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 the ‘Immigration’ Category

UPDATE: MyTwoCensus Investigation: Scammers Running The 2010 Census Ad Campaign

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

UPDATE: MyTwoCensus has been informed that Jay Waite, deputy director of the US Census Bureau, was also involved in procuring these contracts. According to his biography, “Waite is the visionary and architect of the 2010 reengineered census. Using hand-held computers for data collection, a major expansion of technology, will dramatically change the way censuses will be conducted for decades to come.”

Well, what scandal have we stumbled upon this time?

Upon doing some further research into DraftFCB’s massive $200 million advertising/media contract with the Census Bureau, I learned that this firm’s parent company, Interpublic Group was forced to pay a $12 million fine to the SEC for accounting fraud in 2008 and also owns a 49% stake in GlobalHue, an ethnic media PR firm that has been assigned to do the Latino/African-American outreach for the 2010 Census. But back in March of this year, GlobalHue was accused of overbilling the Bermudan government by $1.8 million on a $13 million contract. The Bermudans claim that GlobalHue:

    • Overbilled the account by $1.8 million.
    • Prebilled the government in violation of its own rules.
    • Didn’t keep invoices and billing records.
    • Didn’t return discounts and credits to the client.
    • Used a media buyer, Cornerstone, that charged commissions of  up to 181 percent.

    Have similar problems been going on in America with little oversight? Maybe the GAO and IG’s offices will soon let us know! (For now, click here to download the original accusations from Bermuda. H/t to Jim Edwards of BNET for providing these docs.)

    An confidential source informed MyTwoCensus that New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office had quite the hand in procuring this contract for DraftFCB/Interpublic Group/GlobalHue (ironically she accused the Bush administration of trying to sabotage the 2010 Census), so tomorrow we’re going to give them a call to learn more information. Additionally, Steven J. Jost, the Census Bureau’s new Communications Director (he also served in this role when Ken Prewitt ran the Census Bureau during the later Clinton years), has significant ties to Maloney’s office.

    MyTwoCensus has a pending FOIA request to obtain the details of these contracts.

    *As this is an ongoing investigation, MyTwoCensus asks for any individual with further information about this case to please come forward. We remind our readers that we maintain  full confidentiality with our sources in all circumstances.

California could lose a House seat after 2010 census

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009
H/T to Richard Simon of the LA Times for reporting on the following:

Reporting from Washington — Here’s yet another result of the bad economy: California’s congressional delegation is unlikely to grow and could even lose a seat after next year’s census for the first time since stagecoach days.

If the state loses a seat, it could weaken California’s clout in Washington and reduce the amount of federal money flowing to the state. It could also set off a game of political musical chairs, forcing two incumbents to run against each other.

As if that weren’t enough, the state that stands to gain the most new seats is California’s longtime rival, Texas, the second most populous state.

With the possible loss of a seat, “an accurate census becomes all the more important to California,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former staff director of the House census oversight subcommittee and a member of President Obama’s transition team for the census.

As California’s population has increased — through the booms of the 1880s, the post-World War II years and the 1980s — so has its clout in Congress.

The delegation has grown every time Congress has reapportioned House seats to reflect population changes. The state gained nine seats — the most ever — after the 1930 census, seven after 1950, eight after 1960, seven after 1990 and one after the 2000 count.

The delegation now stands at 53, the largest of any state.

California neighbors Arizona and Nevada are expected to gain seats, as are Texas, Florida and Georgia. Texas alone could pick up as many as four. Michigan and Ohio, hard hit by the recession, are among the states expected to lose seats.

California’s population has been growing at a slower rate than those of a number of other states, a key factor in apportioning congressional seats. It grew 1.1% last year, its lowest rate in a decade.

“The economy, no doubt, held down the growth rate in California,” said UC Berkeley political scientist Bruce Cain.

Demographers believe that the size of California’s delegation will most likely remain unchanged — still significant because of its history of growth — rather than decrease by one. But they also say the state is on the bubble.

“I would be very surprised if we lost a seat, but not at all surprised if we didn’t gain any, based on the job growth,” said Stephen Levy, director and senior economist of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.

The state is adding jobs at about the same rate as the national average after above-average job growth from the end of World War II until the early 1990s, when the economy suffered deeply from the collapse of California’s aerospace industry, Levy said.

The Golden State’s share of new immigrants — legal and illegal — has also dropped. The state has been drawing about one-sixth of new immigrants in recent years, down from one-third in the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, said Jeff Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington.

He added that the percentage of immigrants settling in the mountain states and Southeast has risen.

As immigration has slowed, more people have moved out of California to other states than into California from other states — a net loss of more than 435,000 and perhaps as many as 945,000 in the last four years.

“During recessions, when California’s unemployment rate is higher than the nation’s, as is the case right now, we tend to experience quite a bit of outmigration,” said Hans Johnson, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

The state’s population has grown, nonetheless, because births and continued, albeit slowed, immigration have outpaced deaths and people moving out of California.

“Population is driven by jobs and the economy. So in this next census, I think there will be a strong correlation to the regional and state economies and population,” said Tim Storey of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “There’s little doubt that California is going to feel that in a special way.”

Still, the fate of the state’s delegation will remain unclear until after the census is completed, because the current population estimates vary.

If the state’s estimate of 12.6% population growth from 2000 to 2008 is correct, Johnson said, California could still gain a seat or two in Congress. Under the Census Bureau figures of 8.5% growth since 2000, the state’s congressional delegation is likely to remain unchanged.

Although the subject is arcane, size matters in Washington.

Not only is the census used to apportion strength in the House of Representatives and the electoral college, but dozens of federal aid programs are linked to population figures.

The possible loss of a congressional seat was cited by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month in creating a special panel to “make certain everyone is counted so that California gets its fair share of federal dollars and representation in Congress.”

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders has called for illegal immigrants to boycott the census to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to overhaul immigration laws, but a number of Latino House members from California have spoken out against a boycott, saying it could cost the state dearly. In its decennial count, the Census Bureau does not consider a person’s legal status.

Ironically, declining home values may deter Californians from selling their homes and leaving the state.

Mary Heim, chief of the state Department of Finance’s demographic research unit, said the number of people moving out of California to other states “may not reach the level of the 1990s because the economic slowdown is nationwide this time and not as concentrated in California as it was in the 1990s.”

For Folks In The New York Tri-State Area…

Friday, July 10th, 2009

This Sunday at 11:30am

The Great Latino Census
Boycott Debate!

Rev. Miguel Rivera (Pro)
versus
Angelo Falcón (Con)
on
ABC TV’s Tiempo Show
Hosted by
ABC Eyewitness News Reporter
Joe Torres

Sunday, July 12, 2009

11:3oam


Also on the Show
Meet the New President of
Hostos Community College

Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Tiempo Logo

Tiempo on WABC-TV New York
Sundays at 11am

Can Harry Reid Make Robert M. Groves’ Confirmation Happen?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Well, now we know where the holdup came from! It was not one, but two senators, David Vitter (R-LA) and Richard Shelby (R-Al) who have been blocking Robert M. Groves’ confirmation to become the next U.S. Census Director. MyTwoCensus is inquiring with both of these Senator’s offices and we will be able to have their responses for you within the next 24 hours. We give a hearty hat tip to Roll Call for the following report:

By Jessica Brady
Roll Call Staff
July 9, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is looking to force a vote as early as this week on the stalled nomination of Robert Groves to lead the Census Bureau, hoping to harness his new 60-seat majority to overcome holds by a pair of Republicans.

