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.

Yesterday’s New York Times editorial is a farce and here’s why…

Yesterday, the New York Times ran the following editorial:

The 2010 census, in its final stages, has apparently been a success — something not thought possible just a couple years ago, when unsteady management, political interference and other problems threatened to derail the effort. The count was salvaged only after last-minute scrambling and major new spending — and after new leaders were put in place by the Obama administration.

For a time, it seemed as if Congress would learn the lessons from the near disaster of 2010. In March, a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers introduced a bill to improve the census, mainly by giving the bureau director more power to run the agency without interference. In April, the Senate committee in charge of the census unanimously passed the bill. The bill has not gone anywhere since then.

Why does that matter, when the next count is a decade away? The best chance for passing a bill is now, when public awareness of the census is high. And the sooner reform is passed, the better, because census planning, done right, is a decade-long project.

The administration, which had to rescue the current census, should certainly know that. But it is the administration that appears to be standing in the way.

At a hearing this spring, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Senator Thomas Carper, Democrat of Delaware, said that Commerce Secretary Gary Locke had complained about a provision giving the director greater independence to communicate directly with the commerce secretary and Congress about problems with the census. He said Mr. Locke also objected to giving the director greater influence over the bureau’s budget.

Mr. Carper suggested that independence to communicate was nonnegotiable, but a compromise on the budget could be found. There is no sign of progress.

In the next few weeks, Mr. Carper’s staff will issue a report on the bill to help other senators as they consider the legislation. The bill is a brief 11 pages and it is uncontested, at least on Capitol Hill. How much help do the other senators really need?

Mr. Carper should speed up the report. If the administration still has problems with the bill, it should make them public and allow the process to move forward openly. Basic reform of the census is needed, and the time to make those changes is slipping away.

MyTwoCensus analysis:

The first part of this editorial labels the 2010 Census a “success” but never states why it is considered as such. Perhaps this is based on the cursory observation of the participation/response rates that were similar to those of 2000. This may be a “success” when taking a quick glance at figures, but let us remember that the Census Bureau’s budget for 2010 was infinitely larger than it was in 2000. (And it took home an extra $1 billion in funding from the stimulus package.)

The second half of this disjointed editorial has a bit of validity, though it isn’t articulated well. Yes, it would be better for America for the Census Bureau Director to have a fixed term that ends in a year that is in between Presidential election years. But Gary Locke has legitimate concerns, and those must be addressed before rushing a bill through committee. The same Senate that can’t pass Climate legislation that’s been on the table forever shouldn’t be expected to jump on legislation related to the 2020 Census.

And here’s a little caveat/prediction for the New York Times: When the mainstream media learns just how much of a mess the 2010 Census was in some parts of the country, and in particular New York (where a dense concentration of media moguls and reporters utterly failed to cover the giant mess that is the New York regional census office) they will be begging for re-enumerations, recounts, and heads to be put on the chopping block. MyTwoCensus.com will elaborate more on this information in the coming days and weeks.

Note: An earlier version of this post questioned why President Obama hadn’t signed a bill seeking to reform the GOP’s “census” mailers. I referred to a blog post that I wrote on May 18, 2010. I subsequently learned from comments on this post that President Obama signed the bill on May 24. I was never made aware of this action by President Obama until today and I apologize for the confusion. Those people who refer to a bill from April should know that the GOP found a loophole in this legislation and continued to issue deceptive mailers. Furthermore, the comment about President Obama was just an aside from a post that focuses on many other important matters which I hope are not overshadowed by my simple error.

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23 Responses to “Yesterday’s New York Times editorial is a farce and here’s why…”

  1. My Two Census » Blog Archive » Yesterday's New York Times … Says:

    [...] And here’s a little caveat/prediction for the New York Times: When the mainstream media learns just how much of a mess the 2010 Census was in some parts of the country, and in particular New York (where a dense concentration of media … View full post on the new york times – Google Blog Search [...]

  2. anon Says:

    We should ask the Times to write an editorial about your site.

  3. Sunshine CL Says:

    More oversight of the census is required, not less. And until the things that compromised the 2010 census are resolved (poor training and supervision of enumerators, rushed and arbitrary deadlines, and selection of management by the “buddy” system, rather than by ability), all the “planning” in the world won’t help.

  4. Anon Says:

    Wow – I can write more later but what a great example of the problem with yr “journalism”. Just a case in point: Obama signed the deceptive mailings act 4/7. It would have taken you 2 mins to figure that out. What an idiot.

  5. Satorist Says:

    The White House

    Office of the Press Secretary
    For Immediate Release
    May 24, 2010
    Statement by the Press Secretary, 5/24/10

    H.R. 1121, the “Blue Ridge Parkway and Town of Blowing Rock Land Exchange Act of 2009,” which authorizes the Department of the Interior to exchange with the Town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, approximately 20 acres of Federal land located in the Blue Ridge Parkway for approximately 192 acres of land owned by the Town.

    H.R. 1442, which directs the Department of the Interior to convey the Federal reversionary interest in approximately 60 acres of land located in Salt Lake City, Utah, to the Mount Olivet Cemetery Association.

    H.R. 2802, which extends the authority of Adams Memorial Foundation to establish a memorial to President John Adams and his legacy, on Federal lands in the District of Columbia.

