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 ‘MyTwoCensus Editorials’ Category

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Sign this MyTwoCensus Petition: Ensure that the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey is not eliminated

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

UPDATE: Click HERE for the petition!

As the founder and executive editor of MyTwoCensus.com, I am astounded that the GOP, the political party that consistently claims to be pro-business, recently voted to nix an operation, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, that provides enormous sums of data that help American businesses.

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) is a career politician and a big fat idiot (who is apparently just as ignorantly conservative as his namesake fellow politician). If only he had more business experience, it’s doubtful that he would be calling the American Community Survey “intrusive,” “an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars,” “unconstitutional,” and “the very picture of what’s wrong in D.C.” (Ironically, it Webster’s salary that is a waste of tax payer dollars, intrusive, and what’s wrong in D.C.)

For those unfamiliar with the American Community Survey, it is, according to Wikipedia, “an ongoing statistical survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, sent to approximately 250,000 addresses monthly (or 3 million per year). It regularly gathers information previously contained only in the long form of the decennial census. It is the largest survey other than the decennial census that the Census Bureau administers.”

While the survey is currently listed as mandatory, I person has ever been prosecuted for not completing it. (Perhaps the Census Bureau should make it optional to appease critics.)

Yes, the Census Bureau should move to an online survey from its current paper-based system to save taxpayers significant sums of money (and put the US Postal Service one step closer to its grave), but that doesn’t mean that the treasure trove of data that will be lost is any less valuable.

As the Washington Post’s editorial board accurately wrote, “Every year, the Census Bureau asks 3 million American households to answer questions on age, race, housing and health to produce timely information about localities, states and the country at large. This arrangement began as a bipartisan improvement on the decennial census. Yet last week the Republican-led House voted to kill the ACS. This is among the most shortsighted measures we have seen in this Congress, which is saying a lot.”

The Post continues, “Businesses deciding whether to sell tractors or tricycles want to know how many people live in a given area, whether they mostly live in apartments or houses, with how many children, and how far they travel to work. Consumers then get access to goods and services they desire. Municipal planners determining whether to build a new senior center need to know where the elderly live in their town, and if they have family around to care for them. Government agencies targeting $400 billion in annual anti-poverty, health-care or highway spending require granular data on things such as local incomes. Lawmakers debating health-care policy should have up-to-date information on how many people are uninsured, and where they are concentrated.”

In response to this legislation, I have started a petition to alert the United States Senate of this unthinkably stupid legislation that has already been passed by the House of Representatives.

The first MyTwoCensus eulogy: RIP Andrew Breitbart – The only publisher who gave MyTwoCensus.com a chance at syndication and finding a larger audience

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

I woke up this morning to an e-mail from a friend that informed me of Andrew Breitbart’s untimely death. At first, I thought it was a joke. But when I learned that it wasn’t, I came to the solemn realization that a difficult-to-fill void had just been created in the American journalism landscape.

That Breitbart was only 43 makes this situation even more tragic, because I pictured Andrew being a ball-buster and rabble-rouser for another 50 years. Whenever I reached out to Andrew to give him updates about the 2010 Census, he always took my calls, which is rare in a day and age where people are generally too busy for in-depth communication with one another. Typically, we chatted while he was driving his four children around LA. But he even made time for me between television interviews as he was breaking Page 1 national news. Though he had no reason to, Andrew Breitbart gave me his ear, listening to whatever I had to say.

As a journalism entrepreneuer, Breitbart was like no other. From his days at the Drudge Report, he realized the direction that journalism was headed, and, ironically, helped Arianna Huffington start The Huffington Post. But he also had the foresight to realize that a liberal aggregator needed a conservative counterbalance. And poof, BigGovernment.com was born.

While I certainly do not agree with many of the tactics that Breitbart sometimes condoned (specifically, the shoddy editing techniques used by James O’Keefe in his “undercover sting” videos and the whole Shirley Sherrod affair), Breitbart created a strong outlet for investigative journalism at a time when such a practice was vanishing under financial constraints. He did his best to provide an alternative voice to what is dubbed the mainstream media. Breitbart was not afraid to take journalistic risks, and for that, he reaped many rewards in the form of powerful scoops, the value of which he was well aware of.

Yes, he was outspoken, but yes, he had many valid points. Andrew Breitbart did not always agree with the Conservative establishment, as demonstrated by the fact that he joined (and within a year resigned) from the board of GOProud group of homosexual Republicans.

