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.

Update on today’s story…The Census Bureau hides behind the shield of FOIA once again

The following letter is one that I wrote to Michael C. Cook, chief of the Census Bureau’s public information office for the 2010 Census…I am not at all pleased by his response:

Here’s the editorial I wrote and the link to the Chicago Tribune story is inside:

Was Aramanda hired bc of politics? or merit? Do you have proof that we was hired bc of merit? How and when did he get this job? What is his exact position?

What is Aramanda’s record while working for the Census Bureau?

Will Aramanda be getting paid by the Census Bureau while he testifies at this trial?

Who is running the show at the LCO when he is across town at a trial?

Will he be fired immediately? (Note: I am urging that he is fired immediately as this is a huge conflict of interest).

I hope to hear back from you by COB.

Here is his reply:

Hi Stephen,

The federal Privacy Act governs what any federal agency can disclose about
an employee. You can find details about the Privacy Act at:
<>. We encourage you
to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in writing addressed

Mary C. Potter, FOIA Officer
U.S. Census Bureau , Room 8H027
4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233-3700


Michael C. Cook
Branch Chief, 2010 Census Media Relations
Public Information Office
U.S. Census Bureau

OK, this response makes me IRATE. I have filed NUMEROUS FOIA REQUESTS in the past 6 months, and none have been answered. The Commerce Department will surely find some grounds or other not to honor my request and then they will tell me that I have to file an appeal. I will then file the appeal, and keep contacting the appeals office, and then never hear anything ever again. Thank you Obama Administration transparency…Jesus Christ. The White House has become a PR firm. Enough said.

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22 Responses to “Update on today’s story…The Census Bureau hides behind the shield of FOIA once again”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    wow. nice loaded questions.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    what was it again that this person did to warrant your call to fire him?

  3. a frequent reader Says:


    Take a day off from the whole census mess.

    -a frequent reader

  4. finish line Says:

    I’m glad Stephen asked hard questions. As always, the Census officials site privacy and confidential issues. However, there are privacy, safety, accuracy problems with the 2010 census.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve asked SRM to release his Phillips Foundation application grant several times and he hides behind privacy and confidentiality issues.

  6. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Hardly, I will publish my Phillips Foundation application right here, but I must reiterate that the project strayed from some of its original mission and that the Phillips Foundation had 0 editorial control:

    Proposal for Journalism Fellowship: My Two Census

    By Stephen Robert Morse

    In the early 1960s, few people questioned the safety of American automobiles. Because both broadcast and print media relied heavily on advertising revenues from automobile manufacturers, “professional” journalists were unable to discuss the 50,000 annual deaths that occurred on American roads.
    And then came Ralph Nader, a citizen journalist whose efforts led to great reforms of the automobile industry. By independently publishing the book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, Nader garnered significant attention from the mainstream media for a formerly unpopular cause.
    In the 21st century, I believe that traditional forms of media have failed to question both the government’s methods for obtaining Census data and the subsequent results of these surveys. I will fill this void by devoting my time and energy to investigate all aspects of the 2010 U.S. Census.
    I have the determination, drive, and experience as an innovative and fearless journalist to prove that the results of the 2010 U.S. Census will be highly inaccurate due to partisan influences within local, state, regional, and federal Census offices. During my independent investigations, I have already witnessed inadequate hiring practices and data collection processes that invite corruption.
    Between 2009-2010, I plan to visit all 12 regions across America that the Census Bureau created, with the purpose of investigating the methodology, processes, and practices of all things related to the 2010 U.S. Census.

