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 ‘Illinois’

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

Update on today’s story…The Census Bureau hides behind the shield of FOIA once again

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

The following letter is one that I wrote to Michael C. Cook, chief of the Census Bureau’s public information office for the 2010 Census…I am not at all pleased by his response:

Here’s the editorial I wrote and the link to the Chicago Tribune story is inside:

http://www.mytwocensus.com/2010/06/17/mytwocensus-editorial-current-census-bureau-official-involved-in-scandal-must-go-immediately/

Was Aramanda hired bc of politics? or merit? Do you have proof that we was hired bc of merit? How and when did he get this job? What is his exact position?

What is Aramanda’s record while working for the Census Bureau?

Will Aramanda be getting paid by the Census Bureau while he testifies at this trial?

Who is running the show at the LCO when he is across town at a trial?

Will he be fired immediately? (Note: I am urging that he is fired immediately as this is a huge conflict of interest).

I hope to hear back from you by COB.

Here is his reply:

Hi Stephen,

The federal Privacy Act governs what any federal agency can disclose about
an employee. You can find details about the Privacy Act at:
<http://www.justice.gov/opcl/1974privacyact-overview.htm>. We encourage you
to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in writing addressed
to:

Mary C. Potter, FOIA Officer
U.S. Census Bureau , Room 8H027
4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233-3700

Best,

Michael C. Cook
Branch Chief, 2010 Census Media Relations
Public Information Office
U.S. Census Bureau

OK, this response makes me IRATE. I have filed NUMEROUS FOIA REQUESTS in the past 6 months, and none have been answered. The Commerce Department will surely find some grounds or other not to honor my request and then they will tell me that I have to file an appeal. I will then file the appeal, and keep contacting the appeals office, and then never hear anything ever again. Thank you Obama Administration transparency…Jesus Christ. The White House has become a PR firm. Enough said.

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.

Ongoing issues about how the Census Bureau counts prisoners: Reform in Illinois?

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Perhaps lawmakers in Illinois are now fearing the redistricting process for 2012. Here’s the latest news from Prisoners of the Census, a Census Bureau reform group that MyTwoCensus supports.

Last year it was cash4gold. Now it’s cash4censusforms

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Question: Is it ethical for cities, universities, or other entities to offer cash prizes in exchange for participating in the 2010 Census?

The following comes from DailyNorthwestern.com:

City, Northwestern offer incentives for completing 2010 census forms

By Katie Park

Northwestern and Evanston have teamed up to provide cash incentives for students to fill out the 2010 census, which will be available for students on campus next week.

While students living off campus should have already received their census forms in the mail, census workers will distribute the forms to students in dormitories next Monday through Thursday, said Lucile Krasnow, NU special assistant for community relations.

“Students might be asking, ‘Am I really a resident of Evanston?’” Krasnow said. “It’s where you live the majority of the year. They should indeed fill out the census in Evanston.”

With the last census in 2000, the University saw about a 98-percent participation rate, Krasnow said. Students filled out the census form as part of their on-campus housing process, a system that no longer exists.

Instead, the University will award cash prizes to residence halls, fraternities and sororities with the highest participation rates, Krasnow said. Dorms with up to 85 people will be eligible for a $250 cash prize, dorms with 86 to 150 people will be eligible for a $500 prize and dorms with more than 150 residents will be eligible for a $750 prize, she said.

Greek houses will meet with census workers throughout the month of April to distribute the forms. The fraternity and sorority with the highest participation rates will each be eligible for a $250 prize.

“The idea is to encourage everybody to take part in the census,” Krasnow said. “It’s a very quick, easy form, and it’ll take less than 10 minutes to fill out.”

McCormick sophomore June Choi lives on campus and said the participation competition was not an incentive for her.

“I was going to fill it out anyway,” Choi said. “I would think people would just write it up. It’s really short.”

In addition to developing the competition for student residents, Krasnow has worked with Downtown Evanston, a group of local businesspeople and property owners, to develop an event for both students and Evanston residents. During Community Savings Weekend, April 9-11, more than 20 Evanston businesses will offer discounts to thank residents for their participation in the census.

“The idea is that—it’s on the honor system—we hope you did fill out your form,” said Downtown Evanston Executive Director Carolyn Dellutri. “(The census has) a big impact on the community overall, and we’re doing it as a partnership with the city and University.”

SESP senior Daniel Diorio said he was interested in the discount program.

“I’m a fan of incentives for anything,” he said. “I never thought of businesses having interests invested in the census.”

Diorio lives off campus and said he has already sent in his form.

“It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “It helps the government allocate resources more effectively, and it’s only five minutes of my time.”

Census workers will follow up with students living off campus who do not fill out their forms, Krasnow said.

Each NU student counted in the census will bring about $980 per year to the city of Evanston for the next 10 years, Krasnow said. This money can finance federal and state initiatives such as transportation programs, student loans and grants.

“We really see this as part of our civic responsibilities,” Krasnow said.

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.

The DIY Census: Special Census Boosts Naperville’s Population by more than 8,000

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Do-It-Yourselfers (DIYers) have no fear, census calculations is not only the job of the federal government. Take the example of Naperville, Illinois (ranked #2 on Money Magazine’s Best Small Cities to Live In), whose municipal officials took the headcount into their own hands. Here’s what the Daily Herald reports:

Naperville’s population rose by more than 8,000 in the past five years, based on the findings of a special census.

The increase to 144,560 residents isn’t enough to put Naperville back ahead of Joliet in population – it remains the state’s fifth-largest city – but will mean a nearly $800,000 bump in state funding.

“In these trying economic times any amount helps and this is a significant amount that will truly help the general fund,” said Dan Di Santo, assistant to the city manager.

The city conducted the special census last fall to calculate its growth since the last one in 2003. Workers questioned residents by phone and in person about their name, age, sex, race and marital status – a less detailed survey than the one the U.S. Census Bureau conducts every 10 years.

The count was taken mostly on the city’s southwest side and in senior developments where officials believed there to be the most growth.

They originally expected to find about 7,020 more residents, but ended up with 8,180. Each new resident brings in just less than $100 in additional state funding.

An increase in population also means an increase in the amount of free therms of natural gas Nicor gives to public buildings in Naperville, part of an agreement the utility has with the city in exchange for using public right-of-ways.

Another plus, Di Santo said, is the city spent less than the original $284,450 it had budgeted to perform the census.

Naperville experienced significant growth in the 1980s and ’90s. There may be some yet to come but it’s likely to be limited, Di Santo said.

“Naperville is approaching build-out and eventually … we will see the population level out,” he said.

In the meantime, there are still some vacant areas on the southwest side of the city as well as areas with infill possibilities.

The next head count will be the U.S. Census Bureau’s decennial census in 2010. Di Santo encouraged residents to participate because it will help Naperville analyze its population as it shifts from “growth mode to maintenance mode.”

“Our council has been looking at how to … maintain revenues and maintain sufficient service delivery when the local municipal economy really is shifting in a way we haven’t experience since its inception in 1831,” he said.

By the numbers

Naperville experienced significant population growth in the 1980s and ’90s but it likely will begin to level off as the city approaches build-out.

Year Population

1970 22,617

1972 25,011

1973 27,873

1976 30,959

1977 35,062

1980 42,330

1983 49,215

1984 55,197

1986 67,331

1988 79,833

1990 85,351

1992 92,885

1994 100,422

1996 110,107

2000 128,358

2003 137,894

2008 144,560

Source: City of Naperville and Daily Herald reports