Admittedly, I am yet to read his recent book,  a critique of celebrity culture titled Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon — The Case Against Celebrity, but based on the title alone, it seems like something that I will enjoy (and I will now find it for my Kindle).

I personally appreciate Andrew Breitbart because he took a chance on me as a 24-year-old reporter covering a beat (the 2010 US Census) that the mainstream media failed to see as important. Even though few mainstream news organizations have reporters covering demographics issues on a regular basis these days, none of the mainstream media organizations that I reached out to wanted to take a chance by partnering with MyTwoCensus.com, even though it may have filled significant gaps in their reportage.

But Breitbart was different. He took me in board and permitted me to publish whenever I wanted. MyTwoCensus.com has certainly been critical of both Democrats and Republicans, but Breitbart never attempted to censor my critiques of the GOP in any way, shape, or form.  (Some people misconstrued this syndication on BigGovernment.com as proof that I was “Conservative”  even though I was simultaneously working at ultra-liberal Mother Jones magazine while publishing on BigGovernment.)

Andrew Breitbart, you will be missed. Your vision, strategy, and tactics led journalism into the 21st Century. Your feistiness, entrepreneurial spirit, and willingness to take risks will be difficult to replicate. And on a personal level, I will never forget that you you gave me an audience to publish for and a sounding board to speak with.

Revival, Revival: MyTwoCensus.com is coming back to life in a new form

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

I have decided to revive MyTwoCensus.com as an opinion blog. Originally born out of frustration with the 2010 US Census and the lack of media coverage about this important issue, I feel that society is being failed by our most popular and widely-read cultural commentators.

The journalism “crisis” of the Internet era is partly to blame, but I feel that herd mentality among news organizations and their employees who set the media agenda is preventing more substantial dialogues from taking place. One need only look to the Twittersphere: Rather than offering individual commentaries, the simple act of pressing the Re-Tweet button presents one view over and over again…and news organizations who derive income from per-hit advertising continue to live only when their Tweets spread like wildfire.

My targets for criticism will include politicians, media, society, pop culture, and more, in both the US and abroad. Having been based primarily in Europe since 2009, I have the unique ability to look at both America and Europe as from insider and outsider perspectives. Guest contributions and critiques of my writing are welcomed with open arms.

With Christopher Hitchens making his last hurrah, and Thomas Friedman’s words falling short when it comes to turning them into public policy, a new generation of thinkers – dare I say “public intellectuals” – must have their voices heard. Any topic is fair game, and I welcome your suggestions as to topics to cover.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Brooklyn scandal is just the tip of the iceberg

Monday, July 12th, 2010

What happened last month at the Brooklyn LCO was indeed unfortunate. But let us not be naive: Data collection inaccuracies and falsifications are happening throughout the entire New York Regional Area and possibly the entire nation, though perhaps on a smaller scale than in Brooklyn.

There are many luxury rental and condominum buildings where real estate management companies have a strict “no enumerator” policy, as well as tenement buildings  and brownstones where it is impossible to gain access. There are also one or two family houses where it is unclear how many people live there and a knowledgeable proxy could not be located.

For these units, some enumerators went to public search records on the Internet or merely wrote the names off the mailboxes. The mid and upper level census managers encouraged field staff to use techniques to “guesstimate,” creating major operational ambiguity for the once in a decade headcount.

What was acceptable inside the questionnaire was another problem. Most enumerators tried to get all the information but those who went to a proxy who gave them little, no, or inaccurate information, finished their areas quickly. These same field staff were rewarded with more work and allowed to clean up districts that were lagging behind.

These cases are the same ones where quality assurance suspects poor data collection practices or data falsification. However, in some cases re-interview staff are unable to locate the respondent to verify whether the interview was actually conducted and prove it definitively. Many other quality assurance managers are told to “just pass it” or are afraid to accuse enumerators of poor quality work, fearing that they will be stepping on people’s toes.

For two years municipalities and city officials preached about the beauty of the census through media and print advertising. They encouraged people to send back their census forms saying it was the only way to ensure that their residents were counted and for their community to receive the federal funding it was entitled to.

But these city officials did little in the way in forcing real estate management companies and reluctant respondents to cooperate when their participation was required. The fact that the Census Bureau and Department of Commerce made empty threats to fine people for not cooperating and then did not follow through on it shows how poorly 2010 Census data has been managed.

