Wahlen said, “We have a right to ask about his brother.”

His brother, Steve Avila II, has nine warrants out for his arrest for traffic violations, Wahlen said.

Avila said once he told police he didn’t know anything about his brother they should have let him continue with his job.

I was treated unfairly,” he said to The Journal Times Monday.

Representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed Alexander Avila works for the Census and Muriel Jackson, spokeswoman for the bureau, said “we will look into this.”

Avila’s grandmother, Maria Morales, coordinator for Voces de la Frontera in Racine, reported the incident to the Journal Times and Avila confirmed it. Both are U.S. citizens, they said.

Voces de la Frontera is a Wisconsin nonprofit that works to help low-wage and immigrant workers.

Morales has been involved with events to address racial profiling and police harassment and she couldn’t believe now it happened to her grandson.

Police stopped Avila when he started on his route on the 1100 block of Erie Street, he said.

When police stopped him they asked him what he was doing and he told them he was working going door to door trying to collect information for the 2010 Census and showed them his identification, he said. They then questioned the validity of his identification and then when they saw his name they started asking about his brother. He told them he did not know where his brother is and does not talk to him. But one of the officers accused him of lying , Avila said . Then the officer told him that he had seen him driving and said he failed to signal when he turned at State Street, Avila added. They also told him he was driving suspiciously, Avila said in his complaint. He told officers he has a binder full of addresses for people he has to contact and he said he was having trouble finding some of the addresses.

Then police accused him of reading the binder while he was driving, but he said he was not reading while he was driving.

I knew the address and street numbers but … I just had a difficult time finding them,” he said in the complaint.

He ended up receiving three tickets for failure to signal, inattentive driving and obstruction of vision because he had two small necklaces hanging from his rearview mirror, he said.

He said he filed the complaint because he was treated unfairly and didn’t want it to go unreported.

I just want them to know they cannot go around and harass someone for no reason,” Avila said. “I don’t want to be afraid.”

Denver Colorado sees THOUSANDS of dollars worth of 2010 Census swag unused — including canvas bags

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

My suspicions about waste and leftover swag enabling scammers to do their jobs more easily is proven true yet again. Thanks to Colorado NBC affiliate 9News.com, and specifically investigative reporter Jace Larson for the following. Let’s hope that he follows up on this like he said he will at the bottom of the article:

DENVER – The U.S. Census Bureau spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on promotional items used to convince more people to mail back their census forms, but a 9Wants to Know investigation found thousands of the items were dropped off, unused, at a local high school.

The leftover items, such as backpacks, cloth grocery bags, hats, pins, magnets and business card holders, were dropped off at Lakewood High School last month.

“We probably had, between the backpack style [bags] and the shopping bag style [bags], over 1,000 dropped off,” Lakewood High School Principal Ron Castagna told 9Wants to Know.

He estimates more than 1,000 posters printed in different languages were also dropped off at the school.

An unknown Census worker walked into the school in mid-April and asked the principal if she could leave the items. She did not ask the school to distribute them.

“[She] said, ‘We have extra stuff. We’re wrapping up the Census and we just want to distribute the materials,’” Castagna said.

It did not sit well with him.

“Wait a minute, times are tough and I’m sitting in a position where we’ve got a school district that’s done everything the right way and yet we’re still going to face budget cuts,” he said.

Among the many boxes of posters the Census worker left at the school, were more than 300 promotional posters printed in Farsi. Farsi is the language spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan.

9Wants to Know reviewed the U.S. Census Bureau’s numbers from 2000 and found 360 people spoke Farsi in all of Jefferson County at that time.

Castagna says he hopes to let students use the backs of the posters in art classes.

“How much money was spent on items like this that could have been spent someplace else?” Castagna asked.

9Wants to Know broke down Census spending. The U.S. Census Bureau spent $4,899,348 on promotion for 10 states in the Denver region.

U.S. Census Bureau spokeswoman Lauren Shaw says nationally local offices used an average of 98.7 percent of the promotional items ordered. Leftover items account for 1.3 percent of all materials ordered, according to Shaw.

Shaw also says she believed the materials dropped off at Lakewood High School represent unused materials for 10 states that are part of the Denver region, not just one county or one state.

Denver Region Census spokesman Doug Wayland says the spending was worth it.

“Visual items raise awareness about the Census,” Wayland said.

He says promotional materials actually save taxpayers money even if there are extra items left over. He points to national figures to prove his point.

Promotion and advertising nationwide cost $370 million this year. The U.S. Census Bureau says a 2000 advertising and promotional campaign helped boost mail-back participation by about 5 percent. If that happens again this year, the campaign could save taxpayers $425 million. That is because for each percentage increase in the mail-in participation rate, the Census Bureau says taxpayers save $85 million.

When residents mail back the census form, it costs the government 42 cents for postage. When people do not mail it back, a Census worker must go to the home and that costs $57 per house.

Wayland says proof that advertising and promotional campaigns work is in the numbers. The percentage of people who mailed in census forms had declined from 1970 to 1990. In 2000, the first year of an advertising and promotional campaign, the percentage of people who mailed in their census forms increased.

“We reversed three decades of people not sending back their questionnaires,” Wayland said. “Instead of those people not mailing back their questionnaires, they are motivated to mail it back based on those reinforced messages.”

“There’s a term I like to use called image transfer. You see national advertisements on posters and you see the message. Then when you see an item with the Census logo at home there is a transfer of the message that was on TV or on a billboard. Repetition reinforces the message that the Census is important,” Wayland said.

A member of a Colorado policy watchdog group says because the costs of going door-to-door, using promotional materials makes sense.

“They are covering the country in as many ways as possible, through schools, through promotional materials, advertisements on TV through door to door canvassers. They are really making sure every person is counted. That is really important,” Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute Fiscal Project Coordinator Kathy White said.

The Census Bureau says the census is vitally important to funding for local communities in addition to helping Congress decide how many representatives communities, counties and states will have in government bodies.

Nonprofit organizations use census numbers to estimate the number of potential volunteers in communities across the nation.

When Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida in 1992, census information aided the rescue effort by providing estimates of the number of people in each block, the Census Bureau says on its website.

It also says that census numbers were used to support a request for a new community center in New England. Senior citizens successfully lobbied for a new center before county commissioners, according to the Census Bureau.

The U.S. Census has faced criticism before.

Many Americans were unhappy that the Census sent three letters to households reminding people to fill out the form.

Shaw says that is less expensive than sending a Census worker to homes that would not have otherwise filled out the form.

Also, a government audit alleged in February that the Census Bureau paid employees who never actually worked and paid others who overbilled for travel expenses.

Several 9NEWS viewers question why some of the promotional materials say “Made in China.”

Shaw told 9Wants to Know that the U.S. Census Bureau contracted with American businesses for the materials. She says American businesses chose to use items made overseas, but printed the logos on the bags in the United States. She says the majority of other items were made in the United States.