“I think we’re going to have a cloture vote,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said Wednesday, noting that Reid will likely file a procedural motion to advance the long-stalled nomination.

Republican Sens. Richard Shelby (Ala.) and David Vitter (La.) each have holds on Groves, director of the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center and a former Census Bureau official, over concerns he would use statistical sampling for the 2010 effort. Republicans charge that the technique, designed to better capture undercounted groups such as minorities, is unconstitutional and a political maneuver.

But Democrats who favor Groves’ installment as Census Bureau director are eager to get him in place before the national population count officially gets under way in just eight months.

“The reality is this census is already hopping on one leg,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) said, expressing fear that “Latinos and other minorities are going to be severely undercounted.”

Carper last month called a meeting with Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to hatch a plan to unlock the GOP hold on Groves. There has been no follow-up to the June 16 meeting, both Carper and Collins said. The Homeland Security panel has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau.

“I still think he should be confirmed. He’s well-qualified, and I don’t know why some of my colleagues have a hold on him,” Collins said of Groves, who was confirmed by her panel on a unanimous vote on May 20.

But Vitter and Shelby have been unrelenting in their holds, demanding assurances from the White House including a guarantee from President Barack Obama that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which came under fire in 2008 over allegations of voter fraud, would not participate in the 2010 effort.

“Sen. Vitter is holding the Groves nomination until he gets written confirmation from the White House addressing two concerns: that sampling will not be used and that ACORN will have nothing to do with the census,” Vitter spokesman Joel DiGrado said.

Shelby wrote a letter to the president in March to question ACORN’s involvement in the census.

The census, conducted every 10 years, assesses the nation’s population and demographic makeup and influences the allocation of Congressional districts throughout the country. Next year’s head count will cost at least $14 billion, and according to a report by the Government Accountability Office issued in March, preparations for 2010 are ill-managed and behind schedule.

In addition to hefty legislative priorities and the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Reid has a backlog of two-dozen executive nominations awaiting floor consideration. The Majority Leader has had to use procedural rules to break GOP opposition on several nominations so far this year.

“We of course want to confirm all of these nominees as quickly as possible,” Reid spokeswoman Regan LaChapelle said in a statement Wednesday. “It is unfortunate to have to use precious floor time on these nominations, all of which so far have eventually been confirmed. We have so many important issues to address and the president needs his full team.”

Full Transcript Of Stephen Robert Morse’s Conversation With Kenneth Prewitt

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Last week, I, Stephen Robert Morse, had the opportunity to interview former Census Director/current Census Bureau consultant Kenneth Prewitt. The following piece is certainly long (5,000+ words), but I think that it will provide many answers for people who have questions about the 2010 Census. If you don’t have the stamina to read such a long piece, I urge you to read the shortened version of this interview on MotherJones.com. Enjoy the following:

6/23/09: Conversation with Kenneth Prewitt, former Director of the U.S. Census Bureau

Interview by Stephen Robert Morse

SRM: When did you arrive back at the Census Bureau?

KP: By arrive back, you mean in the consultant sense?

SRM: Yes.

KP: I have been sworn in, but I haven’t actually started work, so I wouldn’t say that I have arrived back yet. I haven’t done any work yet because I was hoping that the confirmation process [for Robert M. Groves] would play out. I’ve done very little, but I’m probably going to try to get started in the next week or so.

SRM: Do you have to wait for Robert M. Groves’s Senate confirmation before you begin?

KP: No, I don’t have to wait. I just felt like it made more sense to do whatever I could whatever I could with the leadership who will be in place for the duration of the decennial. But no, it’s partly my own schedule and getting free of my obligations here [in New York] and so forth.

SRM: If you’re not running the show right now and Robert Groves isn’t running the show right now, who is running the show at the Census Bureau in Washington?

KP: Well, they’ve got an Acting Director [Tom Mesenbourg] who is running the show, and even if I had been there I wouldn’t be running the show [He laughs!] They have a leadership structure. The Census Bureau is not unfamiliar with acting directors. If you look across any decade, you will find that about 15-20% of the time, it being run by an acting director. So it’s not an unusual structure.

SRM: That’s a good lead-in to another question. Do you think the Director of the Census Bureau should have a fixed term? If so, for how long?

KP: I very strongly think it should be a fixed term. It should be a presidential appointed, Senate confirmed, five-year term, starting in the year 07 or 02 (or 12 or 17), off-cycle of the decennial Census (which takes place in years ending in 0), renewable once without Senate confirmation. And were it to be renewed again, it would go back to the Senate, so it could be a ten-year term with one Senate confirmation. I feel very strongly that it should be a fixed term.

SRM: And do you think the Census Bureau should be an independent agency?

KP: I very strongly feel that it should be an independent agency. It’s a scientific organization. It’s like the National Science Foundation, like NIH, like the Archives Center. It has a statistical responsibility for society and it should be treated as a science institution and like NASA and I think it would be a much stronger institution if it were independent.

SRM: Do you think the Census Bureau has been damaged by partisan activity?

KP: It’s a complicated question because the partisan activity goes back to 1790. [laughs] The first presidential veto, by George Washington, was a veto of Alexander Hamilton’s formula for apportioning the House, and the one that Washington preferred was one that Thomas Jefferson produced, and that was one partisan issue. The apportionment formula that Jefferson produced gave an extra seat to Virginia. Everybody knew what that game was [laughs]. That was partisan. Look, partisan interest in the census is simply nothing new. Has there been damage over that period? Yes, on and off. For example, after the 1920 Census, the House of Representatives was not apportioned. It was simply not apportioned, for ten years. That was a partisan issue. It wasn’t the Census Bureau itself, but it was a Census Bureau product in which the apportionment numbers simply weren’t used.

SRM: How does partisanship affect the census today?

KP: I think the sampling fight, whatever it was, was deeply unfortunate. And it was a partisan fight. And I have written at great length and argued a great length that it shouldn’t have been partisan. The Census Bureau does not know how to be partisan. If it tried to design a census that had a partisan outcome, it wouldn’t know how to do it. How could you predict in three or four or five years before you are doing the decennial census, a design that would benefit this district instead of that district? If you’re trying to count everybody, you wouldn’t know how to torque it in a way. It’s all about a share basis. All apportionment numbers and redistricting numbers are on a share basis, which means that if you do something here, you’re adjusting the entire system, because it’s allocated on a fixed pie, on a share basis. So the actual assertion that the Census Bureau could behave in such a way as to tilt things one way or the other way in the partisan sense, is, on the face of it, a silly charge. It’s the same Census Bureau that’s considered to be incompetent by some people and then some of the same people are saying that this incompetent agency is so clever and so Machiavellian that it can design a census for partisan reasons. It just doesn’t compute. Now, did [accusations of partisanship] damage the census? Yes, it damaged the idea of sampling. As I quip, I like to tell the people I interact with who are against sampling, I say, “Next time you want to go to the doctor for a blood test, don’t say ‘I want you to take out a little bit,’ say ‘Take out all of it!’ How else will you know? Clearly there’s a fundamental sense in which the public and the leadership understand sampling. When you wake up in the morning and you want to find out whether it’s raining, you don’t look out every window of your house, you look out one window. There, you sampled. Etcetera, etcetera. So, the idea that we turned the word sampling into a dirty word and a partisan word is deeply, deeply damaging, not to the Census Bureau, but the idea of fiscal integrity, the idea of how do you have the best count possible. That’s not necessarily an argument for a particular methodology, dual system estimation. It’s a complicated, difficult methodology, and the Census Bureau has now worked on it, and understands that it hasn’t quite gotten it right yet, but the whole thought that this is about something called sampling, goes against a very particular technical methodology, which the U.S. Congress has not shown the patience to try to understand, is unfortunate. On the other hand, every other number we use to govern society, the CPI, all the lagging indicators, unemployment numbers, trade statistics, healthcare, how many people are uninsured, all of those numbers are based on samples.

