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.

Posts Tagged ‘Complete Count Committee’

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Concerns About The Political Makeup Of Complete Count Committees

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

After reading a report in the Austin Republican Examiner (featured below), MyTwoCensus is extremely concerned by the fact that Complete Count Committees are not always bi-partisan entities with independent non-political voices also serving in leadership capacities. As there have been concerns about a lack of participation in the 2010 Census by Republicans, a charge being led by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), it is all the more important for Republican voices (in this instance) to be present on Complete Count Committees, so rumors about the goals of the 2010 Census and accusations of bias will not exist. While Travis County, where Austin, Texas is located, consistently votes Democratic (64% for Obama compared to 35% for McCain in 2008), there is no good reason why Republicans are not serving as chairs or on the board of the Austin Complete Count Committee.

MyTwoCensus urges any readers who are aware of other instances in which one political party controls a municipal, local, regional, or state Complete Count Committee to please report these problems to us.

Here’s the original op-ed that prompted this investigation:

Are Democrats hijacking the Austin census?

By Brandon Lighton

Census time is upon us yet again, and thankfully we still have at least one government enterprise that has not yet become explicitly partisan. Oh, wait…

“Mayor Lee Leffingwell and County Judge Sam Biscoe joined members of the citizen driven Complete Count Committee to launch the 2010 Census efforts on Monday, November 30, 2009 at City Hall.

The 2010 Census Complete Count Committee is Chaired by Judge Eric Shepperd, Constable Bruce Elfant and Alejandro Ruelas, Managing Partner, LatinWorks.”

So we have the Democrat mayor of Austin and a Democrat County Judge overseeing this operation. But thats okay, right? We still have the committee membes themselves to maintain the integrity of the census. So let’s take a look at those committee members:

Eric Shepperd – Democrat Judge, County Court at Law, Place 2

Bruce Elfant – Democrat Constable

Alejandro Ruelas – Finally, someone who isn’t a candidate. Someone who can balance out the partisan bias of the other committee members. Oh wait, he’s a Democratic Party donor. Oops.

So we have a Democrat mayor, two Democrat judges, a Democrat constable, and a Democratic Party donor to boot. Sound like a recipe for a fair and accurate census to you?

This is just another step in a long trend of Democrats politicizing the census, starting with the Obama administration’s decision to take over the census itself instead of allowing a nonpartisan group to do it like the other 43 presidents have done. When the 2010 census comes out and Democratic constituencies have miraculously gained ground in Austin, at least try to act surprised.

Cash Cuts May Cost California Billions

Friday, November 20th, 2009

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

By Marissa Lagos

(11-16) 04:00 PST Sacramento

California has slashed the amount of money it will spend on the 2010 census, a move that experts warn could lead to a flawed count and cost the state billions in federal aid over the next decade.

Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau – which recognized early that states wouldn’t have as much cash on hand – is redoubling its efforts. For example, in 2000, 18 census outreach workers were dedicated to the Bay Area; this year, the bureau assigned 160.

The U.S. government hands out about $400 billion to states and local jurisdictions every year based on population counts made during the nation’s decennial census. The money pays for local hospitals, schools, public housing, highways and unemployment insurance.

While the federal government pays census workers to take counts, states and local governments spend money on census outreach efforts to stress to residents – particularly those who may be wary – the importance of the census.

But because of deep budget cuts in the 2009-10 California spending plan, the state has earmarked less than $2 million for 2010 census outreach, down from nearly $25 million a decade ago. The cut in state census outreach funds is a problem that federal officials said is playing out across the country.

In California, the cut means many counties, which 10 years ago received grants from the state for outreach in addition to using their own money, will get little or no state funding for 2010 census outreach. Some counties struggling with their own fiscal problems also have cut local funding for census outreach.

Undercounts costly

Sonny Le, a spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said outreach is critical to ensure residents fill out the census forms that will be delivered to every home in the United States in March. Many people don’t understand the reason for filling out the form, while others are reticent to share information with the federal government.

Each uncounted resident could result in the loss of $1,000 a year in federal funding for a state, according to the nonprofit Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refugees.

Ted Wang, a census consultant working for the group, said state and local outreach efforts play a critical role in communicating with populations that historically have been difficult to count.

An undercount also could cost California a congressional seat for the first time in its 150-year history, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said.

