Thanks to Corey Dade of the Wall Street Journal for the story below:
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is calling on former residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to claim their old city addresses in next year’s census, drawing criticism for trying to circumvent rules for winning federal funds.
The mayor — encouraged that New Orleans has thrown off its post-Katrina malaise to become the U.S.’s fastest-growing big city by percentage — wants the U.S. Census Bureau to grant an exception for its former residents, currently living elsewhere, who want to rebuild homes in New Orleans.
There’s one problem: The mayor’s plan is illegal, according to the Census Bureau. Federal law requires the Census Bureau to count all U.S. residents where they reside as of April 1, 2010, when the nationwide tally will begin.
“Any individual who does something like that is going to hurt the place where they are living, and hurt New Orleans,” said Katherine Smith, a Census Bureau spokeswoman.
The stakes for localities are high. The census, which occurs every 10 years, is used to determine the disbursement of more than $300 billion in federal grants, as well as the reapportionment of congressional and state legislative seats for the next decade. Both procedures are based primarily on population size, with the largest jurisdictions traditionally receiving the most dollars and elected representatives.
Officials in other Louisiana cities criticized Mr. Nagin for threatening their efforts to secure funds for legitimate population gains, some of which resulted from Katrina victims fleeing New Orleans and surrounding parishes. One parish is Lafayette, located west of New Orleans, where the parish seat — the city of Lafayette — is the state’s only city to show a net population gain since 2000.