SRM: After President Obama was elected, you were the frontrunner to become the next Director of the Census Bureau. Even the New York Times endorsed you for this position. Why did you withdraw your name from the running?

KP: By the way, I don’t know what the word “frontrunner” means in that sense. I am aware that my name was mentioned, but who knows who the frontrunner was or was not? I was aware that I was under consideration. At a certain point, I felt it more appropriate and more useful, because I had decided that I was not going to be able to relocate, I have heavy duties at Columbia University, and I wanted to continue those duties. In that sense, I wrote a note that said, “If you are considering me, please don’t.” But I wouldn’t say that I was a nominee who withdrew.

SRM: Why do you think Bob Groves’ confirmation [to become the next director of the U.S. Census Bureau] has been stalled?

KP: I wish I had a good answer to that question. I really do. I see that some people went through last week. I think maybe nineteen people, or some large number of people, went through last week. But why he wasn’t on that list, I don’t know. As I had quickly e-mailed to you, I had gone along on the assumption that  everybody was being held out because of the start of the hearings on Sotomayor. But if they are letting some people through but not Bob, I simply don’t have a good explanation for that.

SRM: Do you have any suspicions as to who stalled the nomination?

KP: No, I really don’t. I don’t walk the halls of Congress, where I could learn that. I think I would know if it were knowable, if somebody knew.

SRM: When do you think this will be resolved?

KP: How about six weeks ago? [Laughs] That’s when I thought it would be resolved. I just find it sad, on one level, because somebody doesn’t take the census serious enough to recognize that leadership matters. And leadership does matter. It’s June, for heaven sakes. It’s already too late to improve some things, but it’s going to get increasingly too late to improve anything. And the poor Census Bureau is going to get beaten up for something it didn’t have any say-so in. At the end of the day, nobody’s going to remember that you didn’t have a director [currently there is an acting director] for a year and a half, going on two years. But there was also a long period before Murdoch [Stephen Murdoch, Census Director during the last year of the Bush administration] was appointed and confirmed. That’s a slight exaggeration because the deputy census director had been basically eased out (forced into retirement)  and the then-census director Louis Kincannon had said that he would resign. However, he said that he would stay on until a replacement was in place, but once he decided to announce that he would resign, it obviously created a lame duck situation. So it was obviously very difficult for the Census Bureau to move during that period. And it took the Bush Administration a year to find Murdoch and then another six months to get him confirmed, so in that sense there was an 18 month period when you were expecting to have a director and you didn’t have one. Louis was still there for much of it. He’s a very first rate man and a very effective guy but he had already announced that he was leaving, so in terms of planning the decennial, there wasn’t a whole lot that Louis could be doing.

SRM: As we’re now talking about the Census Bureau in the early and mid 2000s, what happened to the 2010 Census? Where did things go wrong? What are your thoughts?

KP: Hermann Habermann, who Louis Kincannon appointed when he was became Director, was a very talented and important Deputy Director (of the Census Bureau). Hermann and Louis both had deep experience within the Census Bureau and both had gone on to do other kinds of things. Louis had gone on to OECD (?) and Hermann had gone on to the United Nations Fiscal Program, so they were real, major professionals and were running, I think, a very good operation. And this is now back in 02, 03, 04. Then there were some money problems, some serious money problems. Not money problems in terms of the Census Bureau’s budget, but it got held up, there were continued resolutions. It had nothing to do with the Census Bureau, they just got chewed up in the process, which meant that there was a period, and I don’t have that period in my mind, but a period in the mid-decade, when they couldn’t actually plan seriously for the decennial, because they didn’t know how much money they were going to have. They didn’t have the kind of money in that year, for example, to do the kind of planning they needed to do. They were really being squeezed financially. Then, after the ’06 election, Hermann was basically eased out by the Commerce Department.

SRM: What does that mean exactly?

KP: He was told that he would be reassigned from being deputy director of the Census Bureau to some other job in the Commerce Department, which was not one he wanted, so in that sense he wasn’t going to be what he thought he was, which was Deputy Director of the Census Bureau. So, that was when Louis Kincannon said “If I can’t have my own Deputy Director, then I myself will resign.” So that’s in ’06 and that was done by the [Bush] Administration for whatever its reasons were. I know what the public reasons were, but I don’t think they were the real reasons.

SRM: What were those reasons?

KP: The public reason was that there had been a laptop issue, and they blamed Hermann for that laptop issue. There were stolen laptops. Look, the proportion of stolen laptops at the Census Bureau that went missing were a tiny percentage of what some other agencies were experiencing. And Hermann was a very responsible civil servant, and when the word came out that he had to let us know what the laptop situation was under the law, blah, blah, blah, he answered forthrightly and quickly, so the Census Bureau took the hit, and for whatever reason they decided to blame him. Ok, now I’m getting all of this back in my mind. So Hermann then leaves and Jay Waite becomes Deputy Director, so essentially Jay Waite was running  the decennial census during that time. It was then in that period, then, this is in 06, after the mid-term, when they begin to run into troubles with the handhelds. As I said, Hermann was first-rate and he was managing the contracts. So, they didn’t really have anyone to be managing those contracts, and Jay Waite, who is a very talented man on some operations, he just wasn’t attuned to some of the issues that could come up with the handheld situation, so that one got out of hand.

SRM: So who’s fault was this? Who’s fault was this whole handheld computer debacle?

KP: The Department of Commerce. This is why I think it needs to be an independent agency. They weren’t paying attention to the Census Bureau during the intermediate years. That’s always true. That’s why it has to be independent. Look, who is to blame? That’s a Washington question. Structures are some times to blame, not people. I mean, you can create a structure which makes carrying out a certain task very difficult, not in order to carry that task out, in order to do something else, but the result is unintended consequences. The unintended consequence of getting Hermann Habermann out of the Deputy Director position in those years was not having anyone pay attention to the handheld debacle. The fact that Hermann Habermann was removed on not a very good charge contributed to the fact that nobody was paying attention to the contract, the Harris contract [the $600 million debacle to create handheld computers for the 2010 Census], at the level of detail he needed to be paying attention to for about a year.

SRM: There were reports by the Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, and they all said over and over again that the 2010 Census was a very high risk situation. It seems like even after these reports came out that there were opportunities to correct these errors, but nobody listened this advice. Again, who is to blame? Why did this happen? What is the root of these failures?

