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 ‘Florida’

Will Microsoft rescue Florida’s census count?

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Most likely this effort is a “too little too late” scenario, but be sure to check out how Microsoft is trying to assist in enumeration efforts in Florida.

One theory is that Florida may use Micrsoft-gathered data down the road to demand a re-count or re-enumeration. A Census Bureau insider tells me the following about this topic:

1. It’s advertising.

2. To its credit, Census is less invested in Microsoft products than it could be. So Microsoft has less to lose by alienating the Census Bureau.
IBM and Oracle have BIG contracts with the Census Bureau; they probably wanted nothing to  do with Florida’s software development project.

3. FL residents deserve an apathy prize for the lack of participation in My Florida Census.

4. Do not rule out the possibility of a hidden, evil social engineering agenda on Microsoft’s part.

5. Apple revenues outpaced Microsoft’s last quarter; Microsoft is fading.

6. The failed handheld computer ran a Windows Mobile operating system. May have contributed to development problems and subsequent failure.

7. Very interesting report: “During the redistricting process in 2001, the Florida House of Representatives learned that certain areas seemed to have more voters than the 2000 census had recorded for the voting-age population. That discovery led the House to conclude that Florida’s population had been undercounted during the 2000 census.”

8. “An accurate aerial image…” Too bad the Census Bureau did not think of making better use of aerial images for the Address Canvassing operation.

9. “By using Bing Maps, the application presents highly accurate images of streets and addresses, which are often more accurate than census roads.”
Just horrible that the private sector claims their geodata is better than the Census Bureau’s.  Why hasn’t Groves massacred some Census Bureau managers for this? How much of the blame does Harris deserve for their sizable role in 2010 Census geography? Why hasn’t the Census Bureau’s management addressed this amazing claim?

And perhaps most importantly…

10. What does the State of Florida know about the Census 2000 Hialeah recount that we don’t?

WSJ: Census makes Obama’s re-election more difficult

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Here’s an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal detailing why 2010 Census results may make re-election more difficult for President Obama:

President George W. Bush would not have won the 2000 election had the 1960 map been in use. But the population movement that occurred over 40 years shifted enough electoral votes from states Democrat Al Gore won to states that Mr. Bush won to make the difference. And for that matter, President John F. Kennedy would not have won the White House had the 2000 Electoral College numbers been in place in 1960.

The best guess – and it is more than a guess since reasonably accurate population projections for the states are no secret – is that the following states are likely to gain one seat in Congress and one electoral vote: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Texas will gain at least two and probably three. One other state is likely to gain a seat, but it is not clear at this point which one it will be.

Five of those states, including Texas, went for Republican John McCain in 2008, but all except Washington backed Mr. Bush in the close 2000 and 2004 elections – an indication that if 2012 is as close as it was in those two years, this year’s census could give the GOP nine of the 10 votes.

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Is Florida already gearing up for a challenge to its 2010 Census figures?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

First, here’s some background: States and municipalities have the power to challenge census results. For instance, just this year the Census Bureau admitted that its numbers were faulty for a number of locales around the country and eventually adjusted the totals, immediately effecting how federal funds were/are distributed. A few days ago, Microsoft released a press release stating that it is now operating a software system for the state of Florida that will help the state identify areas where the Census Bureau may have screwed up and failed to count people.

(Check out the site here at myfloridacensus.com)

site note: maybe I should sue Microsoft/the state of Florida for infringing on the mytwocensus name with myfloridacensus? any lawyers out there want to advise me on this one?

The press release states the following:

“The Florida House of Representatives is making one final push over the next month for its state residents to be counted in the 2010 Census, through its MyFloridaCensus (http://www.myfloridacensus.gov) website and Web-based application. MyFloridaCensus is an innovative component in Florida’s overall effort to ensure a complete count of residents during the ongoing 2010 Census, supplementing door-to-door canvassing, which ends nationwide July 10.”

Ostensibly, if Florida doesn’t like its total population count as identified by the Census Bureau, it will happily use data collected through myfloridacensus.com to fight the Census Bureau in its challenge. Does this mean that the stage is already being set for yet another bloody recount in Florida, this one to take place in 2011, ten years after the last one rocked the nation and changed the course of history?

Key White House staffer admits Harris Corp. failed the American people

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Peter Orszag is the White House’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Below are excerpts of a June 8 speech delivered to the Center for American Progress, courtesy of the Federal Times.

(Please have a look through the MyTwoCensus.com archives to learn more about the Harris Corp. handheld-computer debacle that cost US taxpayers $800 million, not the $600 million that Orszag states below, because an additional $200 million was awarded to the contractors after their initial failure to create a usable product.)

Here’s what he said:

For example, the Census Bureau awarded in 2006 a $595 million contract to develop a hand-held computer for census workers to use this year. Two years and $600 million later, the project was canceled with nothing to show for it.

And census workers out there today still use pen and paper.

Clearly, we have massive room for improvement. Pursuing that improvement and closing the IT gap will help us create a government that is more efficient and less wasteful, and that is … more responsive to the American people.

Census Bureau employees flown in/brought to your area from another region?

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

During address canvassing operations in Fall 2009, MyTwoCensus learned that individuals were flown from North Carolina to New York and from Georgia to Florida to assist with 2010 Census operations. In the midst of the recession, when unemployment was ridiculously high and people could be hired very easily in ANY part of the USA, the Census Bureau felt it necessary to pay the travel costs, hotel expenses, per diem, salaries, and food costs of workers who were not working where they lived. MyTwoCensus has received anonymous tips that this wasteful practice is still taking place. Please let us know in the comments section if you know where and when this has occurred. Thanks!

Is the Census Bureau inflating participation rates in Florida?