    * * *

    . I have already started my independent, non-partisan investigation into the operations of the U.S. Census Bureau. I founded the blog to serve as a watchdog for the 2010 Census. I have already enabled citizens and experts to contribute reports to this blog about problems and concerns with the Census. I have also taken exams to become a Census employee and supervisor. During this testing process, I witnessed corrupt actions from government bureaucrats that I couldn’t believe. For instance, here is an excerpt from my notes:

    Bogie, the proctor, now shared some final wisdom with our group, wisdom that should be labeled as infamous for all eternity. He said, “If you want to make sure you get a census job, you should write on your application that you live in a wealthy neighborhood, because we hire people by neighborhood, and there are fewer applicants in wealthy areas. For example, if you give an address in Marin, you will most certainly get called for work.”
    At this point, smoke probably erupted from my ears. Just when I’d given Bogie benefit of the doubt that he was a law-abiding civil servant, he suggested that everyone lie about their addresses on U.S. Census Bureau applications. The irony of this situation was too much for me to handle.
    When I heard Bogie’s words, my face must have contorted, because he suddenly stared me down and said, “Is something wrong? Are you okay?”
    I thought to myself, “I’m sure you’ve just committed a federal crime and should at the very least be fired from your job,” but all I said was, “I get very nervous before exams.”

    If selected as a Journalism Fellow, I will keep a detailed daily blog of my experiences as a Census watchdog, with written, photo, and video evidence of my findings at each locale.

    The U.S. Government officially defines the Census as follows:

    * The census is a count of everyone living in the United States every 10 years.
    * The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
    * The next census is in 2010.
    * Your participation in the census is required by law.
    * It takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
    * Federal law protects the personal information you share during the census.
    * Census data are used to distribute Congressional seats to states, to make decisions about what community services to provide, and to distribute $300 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year.

    I highlighted the “participation” clause of this document, because in a free society, it is ridiculous to think that every individual will participate in the Census, especially when punishment for lack of participation is very difficult to enforce. In my research, I will further explore this notion.
    I highlighted the final clause of this statement, because I want to draw attention to the number $300 billion. With $300 billion at stake, elected officials, political parties, non-governmental organizations, ethnic groups, municipalities, and individuals all have much to gain or lose based on the results of the Census. With $300 billion at stake, no rational person would doubt that this process should be conducted in a most rational and fair way. However, because individuals affiliated with the government frequently overstep their mandates and/or implement systems that encourage corruption, numbers can easily be changed, and the lives of millions of Americans can easily be altered.
    This year, the Census will hire approximately 200,000 people. Even though it is illegal for partisans to work for the Census, I know that many employees of the Census Bureau have partisan interests that will result in an extremely inaccurate count. My goal is to catch these offenders in action at all levels of government, and report my findings.
    The Obama Administration recently made it clear that it hopes to gain more control over the 2010 Census. This notion has caused people of many political persuasions to become wary of Obama’s motives. I plan to investigate this centralization of the Census process.
    Funding this project will be an investment toward returning America to its roots as a free and democratic society. The U.S. Census Bureau aims to “create a portrait of America,” but I posit that the true culture of America will only be revealed when accurate data is collected.
    Why am I the best person to undertake this project? As an experienced travel writer, humorist, op-ed columnist, and investigative journalist, I hope for my final product to read as a cross between a Bill Bryson travelogue and a Bernard Goldberg exposé.
    My experiences as the director of the documentary film “Ain’t Easy Being Green” gave me the opportunity to speak with dozens of Senators, Governors, Members of Congress, activists, and media personalities. I asked tough questions, and ultimately, I discovered the truth. My film is responsible for the indictments of 13 politicians and political aides in the Pennsylvania Bonusgate scandal.
    I know how to take an in-depth investigative project from start to finish while working within a specified budget.

  7. nerfoo Says:

    I’m with the second anonymous commenter right now. I don’t see anything in what he’s testified to doing that would indicate that he should not be hired for a job, besides, perhaps, the fact that his pizza businesses eventually faltered, which might point to some questioning of his management skills. But, when you consider that he first built up a string of these businesses and that they failed at a time when many businesses were starting to falter, I can see where an employer might still consider him for a management position.

    Additionally, it could certainly be seen as a shaky ethical decision to knowingly launder political bribe money. But, from the way the Trib tells the story, I don’t believe that the man who asked for some financial help from a friend, who then arranged for a loan but then took the money away from him to pay others, was actually aware that he was getting involved in a money laundering scheme. It’s certainly possible that he was aware, but then I don’t see where he’s benefiting financially from any of this, where it was going to help his crumbling financial picture.

    He’s not charged with doing anything illegal, he’s simply acting as a witness in the trial of a person who *was* charged with wrongdoing. I don’t think it’s even legal hiring practices to fire or not hire someone because they are acting as a witness in a trial.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you.

  9. JAG Says:

    You’re asking questions that I’d bet most employers in America wouldn’t answer.

  10. Finally! Says:

    RE: “releasing a Phillips Grant application” // Scholars, researchers, professors, scientists and other professionals do not release their applications for scholarships/grants/funding/stipends/etc.!!!

  11. anonymous Says:

    Excellent proposal, Stephen — congrats on your grant! :)

  12. JAG Says:

    So you admit you stayed from the original mission? That not only makes you a liar, but your a paid liar!

  13. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    JAG, you have been a thorn in my side on this site or ages. I presume you work for the government. I could tell you that the sky is blue and you would tell me I was a liar.

  14. Michael Cook Says:

    The Census Bureau publicly discloses on our website a status log of all FOIA requests to assist organizations like My Two Census and individuals to track the status of formal public records inquiries. In addition we have routinely provided My Two Census with status reports on your many requests.

    On February 14, 2010 you requested records on the translation services contract with Diplomatic Language Services and we provided a response in 31 days.

    On February 19 and again on the 26th you submitted a modified request for correspondence with various public officials and emails which contained your itemized list of 26 profanities. We have partially complied with this request.

    On February 25, 2010, you requested travel records on all Census employee hotel stays for a 14 month period. As of today, we have not received from you the legally required fee to cover the cost of this substantial request.

    On April 20, 2010, you requested all records relating to technology systems at the Census Bureau covering a three and a half year period beginning in 2006. As of today, we have not received from you the legally required fee to cover the cost of this substantial request.

    On April 25, 2010, you requested copies of all emails between four Census employees during a one week period in February. As of today, we have not received from you the legally required fee to cover the cost of this request.

    On June 14, 2010 you requested a log of all your requests.

    Last night you requested information on an employee in our Chicago Region.

  15. nerfoo Says:

    Interesting application essay. I’m curious – how would you state your mission now, as it stands today?

    I’m also curious to know whether you’re still being funded by the grant and if there’s any follow-up on their part to see how you are using their money.

  16. lagirl Says:

    Looks like you will have to do some other type of investigative reporting…ie, when we couldn’t get information on a residence or a resident Refused to answer us, what did we do???

    Find yourself a proxy Stephen.

  17. nerfoo Says:

    Oh, and I think that most of us work for the government, don’t we? Me, personally, I’m a census enumerator :-)

  18. My Two Census » Blog Archive » Let the Freedom (of Information) Summer begin! Says:

    [...] Michael C. Cook of the Census Bureau’s public information office wrote the following in the comments section of this post: The Census Bureau publicly discloses on our website a status log of all FOIA requests to assist [...]

  19. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    @nerfoo – See the about section of this site for the current mission.

    And the grant ended May 31. I sent them quarterly installments of my blog posts but they exercise no control.

  20. JAG Says:

    SRM, you’ve called people a liar on this website quite freely. I’ve read your supporting documentation in those cases and sometimes disagreed with your assessment of a lie. Most recently you said Groves lied because of something he said at a press conference but the transcripts that you referenced didn’t support your claim.

    In your post, you admitted you weren’t doing what you set out to do. When others have done this, you’ve called them a liar. I did the same to you.

    The sky is blue here too.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    SRM, I’m with JAG and frequent reader. Your desire to win/strike back is clouding your posts. It might be time for a break.

  22. Annoyed Says:

    On a different note, invoking the name of Jesus Christ in your tirade is both unprofessional and an insult to those of us that have accepted Jesus as our Savior. Jesus may have been born during a census, but it was not this one! If you want to be given any credibility as a “journalist”, then clean up your act.