KP: Well, I don’t know. Whoever it was that doesn’t want Bob Groves…I’m not trying to find somebody to blame. I’m trying to say, what is the situation that leads to these kind of outcomes? All of this starts during the mid-term elections in 06. You had a quasi-leaderless situation in 06-07. Then, you get the handheld fiasco, whatever you want to call it. Then the Secretary of Commerce and the Commerce Department tries to put something together in an emergency situation. But then with Steve Murdoch in the Directorship position, but then there’s an election in 08. But because there’s not a term appointment [for the Census Director], Murdoch is clearly not going to go, so it’s now…

SRM: What are your thoughts on Murdoch and his leadership?

KP: Steve was in a difficult position, because if he had a five-year term, he could have run the Bureau differently than if you think you’re going to be there for a year. That’s why this fixed term really does matter. So the Census Bureau gets jerked around, starting in 06, first by the administration, and then by Congress not acting, and then on budgetary issues and so forth. And suddenly you’re walking up to 2010 and you’ve gone almost four years without a permanent, solid, leadership team in place to do the decennial, because the person who was doing it, Jay Waite, also leaves, and I won’t blame anybody, but he leaves. Murdoch leaves because he had to. Tom Mesenbourg [current acting director of the Census Bureau] who I have a great deal of respect for, a very talented man, becomes Acting Director, but he had never done a decennial, so he’s got to learn on the job. He’s doing a first-rate job of learning on the job, but he had never done a decennial. So you have an agency that no one is actually paying attention to until there’s a problem, and then there’s a lot of rushing around and looking for quote on quote, someone to blame. And now, we’re perpetuating it by letting Bob Groves sit around at his apartment in Washington instead of running the Census Bureau.

SRM: So Bob’s not even going into the office yet?

KP: He can’t. He technically can’t.

SRM: There was a Field Data Collection Automation Task Force, known as the FDCA Task Force, and they made another report to Carlos Gutierrez (Secretary of Commerce) in early 2008 with recommendations on how to improve the collection of field data. What has been done since early 2008, for over a year now?

KP: If that’s the task force I’m thinking of, then I was on it. Our only job was to advise Gutierrez on what to do regarding the handheld computers. And that was the task force that said “Keep them for address canvassing but don’t use them for non-response follow-up. So in that sense, it was acted upon.

SRM: Do you think that it’s surprising that here we are, in the year 2009, and we’re conducting the 2010 Census without using technology for all parts of the operation?

KP: Let me put it as follows. I think the Census Bureau has been a technical innovator, certainly since the start of the 20th Century. After all, it was the first agency to use the Hollerith Card, the old punch card which was married to an adding machine which became IBM. It invented sampling theory in the 1930s. It was the first federal agency to use a major mainframe in the 1950s. It was extremely adept in 2000 in doing intelligent character recognition and data capture using very, very high-tech processes. And I think you can say about 2010, that it was technically innovative in using the handhelds in address canvassing. Who’s to say that they had to use handhelds for non-response follow-up? So, they have been technologically innovative once again, with respect to GPS and address canvassing. I don’t know the results yet, but I hope we’ve come out of this with a much better address list than we had in 2000. We won’t know until we start in the field, but at least one has reason to think it is. So, I think it has been technologically innovative. The fact that you didn’t take the extra step for non-response follow-up doesn’t mean that it’s been technologically stagnant.

SRM: But do these handheld computer devices from the Harris Corporation even work properly? And were they designed properly?

KP: Well, that I’m not in the position to judge. They’re doing quality studies on that right now.

SRM: Do you think that Harris Corp. is a worthy company to receive these contracts?

KP: I need to see how well the devices work. Anybody who gives you an opinion on that is doing it before the data are in.

SRM: I don’t know if you’ve read on MyTwoCensus.com and other blogs, where people have complained about the functionality of these devices.

KP: When you payroll 140,000 people, it’s not hard to find people who are disgruntled. And I’m not saying they’re wrong. I actually talked to people who did the address canvassing work, people I know extremely well, people who had no reason whatsoever not to tell me what was going on, and they had some problems, but they are convinced that they ended the process by producing a much better address list then when they went into it. And that’s the test. Of course there’s always somebody saying “this didn’t work” or “that didn’t work.” But the test is, do we have a better address list? And that’s quality control judgment. I’m not trying to slam your website (MyTwoCensus.com) but you have to appreciate that you are getting a self-selected group of correspondents. But I’m not passing judgment on you, and you shouldn’t pass judgment on the technology until the data are in. What I’m saying is that I don’t think the people who are writing to bloggers are the people producing systematic data.

SRM: I understand that. So, what are the greatest obstacles that remain for the 2010 Census operation?

KP: The old ones. They haven’t changed. One, you’ve got to start with a good address list. If it’s a good one, good. If it’s not, then you can’t have a good census because that’s your frame. And when you send non-response follow-up people, there’s that. Secondly, you’ve got to hope for a decent mail-back  response rate, because the workload goes way up and the costs go way up if you don’t have a good mail back response rate. And we simply do not yet know what the response rate is because we haven’t done it yet. But if it’s not in the mid-60s, it’s going to be both budgetarily and operationally very difficult for the Census Bureau. And in 2000, we had expected to be in the low 60s, and we got into the mid to high 60s and that was an enormous boost, and we did it with a first-rate effort. And I think that the people running the advertising campaign right now and all of the outreach are very good professionals and I hope they are successful. But it’s up to the American people to do it. What can the Census Bureau do, other than put it in their mailboxes on schedule. And if they [the American people] don’t send it back in, they have to start knocking on the door. So there is the mail-back response rate and then there’s the willingness to cooperate in non-response follow up, and then there’s the startling problem of the enormous number of undocumented in the country, who will have every reason not to want to cooperate with the federal government.

SRM: What do you think about people like Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who last week, in an interview with The Washington Times, said that she refused to fill out the 2010 Census form?

KP: I think it’s seriously unfortunate when an elected official of the federal government says that I’m going to deliberately break the law. I don’t know what kind of signal she thinks that sends, but if she believes that’s a good signal, I’m sad for the country. She says, incorrectly, because she hasn’t read the law, that the only thing she needed to do is give the number of people who live in her household. If everyone in the country did that, you would have zero quality control. Zero, because you do quality  control not only on how many there are, but is the family structure the way you told it is, is the racial composition, is the gender composition? You do quality control on all those other variables, and it means that you’re eliminating the capacity of the Census Bureau to do quality control. I think that it’s deeply, deeply, unfortunate that a member of Congress would, in effect, announce that, and invite other people who feel that way to say, “Well I don’t have to do it either.”

SRM: Do you think this has become a partisan issue?

KP: I have no idea. You asked me what I thought. It’s my opinion of her behavior. I don’t know her motivation.

SRM: Do you think that radio hosts and other prominent people questioning whether people should participate in the 2010 Census would turn this into a partisan issue?

KP: Everything can turn into a partisan issue. Honestly, I can tell you what the consequences are, but in terms of motivation, when you don’t know the people, I don’t know if it’s a partisan or non-partisan issue. I think it’s unfortunate for what it will do to the 2010 Census.

SRM: I’m sure the Mother Jones readers would be very interested in me asking about President Obama’s announcement on Friday, June 19 that gay marriage would now be able to be counted in the 2010 Census. What exactly does that mean and how exactly would that be done?

