One major problem with the U.S. Census Bureau is its extremely unfriendly attitude toward the media, which has more likely done much more harm than good. Today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke kicked off a public relations tour with closed-door meetings, including one in Denver:
Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke came to Denver on Wednesday to meet with the group charged with raising public awareness about the upcoming census and closed the session to the public and media.
Locke said he wanted to allow Denver’s 2010 Census Complete Count Committee to be frank about their problems and concerns.
“I just wanted to hear straight from them, as candidly as possible, their assessment of how things were going,” Locke told The Denver Post after the 45-minute meeting at the main Denver Public Library.
The committee was formed this year to develop a public-awareness campaign for the April 2010 census. It includes city government officials and community leaders.
“This is more of a briefing for the secretary to get a sense of where things are in Denver,” Kimball said. “So it’s not necessarily a big promotional event to draw attention to what’s going on.”
During his opening remarks, Locke talked about some of the national problems the census faces next year. He said independent reports have found hand-held computers malfunctioning and concerns that the bureau has not had time for dress rehearsals to uncover potential roadblocks.Locke blamed the previous Republican administration for the problems.
However, he told the group that Colorado appears to be in better shape than most states.
The media were allowed in the meeting for the first 10 minutes while Mayor John Hickenlooper introduced Locke to the committee and Locke made opening remarks.
After the remarks, the media were escorted out. Eric Brown, Hickenlooper’s spokesman, said the Commerce Department made the decision to close the meeting.
Locke was available for questions after the session.
Locke told The Post that committee members “were very complimentary of the collaboration between the regional office of the Census Bureau as well as local and state governments.”
Before the meeting began, The Post questioned why it was closed to the media.
Commerce Department spokesman Nick Kimball said the decision to keep it private did not conflict with the Census Bureau’s attempts to publicize the 2010 census.