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 ‘enumeration’

Orlando workers walk off the job

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

The Orlando Sentinel brings us the following story:

3 census workers quit, citing waste and inefficiency

Census complaintFormer census worker Andy Miller, who quit over procedures he considered wasteful and illogical, in front of the Volusia County office of the U.S. Census Bureau –with his complaint papers in hand– in Daytona Beach, Tuesday, July 27, 2010. (JOE BURBANK, ORLANDO SENTINEL / July 27, 2010)

By Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel7:39 p.m. EDT, July 29, 2010

As the 2010 census winds down, three Volusia County census takers couldn’t wait for the latest phase of the headcount to end. They walked off the job three days after they started, adding to the complaints that the effort is wasteful, inefficient and frustrating.

Andy Miller, 54, of Daytona Beach said he quit after being told by his supervisor to return three times to a vacant house that he verified with a real-estate agent had been empty for more than six months.

“It was clear to me the Realtor had the information, but I was told, ‘No, go back. You might find someone who was living there that the Realtor didn’t know about,’” Miller said.

The same instructions — go back three more times — applied to an apartment above a store; the owner said the apartment was used for storage and was unoccupied. Miller also was told to go back another three times to a home where a relative of the homeowner provided all the information by proxy.

“If you get the person who lived there, you don’t have to go back. But if you get a proxy, you had to go back,” Miller said.

A Census Bureau spokeswoman said the check-back-three-times routine is standard procedure to make sure the census takers get the best information possible.

“That is the policy we expect people to follow,” said Pamela Page-Bellis. “We don’t want people to take the easy way out. They are to gather the most accurate information possible.”

Miller was told the same thing by his supervisor when he appealed what he considered absurd and illogical instructions. That was when Miller and two others in an eight-person crew walked out July 10 — three days into their summer job of checking for vacant houses and addresses that should be deleted.

Jeanne Tanke said she walked out with Miller because she was frustrated with the policy of going back to a vacant apartment or condo three times before being permitted to talk to the building manager about whether anyone was living in the units. In some cases, the same addresses had been visited three times by the door-to-door enumerators in the previous phase of the census.

“It didn’t seem logical to me that we kept knocking on the door when nobody answers, but we can’t ask the manager until we’ve been there three times,” said Tanke, 71.

The third person who quit said he objected in particular to having to go back three times to empty houses that are verifiably empty.

“It’s just inefficiency. That’s all it is,” said the 68-year-old retired sales manager who didn’t want his name used for fear it would jeopardize any future employment by the government.

All three former census takers worked during the manpower-intensive, door-to-door part of the census that ended in May. Thousands of enumerators were laid off, but they were among those chosen to continue in the slimmed-down follow-up efforts that started June 28 and are scheduled for completion by Aug. 25.

What the Census Bureau defends as being as thorough and accurate as possible, Miller and the others regard as a system designed to take as much time as possible. The attitude of managers, they said, was that the three-visit rule was a good way to make the job last longer.

“They alluded to this can take three days or three weeks. It’s up to us,” said the retired sales manager. “I don’t feel right about padding hours.”

Problems with the homeless census

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Before you criticize this post as coming from a partisan media outlet, TownHall.com, read its claims over for legitimacy, as it seems to be legitimate:

“”We identified concerns with … inconsistent handling of individuals who either (1) stated that they had already been counted, or (2) stated that they had an address,” the IG reported. “We observed 83 enumerations — at shelters, soup kitchens, food vans and TNSOL sites — carried out by 13 local offices. In over half of our observations, enumerators were inconsistent in deciding whether or not to recount individuals who stated that they had already been counted. We also identified inconsistent practices when respondents indicated that they had an actual residential address. In particular, some of these individuals were counted during SBE, while other individuals were told that they could not be counted because they were not homeless. The enumerators’ natural inclination to avoid duplication often contradicted the procedures in the Census GQE manual.”"

Click HERE to read the full article about potential double-counting in the homeless census.

Shocking story from Wisconsin: Census worker accuses police of profiling and harassing him while doing his job

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

H/t to Stephanie Jones and The Journal Times for the following scoop. I really could not believe my eyes when I read this story:

RACINE – A U.S. Census Bureau worker has accused Racine police of harassing him while he was working last week and said he has filed a complaint.

Alexander Avila, 21, of Racine, was out last Friday knocking on doors for the census when police in an undercover car stopped him to ask what he was doing, he said. They then started harassing him about his brother who has warrants out for his arrest, he said. They ended up giving him three tickets for traffic violations, which he said were not justified.

I felt scared, intimidated, threatened and racially profiled,” said the written complaint that Avila said he filed Monday with the police department.

Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen said his department will be fully investigating the complaint.

But Wahlen said, “We have a right to ask about his brother.”

His brother, Steve Avila II, has nine warrants out for his arrest for traffic violations, Wahlen said.

Avila said once he told police he didn’t know anything about his brother they should have let him continue with his job.

I was treated unfairly,” he said to The Journal Times Monday.

Representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed Alexander Avila works for the Census and Muriel Jackson, spokeswoman for the bureau, said “we will look into this.”

Avila’s grandmother, Maria Morales, coordinator for Voces de la Frontera in Racine, reported the incident to the Journal Times and Avila confirmed it. Both are U.S. citizens, they said.

Voces de la Frontera is a Wisconsin nonprofit that works to help low-wage and immigrant workers.

Morales has been involved with events to address racial profiling and police harassment and she couldn’t believe now it happened to her grandson.

Police stopped Avila when he started on his route on the 1100 block of Erie Street, he said.