KP: Here I’m fairly confident that they have not worked out the exact operational procedures yet, because this was not expected when they were designing the questionnaire and designing the procedures, they did not think this was how they would be tabulating it. There isn’t a good answer to your question yet, or at least I haven’t seen it. Look, any time you are doing something with 300 million people, it’s not easy to get it right in different locales, however the question is worded on this now. Relationships in the household are on the short form.

SRM: Will the government be printing new forms now?

KP: No, it’s impossible. You can’t start reprinting new forms now. This stuff is already being printed. It takes a very long time and a lot of forward planning to run something of this magnitude. The idea of reprinting would probably be impossible.

SRM: So how would gay households know that they count?

KP: Well, that’s something that I can’t answer because I haven’t seen anything yet. There will be some serious effort by Census Bureau personnel to  create an operational plan that will make it work. I think they will go about this very seriously to make sure there aren’t any errors in the data. They want to get it right. This is who they are and what they do.

SRM: I noticed that Steve Jost (political appointee and former Census Bureau communications director) is back at the Census Bureau, and he was one of your deputies during the Clinton administration. Are you bringing back many people who were formerly there during the a Clinton administration.

KP: Jost is probably the only one. Hundreds of people at the Census Bureau were there during the Clinton administration. The Census Bureau has about five thousand employees, and if they didn’t retire or die, then they were still there in 2000. In terms of political appointees, there’s only 4. The director, the communications director, Steve Jost, the legislative director, and I’m absolutely certain that the person I had as legislative director will not be coming back, and then there’s intergovernmental relations, who deals with governors and mayors, and I’m absolutely certain that person is not coming back. So I think Jost would be the only one.

SRM: What about you? What’s your actual title now?

KP: Consultant.

SRM: Is that a part-time job?

KP: Certainly it’s a part-time job. Good gosh, I’ve got a real job. I’m just a consultant for the Census Bureau.

SRM: Are you the only person that has that title or do other people also have that title?

KP: I bet they have two or three hundred consultants out there doing different kind of work right now. You shouldn’t quote me on that number, but I imagine there’s a very large number of people doing some version of consulting work. You’ve got to imagine how big this is. For example, you may have a consultant who tells you how to make sure the trucks which are delivering the census forms to the data capture centers got an extra driver on April 13th to make sure they arrive on time. OR if they’re going to fingerprint everybody, you may have a consultant who tells you how to count a fingerprint to make sure this all runs smoothly and so forth. It’s big. If you’re going to payroll a million people, you may have consultants to make sure the payroll system is functioning. So don’t make my role something special.

SRM: You are the only person whose role as a consultant has been reported, that’s why I was asking.

KP: Okay, fair enough. Don’t quote me on the number, but I would be very surprised to find out that the number is a very large number of consultants, on all kinds of technical issues and so forth.

SRM: I know it’s early, but what will people say when they look back on the 2010 Census?

KP: I hope they say they pulled off a miracle [laughs].

SRM: Will you need a miracle at this point?

KP: That’s a quip, but I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to do this census in the current environment. That has nothing to do with the Census Bureau’s skill set. It has to do with the American people’s not wanting to be bothered, not answering their mail, not having phone lines anymore because they got cell phones, and the Census Bureau wants to do follow-up on the phone, and they can’t find phone number because they’ve only got the landline number. It has to do with the number of mobile people who would have changed houses between the time you did the address listing and when you knocked on the door. Houses will get torn down and houses will be built. The whole foreclosure crisis is a major crisis because whole hunks of the country are empty when they should be functioning neighborhoods. There are just a host of problems. And then there are the ones we can’t predict. Who knows? Natural disasters, strikes, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. I know it’s going to be difficult, it’s always difficult to do a serious census. In this current economic and political and general cultural circumstances. Let me ask you a question. Let’s say there are 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country. What percentage of those people do you think will mail a questionnaire back in?

SRM: 10?

KP: Whatever it is, it’ a low number. So let us say it’s 50%. That’s a 3% undercount before you start. Let us say it’s 25%, then you’ve got an even bigger undercount before you’ve even started.

SRM: So that’s what explains the need for the use of statistical sampling?

KP: That’s one of the reasons we were going to use it, but we can’t. So that just means that you’re doing a census knowing that you are going to miss a very significant proportion of the American population. And you’re obligated to count everyone, that’s just an uphill battle.

SRM: I really appreciate this conversation, and I definitely learned quite a bit. Thank you very much.

KP: It will only get more interesting.

SRM: I hope we can speak again soon. Thank you, goodbye.

Associated Press: Locke urges end to GOP block on census nominee

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
The following article from the Associated Press echoes MyTwoCensus’s opinion on the stalled confirmation of Robert M. Groves:

By HOPE YEN

WASHINGTON (AP) — Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Wednesday urged Congress to immediately end a GOP block on President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the 2010 census, saying continued delays are putting the high-stakes head count at risk.

Initially put on hold by an anonymous GOP senator, Groves is now among roughly 30 Obama nominees in limbo after Republicans protested the quick timetable for hearings on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation. Under Senate rules, a senator can hold up a nomination without going public or providing an explanation.

Robert Groves, a veteran survey researcher with the University of Michigan, was easily approved by a Senate committee last month. But Republicans have stalled Groves’ full confirmation vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Republicans aren’t yet in agreement on Groves; his office says it has no information as to why.

“The Census Bureau cannot wait for strong leadership any longer,” Locke said in a statement. “The longer this nomination is held up, the greater the risk to the accuracy and success of the 2010 census. Robert Groves stands ready to run the agency with the independence and professionalism that the American people expect and the Constitution demands.”

Groves, 60, has drawn skepticism from House Republicans. As a former census associate director, Groves pushed for the use of statistical sampling in the 1990s to make up for an undercount of millions of minorities who tend to vote for Democrats, but was later overruled by the Republican commerce secretary.

In his confirmation hearing last month, Groves sought to allay GOP concerns by ruling out the use of broad sampling in the 2010 census, which is used to apportion House seats and redraw congressional districts. Groves has also pledged to resign if he encounters undue partisan interference in tallying census figures.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security committee which considered Groves’ nomination, said she believed it was necessary for Groves to be confirmed soon.

“The Census Bureau has acknowledged that it is experiencing critical problems with its management and testing of key information technology systems,” she said. “I do not know who has placed a hold on Mr. Groves’ nomination, nor do I understand the rationale for holding him up. I am very eager to get this qualified candidate on the job.”

The delay on Groves comes as the Census Bureau heads into its final critical months of preparation for the 2010 head count, including an aggressive outreach campaign aimed at hard-to-find groups such as immigrants, non-English speaking residents and displaced homeowners.

The agency has already acknowledged that tens of millions of residents in dense urban areas — about 14 percent of the U.S. population — are at high risk of being missed. Groves has said that if he is confirmed, one of his first steps would be to conduct a thorough risk assessment study to pinpoint ways to improve the count.

Congresswoman Refuses To Participate in 2010 Census

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

According to the Minnesota Independent, “Rep. Michele Bachmann told the Washington Times on Wednesday that she will not be filling out all the questions on next year’s census because ACORN will be one of the federal government’s many community partners for conducting the census. But what she is proposing to do is illegal, the Times reports.

“I know for my family the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home,” she said. “We won’t be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.”

“There’s great concern that’s being raised because now ACORN has been named as one of the federal partners… This is very concerning because the motherload of all data comes from the census,” she said.

But as the paper reports, Bachmann is “misreading” the law — and it could cost her family $100 per question left unanswered.”

