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 ‘Delaware’

Press Release from Sen. Tom Carper

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 25, 2009

CONTACT: Bette Phelan (202) 224-2441

SEN. CARPER URGES SENATE TO APPROVE CENSUS DIRECTOR

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2009) – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Census Bureau, issued the following statement today after urging the Senate to vote to confirm a new Census Director:

“We are just six months away from the first surveys going out nationwide for the decennial census, and already the Census Bureau has encountered serious challenges that threaten to jeopardize the success and cost-effectiveness of the 2010 Census.

“We are very fortunate to have Dr. Robert Groves as the nominee for Director of the Census Bureau. He is a qualified, experienced candidate who has received support by members on both sides of the aisle, and yet the Senate has failed to vote to confirm him.

“A leaderless Census Bureau is not likely to pull off an accurate count or to avoid the costly mistakes that have already plagued preparations for the upcoming census.

“Addressing these problems and getting the 2010 Census back on track gets harder each day the Senate delays confirmation of Dr. Groves.

“I urge my Senate colleagues to put partisanship aside.

“The best thing we can do right now is to confirm the President’s nominee to lead the Census Bureau and let him get to work as soon as possible.”

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A Bipartisan Call To Action On Redistricting

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Reps. John Tanner (D-Tenn) and Mike Castle (R-Del) who co-sponsored the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act submitted the following Op-Ed piece that appeared in Roll Call:

The 2010 Census has already been front-page news, igniting angry partisan controversies involving Cabinet nominees, potential third-party contractors and even statistical methodology. Little attention has been paid, however, to the Congressional redistricting that will follow and to the abuses that have become inherent in the process.

In dozens of states across the country, politicians will quite literally be sitting down to select their constituents instead of the other way around. And those constituents will be stuck with those decisions for a decade. This is not the democracy that is taught in civics classes across this great nation.

With that process once again so close at hand, it is more urgent than ever that the American people demand that Congress fix this broken system and curb the abuses of gerrymandering that engineer predetermined political outcomes.

Each state has the authority and responsibility to design a Congressional district map that will best serve its citizens, drawn according to population, geography and federal voting rights laws, including the Voting Rights Act. We share the view of many that these district lines should not, however, be drawn to benefit certain candidates or political parties.

We will introduce legislation this week to reform the redistricting process. The Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act would limit redistricting to once a decade, after census data is available, to be carried out by an independent commission made up of bipartisan appointees. Our legislation will be similar to legislation originally proposed in the 109th Congress and that we sponsored in the 110th Congress.

It will not be easy to convince our colleagues to reform a process that often helps ensure their re-election. The push, therefore, must come from outside organizations and grass-roots approaches. Americans for Redistricting Reform and the groups in it, including the League of Women Voters, the Brennan Center for Justice, U.S. PIRG, the Committee for Economic Development, the Campaign Legal Center and the Republican Main Street Partnership, are strong advocates for fixing our broken system. Other organizations from across the political spectrum have joined us in this fight and will continue to decry the implications of a broken system.

Our Founding Fathers wisely knew the American people needed a legislative body directly responsive to their interests. By their vision, the House of Representatives was to be the only federal entity elected directly by the people (Senators were originally selected by state legislatures). They designed the House’s two-year election cycle to make Members directly and immediately accountable to the electorate.

Over time, however, many involved in the system have learned to manipulate it. Gerrymandered district lines, in effect, silence the voices of those who disagree with them politically. Too often, the process today utilizes advanced mapping technology, along with polling and party affiliation data, to draw district lines that protect incumbents and weaken the voice of each district’s minority party.

The judicial system has effectively sanctioned this culture of gerrymandering with various rulings permitting blatant partisan power grabs. A 2006 Supreme Court ruling essentially gave state legislatures freedom to redistrict anytime they want — even in the middle of a decade — for whatever purpose they want, including pure political gain.

Currently districts are engineered with impunity to protect incumbents, with voters’ voices diluted as they are packed together to achieve partisan ends. The resulting preordained outcome feeds citizen apathy, drives down voter turnout, depresses competition and entrenches incumbents who are protected from real competition and real accountability at the polls. The only serious challenges to these “safe seats” come from the extreme wings of their own parties, only serving to further polarize Congress.

Under this system, many Members of Congress are more beholden to a partisan base than to solution-oriented pragmatism. The outcome is a polarized political atmosphere where few are willing to work together in the political center, where most Americans reside.

Unfortunately, the public outrage that is still mustered over partisan gerrymanders builds and crests as the voters are divvied up by politicians every 10 years. By the time the next census comes along, the public, and even the media, is not paying much attention until it is too late.

America’s disaffected voters have been missing from this movement to reform the process, but their voices will be necessary to change the system. Most Americans today do not realize the negative impact many years of gerrymandering has had on Congress’ ability to accomplish the nation’s common goals.

Even as we face the greatest economic challenges most Americans have ever lived through, polarization and gridlock brought on by gerrymandering has limited Congress’ ability to address the issues with effectiveness, common sense and bipartisanship. The time to act is now, before the next election (the last before the census) is upon us and it is too late. We are asking our colleagues, our allies and the American people to help us to rectify this grave miscarriage of democracy.

Big upcoming 2010 Census event…

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Mark your calendars, because on Monday we will be live-blogging from The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia at an event that is sponsored by Senator Tom Carper (D) of Delaware, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security that is responsible for the 2010 Census. If you have any questions that you would like us to ask on your behalf, please submit them to mytwocensus @ mytwocensus.com. Here are the event details:

WHAT:   “Making the Census Count in Urban America”

WHEN:   Monday, May 11, 2009, at 1:00 p.m.

WHERE:   The National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

Kirby Auditorium

525 Arch Street

CONFIRMED WITNESSES:

– Tom Mesenbourg, Acting Census Director

– Camille Cates Barnett, Managing Director, City of Philadelphia

– Hon. Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Mayor

– Hon. James Baker, Wilmington Mayor

– Pat Coulter, Executive Director, Philadelphia Urban League

– Norman Bristol-Colon, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, State of Pennsylvania

– Wanda M. Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware