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 ‘Lacy Clay’

Federal Census officials get an earful from local community leaders

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

H/t to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press for the following:

Days after U.S. Census forms began hitting mailboxes, local religious and government leaders are sounding alarms that St. Louisans will be undercounted thanks to wasteful efforts and poor planning.

The criticism came at a roundtable hosted by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, part of the federal government’s push to encourage community leaders to promote the decennial head count and get residents to return census forms.

At Wednesday’s roundtable, Josh Wiese, an aide to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, complained that the census was using “a cookie-cutter” approach to counting that wouldn’t work in “high-crime, low-education” areas the same way it works in the suburbs.

“If this isn’t done right, we’ll certainly hold the Census Bureau accountable,” Wiese told Cedric Grant, director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships program, representing the Census Bureau’s parent agency.

Evan Armstrong, of the St. Louis-based International Institute, said he was frustrated that U.S. citizens are given preference for census field work, even if they don’t speak the language of the refugee or immigrant groups they will be counting.

Both Wiese and St. Louis County planning manager Lori Fiegel brought up the challenges of counting the city’s large Bosnian population. Fiegel said her office had been promised a Bosnian liaison, which never materialized. When a census official said the liaison had, indeed, been provided, Fiegel said no one had told her office about it.

“The Bosnian community is afraid of the government, afraid of the government, afraid of the government,” Wiese said. “Then, on April 1, they’re supposed to trust the government before going back to being afraid of the government again the next day.”

William Siedhoff, director of the St. Louis Department of Human Services, said the city’s own annual census of its homeless population, completed in January, would have to be repeated by census workers because the bureau didn’t respond to the city’s suggestion to partner on the January effort.

David Newburger, from the city’s office on the disabled, said data provided by the bureau to help reach the city’s disabled citizens were not specific enough and should include street names. Grant said privacy issues prevented that specificity.

The contentious atmosphere at the roundtable “was based on past experience and the anticipation that undercounts are going to happen again,” Siedhoff said after the meeting.

Dennis Johnson, the bureau’s regional director, defended the census in an interview, saying the effort could not succeed without community partners.

“Someone looking for the federal government to provide all the tools is not going to reach every corner of the community,” Johnson said. “But working through partners who already have outreach systems is one of the most effective communications vehicles the census has.”

Local complaints mirror national ones. Last year, a string of independent reports from the Government Accountability Office and others found mismanagement and troubling computer failures at the Census Bureau. (more…)

Advance Letter Trouble In St. Louis: Cities and Zip Codes Mixed and Mangled

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Below are important highlights from an article on STLToday.com:

Advance letters from the U.S. Census Bureau are causing confusion in parts of the St. Louis area that share common ZIP codes.

But census officials said Tuesday that residents and municipal leaders shouldn’t be worried, the information will be correct on the forms, which are set to start arriving Monday.

The one-page notes that residents received this week say the census forms are coming. The notes are part of an $85 million mailing effort to encourage the sending back of the forms. But some of the letters listed incorrect city names, prompting residents and officials to worry about the accuracy of the count.

After the official census forms arrive, reminder postcards will be sent to areas with low responses, said Shelly Lowe, a spokeswoman for the Census Bureau’s national office.

Some residents of O’Fallon and St. Peters received letters with the correct address and ZIP code, but the wrong city name — Cottleville. Cottleville residents are served by some of the same ZIP codes.

Drabelle said the city received at least 20 calls from residents who were concerned about the city name error.

Lisa Bedian, a spokeswoman for St. Peters, reported a similar number of calls. Part of St. Peters borders Cottleville, she said, but some of the residents who called about their letters lived several miles from the border.

“People are worried about whether St. Peters is going to get credit for this,” Bedian said.

She said the city was asking residents to call if they received an incorrect city name on their letters. She said that residents need not leave their names, but that the city was collecting addresses to get a sense of where the letters were sent.

In St. Louis County, some Maryland Heights residents received letters addressed to Hazelwood. The city’s website told residents they would be counted as living in Maryland Heights. Sara Berry, a city spokeswoman, said the city had received a handful of calls.

“We’re trying to get the word out as best we can and let people know to go ahead and fill out their forms,” she said.

Dennis Johnson, a spokesman with the regional office in Kansas City, said an outside contractor prepared the letters using postal data. The city name on the letter will have no effect on the official census form, he said. Johnson said the official census forms had a bar code with information about exactly where the residence was situated. He said the Census Bureau had been working with city and county officials to make sure addresses were accurate.
“It’s not going to affect the population count,” Johnson said. “They will be tabulated properly for each jurisdiction.”

Scott Hanson, city planner in Edwardsville, said his city had had technicians review data from the census to make sure it included recently annexed properties. “We’re keeping a close eye on that,” he said.

The letters generated controversy in 2000, too. That year, they included return envelopes for those who wanted to receive census forms in another language, but no English explanation was printed on the envelope.

“The 2010 Census Communications Contract: The Media Plan in Hard to Count Areas”

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

On Wednesday, February 24, 2010, the Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled: “The 2010 Census Communications Contract: The Media Plan in Hard to Count Areas.” The hearing will take place in room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

The witnesses scheduled to testify include:

Panel I

Dr. Robert Groves
Director
United States Census Bureau

Mr. Jeff Tarakajian
Executive Vice President
DRAFTFCB

Ms. Robbyn Ennis
Senior Associate Media Director
GlobalHue

Mr. Nelson Garcia
Senior Vice President/ Media Director
GlobalHue Latino

Panel II

Ms. Karen Narasaki
Executive Director
Asian American Justice Center

Mr. Arturo Vargas
Executive Director
National Association of Latino Elected Officials

Mr. Marc Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League

Ms. Helen Hatab Samhan
Executive Director
Arab American Institute Foundation

Panel III

Mr. Marcelo Gaete-Tapia
Vice President
Entravision Communication Corporation

Mr. James L. Winston
Executive Director
National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters

Ms. Sandy Close
Executive Director
New America Media

Mr. Danny Bakewell
Chairman
National Newspaper Publishers Association

Ms. Linda Smith
Executive Director
National Association of American Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.

Documents and Links


Opening statement of Subcommittee Chairman Wm. Lacy Clay

Prepared testimony of Dr. Robert Groves

Prepared testimony of Mr. Jeff Tarakajian

Prepared testimony of Ms. Robbyn Ennis

Prepared testimony of Mr. Nelson Garcia

Prepared testimony of Ms. Karen Narasaki

Prepared testimony of Mr. Arturo Vargas

Prepared testimony of Ms. Helen Hatab Samhan

Prepared testimony of Mr. Marcelo Gaete-Tapia

Prepared testimony of Mr. James Winston

Prepared testimony of Ms. Sandy Close

Prepared testimony of Mr. Danny Bakewell

Prepared testimony of Ms. Linda Smith

Witness List

Looks like Census hearing is delayed due to Toyota hearings…

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

“The 2010 Census Communications Contract: The Media Plan In Hard To Count Areas” (2:00 PM)

Stay tuned…this should be an interesting hearing.

Watch the live video stream HERE!