NOTE: Below, please find an audio recording of Bachmann’s interview with The Washington Times.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Continue outreach by using highly skilled professionals

Monday, June 8th, 2009

In recent editorials, MyTwoCensus has questioned the effectiveness of the U.S. Census Bureau’s outreach efforts. However, today, at San Francisco’s Israel in the Gardens celebration, I was able to witness firsthand the effectiveness of highly qualified partnership specialist Pnina Levermore as she communicated with hundreds of members of the Bay Area community who don’t necessarily speak English as their first language. As a long-time employee of Russian and Jewish community organizations in the Bay Area, Levermore is a huge asset to the Census Bureau. I watched as she bounced between English and Russian, fielding inquiries from children as young as five to octogenarians (who have surely lived through many decennial headcounts), answering all questions asked of her with accuracy and care.

Levermore went so far as to create her own Russian language handout about the 2010 Census (we have been told that the Census Bureau will have their own national handouts printed in many languages soon) to distribute at this event.

The Census Bureau should continue to hire highly skilled people like Levermore. Many of the millions of Americans who applied for jobs at the Census Bureau speak more than one language, but hiring someone who has a deep knowledge of the community he/she will be assisting as well as the foreign language skills that he/she will be using on the job is of the utmost importance. We urge the local and regional 2010 Census offices to hire partnership specialists based on intangible factors that won’t necessarily show up on job applications and will only be revealed after in-person interviews and carefully examining individuals’ personalities.

We applaud the San Francisco 2010 Census Office for hiring someone like Levermore and we hope that other offices around the country will follow suit with similar practices.

LA Times Editorial: Latino boycott of the census makes no sense

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Check out this editorial from the LA Times:

Latino boycott of the census makes no sense

In a report on undercounting in the 2000 census, the accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers calculated that states loses more than $3,000 per uncounted resident. California, for example, is already out hundreds of millions of dollars because of an undercount in the 2000 census of an estimated 500,000 people. Los Angeles, Alameda, San Bernardino, Orange and San Diego counties will lose the bulk of that money, with L.A. losing more than $600 million over 10 years.

Unfortunately, this boycott movement seems to be gaining momentum; it dovetails with an existing fear of government detection. But anyone who boycotts the census has a poor understanding of U.S. history. Political power in this country is tethered to visibility. It is not a coincidence that in the past, the voiceless — Native Americans on reservations, enslaved African Americans — were purposely not counted in the census. (Actually, for taxation and representation purposes, the latter were counted as three-fifths of a person.)

There is no logical reason to fear participation. By law, all personal census information is sealed for 72 years, and no one who fills out a form is going to be deported as a result. With nothing to gain but much to lose, boycotting the census would be a strange tactic for people who have marched by the millions, revealing their numbers for the world to see. Whatever happened to “Today we march, tomorrow we vote”?

Funds and services depend on an accurate count; boycotting could hurt those who need those things the most.
June 4, 2009

The latest effort to push illegal immigrants further into the shadows of civic life comes from an unexpected quarter. Not from those who would gladly deport every single person residing in this country without permission, but from advocates who profess to have their best interest at heart. The National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders is urging illegal immigrants not to participate in the 2010 census. The group’s supposed logic? That the statistical invisibility of 11 million to 12 million people will be a powerful lever to move legislators and the Obama administration to act with urgency and create a pathway to citizenship.

This misguided advice could have come from the Minuteman Project. Because an undercount means that the very places where illegal immigrants reside and use services, those states and counties already in desperate financial straits will be shortchanged of federal funding that would help all residents. Are these church leaders also urging illegal immigrants to not send their children to school? To avoid hospitals? To forgo driving on highways? An undercount means diminished funding for those public necessities and many others. Furthermore, census data determine voting districts. Are these advocates calling for fewer elected officials who might actually negotiate a pathway to citizenship?

Editorial: For most accurate 2010 Census, use as many nationalities as possible

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

After weeks of discussion that Caribbean Americans and the legislators who vouch for them are seeking to create a new “Caribbean” category on the 2010 Census form, another group has come out of the woodwork to seek space to display their own unique identity: Dominicans.

According to the Dominican Today newspaper, “Dominican residents in the United States launched a nationwide campaign to be included in the 2010 Census, under the auspices of the Dominican Round Table in
which several organizations, elected and government officials take part.

The campaign was announced in a gathering in the Bronx’s San Nicolas Tolentino church, in which City Council and State Assembly members spoke about the initiative.

The strategy seeks to prevent what took place in 2000, when Dominican residents in the U.S. were excluded from the boxes regarding ethnicity of that country’s census. If excluded, Dominican community organizations wouldn’t receive the funds necessary to sustain their social programs.

The campaign “One plus One” also includes Puerto Rico, where several hundred thousand Dominican nationals also reside and demands that the Federal Census Bureau include a box specifying the word “Dominican,” which didn’t figure in the previous census.”

MyTwoCensus wholeheartedly agrees that an “accurate” count means getting as much specific information as possible. We feel that the government should want to know the specific makeup of its people because this knowledge will serve many purposes down the road. For example, knowing the ethnic/national composition of people in a specific area would make it easier and more cost efficient to arrange social services and other benefits for more highly targeted groups of people.

And for the many Americans who identify with more than one ethnic background, people can check off a box for each nationality/ethnicity that represents them.

Since filling out the 2010 Census form is required by law, MyTwoCensus sees many benefits to making this portion of the survey more comprehensive.  We don’t believe that sharing additional background information infringes on any individuals’ right to privacy.

Though the 2010 Census is just around the corner, there is still time to improve the paper forms before they are printed. We urge Robert Groves and the U.S. Congress to prioritize this issue and not let petty political bickering stand in the way of taking action to create a form for the 2010 headcount that maximizes the amount of relevant information that it can gather in its 10 short questions.

Uh-Oh(io)!

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

As budget crises loom throughout the nation, state legislatures are being forced to determine which programs and services they should cut to close budget gaps. The below report comes from Spanish language newspaper La Prensa based in  Toledo, Ohio:

Special Policy Alerts: Ohio Latino Affairs Commission budget may be cut by 45 percent

The Ohio Senate has proposed a 45 percent budget cut from the Fiscal Year 2009 budget of the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission. This is more than double the proposed cuts to other agencies.  Only one other agency has been cut as much as we have been.  Also, the Ohio Commission on Minority Health is to be cut by 32% if the current version of the budget is adopted.

If this proposal passes, it will effectively eliminate all programming, including: OLAnet, Census 2010 Outreach, Project OPEN, and the Building Blocks Education Campaign as well as eliminate 25% of our workforce (1 out of 4 staff).

The finance committee is planning to vote on the budget at tomorrow’s hearing at 2:30 p.m.

The full Senate will vote on Wednesday or Thursday, June 3 or 4, 2009.

Seeking journalist to cover event in Providence, R.I.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

If any of our readers know a journalist/photographer in or near Providence, Rhode Island who can cover the 2010 Census-related portion of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, it would be greatly appreciated if you could have that person contact us. We will reimburse the attending journalist for food/travel costs. See the press release below for details of the event that we would like covered:

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN, SR. WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR JARRETT ATTENDING MAYORS’ ANNUAL GATHERING JUNE 12 – 15 ~ PROVIDENCE, RI

WASHINGTON, June 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Vice President Joe Biden, Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Attorney General Eric Holder, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Office of National Drug Control Director Gil Kerlikowske, Alaska Senator Mark Begich, Congressional Urban Caucus Chair Chaka Fattah (PA), Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and Mexico Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan are confirmed for the 77th Annual Meeting of The United States Conference of Mayors in Providence (RI) from Friday, June 12th to Monday, June 15th.