The offices in the five boroughs of New York will be the last in the nation to finish NRFU, whereas most areas were done weeks ago. The few career census employees who valued a fair and accurate count and finished last can not be proud of their work. Those responsible for promoting the individuals won’t let them be proud. When it comes time for their annual performance reviews, the fact they finished last will be reflected poorly and jeopardize their careers.

What happened in Brooklyn should not come as a surprise. In retrospect the Census did what it usually does. It set hard line production goals, held managers and field staff accountable and fired them if they failed to meet these goals with little constructive technical support. Those who work quickly are rewarded with more work with little regard to accuracy.

I dedicate this post to the many crew leaders, field operations supervisors and LCO manager who lost their jobs because they valued a fair and accurate count.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Class action lawsuit should include everyone, not only minorities

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Earlier this year, MyTwoCensus informed readers about a class action lawsuit that alleges that the Census Bureau discriminates in its hiring process against individuals who have been arrested even though they were never charged with a crime. MyTwoCensus.com subsequently received many inquiries from white/Caucasian people who were not hired by the Census Bureau for this reason and hoped to join this lawsuit and were told that because they were white/Caucasian they were unable to partake in the lawsuit. MyTwoCensus.com wrote to the lawyer in charge of the suit, Adam Klein, of the firm Golden Outten in New York to determine if this was true. Unfortunately, Mr. Klein confirmed that only minorities are eligible to participate in this lawsuit. This is a travesty because this lawsuit itself is now discriminatory against any non-minority who wasn’t hired by the Census Bureau because of alleged (though unproven) misconduct. MyTwoCensus encourages Golden Outten to open this suit to everyone, because if justice is served, it should be served for all.

Congressman responds to Blagojevich-linked Census Bureau official with letter to Census Bureau Director Groves

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

MyTwoCensus.com is appreciative that Congressman Patrick McHenry’s office has taken up this issue. Now, we hope that William Lacy Clay and the House Democrats also jump on board to make this a bi-partisan effort…

Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Josh Kahn
June 17, 2010
McHenry: Why Is a Census Official Tied to the Blagojevich Scandal?

WASHINGTON, DC… Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), sent the following letter to U.S. Census Director Dr. Robert Groves questioning the Bureau about a local Census official tied to the Blagojevich trial.

Rep. McHenry is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee overseeing the Census.  The letter is below:

June 17, 2010

Robert Groves
Director
U.S. Census Bureau
4600 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746

Dear Dr. Groves:

This week the director of a Census Bureau office in Chicago, Joseph Aramanda, appeared as a witness in former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial.  Although Mr. Aramanda testified under immunity and so will not be charged himself, he was involved in some extremely questionable money transfers at the direction of Blagojevich associate Tony Rezko.

This is unacceptable.  The Census is too important to be caught up in a corruption trial.  Mr. Aramanda manages a significant number of employees and his deep involvement in the Blagojevich scandal tarnishes the reputation of the 2010 Census.

I strongly encourage you to reassess Mr. Aramanda’s employment status with the Bureau.  I would appreciate your quick response on this timely issue.

Sincerely,

Patrick T. McHenry
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Information Policy,
Census, and National Archives

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Fingerprinting changes are long overdue because the media failed to report on the potential problems

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

For nearly a year, MyTwoCensus.com was the only media outlet reporting about the problems that the Census Bureau faced in terms of fingerprinting the 1.4 million people who were set to work for the 2010 Census. And we continue that fight today.

In December 2009, I reported that a convicted felon in Alaska was working in a supervisory position for the Census Bureau. This was discovered only after the man killed his mother and then himself. Clearly, this incident should have made calls for improved fingerprinting procedures at the Census Bureau obvious. However, the Census Bureau maintained the status quo and did nothing — fending off my questions and ignoring my concerns.

This incident occurred two months AFTER I originally posted the flaws of the 2010 Census fingerprinting process that were written by child advocate and fingerprinting expert David Allburn, who offered solutions to the Census Bureau that were ultimately refused. Allburn wrote:

(1) The Bureau should announce that trainees are responsible for the “readability” of their own fingerprints, and that fingerprint “failure” due to un-readability (or to discovery of disqualifying criminal history), terminates the canvasser’s employment. This stops attracting ex-felons who would intentionally blur their prints, but it is manifestly unfair to honest workers whose fingerprints are blurred by the inexperienced print-takers. This is fixed by step two.

