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 ‘corruption’

Detroit News: Bribery probe targets former U.S. Census official (Dwight Dean)

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Since June 1, 2010, I have reported about problems in the Detroit office of the US Census Bureau involving Dwight Dean, who was booted from his once-stable perch in the Census Bureau hierarchy in August 2010. Today, I give a hearty thank you to Robert Snell and the Detroit News who have reported that the “former top-ranking U.S. Census Bureau official in Michigan and two other states is being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes and awarding an $857,000 no-bid contract.” MyTwoCensus.com urges federal, state, and local investigators to also investigate the many other Dwight Dean cronies who were very likely conspirators in his activities. Furthermore, as other MyTwoCensus.com pieces demonstrate, at the Detroit office of the Census Bureau, it oftentimes appeared like the inmates were running the asylum.

(Click here for a list of MyTwoCensus pieces involving the Detroit office that name many of the individuals I am referring to.)

Here’s the Detroit News piece (in full HERE):

A search warrant affidavit unsealed Monday in federal court indicates that in November 2010 a grand jury was investigating Plymouth resident Dwight Dean. He was the highest-ranking Census official in Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia until he was abruptly, and inexplicably, replaced in August 2010. No criminal charges have been filed.

This investigation involves a federal official in Detroit, which has been the focus of several ongoing corruption investigations involving City Hall and two Detroit pension funds.

Federal investigators did not put a value on the alleged bribes, which involve dinners at expensive restaurants and what appear to be free tickets to the North American International Auto Show charity preview.

The Detroit businessman named in the search warrant, who admitted giving Dean auto show tickets and paying for dinners, denied doing anything wrong.

“That’s not bribery,” Motor City International President Louis James told The News. “That’s a business meeting.”

Dean had served as Census regional director since 1987 and oversaw a crucial headcount last year that ended with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing vowing to appeal figures that showed a steep population drop. The census is used to determine the amount of federal funding cities receive.

Dean, 64, did not return phone messages seeking comment Wednesday.

The search warrants were executed a year ago and the current status of the investigation was unclear Wednesday.

There is no indication the allegations affected the 2010 census count.

“Over 39,000 people hired locally in the Detroit region worked on the 2010 census. At all times, we conducted extensive quality assessments of operations and census results,” Census Bureau spokesman Michael Cook said.”The assessments of the Detroit region are consistent and within the norms of what we found nationally.”

Federal agents raided Dean’s offices in Detroit one year ago, searching for evidence he accepted gifts, loans or money between August 2008 and August 2010, according to the search warrant affidavit unsealed Monday.

 

Note to potential whistleblowers in Detroit

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

To any whistleblowers in the Detroit region:

I am not sure why, but someone has told you to direct your complaints to Thomas Hugh Chodzko, the Detroit region’s Assistant Regional Census Manager. It has been verified from multiple sources that Mr. Chodzko is in cahoots with Dwight Dean, the corrupt long-time head of the Detroit office who is currently under investigation for his activities. (As we recently noted, Mr. Dean “retired” as of September 1.) It appears that if you contact Mr. Chodzko, your complaints will never reach the appropriate authorities in Washington. Instead, please contact the Commerce Department Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office. The letter below shows that Mr. Chodzko is writing (and signing letters — look at the signature closely) on Mr. Dean’s behalf:

Dwight Dean, former head of the corrupt Detroit office, no longer with the Census Bureau

Friday, September 10th, 2010

After a reader tipped us off earlier this week, it has been confirmed by Steve Jost that Dwight Dean, formerly the long-time head of the troubled Detroit Regional Census Center, is no longer with the Census Bureau as of September 1. Word on the street is that he “retired.” MyTwoCensus urges federal, state, and local agencies to continue their investigations into the improprieties of the Detroit office. (We will be providing a series of follow-ups on the Detroit corruption story coming this week!)

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: Current Census Bureau official involved in Blagojevich scandal must go…immediately!

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

MyTwoCensus is disturbed to learn that a man so deeply involved in the Blagojevich/Obama-Senate-seat-for-sale scandal is now employed in an upper level management position by the Census Bureau in Chicago. Even if the man, Joseph Aramanda, has not been convicted (yet) of  a crime, his reputation for being involved in illegal activities seriously undermines the credibility of Census Bureau operations in Chicago. In a city with corruption linked to 2010 Census advertising, the public should not have to worry that upper management positions are being filled by individuals who are directly tied to government corruption and fraud. Furthermore, Joseph Aramanda’s experiences as a pizza franchise owner (his job prior to the Census Bureau gig) don’t qualify him to be in charge of 1,000+ employees. This is particularly troubling at a time when there are  many hardworking, educated individuals with office management experience in the Chicago area who can do the job just as efficiently. MyTwoCensus.com will be pressing the Census Bureau to fire this man immediately, as his association with the Census Bureau tarnishes the reputation of the 2010 Census. That the suits in Washington could let a man so deeply embroiled in scandal run the office of one of America’s largest LCO’s is extremely troubling and indicative of larger problems.