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

The following story from keysnet.com makes us wonder if participation rates from the Census Bureau are truly accurate (or inflated as the story suggests). If any statisticians or Census Bureau officials reading this want to chime in, please do so in the comments section.

Census sending enumerators back to the Keys

By RYAN McCARTHY

It’s safe to say U.S. Census Bureau officials and Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers disagree on just how many Keys residents have been counted for the 2010 tally.

Census officials have been touting return rates as high as 97.5 percent in the Keys, which raised Carruthers’ — and others’ — suspicion. She put out a call on Thursday asking those not counted to contact her office.

That 97.5 percent figure appears to be inflated.

“We have an amazing number of people calling saying they haven’t been counted. Some say their whole neighborhood; some say [a census taker] left a note on their door and never came back,” Carruthers said.

She’d heard enough, and asked Marilyn Stephens, Census Bureau partnership specialist for South Florida, to address the County Commission this Wednesday in Key Largo.

“Maybe this will light a fire under them and they’ll go back out and count some of these,” Carruthers said.

Similarly high return rates — 87 percent countywide and 99 percent in Key West — were reported in April, but it was later determined that the Census Bureau was pulling those numbers from two select groups of people: Military personnel and the handful of Monroe residents who live on the mainland.

Carruthers has been trumpeting the importance of the census since well before it started on March 22. Return rates in Monroe County during the 2000 census were poor, which affected the amount of state and federal grant dollars the Keys received.

Returns were so poor, in fact, that the Census Bureau implemented a hand enumeration program in the Keys. It hired hundreds of workers from the Keys and South Florida to visit residents door to door. In other areas of the country — and at Keys military bases and on mainland Monroe — people were mailed surveys and asked to fill them out and return them.

Census Bureau spokeswoman Helga Silva said she received word Friday that census workers will canvass the Keys one last time this weekend.

“Twenty-five to 30 enumerators will go down to the Keys this weekend to finish up the operation that stands at around 98 percent. They’re looking at around 100 houses,” Silva said.

Silva said anyone still not counted after this weekend can contact the Census Bureau office in Homestead at (305) 508-9300.

Wednesday’s commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Murray E. Nelson Government & Cultural Center. Stephens is scheduled to speak at 2:45 p.m.

Census Director Robert M. Groves Lies: The Census Bureau’s software, IT, and computer problems are NOT fixed

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Earlier this week, Dr. Robert M. Groves told NextGov that the Census Bureau’s infamous computer problems with the paper-based operations control system (PBOCS) software were fixed. He even went so far as to have a memo, obtained by MyTwoCensus, sent by his underlings to Census Bureau officials throughout the country, relaying this information:

Attention: Regional Director, Deputy Regional Director, Assistant Regional Census Manager for IT, and Lead Support Coordinators/Representatives.

Update: The technical team is ready to implement the fix for performance issues.  In order to do so, the system will be brought down at 6:45 PM ET.  All users need to log off prior to this time and remain out of the system until further notice.  This process should take approximately two hour and once the system is available, there will be a staggered log-in.  DOTS will send out another message regarding when PBOCS will be available and the staggered log-in schedule.


From:

TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support 2010/BOC

To:

TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support 2010/BOC@BOC

Cc:

Alan J Berlinger/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Annetta Clark Smith/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Arnold A Jackson/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Barbara M LoPresti/TMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Brian E McGrath/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Bridgette M Hendricks/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Chad G Nelson/TMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Curtis L Broadway/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, dcurtner@harris.com, Decennial IT Support List, Dennis W Stoudt/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, dmays@harris.com, Dsouzav@GAO.GOV, DSPO PBO MGMT List, Ellen W Cafarella/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, fdca_pbams@ics-nett.com, FLD 2010 Regional Offices List, FLD Deputy Regional Directors List, FLD Regional Directors, Gail A Leithauser/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Hilda S Dimmock/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Jacque M Biles/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Janet R Cummings/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, jlawrenc@harris.com, K Evan Moffett/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Karen C Field/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Louis R Avenilla/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Lucia J Chavez/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Marilia A Matos/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Maryann M Chapin/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Michael T Thieme/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, mtrocki@OIG.DOC.GOV, Pamela D Mosley/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Robert M Groves/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, SJackson@OIG.DOC.GOV, Tammi Michelle Archer/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, TicehurstJ@gao.gov, TMO DOTS 2010 Staff List, Viola L Lewis Willis/AMSD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Wayne Dustin/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC

Date:

05/13/2010 05:10 PM

Subject:

UPDATE INFORMATION – PBOCS Performance Issues, 5:00 PM ET, 5/13

Sent by:

Rebecca St Martin

Attention: Regional Director, Deputy Regional Director, Assistant Regional Census Manager for IT, and Lead Support Coordinators/Representatives.

Update: The technical team is still testing the fix for the performance issues.  They hope to have the system available sometime tonight however at this point we do not have a more specific time frame.  DOTS will send out another update at 7:00 PM ET.

If you have any questions/concerns regarding this message, please respond to only DOTS 2010.  Please do not reply to all.

TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support (DOTS) 2010
Phone: 301-763-2010


From:

TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support 2010

To:

Decennial IT Support List, FLD Regional Directors, FLD Deputy Regional Directors List

Cc:

TMO DOTS 2010 Staff List, FLD 2010 Regional Offices List, Barbara M LoPresti/TMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Gail A Leithauser/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Janet R Cummings/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Karen C Field/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Louis R Avenilla/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Viola L Lewis Willis/AMSD/HQ/BOC@BOC, DSPO PBO MGMT List, fdca_pbams@ics-nett.com, Hilda S Dimmock/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, SJackson@OIG.DOC.GOV, Pamela D Mosley/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Michael T Thieme/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Wayne Dustin/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Curtis L Broadway/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Dennis W Stoudt/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Maryann M Chapin/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Alan J Berlinger/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, dmays@harris.com, dcurtner@harris.com, jlawrenc@harris.com, TicehurstJ@gao.gov, K Evan Moffett/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, mtrocki@OIG.DOC.GOV, Dsouzav@GAO.GOV, Lucia J Chavez/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Marilia A Matos/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Ellen W Cafarella/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Annetta Clark Smith/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Bridgette M Hendricks/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Tammi Michelle Archer/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Jacque M Biles/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Brian E McGrath/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Arnold A Jackson/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Robert M Groves/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC

Date:

05/13/2010 04:01 PM

Subject:

UPDATE: INFORMATION – PBOCS Performance Issues, 4:00 PM ET, 5/13

Sent by:

Chad G Nelson

Attention: Regional Director, Deputy Regional Director, Assistant Regional Census Manager for IT, and Lead Support Coordinators/Representatives.

Information: The fix for the performance issues currently be experienced is still being tested.  We remain with 6 regions on the system and 6 blocked.  DOTS will send out another update at 5:00 PM ET.

If you have any questions/concerns regarding this message, please respond to only DOTS 2010.  Please do not reply to all.

TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support (DOTS) 2010
Phone: 301-763-2010

To: Decennial IT Support List, FLD Regional Directors, FLD Deputy Regional Directors List
From: TMO Decennial Operations Technical Support 2010
Sent by: Chad G Nelson/TMO/HQ/BOC
Date: 05/13/2010 02:15PM
cc: TMO DOTS 2010 Staff List, FLD 2010 Regional Offices List, Barbara M LoPresti/TMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Gail A Leithauser/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Janet R Cummings/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Karen C Field/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Louis R Avenilla/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Viola L Lewis Willis/AMSD/HQ/BOC@BOC, DSPO PBO MGMT List, fdca_pbams@ics-nett.com, Hilda S Dimmock/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, SJackson@OIG.DOC.GOV, Pamela D Mosley/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Michael T Thieme/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Wayne Dustin/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Curtis L Broadway/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Dennis W Stoudt/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, Maryann M Chapin/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Alan J Berlinger/DSCMO/HQ/BOC@BOC, dmays@harris.com, dcurtner@harris.com, jlawrenc@harris.com, TicehurstJ@gao.gov, K Evan Moffett/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, mtrocki@OIG.DOC.GOV, Dsouzav@GAO.GOV, Lucia J Chavez/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Marilia A Matos/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Ellen W Cafarella/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Annetta Clark Smith/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Bridgette M Hendricks/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Tammi Michelle Archer/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Jacque M Biles/FLD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Brian E McGrath/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC, Arnold A Jackson/DMD/HQ/BOC@BOC, Robert M Groves/DIR/HQ/BOC@BOC
Subject: UPDATE INFORMATION – PBOCS Staggered Log-in. Currently Suspended.


Attention:
Regional Director, Deputy Regional Director, Assistant Regional Census Manager for IT, and Lead Support Coordinators/Representatives.


Information:
Due to log-in issues caused by the number of users trying to come onto the system right now, the staggered log-ins have been suspended.  The six remaining RCCs will not be allowed to log-in until the current backlog has declined.  DOTS will send out a message when the remaining RCCs can log-in.

The remaining RCCs are:

2499 = Detroit

2599 = Chicago

2699 = KC

3199 = Denver

2799 = Seattle

3299 = Los Angeles

If you have any questions/concerns regarding this message, please respond to only DOTS 2010.  Please do not reply to all.

(more…)

Census workers denied access to gated community: Is this a nationwide epidemic?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Do the residents and managers of gated communities feel that they are above being counted by the 2010 Census? First off, I’m admittedly not a fan of gated communities, because the whole percieved safety of them doesn’t mesh with how safe residents actually are. Secondly, to think that a whole segment of the population feels that they are above enumerators counting them is irritating. (Yes, this is also a problem in places like New York City where doormen and building superintendents turn enumerators away). Here’s an article from the Miami Herald that discusses the problem in Florida:

Census workers denied entry into gated community

Census workers were denied entry to a gated community in Aventura, highlighting a problem that the Census Bureau says it encounters nationwide.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/10/1623122/census-workers-denied-entry-into.html#ixzz0nh6Z3Eoy

BY JARED GOYETTE

jgoyette@MiamiHerald.com

On at least one occasion in the last month, U.S. Census workers were denied access to a gated community in Aventura, underlying a challenge faced by the Census Bureau as it seeks to count residents in wealthy communities.

“Gated communities can pose a problem,” said Aventura Vice Mayor Luz Weinberg, who has done extensive outreach for the Census in South Florida. “It has more to do with the security staff not knowing any better.”

On May 7, a Facebook user posted a comment on the page of the City of Aventura Blog alleging that Census workers — who go door-to-door to collect Census information from residences that have not mailed back forms — were denied entry to Country Club Estates, 20000 East Country Club Dr.

Adley Joseph, the guard on duty at Country Club Estates, confirmed that he had told Census workers they could not enter the property.

“This is a very private neighborhood, we are very strict about who we let in,” he said.

Property manager Liliana Matznick said it was Country Club Estates policy to let in Census workers and that several had accessed the community in recent weeks. She said she would follow up with the security company to determine what happened.

Weinberg said it is important for property managers to alert security staff that Census workers may need access.

“Property managers need to be on board and know how the Census works,” Weinberg said. “And security staff, while still following their safety regulations, need to be aware, too. The census workers show up with I.D., these are trained people.”