The Conference of Mayors has been working with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to establish an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) Resource Center where mayors and city staff can meet with federal staff managing the various ARRA programs to seek guidance on federal stimulus funding implementation.

Led by Conference President and Miami (FL) Mayor Manny Diaz and hosted by Providence Mayor David Cicilline, this event is the largest annual gathering of U.S. mayors. In addition to Recovery Act implementation, the meeting will also highlight illegal guns and gun violence, energy independence, education and the 2010 Census. At the culmination of the meeting, mayors will debate and vote on national policy recommendations to forward to Congress and the new Administration.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his cabinet have been invited. An advance DRAFT agenda is also posted at www.usmayors.org. All CREDENTIALED press wishing to attend should pre-register VIA THE USCM WEBSITE to gain access to the meeting.

WHAT: Hundreds of U.S. Mayors to Attend USCM 77th Annual Meeting

WHEN: Friday, June 12th – Monday, June 15th

WHERE: The Rhode Island Convention Center

One Sabin Street

Providence, RI 02903

401-458-6000

Update: Latino Clergy Divided Over Census Boycott

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Teresa Watanabe of the L.A. Times reports on the decision for Latino members of the clergy to encourage their congregants to boycott the 2010 Census:

U.S. census sparks feud over the counting of illegal immigrants

A national Latino clergy group wants 1 million to boycott the count in an effort to press for legalization. But immigrant activists decry the plan.
By Teresa Watanabe
May 31, 2009

In a high-stakes battle that could affect California’s share of federal funding and political representation, immigrant activists are vowing to combat efforts by a national Latino clergy group to persuade 1 million illegal immigrants to boycott the 2010 U.S. census.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, which says it represents 20,000 Latino churches in 34 states, recently announced that a quarter of its 4 million members were prepared to join the boycott as a way to intensify pressure for legalization and to protect themselves from government scrutiny.

“Before being counted, we need to be legalized,” said the Rev. Miguel Rivera, the coalition’s chairman and founder.

But the boycott call has infuriated many Latino organizations. La Opinión, in a recent editorial, denounced it as a “dangerous mistake” that “verges on political suicide” while an official with the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials called it “wildly irresponsible.”

“This is a phenomenal step backward in the strides we have made to make sure we are equal,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Latino officials group.

The decennial census, which counts all people regardless of immigration status, is used to allocate federal funds for education, housing, healthcare, transportation and other local needs. By some estimates, every person counted results in $1,000 in federal funds.

The census is also used to apportion the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, which are based on a state’s population.

According to a study in 2003, California’s sizable illegal immigrant population allowed it to gain three House seats it might otherwise not have received. The state’s illegal immigrant population also caused Indiana, Michigan and Mississippi to each lose one of their seats and prevented Montana from gaining a seat.

The study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based research group that promotes immigration restrictions, also argued that the illegal immigrant population skewed the “one man, one vote” principle in elections.

In 2002, the study found, it took almost 100,000 votes to win the typical congressional race in the four states that lost or failed to gain a seat, compared with 35,000 votes to win in immigrant-rich districts in California.

Back in 1988, the effect on apportionment, which also affects the Electoral College, prompted a lawsuit by 40 members of Congress, Pennsylvania and the Federation for American Immigration Reform to prevent the Census Bureau from counting illegal immigrants. The complaint was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court for lack of standing.

“People who have no right to be in this country should not be counted,” said federation President Dan Stein. “It’s awfully hard to explain to U.S. citizens why they keep losing political representation to states like California because of people who broke immigration laws.”

Vargas and others questioned the boycott organizers’ political motivations, noting that most of them were conservative.

Rivera acknowledged that his coalition endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 and slightly favored Republican presidential nominee John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama by a vote of 52% to 48% last year. But he denied that the boycott was aimed at aiding Republicans.

He said his group was concerned that federal funds obtained in part through the counting of illegal immigrants would be used against them to increase arrests and harassment by local law enforcement.

Rivera also said he wanted to use the boycott as a way to pressure Congress to pass legislation offering legalization to illegal immigrants.

So far, his group appears to have gained little traction in California. A group of affiliated Latino pastors plans to meet in the next week or two to discuss the boycott call but has made no decision yet, according to Jose Caballero, a Camarillo minister.

But other Latino leaders say they are nervous about the boycott.

“The fact that they are getting a lot of media attention concerns us that they could do a lot of damage,” said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens in Washington, D.C.

Using the same slogan as their successful citizenship campaigns — “Ya es Hora,” or “It’s Time” — Spanish-language media, community groups, labor unions and churches plan to launch a far-reaching campaign urging mass participation in the census.

Boycott or not, they have their work cut out for them. Although the Census Bureau by law must keep information confidential, that message has not entirely gotten through.

At Our Lady Queen of Angels Church near Olvera Street, migrant farm worker Juan Garcia said he would not participate because of fears of how the information might be used.

Another illegal immigrant, Julian Chavez, also voiced concern that census workers would contact him at work, go to his home and ask nosy questions. Asked if he would participate, Chavez hedged his answer.

“Will there be consequences?” he asked. “I have my family to think about.”

Multimedia Essay: A Squandered Opportunity for The Census Bureau

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

At Sunday’s Carnaval parade in San Francisco, the Census Bureau made a major blunder by not participating in the parade and only setting up a dinky little booth at an event in the vicinity of the parade that lacked the visibility of the main event.

The Census Bureau could have participated by creating something like this:


  

But instead, all the Census Bureau did to reach out to minorities was this:

Congressman says minorities are not counted equally

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

We came across the following blog post written by Sean Rose of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. MyTwoCensus has made inquiries to Asian-American elected officials about their opinions on what Rep. William Lacy Clay has said:

WASHINGTON — Minorities and urban neighborhoods have long been under counted by the U.S. census and officials are hoping that a $312 million ad campaign can reverse the trend for the 2010 tally.

But Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, is wondering if the Census Bureau is spending all of that money wisely.

After hearing testimony today before the House Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee, which Clay chairs, the congressman took exception to the amount of funds targeting Asian-Americans, which have been better represented than other minorities in past census data.

“What was alarming was that in the Asian communities in America, they have tended to be historically over counted,” Clay said.

Of the money headed toward advertising, $27 million will specifically target Asians-Americans, while $36 million and $39 million will target blacks and Hispanics respectively.

Asian citizens were actually over counted in the 2000 census while the numbers from the last two census attempts have consistently under counted blacks and Hispanics. The 2000 census missed an estimated 3 million people.

None of the spending amounts are final and Clay said he expected to see revised numbers at the next subcommittee hearing.

“It’s a work in progress,” Clay said.

This funding from the bureau is meant to increase the response rate among these communities by stressing the importance of the census through ads and school programs. The bureau is also planning to increase spending to $280 million on partnerships with community groups and leaders in places that have a low response rate to better address problems of finding residents and getting a response.

