Earlier this week, we reported that the media was locked out of 2010 Census-related meetings with Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. Now, The Denver Post reports that the public was locked out of the same meetings. For an organization trying to build its public visibility (and spending hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to do so), this makes little sense. Here’s the scoop from The Denver Post’s staff editorial:
We couldn’t help but notice the irony surrounding actions of new Commerce Secretary Gary Locke when he was in Denver last week for a meeting.
The secretary, speaking to a group that is working to raise public awareness about the importance of the 2010 census, actually closed the meeting to the public.
Sounds pretty counterproductive, if you ask us.
All but the opening 10 minutes of the gathering was off-limits to outsiders, ostensibly so committee members, appointed by Mayor John Hickenlooper, would feel comfortable in speaking their minds.
Surely, there was a better way to solicit candid remarks than by shutting off access during a publicized visit by the commerce secretary.
Frankly, Locke’s visit was the perfect opportunity to draw attention to the very important but, sorry to say, unsexy issue of the 2010 census.
Among the goals of Denver’s 2010 Census Complete County Committee: Achieve a 75 percent return rate of mailed surveys. Make every city resident aware of the census. And ensure every Denverite knows that information they provide the census will be kept confidential.
They are laudable goals. And there are some other good things going on where the 2010 census is concerned.
In a Q&A with The Washington Post published last week, Locke defused a couple of inflammatory issues by ruling out the use of sampling or estimating, in coming up with counts.
He also offered assurances that the count, which is integral to apportioning congressional seats, would not be politicized.
Furthermore, Locke talked about how the census would target specific populations, such as Hispanics or Vietnamese, and send them surveys in their native tongue in an effort to boost participation.
These are all positive developments. Too bad the commerce secretary didn’t see fit to let the people of metro Denver in on them.