Aventura is lagging behind its participation rate in the 2000 Census. For that Census, 61 percent of Aventura residents responded, compared to 69 percent in Florida and 72 percent nationwide.

According to the Census Bureau website, Aventura currently has a 53 percent rate of participation in the mailed Census, which is 19 percent below this year’s national rate of 72 percent. A downturn in participation could have consequences for the city, as federal funds that help pay for things like hospitals, schools and emergency services are tied to the census count.

Pam Page-Bellis, regional spokeswoman for the Census Bureau, said that the agency had anticipated that gated communities would be a problem.

Staff with local Census offices have reached out to property managers to make sure Census workers are allowed to do their jobs.

“Gated communities have always presented a real challenge nationwide,” she said.

“South Florida is no exception. We hope that we can work with the management and gain access so that everybody gets counted,” Page-Bellis said.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/10/1623122/census-workers-denied-entry-into.html#ixzz0nh6PSdfy

Consequences of the 2010 Census: Redistricting

Friday, February 26th, 2010

There are two major political consequences of the 2010 Census that this site will start to discuss on a more frequent basis. They are redistricting and (re)apportionment. That there are three articles I found today from far-reaching corners of the US that all discuss this topic is a testament to the growing discussion of these issues:

First, some historical background from Florida:

Census to alter political districts

Survey could make district lines more fair

By Abraham Aboraya | February 24, 2010

SEMINOLE COUNTY – It’s 10 simple questions with a decade of implications.

Every 10 years, as per the Constitution, the United States performs a census – a headcount and snapshot of everyone living in the U.S.

The original intent was to make sure that each state got its fair portion of people in the House of Representatives. But that was more than 200 years ago. What does the census mean these days?

The answer may surprise you, as the 2010 census could drastically change the future of politics in Florida – and in Seminole County. This is the first of two articles which will examine how a questionnaire could change the political landscape for the next 10 years, and maybe beyond.

And it all started with a Massachusetts governor in 1812.

The history

Chances are, you’ve never heard of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry. But you’ve probably heard of the term gerrymandering.

Gerry was governor during the 1812 election and was responsible for drawing the voting districts. Gerry drew one district that slithered across the state, in the shape of salamander.

Gilbert Stuart drew a cartoon for the Columbian Centinel’s March 26 issue, and editor Benjamin Russel first coined the term gerrymandering to describe the district.

The name stuck, and now when a district is drawn to keep someone elected, or to keep minorities from gaining representation, that’s what it’s called.

And in Florida, there are some strangely shaped districts.

Florida’s salamanders

In South Florida, Florida Senate District 27 touches the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico through more than 140 miles of Florida.

The seat, held by State Senator Dave Aronberg, touches parts of Palm Beach County, Hendry County, Glades County, Charlotte County and Lee County.

Take a look at Florida House District 29: It starts just off the east coast of Florida in Fellsmere and west Vero in Indian River County, snakes west of Palm Bay into Brevard County, and then reaches up like a finger through Cocoa, Port St. John and Titusville. In one area, it’s surrounded on three sides like a peninsula by House District 32.

“They’re all created in those odd configurations in order to accomplish a certain political result,” said Ellen Freidin, the campaign chair for Fair Districts Florida. “They’re all created to be a Democratic or Republican district. And that’s what we’re trying to change.”

Freidin has been working for nearly the last four years to get enough signatures together to propose two constitutional amendments. This November, Floridians will be asked to vote up or down on Amendments 5 and 6.

Both would make it a constitutional requirement that the Florida House, Florida Senate and U.S. House of Representative districts be drawn along existing city, county and water bodies, when possible.

The heart of the issue, Freidin said, is making elections more fair. Florida has some of the least competitive elections in the country.

In the last decade, only 10 members of the Florida House of Representatives and one Florida senator have been defeated as an incumbent running for re-election.

Republican Ralph Poppell has represented District 29 since the 2002 elections, the first election after the district was redrawn. Aronberg has also represented District 27 since 2002.

“Incumbents almost never lose,” Freidin said. “They’re tailor-made to have the voters in there that would want to vote for one of these people.”

What about the Census?

When the 2010 census is finished, all those Florida districts – all those salamanders – will be redrawn by the Florida Legislature.

That’s a once-in-a-decade opportunity that Fair Districts Florida didn’t want to miss.

Mike Ertel, the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections, said that the salamander districts have been an issue forever.

“The whole purpose of the census, if you look at the core and its beginning, the only reason the census exists is to determine the number of people in congress,” Ertel said. “Everything else they do is an add-on to its core mission.”

Second, some discussions in Illinois to change the redistricting process:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois Senate Democrats want to take the luck of the draw out of legislative and congressional district lines drawn every 10 years.

They proposed a plan Thursday that would allow a “special master” appointed by two Supreme Court justices of different political parties to draw a map in case of gridlock.

The three maps since the 1970 Constitution have been drafted by the political party whose name was drawn from a hat.

The 2010 Census will show population shifts that require new district lines. Chicago Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul (KWAH’-may RAW’-ool) says his committee’s plan would allow the Legislature first crack at map-drawing.

A Republican plan says sitting lawmakers should not be involved at all.

Voters have to approve any proposal to change the Constitution this fall.

Third, constitutional changes in Alaska:

Associated Press – February 24, 2010 9:04 PM ET

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – The measure calling for a ballot question and constitutional amendment to add 12 seats to Alaska’s 60-seat Legislature appears to be making headway.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed its version of the measure Wednesday, while the House version gained eight cosponsors from both parties in the last two weeks.