    H.R. 5148, which prohibits the U.S. Postal Service from delivering a solicitation by a nongovernmental entity if the term “census” is visible through the envelope or outside cover or wrapper unless: (1) the solicitation includes disclaimers that it is not a government document; and (2) the envelope includes the name of the entity that sent the solicitation and an accurate return address.

    H.R. 5160, the “Haiti Economic Lift Program Act of 2010,” which extends the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act and the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act, and provides additional trade benefits and customs support services for Haiti.

    S. 1067, the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009,” which requires a Presidential strategy to eliminate and mitigate the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and authorizes support for humanitarian needs and other activities in the area affected by the LRA.

  6. Satorist Says:

    Stephen: Wrong again, O trepid typist. When you’re in a hole, it’s usually best stop digging. HR 5148 (cited above) corrects the loophole contained in a previous bill that was signed into law (HR 4621).

    Facts are such troubling things. One of the things that makes journalism so difficult, not that you would know.

  7. anon Says:

    Satorist FTW

  8. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    I stand corrected. Thanks readers for keeping me up to date on the bill!

  9. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Here is my correction: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-5148

  10. anon enum Says:

    The 2010 Census is not accurate.

    Topeka, KS 2622 and Kansas City, MO RCC are some of the worst LCOs/RCCs in the U.S. Bad management, hiring only favorites, deception.

  11. anonymous Says:

    Everyone, please read 2010census.gov “Director’s Blog” about checking quality of census work Part 3. Commentor wrote about “horse-race e-mails telling which LCOs and RCCs were winning”!

  12. WTFanon Says:

    Morse,

    So why did you take it down? Did you think we wouldn’t notice? Are you trying to clean up for the archives?

    Thanks in advance for putting it back up there.
    WTF

  13. WTFanon Says:

    Morse,

    Put your reply back in the thread and explain why you deleted it.

    WTF

  14. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    @WTFanon – please see the note at the bottom of the post. i am sure that you have a lot of time on your hands these days if every two hours you are scrutinizing a one-man blogging operation. Maybe you should work or volunteer for factcheck.org? It would be a great way for you to let off some steam!

  15. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    @anon enum – please elaborate and shoot me an e-mail with details. thanks!

  16. JAG Says:

    Nice of SRM to delete his post calling other folks “idiots” IIRC? He loves to blast others when their wrong but when he’s wrong, he deletes the evidence.

  17. Former Journalist Says:

    To get back on topic, this is not unfamiliar territory to NYT to ignore things happening in their own backyard – back during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the Times Ed-in-Chief refused to discuss the issue and left it to the independent press to cover the story until it got big enough and had to write about it.

    But as far as the bill suggestion, giving the director less red tape is fine. However, there needs to be the ability to create some enforcement with monetary fines; buildings or households that are breaking the law by “not participating” makes no sense. It’s like the concept of choosing to vote in the U.S. versus mandatory voting in other countries.

  18. GEORGE WILBERG Says:

    When the final analysis of Census 2010 is written the New York Times article about the alleged success of this Census will be filed away in the Library of Congress system.

    Yep and that part of the library is in the FICTION section.

  19. anon Says:

    SRM – It is a matter of principal. You should repost your comment. The entire post and conversation between you and Satorist are now disconnected. This page does not make sense when read top to bottom because you deleted content. I am fine with you adding a correction statement at the bottom of the story, but you really should repost your comment as well as the original article content where you call Obama lazy for not picking up his pen.

  20. WTFanon Says:

    “one-man blogging operation”

    Where’s Elizabeth and Victor? Or have you looked into getting a journalism mentor? I don’t intend for that to be an insult. I’m just saying that sometimes it helps to bounce ideas off of peers or someone who has been down similar paths before.

  21. WTFanon Says:

    Well, since he won’t do it, let’s recap…

    Between paragraph 2 and 3 of the SRM rant editorial above, SRM removed content about his feelings towards the president:

    (Let us not forget. President Obama has been so lazy -much to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s delight- that for months he has failed to pick up a pen to sign a bi-partisan supported bill that will restrict the GOP from creative malicious mailers using the word “census.”)

    After the story was originally posted, Satorist and SRM got into a little scuffle over the bill’s true status, including signage and the follow on bill to correct the first’s loophole. At one point in the conversation, SRM called me and Satorist idiots in a reply that he has removed and SRM will not repost, presumably to save face with his readers. Nice. Satorist proceeded to pwnd SRM with real facts:

    Stephen: Wrong again, O trepid typist. When you’re in a hole, it’s usually best stop digging. HR 5148 (cited above) corrects the loophole contained in a previous bill that was signed into law (HR 4621). Facts are such troubling things. One of the things that makes journalism so difficult, not that you would know.

    Magazines, Newspapers and real online publications post corrections. SRM presses the delete key. Nice.

  22. Admin OOS Says:

    “MyTwoCensus.com will elaborate more on this information in the coming days and weeks” SRM sure says this a lot then does absolutely nothing to back it up. Once again hollow claims from an angry little man.

  23. Jeremy Says:

    The New York Times fawning and gushing over Democrats (specifically Obama), I’m completely SHOCKED ;)