In 2000, 70 percent of the U.S. census forms that were sent out in California were returned – though only 58 percent were expected, said Eric Alborg, a spokesman for the California Complete Count Committee, a group formed by the governor in June to oversee the state’s census outreach.

Even with a higher-than-anticipated rate of response, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar (Los Angeles County), estimated that California lost $2 billion to $3 billion in federal funding over the past decade because some people were not counted.

“If this year is a bad count, how many more billions could we lose?” Fuentes said.

The governor’s office defended the cuts as necessary and pointed out that in 2000 – at the height of the dot-com boom – the state was flush with cash.

‘Hard to count’ groups

“Given the breadth of the recession and the toll on state revenues, we had to make cutbacks in virtually every area,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, who added that state officials recognize the importance of the count. “We’re pleased we are able to commit resources for outreach efforts to reach individuals that are hard to count.”

California is home to 10 of the nation’s 50 counties with the largest “hard to count” populations, which include people of color, young adults, immigrants and low-income residents. Alameda and San Francisco counties are among the 10 counties, topped by Los Angeles County.

People harder to find

Further compounding the challenge is the economic and political climate, experts said. The financial crisis, including the waves of foreclosures, has forced people into homelessness or nontraditional housing, making them hard to find.

Officials said some immigrant populations are expected to be even more wary of the count than usual because of an uptick in immigration raids and anti-immigrant rhetoric in recent years – including an attempt by several Republican U.S. senators to exclude undocumented residents from the count and require respondents to disclose their immigration status. The amendment was defeated, but sponsor David Vitter, R-La., has vowed to raise the issue again.

To make up for the cut in state census funds, the state is working closely with elected, religious, nonprofit, community and educational leaders to develop plans to reach out to residents and get accurate counts via the California Complete Count Committee.

The state is also developing a Web site that will offer tool kits in census outreach to community partners.

Meanwhile, some local jurisdictions are trying to bridge the gap left by state cuts. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties ponied up money in their budgets to fund local efforts. For the first time, San Francisco created a “complete count committee,” which includes community, business, labor and nonprofit leaders to help with outreach.

Still, serious challenges lie ahead, says Adrienne Pon, who is leading San Francisco’s efforts.

“There are no (state) funds this time around, and populations are more dispersed and diverse … (so) we’re trying to be more street smart and direct outreach mobilization efforts,” she said. The largely African American Bayview-Hunters Point “had the lowest rate of return in 2000. We know of eight neighborhoods like that one which we are targeting.”

Latest Federal Funds Report Released

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Check out the latest Federal Funds Report that explains how population and income statistics effect the distribution of federal funds (with a heavy focus on Census Bureau data!) This is further proof that participation in the 2010 Census/providing a complete count will lead to tangible re$ult$ from the federal government.

Cali Gets Boo$t From Endowment

Friday, August 28th, 2009

California’s task of counting all of its citizens just became a wee bit easier. Thanks to the California Endowment, an additional $4 million has been added to the pot of the deficit-stricken state:

LOS ANGELES – (Business Wire) To ensure that every Californian is counted in the 2010 U.S. Census, the state’s largest, private health foundation today announced that it will make $4 million in grants towards a statewide campaign that will promote the importance of participating in the Census, particularly in the large number of “hard to count” communities throughout the state.

“Hard to count” populations are among California’s most vulnerable residents – low-income communities and communities of color.

The federal government makes funding allocations based on population counts from the Census, and for every resident not counted, the state will lose an estimated $11,500 in federal funding over the course of 10 years according to 2009 data from the Brookings Institution.

“At a time when the state is facing declining revenues, it is critical to the people of California that we ensure every resident is counted so we don’t lose out on federal funding essential to the health and well-being of all Californians,” said Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of The California Endowment.

“If 10 percent of California’s population of 37 million is not counted, the state stands to lose $42.4 billion in federal funding over the next decade,” Ross added.

About one-third of that funding is directly tied to health services, while all of the funding is tied to individual and family well-being which, in turn, is a significant component of health status.

California is home to 10 of the 50 counties in the nation that have been identified as being the hardest to count: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Fresno, Riverside, Alameda, Sacramento, Kern and San Francisco. These counties are home to large populations that have been historically underrepresented in the Census, including immigrants, people of color, low-income communities, rural areas and those who live in multi-family housing.