The expansion is intended to ease redistricting after the 2010 Census count is in. Through redistricting, rural districts are expected to grow geographically while urban districts shrink to maintain roughly equal population representation. Over the years, the trend has made rural districts harder to manage. Sen. Albert Kookesh’s is the most egregious example, covering about half the state’s land area across nearly 1,000 miles.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Now Is The Time To Print The 2010 Census Form In Creole

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Back on July 30, 2009, we published an article titled “Trouble in Florida for Haitians” detailing the problem of the Census Bureau’s choice not to use Creole as one of the 27 languages other than English that will appear on 2010 Census forms. In the wake of last month’s earthquake, and with an influx of refugees pouring into the United States (and Florida in particular), this decision now appears less intelligent than ever. MyTwoCensus.com is also surprised that the mainstream media has failed to pick up on this, and we urge media outlets to report this story. Are there a million Creole speakers in America? 1.5 million? More? This is an example of yet another community getting the shaft based on poor planning…but the Census Bureau still has time to act and create a creole language 2010 Census form as well as an ad campaign targeting creole-speakers. To the Census Bureau officials reading this: Please take our advice, and start this process ASAP!

Census News Roundup…

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

The story: FoxNews has claimed that Democrats in Ohio are may rig the 2010 Census.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: We urge readers to proceed with caution, as this article is filled with the kind of “Gotcha!” fluff that has made FoxNews so famous. However, FoxNews continues to serve an important role in keeping Democratic administrations on their toes…so we’ll watch this one for a bit.

The Story: Hatian immigrants moving permanently to Florida en masse could positively affect the Sunshine State’s headcount.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: Yup. This is likely. But how many grieving newly arrived Hatians make time for the 2010 Census as their first priority when upon landing in the US?

The Story:  Apparently, the Census Bureau is having trouble finding workers in West Texas.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: Even if West Texas has a low unemployment rate unlike the rest of the nation, there are still many unemployed and competent people out there. The Census Bureau recruiters in this area should be fired because clearly they are incapable of doing their jobs.

The Story: A 2010 Census meeting in Monroe, Louisiana draws sparse attendance.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: The Census Bureau did a great job getting the MEDIA and POLITICIANS to attend an event, but not the PEOPLE. Clearly there is a disconnect here. Will this be indicative of a low number of people returning their Census forms?

New state population estimates preview 2010 Census

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The Census Bureau released new state population estimates today, the last set of such data to be published before the 2010 Census.

The new estimates give a preview of which states might gain — or lose — U.S. House seats and funding as a result of next year’s count. The data is also the first population estimate that fully account for the economic recession.

The winners from this year’s estimates:

  • Texas: Texas gained more people than any other state (478,000) between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2009, the period covered by the data set.
  • California: The nation’s most populous state with 37 million people, California was second to Texas in the number of people gained — 381,000.
  • Wyoming: Wyoming showed the largest population growth of any state, with a 2.12 percent rise in population in the one-year period.

And the losers:

  • Michigan, Maine and Rhode Island: These were the only three states to show a loss in population for the year. Michigan’s loss was -0.33 percent, Maine’s -0.11 percent and Rhode Island’s -0.03 percent.
  • Florida and Nevada: These states were hit especially hard by the recession. They saw big upticks in population during the early 2000s, but this year experienced a net outflow of residents, meaning more people left the state than moved to it. However, due to births, both states still had an overall population increase.

Overall, the estimates show that fewer people are moving (“domestic migration,” in Bureau speak) — especially to states in the south and west — likely as a result of the poor economy.

USA Today has a fascinating interactive map and chart that compare the new estimates to data from 2000, offering an early look at the changes in congressional representation next year’s Census could bring.

According to their data, states poised to gain House seats include Texas, Georgia, Nevada, Washington, Utah, Arizona, Florida and South Carolina. States likely to lose seats are Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Louisiana.

A round-up of coverage of the new estimates:

Census Bureau press release: Texas Gains the Most in Population
USA Today: Census reports slow growth in states
New York Times: Recession Cuts Migration to Sun Belt, New Figures Show
Bloomberg: Texas Gains Most People in 2008-09, U.S. Census Says
Washington Post: Census: Weak economy caused dramatic slowdown in magnet states

Texas Gains the Most in Population

Revised Population Figures Now Official

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

The Census Bureau doesn’t always get their estimates right, and they permit cities and towns to refute the numbers by providing evidence that the Census Bureau’s count was wrong. Here are this year’s revised population estimates after all the challenges have come in:

Accepted Challenges to 2008 Population Estimates
Area State Challenge
Acceptance date
Original 7/1/2008
Population Estimate
Revised 7/1/2008
Population Estimate
Brookwood town AL 10/05/2009 1,449 1,977
Montevallo city AL 11/02/2009 6,061 6,318
Bella Vista town AR 09/30/2009 16,388 25,449
San Diego city CA 11/10/2009 1,279,329 1,305,754
Boulder city CO 11/10/2009 94,171 99,466
Colorado Springs city CO 11/24/2009 380,307 397,317
Doral city FL 11/10/2009 23,974 30,727
Jupiter town FL 11/24/2009 48,879 50,201
Lauderdale Lakes city FL 10/30/2009 31,004 32,119
Miami-Dade County FL 11/24/2009 2,398,245 2,478,745
North Miami Beach city FL 11/02/2009 37,997 41,247
Opa-Locka city FL 10/30/2009 15,287 16,574
Moscow city ID 10/30/2009 22,798 24,252
Rexburg city ID 11/10/2009 28,028 28,459
Oak Park village IL 11/10/2009 49,557 53,187
Great Bend city KS 10/05/2009 15,564 15,638
Lexington-Fayette Urban County KY 10/30/2009 282,114 292,240
Jefferson Parish LA 11/02/2009 436,181 444,655
Orleans Parish LA 11/24/2009 311,853 336,644
Boston city MA 11/24/2009 609,023 620,535
Bridgewater town MA 11/10/2009 25,774 27,218
Fitchburg city MA 11/10/2009 40,239 42,215
North Reading town MA 11/10/2009 17,272 14,444
Springfield city MA 11/10/2009 150,640 155,521
Westfield city MA 11/10/2009 40,608 42,125
Winthrop town MA 11/10/2009 21,880 17,943
Worcester city MA 11/10/2009 175,011 182,596
Independence city MO 10/30/2009 110,440 121,212
Kansas City city MO 11/02/2009 451,572 480,129
St. Louis city MO 10/30/2009 354,361 356,730
Winston-Salem city NC 10/05/2009 217,600 227,834
Rockland County NY 11/02/2009 298,545 298,747
Geauga County OH 11/10/2009 94,753 98,817
West Milgrove village OH 07/17/2009 77 166
Philadelphia city PA 11/24/2009 1,447,395 1,540,351
Bluffton town SC 11/24/2009 4,312 12,333
Germantown city TN 11/02/2009 37,251 41,011
Newport News city VA 11/10/2009 179,614 193,212