(2) The Bureau should augment its fingerprint capture by adopting part of our patented “self-capture” technique. Invented by a war veteran, the method has applicants use an extra minute or two to make their own set of “backup prints”, observed and authenticated by the print-taker. Barcoded and enclosed with the cards forwarded to the scanning center, those self-captured prints are readily available for fixing any individual print impressions found “bad.” Well tested, this gets the cards through the FBI with the same dependability as live-scanning offers, typically twenty times better than the old rubber-stamp method now in use.

Only after a handicapped woman was raped by a 2010 Census employee and a sex offender was caught going door-to-door did the Census Bureau decide to change their policies. Is that what it takes to create “change” in America?

MyTwoCensus Editorial: New York Times editorial has it both right and wrong

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Today, the New York Times published an editorial that praises Congress for initiating bi-partisan reforms of the Census Bureau as it initiated legislation that mandates the Census Bureau Director’s term to be fixed at five-years, a plan that makes it easier to work around the decennial census. However, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and the White House were at first keen on this idea, but have now stalled the plan, despite seven former Census Bureau directors asserting that this is the best way to reform the Census Bureau. Robert M. Groves, the current Census Bureau Director, also supports this plan — but apparently the egos of the others have got in the way of progress:

The Obama administration, which should be supporting the bill, is instead raising objections. It has objected to a provision that would allow the census director to report directly to the commerce secretary. It also has objected to a provision that would require the director to send Congress the bureau’s budget request at the same time it goes to the White House.

However, the editorial strays from its initial goals later on and says this:

The census was in dire straits when President Obama took office, and it took a while for the administration to get organized. The 2010 count is now on track, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Locke and Robert Groves, the bureau director — both Obama appointees.

The New York Times has it wrong. The Census Bureau and the 2010 Census are not “on track” at this point. The myriad technical failures and other problems have already hampered the accuracy of this count and will continue to do so in the immediate future mean that the 2010 Census is NOT on track.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: 2010 Census work should be suspended for Memorial Day

Friday, May 28th, 2010

MyTwoCensus has received numerous tips that Census Bureau offices will be open on Memorial Day and that enumerators will be out counting households. MyTwoCensus strongly disagrees with this decision to operate on Memorial Day for many reasons. First, Memorial Day is FEDERAL HOLIDAY, and the 2010 Census is a federal government operation. Second, Memorial Day is a time to show respect to veterans, living and dead. Third, Memorial Day is a time when not many people will be at home anyway. American tradition dictates that families and friends gather at parties that can be held in private, on beaches, in parks, and other public spaces. Enumerating on this day will likely be a major waste of time and money because few people will be at  home to answer their doors. Additionally, if all other federal workers receive Monday off, why should Census Bureau employees be held to a different standard?

MyTwoCensus Editorial: For the sake of employees, tell the truth about how long NRFU operations will last

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

MyTwoCensus has received confidential reports from multiple Census Bureau officials that non-response follow-up operations in many parts of the country are winding down. By law, the Census Bureau can only contact non-responders three times in person and three times by phone — even though MyTwoCensus is currently investigating whether additional illegal contacts are taking place.

Because of the Census Bureau’s computer failures, the 2010 Census may be coming in over-budget (apparently $15 billion wasn’t enough cash…). Since the Census Bureau doesn’t want to take yet another scolding from the Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office, they may try to abruptly end the 2010 headcount ASAP.

With half a million workers on the streets during this large-scale operation, there is significant amounts of confusion about how long jobs will last. Lying to Census Bureau employees, who very well may lose their jobs within the next one or two weeks (by the end of May) is not the answer. Yes, these jobs are temporary, but working through the end of July meant an additional two months of security and stability for many individuals employed by the Census Bureau who may have quit lower paying jobs to take on these positions. Additionally, it seems to be that thousands of individuals went off unemployment to take their Census Bureau jobs. These people should not have been told that they would have 6-8 weeks of work if they really only have 4 weeks of work.

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

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

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

Factcheck.

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good day,

SRM

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Eric Erickson should be fired from CNN!

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Though CNN’s sagging ratings over the past year may be reason to encourage its commentators to pull crazy on-air stunts, their commentator Eric Erickson’s recent remarks crossed lines of decency, and perhaps the law on April 1 on WMAC’s In the Morning with Erick Erickson. MyTwoCensus.com has filed an official complaint with the Federal Commerce Commission because Erickson suggested resorting to violence (with a shotgun) to deal with 2010 Census employees who may come to his door. MyTwoCensus is outraged that the government hasn’t taken more steps to openly condemn this matter (other than Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs calling the remarks “lunacy”). Additionally, CNN and WMAC must fire Erickson immediately. Otherwise, a boycott of CNN and WMAC is in order.