The following coverage comes from The Chicago Tribune:

Pal says Rezko lured him into becoming a middleman in money transfers

Transfers helped obscure cash illegally destined to Blagojevich, Rezko and others, prosecutors say

June 15, 2010

These days Joseph Aramanda manages a U.S. Census Bureau Chicago-area office and its 1,000 employees. But it was in a different capacity that he showed up for the government Tuesday at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse — witness in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Aramanda took the stand to explain how he was lured by Blagojevich insider Antoin “Tony” Rezko into becoming a middleman in money transfers that prosecutors claim helped obscure cash siphoned from government-related deals and illegally destined for Blagojevich, Rezko and others.

Blagojevich wasn’t directly linked to the complicated chain of financial transactions described by Aramanda, who will return to the stand Wednesday. But prosecutors are clearly using his testimony to explain how Rezko, Blagojevich’s friend and political money man, operated to benefit himself and the ex-governor.

For the full article, click HERE.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Tell us why Dean was arrested and don’t keep him on the Census Bureau’s payroll

Friday, June 4th, 2010

After more than 22 years as the head of the Census Bureau’s Detroit Regional office, Dwight Dean was mysteriously and suddenly removed from his post earlier this week. Letters to MyTwoCensus.com have cited cronyism, bribery, corruption, inefficiency, and a failure to get the job done as reasons for Mr. Dean’s recent departure.

However, the Census Bureau has been completely mum on the subject and Mr. Dean has not answered or returned calls from reporters seeking clarification about what has happened. The Census Bureau maintains that Mr. Dean remains on the Census Bureau payroll and has not been fired. This makes us wonder: In what capacity is this senior administrator currently serving? Is he on paid leave? Is the Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office or the FBI investigating his actions? The Census Bureau won’t even admit that the man was arrested, as some MyTwoCensus.com sources have alleged.

It would surely be a PR disaster for the Census Bureau to admit that its data from the Detroit region (which includes all of Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia) has been corrupted in some way for the 2010 Census — let alone during the past 22 years of Mr. Dean’s tenure.

Perhaps the comments section of MyTwoCensus.com provide us with the best insight:

He was the KING OF OVERTIME . Lets not find out why things work or do not work , just give blanket overtime. This guy pissed away a lot of overtime money to be number 1 or a close number 2. I also have heard stories about his cruelty to Area Managers . His cruel leadership style affected a lot of his RTs . Dean’s RTs had more power then his AMs , because some RTs were his pals and reported dirctly to him and it caused an uneasiness in the district. Those RTs that Dean brought back over and over again need to be looked at more closely. If nothing else I hope the RT leadership of intimidation comes to an end. You could always tell who was a friend of Dean’s in the RT world.

Another reader wrote:

“It’s a fact not a rumor. Dwight Dean, Regional Director, and all around God was arrested last week for misappropriation of funds. Basically he gave a government contract to a friend of his who owns a warehouse. (A big no no)

Dean did it on the sly by using his government-issued credit cards. He had other (higher ups) who worked for him use their government issued credit cards too.

Last week, US Marshals arrested him at work, escorted him out, the locks were changed, and there were dozens of witnesses. I worked two decennials for “Mr. Dean.”

He was a tyrant and an idiot. The corruption I saw. The waste of taxpayer money.

I’ve been looking over the press releases issued by, of course, the government. What a bunch of b.s… A cover up already. “They” are saying he left for “personnel reasons.” It’s disgusting.
Dean is being paid while on leave and no one will ever know the truth. I used to work in the Detroit Regional Office, Grade 12, – I know what I’m talking about.”

MyTwoCensus.com is currently investigating the information listed above and we hope to have some facts

Employee Blasts Census Bureau Deficiencies

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

With permission from the author  (who has requested anonymity), we are posting the following analysis of the multitude of problems facing the 2010 Census:

2010 Census = Government Waste

For years, as a student and grant writer I have worked with United States Census data. Despite its shortcomings, I had always considered the U.S. Census one of the good actions of American government. For all of the corruption and oppression America commits at home and abroad, the U.S. Census has been one of the things I have had a fair amount of faith in. That is until I got involved on the data collection end of things. The experience I had is enough to turn you into a Republican.