ACORN turns in Fla. workers on voter fraud charges

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Just a week after I announced the findings of my spot check of ACORN’s activities in regard to the 2010 Census, the organization is back in the news in a very bad way. Check out the following report from Curt Anderson of the Associated Press:

MIAMI — Armed with a tip from the grassroots group ACORN about its own workers, authorities on Wednesday began arresting 11 people suspected of falsifying hundreds of voter applications during a registration drive last year.

ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has long been accused by Republican and conservative activists — fed by talk-radio hosts — of fraudulently registering voters. But Miami-Dade prosecutors gave credit to the group for coming forward and ACORN officials said they felt vindicated.

“It shows that we take the integrity of our voter registration work with the utmost seriousness,” said ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring. “We turn in people who try to game the system.”

Although ACORN is nonpartisan, its registration efforts focus on low-income and minority populations who tend to vote for Democrats; critics contend those efforts frequently bend or break registration rules. At times during the 2008 presidential campaign, people attending rallies for Republican nominee John McCain broke into chants of “No More ACORN!”

Last year, ACORN’s national drive produced some 1.3 million voter applications.

ACORN first detected problems in Miami-Dade County in June 2008, according to a letter the group wrote to prosecutors. Investigators eventually determined that 11 canvassers, who were paid between $8 and $10 an hour, were turning in fake registration cards, mostly from the Homestead area.

“This is really about money. These are people who decided not to work,” said Ed Griffith, spokesman for Miami-Dade State Attorney Katharine Fernandez Rundle.

The 11 workers each face multiple counts of two felony charges: false swearing in connection with voting and submission of false voter registration information. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The suspects collectively turned in about 1,400 registration cards, of which 888 were later found to be faked. Some contained names of celebrities such as actor Paul Newman, while in other cases the same real voter’s name was used on multiple applications. There was no evidence anyone voted who should not have.

The FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement had made five arrests by midday and were looking for the remaining suspects. ACORN officials said the group regularly reports suspected fraud to authorities nationwide but the Miami prosecution marks one of the few times the complaints were taken seriously.

ACORN itself last year was the subject of fraudulent registration complaints in Missouri, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina, among others.

Next Year’s Census Count Promises to Rejigger Political Map

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Here’s an interesting forecast on redistricting as a result of the 2010 Census from the Wall Street Journal (click HERE for the full piece):

By Stephanie Simon

The federal government has hired tens of thousands of temporary workers to prepare for the 2010 Census — a population count that could remake the political map even as the foreclosure crisis makes it more difficult to account for millions of dislocated Americans.

Early analysis indicates that Texas will likely be the biggest winner since the prior count a decade ago, picking up three or four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and Election Data Services Inc., a political-consulting firm. Other states poised to gain at least one seat include Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Florida and Utah.

Growth in these states is driven by factors including migration from other states, immigration and birth rates. The economic crisis has put the brakes on some of this expansion — Florida just reported its first year-over-year population decline since 1946 — but in general, Sun Belt states have grown faster than others over the past decade.

Since the number of seats in the House is capped at 435, the gains in the South and West have to be offset by losses elsewhere.

New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts and the recession-battered industrial states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania each stand to lose a House seat. So does Louisiana, where the population still hasn’t rebounded from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which displaced so many residents that census takers face a difficult task in tallying them all.

A state’s votes in the presidential Electoral College depend on the size of its congressional delegation, so the census will likely tilt the balance of power slightly, with reliably Republican “red states” gaining several votes while Democratic strongholds such as New England lose clout.

[Balance of Power chart]

The effect in Congress is less clear, said Karl Eschbach, the Texas state demographer. Texas, for instance, is solidly red when it comes to presidential elections. But Democrats have begun to make inroads in the state Legislature, buoyed by a flow of newcomers from more-liberal states such as California. So political analysts believe one or more of Texas’s new seats in Congress may well translate into a Democratic pickup.

Florida’s Population On The Decline

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Check out the following piece from the St. Petersburg Times (Click HERE for full version):

Florida’s Population Shed About 50,000 Residents

By JAMES THORNER
St. Petersburg Times

Published: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 7:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 7:36 p.m.

The growth state is officially shrinking.

Hit by a double-whammy of the housing crash and the recession, Florida has lost population for the first time since the demobilization of hundreds of thousands of soldiers after World War II.

University of Florida demographers will report today that the state shed about 50,000 residents between April 2008 and April 2009. That should knock the number of Floridians down a notch from the previously reported 18.3 million.