Here is an audio clip of Erickson’s remarks:

ERICKSON: This is crazy. What gives the Commerce Department the right to ask me how often I flush my toilet? Or about going to work? I’m not filling out this form. I dare them to try and come throw me in jail. I dare them to. Pull out my wife’s shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door. They’re not going on my property. They can’t do that. They don’t have the legal right, and yet they’re trying.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: 2010 Census Partners Google and YouTube Should Remove Propaganda Video Immediately

Monday, April 5th, 2010

When you search for “census” on YouTube, the first video that appears is by some nutcase named Jerry Day (representing some obscure outlet called Matrix News), who doesn’t have his facts straight and inaccurately describes Census Bureau procedures. This video has nearly two million views. It spouts many lies, as well as very biased statements. (Part of the problem is that the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office wouldn’t speak to him on the phone, but I’ll save that criticism for another day…)

Google and its subsidiary YouTube  should remove this video immediately. It is more shocking that these organizations are enabling this nonsense, because they have already created a partnership with the Census Bureau. At the very least, it should not come up  so frequently in searches. The video likely only gains more and more viewers because it is the first video that appears on searches. The Census Bureau’s communications department (including Steve Jost and Stephen Buckner) as well as Census Director Dr. Robert M. Groves,  have failed in that they have not pressured Google to remove this video. Yes, Jerry Day is entitled to freedom of speech, but his reporting is full of lies, so Google, a private company, should not be propagating this anti-2010 Census propaganda.

Here’s a screen capture of a typical YouTube search:

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Dumb Decision # 7485839: Translation Services Contract Expired August 31, 2009

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Though the mainstream media hasn’t picked up on it, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves acknowledged at the Google Press Conference on March 24 that there have been translation errors during the 2010 Census process (see below transript).

I went so far as to have experts from Cornell and MIT prove that the Burmese translations were wrong. I also filed a FOIA request to find out about the 2010 Census translation contract with Diplomatic Language Services, a firm based in Virginia. Yesterday, the Census Bureau gave me a partial reply to my Freedom of Information Act request. In this document (click here for the full FOIA translation services response), I learned that the Census Bureau’s language translation contract ended on August 31, 2009. Now, this is extremely problematic because this did not leave time for all 2010 Census language issues to be resolved. What this document lacks is one key feature: The price tag for these (sub-par) services. The document makes it clear how much money it costs per word for translations yet in never makes mention of the total amount of money paid to Diplomatic Language Services. t I inquired today with the FOIA officials to determine what this figure is. Stay tuned for updates!

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Census Bureau, GlobalHue, and NNPA should all be held accountable…

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

On March 12, allegations surfaced that GlobalHue (the agency hired by the government to coordinate the 2010 Census advertising campaign for minority-focused media organizations) required that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (a coalition of African-American newspapers that GlobalHue purchased Census Bureau advertising space from) would each write a series of six articles and two editorials about the 2010 Census. If the already struggling newspapers didn’t publish the articles and editorials, they were in jeopardy of losing these vital advertising dollars. To make this concept more abstract, this is an example of government-supported coercion, as trading editorial content for money leads to the spreading of pro-government propaganda, a system that has no place within American democracy or the American media.

Angela Spencer Ford, a representative of GlobalHue said, “With regard to added value from the Black newspapers, in a proposal dated 12/31/2009, the NNPA recommended that GlobalHue request participating Black newspapers promise the following:

“In lieu of free advertising added value, I recommend we ask all participating newspapers to promise to run, during the paid advertising campaign, at least 6 news articles and 2 editorials stressing the important of completing the 2010 Census. African American/Black readers believe in the Black Press. African American/Black readers have been guided by and represented by the Black Press for more than 100 years. The combination of paid advertising and the Black Press endorsement will have great success in increasing the completion ratio.”

GlobalHue accepted the NNPA’s added-value recommendations and issued insertion orders to all newspapers accordingly.  The added value guidelines as recommended by the NNPA led to concerns by a few representatives of the Black newspaper community.”

Though it is necessary to state that individual black newspapers were not responsible for the ad choices that the NNPA made, it is completely unethical that Danny Bakewell, publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel and head of the NNPA, was complicit in these actions. He should now be held accountable for putting finances above journalistic integrity.

Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner responded, “The National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) was actually hired by DFCB [the lead advertising agency for the 2010 Census] and the Census Bureau last year to handle Black/African American newspaper media buys.  The request for their members to provide the Census Bureau with added value originated with NNPA, which was paid $195,000 as one of the two contracted media buyers for the Black audience.  In fact, all of the more than 3,800 media outlets selected in the 2010 Census advertising buy were asked to provide added value, which is a standard industry practice.”

At no point does Buckner consider the difference between “added value” and paid editorial content.

Sadly, this situation is not unique. Ten years ago, a Salon.com investigative report led to the discovery that the White House was covertly financing anti-drug messages that appeared on all of the major television networks. As Daniel Forbes reported in 2001, “Two years ago, Congress inadvertently created an enormous financial incentive for TV programmers to push anti-drug messages in their plots — as much as $25 million in the past year and a half, with the promise of even more to come in the future. Under the sway of the office of President Clinton’s drug czar, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, some of America’s most popular shows — including “ER,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Chicago Hope,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “7th Heaven” — have filled their episodes with anti-drug pitches to cash in on a complex government advertising subsidy.”

That the Census Bureau had no qualms in permitting similar actions, albeit not reaching as large of an audience as those who were affected by the 2000 scandal, is both ludicrous and deceptive. In this instance, the Census Bureau has not only refused to admit wrongdoing in this situation; Buckner even attempted to justify these actions. Those who should be most upset about this situation are the readers of black newspapers. Unfortunately, these individuals are most likely unaware that the content they are reading is influenced by goals of the US Census Bureau and GlobalHue, as well as the financial interests of the NNPA.

While the overall message that the black newspapers are sending when they publish articles that promote the 2010 Census is good, because the organizations are bound to an advertising/editorial content contract, it is unlikely that they will be able to cover any problems with the 2010 Census – ranging from vague employee hiring practices to mailings not reaching the proper addresses to poor turnouts at Census Bureau sponsored events. The failure of the black press to report on the negative aspects of 2010 Census operations is detrimental not only to each publication’s credibility, but to the role of journalism in American democracy as a whole.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: If scandal proves true, the Census Bureau’s violation of the First Amendment is inexcusable!

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Today it was alleged that the Census Bureau’s advertising partner, GlobalHue, directed newspapers across the country to face a loss of Census Bureau advertising dollars if they didn’t write six (presumably positive) articles about the Census Bureau’s efforts. If this proves true, it is an example of governmental coercion and extortion, in that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. In democratic (lowercase d) regimes, the government doesn’t mandate media editorial content. (We’re not living in Iran, North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela, and for that we should be thankful…)

Yet again, history has shown to repeat itself as similar illegal activities took place between the government and the media industry in 2000. In the age of Obama’s government transparency, why have we reverted back to the 1960s — to a time before Ralph Nader authored the book Unsafe At Any Speed — when newspapers feared retribution from auto company advertisements if they ever wrote anything negative about automobiles?

The claims that came to light today fully validate all the work that MyTwoCensus.com has done, but it also makes us wonder: Has the proliferation of fluffy 2010 Census-related stories from other media sources (which may now be directly tied to this scandal) masked problems and deficiencies in 2010 Census operations? Have publishers held stories that were critical of the Census Bureau, for fear that essential advertising dollars would disappear in this age of media industry uncertainty?

MyTwoCensus Editorial: A Rare Spell Of Bipartisanship Spells Good News For The 2010 Census

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Since Members of  the House of Representatives face re-election every two years, they are constantly campaigning, and always on the lookout for legislation that may be used to attack them. I suspect the fears of populist discontent and anti-Washington sentiment (perhaps combined with just a tinge of moral values) are what led all but two Republican members of the House of Representatives to support legislation that makes March 2010 “2010 Census Awareness Month.” This show of bipartisanship was unexpected yet welcome.

Even former 2010 Census critic Michele Bachmann (R-MN) jumped on board this movement. This is an excellent first step to combatting anti-census sentiment that has swept the nation in the past few months, coinciding with the growth of the Tea Party movement.

The level of GOP discontent with Michael Steele and the Republican National Committee should not be ignored: Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously passed a bill, with full GOP support (and even co-sponsored by Republicans Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz) to stop the RNC from sending mailers that misuse the word census.  MyTwoCensus has reported on this issue for months, and we are glad to see GOP officials acknowledging their party leader’s mistakes and holding the RNC accountable for their unethical fundraising methods.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Get the $800 million back from Harris Corp.