As a whole, Missouri’s 69 percent response rate was higher than the 67 percent national average. In contrast, St. Louis, home to many minorities that the census has not traditionally reached, had a 53 percent response rate in 2000.

Inside the 2010 Census form: Question #8 and Charlie Rangel

Monday, May 18th, 2009

June Kronholtz, who covers the 2010 Census for The Wall Street Journal, just reported on long-term Rep. Charlie Rangel’s latest wrangling (okay, it’s Monday, we want to be funny and use puns to keep you on your toes):

Race and ethnicity already are complicated questions in the decennial census. Now, Rep. Charles Rangel and a fellow New York Democrat want to make them even more complex.

Question 8 in the 2010 census form asks if the person being counted is “of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” and, if so, from where. That person has a choice of four check boxes:
–Yes, he or she is Mexican, Mexican American or Chicano
–Yes, he or she is Puerto Rican
–Yes, he or she is Cuban or
–Yes, he or she is “another,” and is asked to fill in a blank.

The form offers the prompt: “for example, Argentinean, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard, and so on.”

Rangel, who represents a district with a big Dominican population, has introduced HR 1504 that would require the Census Bureau to offer a separate check box for Dominican-Americans. Similarly, Rep. Yvette Clark (D., N.Y.), who is Caribbean-American, has introduced HR 2071 that would require a check box for “Caribbean extraction or descent.”

The 2010 census forms already have gone to the printer, so there’s no chance of a change this time around. But Terri Ann Lowenthal, who writes a census newsletter, says both bills are likely to figure into the discussion about the 2020 form.

Census drafters talk about the limited “real estate” on the decennial form—they want to keep it to one page and 10 questions in order to assure most people answer it.

But ethnic and racial interest groups regularly lobby for inclusion. Question 9 on the 2010 census asks for the race of the person being counted, and then gives the option of nine Asian groups, plus a fill-in blank for anyone not already covered; a check box for native Americans and a fill-in blank for the name of their tribe; a fill-in blank for “some other race;” a check box for “black, African Am., or Negro” and a check box for “white.”

Groups representing Caribbean blacks, African immigrants and Arab-Americans already are asking for check boxes of their own in the 2020 census, says Lowenthal.

The Census Bureau doesn’t ask anyone except Asians and Hispanics about their nationality or ancestry on the decennial census. For everyone else–the one-quarter Italian, half-Czech, one-quarter Scot–that question is left to the American Community Survey, a household sampling that the bureau conducts yearly.

Telemundo & the 2010 Census

Friday, May 8th, 2009

If you thought that murder, rape, and drug abuse were the best stories to propel the plots of soap operas, think again, as these days it’s the 2010 Census that will keep telenovela audiences coming back for more:

Laura Martínez — Multichannel News, 2/18/2009 1:53:13 PM MT

When Spanish-language TV viewers tune in this spring for their daily fix of drama, their Telemundo telenovela will feature a tale of betrayal, passion, love — and Census awareness.

Starting April 1, Telemundo will kick off a company wide campaign to raise awareness among Spanish speaking Latinos about the upcoming 2010 Census and the importance of their participation in the process. Aptly named “¡Hazte contar!” (Be Counted!) the initiative will encompass all of Telemundo’s properties and is expected to last for one full year.

In addition to incorporating the Census theme into the storyline of its original telenovelas, Telemundo’s campaign is expected to encompass all of its properties across its broadcast, cable and digital platforms, as the company plans to reach not only the older, Spanish dominant viewers, but also the younger generations watching mun2 online and on the Web.

The idea, said Telemundo president Don Browne, is simple: “Our mission as a Hispanic media outlet is to inform, empower and inspire our audience,” Browne said in a recent interview. “And we cannot afford for our audience not to be ready for the [2010] Census.”

An important aspect of the Census awareness campaign touches on the scores of undocumented immigrants, who historically have been afraid of participating, fearing the census workers would turn them in if their migratory status isn’t clear. “There is certain fear that participating that giving information could be detrimental to their status,” said Browne. “But the idea here is that people don’t fear this process. It’s not a time to be invisible; it’s a time to be counted.”

There is a lot at stake. According to the Census Bureau’s 2007 American Community Survey, 45.5 million or 15.1% of the U.S. population is Hispanic, making it the largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. Based on population estimates, it is expected that between 2010 and 2050 the U.S. Hispanic population will triple, resulting in one in three people in the U.S. being of Hispanic origin.

But the Census is only the latest in a series of community-awareness topics that Telemundo has incorporated in its telenovelas. These include construction safety, diabetes, breast cancer awareness and citizenship awareness. In 2008 the network was recognized by the Hollywood, Health & Society for the construction safety-themed telenovela Pecados Ajenos (The Sins of Others) whose drama touched on the perils of construction work.

Update: Caribbean Census Bill Not A Race Category

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Early this morning, we wrote that Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) has proposed legislation to create a new race category, Caribbean, as part of the 2010 Census. MyTwoCensus is the first organization to share with the public the official message CaribID, the organization that has lobbied for this legislation. In the wake of the initial Caribbean race category story, the new press release clarifies the facts and myths regarding what is being sought by this group and its supporters. Here’s the nitty-gritty:


CaribPR Newswire, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. April 28, 2009: The Caribbean Census bill introduced in the Congress by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke on April 23rd is not a push for a race category but one for an accurate self-identifying ancestry category, CaribID official insisted Monday.

The clarification comes in response to a number of media reports that erroneously reported that the bill is a call for a race category and therefore is a move to divide some ethnic groupings, particularly the African American or black bloc.

CaribID founder, Felicia Persaud, insisted that the bill is to enable Caribbean nationals, who are of varied races, cultures and identities across the 26 countries in the Caribbean region to not only tick their race group on the Census forms, but like Hispanics, be able to tick their ancestry as well.

Reading between the lines: The Census Project is in bed with the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Last night, The Wall Street Journal published a blog post by June Kronholz about the likelihood of being counted in the 2010 Census. As the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 Census, MyTwoCensus must point out that this article is written from a very partisan perspective. Kronholz’s only source of data was information collected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and released by The Census Project. Kronholz writes, “The [census counting] estimates were developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, using Census Bureau planning databases, and released by the Census Project whose members include policy planners, demographers and citizen-rights advocates.”

If you look at The Census Project’s stakeholder list, it’s clear that all of the stakeholders are liberal advocacy groups, and more importantly, one of the “stakeholders” (which translates to meaning an organization that funds The Census Project) is The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the very organization responsible for providing this data…So here’s our advice when reading articles, even from reputable news sources:

1. Read between the lines.

2. Take any information from “The Census Project” with a large grain of salt, as it’s coming from many partisan sources including ACORN, the NAACP, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and other immigrant advocacy groups.

Backlash Against Boycott

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

After a nationwide group of Latino clergy, the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (NCLCCL), announced they were urging a boycott of the 2010 Census, panic spread that this one boycott could trigger mass civil disobedience efforts. The NCLCCL’s “Stand up, but refuse to be counted in the 2010 U.S. Census” message garnered significant media attention in recent days, though apparently the support isn’t as widespread as they would have liked it to be. Other Latino advocacy groups have started to preach a counter-message, encouraging people to participate in the census, citing that an accurate count is good for America. The NCLCCL is planning a rally for this Saturday (4/25) in Newark, New Jersey. MyTwoCensus will be providing in-depth coverage of the event.