It’s the first time since 1946 that Florida has been a net population loser. Even during the Great Depression, new residents swept into the state in search of work and leisure. But the severe housing contraction, combined with the sputtering of Florida’s job creation machine, has eclipsed the state’s former gravitational pull.

Our Unconstitutional Census

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Here is an excerpt from a very interesting op-ed that was published in today’s Wall Street Journal (For the entire article, CLICK HERE):

California could get nine House seats it doesn’t deserve because illegal aliens will be counted in 2010.

By JOHN S. BAKER AND ELLIOTT STONECIPHER

Mr. Baker teaches constitutional law at Louisiana State University. Mr. Stonecipher is a Louisiana pollster and demographic analyst.

Next year’s census will determine the apportionment of House members and Electoral College votes for each state. To accomplish these vital constitutional purposes, the enumeration should count only citizens and persons who are legal, permanent residents. But it won’t.

Instead, the U.S. Census Bureau is set to count all persons physically present in the country—including large numbers who are here illegally. The result will unconstitutionally increase the number of representatives in some states and deprive some other states of their rightful political representation. Citizens of “loser” states should be outraged. Yet few are even aware of what’s going on.

In 1790, the first Census Act provided that the enumeration of that year would count “inhabitants” and “distinguish” various subgroups by age, sex, status as free persons, etc. Inhabitant was a term with a well-defined meaning that encompassed, as the Oxford English Dictionary expressed it, one who “is a bona fide member of a State, subject to all the requisitions of its laws, and entitled to all the privileges which they confer.”

Thus early census questionnaires generally asked a question that got at the issue of citizenship or permanent resident status, e.g., “what state or foreign country were you born in?” or whether an individual who said he was foreign-born was naturalized. Over the years, however, Congress and the Census Bureau have added inquiries that have little or nothing to do with census’s constitutional purpose.

By 1980 there were two census forms. The shorter form went to every person physically present in the country and was used to establish congressional apportionment. It had no question pertaining to an individual’s citizenship or legal status as a resident. The longer form gathered various kinds of socioeconomic information including citizenship status, but it went only to a sample of U.S. households. That pattern was repeated for the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

The 2010 census will use only the short form. The long form has been replaced by the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey. Dr. Elizabeth Grieco, chief of the Census Bureau’s Immigration Statistics Staff, told us in a recent interview that the 2010 census short form does not ask about citizenship because “Congress has not asked us to do that.”

Because the census (since at least 1980) has not distinguished citizens and permanent, legal residents from individuals here illegally, the basis for apportionment of House seats has been skewed. According to the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey data (2007), states with a significant net gain in population by inclusion of noncitizens include Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas. (There are tiny net gains for Hawaii and Massachusetts.)

This makes a real difference. Here’s why:

According to the latest American Community Survey, California has 5,622,422 noncitizens in its population of 36,264,467. Based on our round-number projection of a decade-end population in that state of 37,000,000 (including 5,750,000 noncitizens), California would have 57 members in the newly reapportioned U.S. House of Representatives.

However, with noncitizens not included for purposes of reapportionment, California would have 48 House seats (based on an estimated 308 million total population in 2010 with 283 million citizens, or 650,000 citizens per House seat). Using a similar projection, Texas would have 38 House members with noncitizens included. With only citizens counted, it would be entitled to 34 members.

Trouble in Florida For Hatians

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

There were significant troubles in Florida during the 2000 Census that resulted in many Census Bureau employees being fired from their jobs and a recount taken in certain areas of the state. Will there be similar problems in 2010? Many Floridians, especially minorities, fear just that. Check out the following reports from the Sun Sentinel:

When census takers visit Walter Hunter’s mostly black community in Pompano Beach next year for the big, every-10-years count, he predicts they will encounter a lot of slammed doors.

They are likely to get a similar reception in Delmond Desira’s Haitian neighborhood in Delray Beach, where many don’t understand how filling out the 10-question form would improve their lives.

Hunter and Desira live in South Florida enclaves the U.S. Census Bureau ranks among the hardest to count: pockets of Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Park, Delray Beach and Belle Glade.

In those areas, with heavy concentrations of immigrants who don’t speak English, poor people and rental units, almost half the residents did not return mailed surveys for the last big count, in 2000.

Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade are among the 50 counties in the nation with the most people living in hard-to-count areas, according to a report released in April by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a children’s advocacy group.

This time, the Census Bureau plans to work harder to reach these people, through the schools, a more creative multi-language campaign and a shorter survey form — 10 questions that take just 10 minutes, the catch phrase goes. Volunteers will put up signs in beauty salons and convenience stores and get the word out at houses of worship and nonprofit centers.

This fall, grade-school children will study the census in math and geography classes, and they will take home census materials for their parents. In January, the Census Bureau will launch an advertising campaign in 28 languages urging participation. The form is not available in Creole, however, and critics say that will hinder the count of South Florida’s large Haitian population.

And another story:

Some of the people that make up Florida’s Haitian community may not partake in one of the most important events of this nation – the 2010 Census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, heavily concentrated areas where Haitians live, such as Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach are very hard to tally when it comes to the once-a-decade count. This is mainly due to the language barrier that most Haitians, many being immigrants, encounter when it comes to understanding and completing the surveys issued by the Census Bureau.

Although the Broward County‘s Census 2010 Complete Count Committee is strategizing ways to get to those who were missed back in 2000 by producing informational guides in various languages, including Creole, the actual census is not offered in Haiti’s national language. Despite the Bureau’s outreach effort, it may still have difficulty reaching these communities. As a Haitian-American, I can attest that many Haitian residents, especially those who do not speak English, will probably disregard the survey once they receive it in the mail. This is simply because they do not understand the importance and / or the basis of the Census. In other words, such a survey is considered junk mail.