Census Bureau Press Release

Monday, July 6th, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, JULY 6, 2009

Public Information Office
CB09-CN.10
301-763-3691
e-mail: <pio@census.gov>                                          Photo

Tuan Nguyen Selected for Census Bureau’s
Asian Advisory Committee

Tuan Nguyen — vice president for media relations for Media and Film
Company, a prominent Vietnamese language entertainment production company
– has been selected by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke to serve on the
U.S. Census Bureau’s Advisory Committee on the Asian population.

As a member of the nine-person committee, the Anaheim, Calif., resident
will advise the Census Bureau on ways to achieve a more accurate count of
the Asian population in the 2010 Census.

“The Race and Ethnic Advisory Committees provide a continuing channel of
communication between the Census Bureau and race and ethnic communities,”
Census Bureau Acting Director Tom Mesenbourg said. “The committees play a
vital role in ensuring that we make the best effort possible to reach race
and ethnic groups, not only during the 2010 Census, but also the American
Community Survey that is conducted throughout the decade.”

Nguyen came to the United States in 1986 as a refugee from Vietnam. He
lived in Seattle for 10 years before moving to California. He was vice
president of the University of Washington’s Vietnamese Student Association
and has contributed many articles on community issues to local Vietnamese
media outlets throughout the years.

Nguyen worked as a Census 2000 recruiting assistant and was vice
chairman of the Vietnamese Complete Count Committee for Orange County,
Calif., home of the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam.

He is a member of the Las Vegas organizing committee to host Miss
Vietnam Global, an annual beauty pageant event for Vietnamese communities
around the world. He is a contributing writer to several major Vietnamese
media outlets in Southern California, such as VietBao Daily News, Viet
Weekly, Tre Magazine and Diem Magazine. He also serves on boards of
director for several Vietnamese community-based organizations.

Five race and ethnic advisory committees — African-American, American
Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Hawaiian and Other
Pacific Islander —advise the Census Bureau on issues affecting minority
populations. The committees are assembled from the public at large and
representatives of national, state, local and tribal entities, as well as
nonprofit and private sector organizations. Members of the committees are
academicians, community leaders, policy makers and others interested in an
accurate count for their communities.

AND

CB09-CN.11

Photo

Paul Watanabe Selected for Census Bureau’s
Asian Advisory Committee

Paul Watanabe, director of the Institute for Asian American Studies and
associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts
Boston, has been selected by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke to serve on
the U.S. Census Bureau’s Advisory Committee on the Asian population.

As a member of the nine-person committee, the South Weymouth, Mass.,
resident will advise the Census Bureau on ways to achieve a more accurate
count of the Asian population in the 2010 Census.

“The Race and Ethnic Advisory Committees provide a continuing channel of
communication between the Census Bureau and race and ethnic communities,”
Census Bureau Acting Director Tom Mesenbourg said. “The committees play a
vital role in ensuring that we make the best effort possible to reach race
and ethnic groups, not only during the 2010 Census, but also the American
Community Survey that is conducted throughout the decade.”

Watanabe’s principal research and teaching interests are in the areas of
American political behavior, ethnic group politics, Asian-Americans and
American foreign policy. He is the author of “Ethnic Groups, Congress, and
American Foreign Policy: the Politics of the Turkish Arms Embargo” and
principal author of “A Dream Deferred: Changing Demographics, Challenges,
and New Opportunities for Boston.” He regularly contributes analysis and
commentary to national and local television, radio, newspapers and
magazines.

He has served on several boards of nonprofit organizations, including
the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Political
Research Associates, the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, the
Harvard Community Health Plan, the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative
Fund, and the Asian American Policy Review.

Watanabe was born in Murray, Utah. He earned a bachelor’s degree in
political science from the University of Utah and master’s and doctorate
degrees from Harvard University.

Five race and ethnic advisory committees — African-American, American
Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Hawaiian and Other
Pacific Islander — advise the Census Bureau on issues affecting minority
populations. The committees are assembled from the public at large and
representatives of national, state, local and tribal entities, as well as
nonprofit and private sector organizations. Members of the committees are
academicians, community leaders, policy makers and others interested in an
accurate count for their communities.