Due to my familiarity with and interest in the U.S. Census I decided to answer the call for temporary Census workers. I replied to an ad, took a test, and got a job. Though not without shortcomings, this process went smooth enough. Once I entered the four-day training “designed” to teach me how to conduct address canvassing operations I realized that the U.S. Census is truly an example of government waste. People toss around the notion that government waste happens all of the time without any real first hand information. It’s just one of those uninformed, folk things people do. In the case of the U.S. Census, though, I can state confidently that it is unorganized at best, and I am being kind when I use a qualifier by saying that it ‘teeters on being corrupt.’

Ineptitude and Government Waste at its Finest

A big part of the problem with the execution of the on-the-ground phases of the U.S. Census is that the people hired to conduct them have no real interest in or knowledge of things like surveys, statistics, geography, urban planning, and related areas. 2010 U.S. Census corruptionTemporary workers are recruited on the basis of a job that provides good pay and is somewhat more interesting than working in retail. All sorts of people apply, but it is hardly the case that the people doing the hiring are looking for individuals with relevant experience or knowledge. The folks who conduct training and run things may have never heard of the Census prior to seeing an ad for a position with the Census Bureau.

The point of the address canvassing that is presently underway is to literally record each and every structure in the United States where people live or could live. The intent is to record every mailing address and every structure where someone might live to ensure that all households in the United States receive a Census form in 2010. Of course, this is an impossible task and the government is rightly criticized for even trying to do this every ten years (as opposed to merely drawing a sample), but that’s another story for another hub. Training is supposed to teach how this is done by defining terms (i.e., what is a housing unit?) and detailing protocol. The problem is that so much is left to an individual’s judgement. The process is portrayed as an objective one, yet it is clear that it has never been empirically tested and if it has its shortcomings were roundly ignored.

So many questions came up and were basically put up to debate. “Crew leaders” debated amongst one another as to what the proper answer was or how to handle a specific situation. The instructions that followed could not have been more subjective and surely varied widely from location to location. A case in point involved how to tell the difference between single-family and multi-family units. The area I worked in is the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. This is probably one of the most heavily populated places in the country. We were told that if we came upon a building and the units were ‘stacked’ we would automatically classify it as ‘multi-unit.’ There are several grave problems with this.

First, how do you know if you are unable to gain access to a residence or talk to an occupant if a unit is stacked or side-by-side? You don’t. And since we were repeatedly told to “figure it out” without requiring further assistance, we made judgement calls on the ground. Those calls are surely being made still as canvassing is ongoing.

Second, duplexes are common in Hollywood. Many are located in affluent neighborhoods. If a two-unit building has dwellings situated side-by-side, each unit is considered as separate single-family units according to the way my crew went about things. But if they were stacked, they would be considered multi-unit. This is absurd and inaccurate to anyone who has been in urban planning 101. But the real impact is that in some affluent Hollywood neighborhoods multi-unit buildings are being over-counted. This could impact how crucial funding is allocated to cities and neighborhoods as communities with more multi-unit buildings are generally considered needier than those with a greater number of single-family units.

The Worst is Yet to Come

I can come up with other issues similar to the one above. At the end of the day, I guess they are up for debate. But what follows is government corruption at its absolute worst.

Each address canvasser in the area my crew worked was given several census blocks to canvass. We needed, initially, to meet a quota of 160 addresses canvassed in an eight-hour day. It became clear early on that this was way too easy. Budget money was allocated for two months worth of work and with the high number of large apartment buildings being worked in Hollywood- and the general high density of the area- 160 addresses could be completed in less than half a day’s work. This posed a problem. At that rate we were on pace to finish the work much sooner than planned, thus leaving money on the table. The solution? Here is where the corruption comes in.

We were told to drop that number down to 120, but we were told to continue working an eight hour day. Wink, wink… nudge, nudge. Essentially we were being told… say you worked eight hours, complete 120 addresses so that we can use up all of the money budgeted to our crew for wages. Most of us worked an hour or two, maybe three… said we worked eight while most of the day we were hardly conducting Census business. I could not believe we were being instructed to do this. I have no reason to believe that this practice was not being duplicated throughout Los Angeles. And I am somewhat confident that it is probably happening across the country. This means that thousands- and likely millions- of taxpayer dollars are literally being wasted. It stings even more considering the economic times we are living through.

This might have made for a dry hub. I am not sure that anyone will even care, but I had to share. I think this ought to be of major national concern. President Obama… are you listening?

In a future hub, I will discuss the Census — and its other inherent problems — further.

Note: This article does not represent the opinions of MyTwoCensus.com, Stephen Robert Morse or Evan Goldin. The views expressed are those of the author. That said, MyTwoCensus welcomes written, video, photographic, and multimedia contributions from any individual with a 2010 Census-related story to tell.