I believe an effective strategy would be to educate the community on what exactly the Census is, the concept behind it and why it is imperative that they participate. Nevertheless, the fact that the Census Bureau is launching an advertising campaign in 28 languages, except for Creole, will contribute to the hindrance in the counts, at least in South Florida. While some Haitian immigrants and / or residents may rely on their English-speaking children to translate the Census survey, a majority of them will not have that advantage. Those who come to the United States together as a family, but are without relatives in the country, will be the hardest to reach.

This was very much the case for my parents, until my siblings and I came into the picture. Though they were able to survive on their own, the fact that we came around made life much easier for them. For example, learning about the Census at school allowed me to go home and look out for the surveys, as well as assist my parents in answering the questions. Now they have a better understanding of the Census and are capable of filling it out on their own.

Hopefully, the Haitian children that are starting school this fall will not only learn census in math and geography classes, but will also be able to pass on the knowledge to their parents. If not, then the Census Bureau may want to develop a new marketing campaign in Creole.

Investigative Series: Spotlight on Harris Corp. (Part 2)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Even in the post-Jack Abramoff era, when the government issues a contract, there is surely party-politics and patronage at play. In the case of the Census Bureau’s $800 million contract to develop handheld computer technology suitable for counting each and every person living in America, Harris Corp. won the contract. The Melbourne, Florida based company lies within the Congressional district of GOP Rep. Bill Posey, an eight-year veteran of the House of Representatives who has a long record of taking money from Harris Corp. employees, including $2,300 in May, 2008 (the maximum contribution permitted by law) from Harris Corp.’s CEO Howard L. Lance — as well as a matching $2,300 contribution from Lance’s wife, Christine.

These contributions are a small price to pay for the significant amount of pork delivered by Posey to his Harris Corp. constituents back in the Sunshine State.

Among the list of Harris Corp.’s other senior executives who made large contributions to Posey’s re-election bids is Peter Challan, who left the FAA after 36-years to chum it up with his pals in Washington on behalf of  Harris Corp. as the VP of their Government Affairs division.

At this juncture, MyTwoCensus is just scratching the surface on the many potential problems and conflicts of interest that are behind this failed $800 million contract between the Census Bureau and Harris Corp. We have already requested information from the government via the Freedom of Information Act. If you have inside information about any Harris Corp. transactions, we urge you to contact us immediately.

Investigative Series: Spotlight on Harris Corp. (Part 1)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Just as MyTwoCensus was getting ready to launch our multi-part investigative series detailing the many problems associated with Harris Corp. and their failed attempt to create a handheld computer suitable for all aspects of the 2010 Census, Government Executive’s Brian Friel beat us to the punch and published this column:

The Right Stuff

As Census Bureau officials continue to salvage what they can from the bureau’s failed decennial automation project, it has increasingly become a real-time case study in core problems plaguing the federal government’s contracting practices.

The original $600 million contract, awarded to Melbourne, Fla.-based Harris Corp. in April 2006, would have allowed census workers to collect decennial data for the 2010 count by handheld device, rather than the old pen-and-paper way. The devices also would be used to update Census’ massive address list. Third, Harris would provide a variety of technology support services.

Two years went by, and then the entire contract went kaput. In 2008, Census and Harris officials ran to Congress with fingers pointed at each other as $200 million already sunk into the project basically went to waste: The handheld data collection project was a failure.

Now the Census Bureau has dropped the data collection and the major support services from the contract with Harris, leaving only the handheld-driven update of addresses. The new contract has a drastically reduced scope, but a significantly higher price tag. It will cost nearly $800 million.

The Commerce Department inspector general and other watchdogs have identified two big problems with the contract.

First, Census didn’t know what it wanted. As the IG noted in a March 2009 report, a significant problem was “the failure of senior Census Bureau managers in place at the time to anticipate the complex IT requirements involved in automating the census.” Its initial list of “requirements” in the contract grew and changed exponentially, adding layer upon layer of complexity. “Census changed requirements several times, which caused delays and increased costs,” the IG reported.

Second, Census set up a contract with Harris that allowed costs to spiral out of control. If the bureau had known what it wanted from the beginning, it could have written a fixed-price contract, which basically says: “Here’s what we want, here’s what we’ll pay you.” Instead, Census wrote a cost-plus contract, which basically says: “We’re not sure what we want, so we’ll pay you whatever it takes.”

In April, Vivek Kundra, the new federal chief information officer, told Congress these two problems are common across federal contracts. “The federal government doesn’t do a good job of defining what the requirements are,” he told Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., at an April 28 Senate hearing. According to Kundra, if agencies do a better job figuring out what they want, they can set up more fixed-price contracts, which control spending more than cost-plus contracts. “Fixed-price should be most common,” he said.

Kundra identified a common problem that leads to “runaway contracts.” Every contract involving technology has two main sets of requirements. First, a set of business needs that an agency’s operational office defines. Second, a set of technical needs that an agency’s IT department defines. If the two groups aren’t working together to jointly define all the requirements — if one leaves the other out — then an agency won’t really know what it wants. “The way that happens is ensuring there’s a high degree of engagement from both the business side of the house and the technology side of the house,” he said.

In the Census Bureau’s case, officials realized they had that problem only after they already had sunk $200 million into their automation contract, and at a point when starting over was impossible. “By the time you find out the requirements have increased or the budget is out of control, it’s too late to make an adjustment,” Kundra said. “For far too long we’ve put good money after bad money.”

If you don’t know what you want but you pay for it anyway, chances are you’ll repeat that long-running mistake.