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Taxpayers and government officials alike are either unaware of ignorant of one major debacle: The failure of the Harris Corp. to get their job done in creating and implementing functional mobile technology for the Census Bureau. Though this contract, signed in 2006, was originally valued at $600 million, it swelled to $800 million. (Reward insufficient and terrible work with more money…sounds like a solid government plan!!!)

If taxpayers have ever been swindled, this is the company that did it. (Harris Corp. was supposed to save the government $1 billion by implementing technology successfully, but in reality cost taxpayers $800 million for nothing!!! )  Unfortunately, higher-ups at the Census Bureau, initially during the Bush Administration, and currently during the Obama Administration, have done very little to recoup these losses. Legal action should be taken against this company for not performing the services that it was assigned to do. A large portion of this money should be returned to the United States Treasury — or at the very least, used to pay individuals working on the NRFU operations that will have to use a pen and pencil rather than a handheld computer.

In the year 2010, this is nothing short of pathetic. The government’s decision to choose the Harris Corporation for this contract was ludicrous. It’s decision to keep fueling the fires with $200 million of additional cash is shady at best.

MyTwoCensus intends to A. File an FOIA request to find out as much information about this contract as possible and B. Bring down Harris Corp. so they are forced to give this taxpayer money back.

MyTwoCensus urges Congress to pass legislation that prevents this company from obtaining more government contracts until the money for the 2010 Census contract is returned. Immediate government divestment from a corporation that robbed taxpayers is the only way to send the right message.

Additionally, MyTwoCensus calls on the government to immediately terminate  the Census Bureau’s 5-year contract with the Harris Corporation, as it is currently in its 5th year, and that means that there is still a chance to withhold 20% of the cash, or roughly $160 million.

On a more cheeky note, if Tea Party activists want to think of a site to hold their next protest, the Melbourne, Florida headquarters of this sleezy corporation would be one of the best and most symbolic places to do it!

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Advice for Tea Party, GOP, and Conservative Leaders…Cut the nonsense and TELL YOUR PEOPLE TO MAIL IT BACK!

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

If Glenn Beck could say one thing about the 2010 Census to his activist audience, I would hope that he explicitly tells them to mail back their census forms when they arrive at homes across America in mid-March. The mathematical and economic principles behind this plea are simple: Taxpayers save $85 million for every one percentage point increase in the national mail back participation rate for the 2010 Census. This money comes from avoiding payment to approximately 600,000 Americans who will work on non-response follow-up (NRFU) operations this spring and summer by making phone calls and ringing doorbells of individual households that have not mailed back their forms. Boycotting the 2010 Census is completely contradictory to the goals of the Tea Party movement, as it will create significantly more government spending.

However, the aforementioned facts have not yet been embraced by FoxNews commentators or the right-leaning talk-radio media. Perhaps these institutions want to keep ratings high by railing against the feds, but this is really the most ludicrous form of hypocrisy one can imagine. Sadly, it is not only the right-leaning media that is to blame, as Michael Steele and the national GOP continue to send mailers out to party members that emulate 2010 Census forms. It is shocking that this practice has gone on for months now in all regions of the US, even as Rep. Patrick McHenry, the ranking Republican on the Census subcommittee on the Oversight and Reform Committee in the House of Representatives has railed against Steele’s nefarious and ill-informed actions. MyTwoCensus recommends that Congress immediately passes a law to stop this most deceptive and counterproductive form of advertising.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Tell us the truth!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Yesterday, we reported a major discrepancy over 2010 Census jobs: For months, New York Senator Charles Schumer (D) and dozens of other elected officials have reported that 2010 Census jobs last from six weeks to eight months. However, in reality, many of these jobs last only for one to three weeks. For the millions of unemployed Americans in need of jobs, 2010 Census employment will only offer a false glimmer of hope.  The Census Bureau must stop recruiting workers under the false premise that these jobs will last for a lengthy period of time. Not only is this false advertising, but it could have undesirable effects on individuals’ decisions to take other lower-paying jobs that will likely last for longer than relatively high-paying census jobs, not to mention applicants’ mental health. MyTwoCensus calls on Members of Congress to immediately pass a bill that will force the Census Bureau to advertise using less deceptive measures which explicitly state how long workers will be working at the time they are recruited.