When police stopped him they asked him what he was doing and he told them he was working going door to door trying to collect information for the 2010 Census and showed them his identification, he said. They then questioned the validity of his identification and then when they saw his name they started asking about his brother. He told them he did not know where his brother is and does not talk to him. But one of the officers accused him of lying , Avila said . Then the officer told him that he had seen him driving and said he failed to signal when he turned at State Street, Avila added. They also told him he was driving suspiciously, Avila said in his complaint. He told officers he has a binder full of addresses for people he has to contact and he said he was having trouble finding some of the addresses.

Then police accused him of reading the binder while he was driving, but he said he was not reading while he was driving.

I knew the address and street numbers but … I just had a difficult time finding them,” he said in the complaint.

He ended up receiving three tickets for failure to signal, inattentive driving and obstruction of vision because he had two small necklaces hanging from his rearview mirror, he said.

He said he filed the complaint because he was treated unfairly and didn’t want it to go unreported.

I just want them to know they cannot go around and harass someone for no reason,” Avila said. “I don’t want to be afraid.”

Tragedy: Two 2010 Census workers killed on first day of NRFU operations in Texas

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

With more than 635,000 individuals working for the Census Bureau’s non-response follow-up operations (NRFU), there are statistically going to be some accidents that will occur in the field. However, it is tragic that one occurred on the first day of NRFU in Texas. To the Census Bureau employees who are reading this, please make sure that you wear your seatbelts, don’t become distracted while driving, and ensure that all drivers whom you ride with are competent, capable, and 100% drug/alcohol free when they are behind the wheel:

Area census workers killed in crash near Midland

By Adam D. Young | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Saturday, May 01, 2010
Story last updated at 5/1/2010 – 5:36 pm

Two South Plains residents who worked for the 2010 Census died in a two-vehicle crash Friday in Midland County.

The census workers were en route to Lubbock after visiting the census regional office in Midland when the 2003 Dodge pickup they were in failed to stop at an intersection and collided with a tractor-trailer about 12:25 p.m. Friday, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety in Midland.

The pickup’s driver, 67-year-old Merlyn David Millsap of Levelland, died Friday at Midland Memorial Hospital. His passenger, 31-year-old Sara Elizabeth Pierce of Brownfield, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the families,” Dallas-area Census spokeswoman Kimberly Murphy said in a statement Saturday. “This is a horrible tragedy for all of us.”

Millsap and Pierce had been in Midland to pick census materials to deliver to Lubbock, Murphy said in the statement. Census Bureau workers retrieved the census materials Friday from the accident scene.

Investigators said Millsap was about four miles north of Midland on State Highway 349, the newly opened Tom and Nadine Craddick Highway, when he failed to stop at a stop sign and his vehicle was hit in the side by the tractor-trailer that was traveling northwest on State Highway 158. The driver of the tractor-trailer, 40-year-old Heriberto Jaquez of Midland, Saturday was in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries at Midland Memorial Hospital.

All of the vehicles’ occupants were wearing seat belts.

Follow lubbockonline.com and read Sunday’s Avalanche-Journal for more on this story.

Fact-Checking Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves: Are assisted living facilities group quarters?

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Yesterday, a reader pointed out to me an inconsistency from the transcript of Dr. Robert M. Groves’ most recent press conference. Dr. Groves said, “And then finally group quarters, another category of folks who don’t receive forms in the mail. These are areas that are like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, prisons, dormitories, barracks, and so on.” The reader suggested that assisted living facilities are not considered group quarters, and each resident receives and completes his/her own census forms.

This is actually a complex issue that is not black and white. A Census Bureau official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “If a nursing home has independent or assisted living units then those are considered housing units and they will receive a census form in the mail. The units associated with the skilled nursing unit or nursing unit are group quarters and will be enumerated during the operation Groves speaks about.” So, in short, those people in independent housing units will receive their own forms, and thus, Groves inaccurately characterized the status of assisted living facilities at his press conference.

The Salvation Army vs. The Census Bureau

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

On Friday, MyTwoCensus obtained a Salvation Army directive (click HERE for it) that details the circumstances in which the religious/charitable organization will and will not be cooperating with the Census Bureau. Highlights from the directive are as follows:

- Census takers will not be permitted to visit “group quarters” like Adult Rehabilitation Centers, Harbor Light Centers, transient lodges, residential facilities for children, and other temporary housing facilities “such as shelters for men, women, or families, in which the confidentiality of the beneficiaries is important to, and maintained by, the Salvation Army.”

- Though the Census Bureau wants to count individuals at “soup kitchens” and mobile food vans, the Salvation Army will NOT allow the Census Bureau to enter such facilities due to confidentiality concerns. Census-takers will be directed to contact the Salvation Army’s national headquarters and/or their legal counsel.

Census count begins in Alaska Monday

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Census Bureau director Robert M. Groves will travel to Alaska Monday to begin the official tally for the 2010 Census.

Groves is slated to count the first household in Noorvik, a remote Inupiat Eskimo village located north of Arctic Circle.

The AP has some background and more details:

Monday’s single count will be the only one conducted by Groves, and the rest of Noorvik’s population will be enumerated beginning Tuesday. Census workers and trained locals are expected to take a week to interview villagers from the same 10-question forms to be mailed to most residents March 15. Census workers also will visit 217 other rural communities, all in Alaska, in the coming weeks.

Alaskans in rural communities not linked by roads have been the first people counted since the 1990 census. The unlinked communities are the places where the process is first conducted in person by census workers. The bureau makes personal visits to nonresponding residents around the country.

It’s easier to get census workers to the Alaska villages before the spring thaw brings a muddy mess, making access more difficult, said Ralph Lee, director of the bureau’s Seattle region, which oversees Alaska. Also, residents in many villages still live off the land, hunting and fishing for their food, and it’s important to reach them before they set off for fishing camps or hunting expeditions when the weather begins to warm.