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 ‘MyTwoCensus.com’

Feud over counting homeless escalates: Census employee fired after taking worries to Rep. Doggett

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

The following comes from Statesman.com:

By Andrea Ball and Suzannah Gonzales

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett has stepped into a dispute between Travis County officials and U.S. census leaders over how the area’s homeless population will be counted for the 2010 census.

For weeks, the groups have been sparring over the times, methods and manpower needed to tally the area’s estimated 4,000 people living in shelters, camps, cars and hotels. But that conflict escalated this week when a census employee called Doggett to say she had been fired for raising concerns about the safety and accuracy of the count.

On Friday, Doggett called U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves in Washington.

“Director Groves promised me he would investigate both the employee’s firing and review the best practices to accurately count the homeless,” Doggett said in a statement Friday.

Census officials across the country plan to count the homeless on three days: On Monday, workers will tally people in shelters. On Tuesday, they’ll count people at mobile food kitchens. And early Wednesday, they’ll head outside to camps and public places such as bridges and sidewalks.

It’s the Wednesday effort that has caused the most friction locally.

That count is planned for midnight to 7 a.m., a time local homeless advocates deem unsafe for census employees. Critics also say the census is not providing enough people or allowing enough time to ensure an accurate count.

“To count thousands of people over seven hours is unrealistic,” said Travis County Constable Bruce Elfant, a member of the Austin-Travis County Complete Count Committee. “This isn’t like going door to door.”

A faulty count would mean losing out on millions of dollars in federal money.

On Friday, Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell sent a letter to a regional census official detailing their concerns about counting the homeless.

“Your own Census staffers estimate that the homeless population could be undercounted by as much as 40%,” the letter states. “This would mean 1,000 or more homeless residents would not be counted in Travis County, resulting in the loss of more than $15,000,000 to our community.”

Jeff Behler, deputy regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau, said the late-night hours were determined “because, in the research that was done by our staff, it was determined that would be the best time in which that population would be the least transient.”

Local leaders proposed holding an additional daytime event Thursday at the Palmer Events Center with food, music and giveaways for those who came to fill out the census forms. Census leaders said no, Elfant said.

“There appears to be very little wiggle room for communities that want to try innovative things,” Elfant said. “It’s been frustrating.”

Homeless advocates also worry that census takers could get hurt wandering into the greenbelts and wooded areas that late at night. David Gomez, who works with the homeless for Austin Travis County Integral Care, said homeless people could be sleeping, drunk, high on drugs or otherwise impaired.

In a memo obtained by the American-Statesman, U.S. Census Bureau employee Lisa Bayliff agreed.

“There are camps that have barbed wire stretched about 3-4 inches from the ground to trip intruders from easy access,” she wrote. “There are camps that are known meth labs; they have signs posted around the perimeter to warn people to go away … The timing of the operation is flawed and is willingly placing all Census employees at peril.”

Census takers, who will be wearing reflective vests and carrying flashlights, have been told not to wake up sleeping people, Behler said. They will travel in groups, try not to startle people and clearly communicate their intent, Behler said.

Earlier this month, Bayliff took her concerns to the Austin congressman, Doggett spokeswoman Sarah Dohl said.

But this week, Bayliff contacted the office to say she had been fired for speaking to Doggett, Dohl said. That prompted Doggett to call Grove.

Bayliff declined to comment. Jenna Steormann Arnold, spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau in Central Texas, said she could not talk about specifics of the case.

“Yes, she no longer works for the Census Bureau, but since it is a personnel issue that deals with confidential information, we cannot discuss it,” she said.

Criminals Possibily Hired to Conduct Census

Friday, October 9th, 2009

As I reported two weeks ago when I questioned Dr. Robert Groves at a press conference that he held at the National Press Club, criminals have been hired to work for the 2010 Census:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (UPI) — Errors by U.S. Census Bureau employees could have resulted in 200 people with criminal records being hired for canvassing, a government report said.

The Government Accountability Office said Census Bureau employees improperly fingerprinted thousands of people as part of background checks for workers hired to interact with the public door to door, The Hill reported Thursday.

The GAO report expressed concern that the checks performed on improperly fingerprinted employees were incomplete.

“It is possible that more than 200 people with unclassifiable prints had disqualifying criminal records but still worked and had contact with the public during address canvassing,” the GAO’s Robert Goldenkoff told a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday.

Goldenkoff said the bureau’s training program was a reason for the improper fingerprints, adding that the bureau “will refine instruction manuals and provide remediation training on proper procedures” to prevent a recurrence.

Congresswoman Refuses To Participate in 2010 Census

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

According to the Minnesota Independent, “Rep. Michele Bachmann told the Washington Times on Wednesday that she will not be filling out all the questions on next year’s census because ACORN will be one of the federal government’s many community partners for conducting the census. But what she is proposing to do is illegal, the Times reports.

“I know for my family the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home,” she said. “We won’t be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.”

“There’s great concern that’s being raised because now ACORN has been named as one of the federal partners… This is very concerning because the motherload of all data comes from the census,” she said.

But as the paper reports, Bachmann is “misreading” the law — and it could cost her family $100 per question left unanswered.”

NOTE: Below, please find an audio recording of Bachmann’s interview with The Washington Times.

King no longer?

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Peter King, a long-time GOP Congressman from Long Island, New York, is now the target of Democrats’ redistricting efforts that will take effect in 2012 after the results of the 2010 Census is complete. The New York Post’s Elizabeth Benjamin reports on the story:

Democrats eyeing Peter King’s district for possible 2012 gains

Monday, June 1st 2009, 4:00 AM

Democrats have Pete King in the cross hairs.

National and state party officials are plotting to weaken King, one of New York‘s three remaining Republican congressmen, by redrawing the lines of his Long Island district.

The next round of redistricting, in which the congressional lines will be reconfigured based on the 2010 census results, is more than two years away.

Still, Democrats are planning an overhaul of King’s district in hopes of making him easier to beat in 2012.

Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of King for years.

The outspoken conservative, who was first elected to the House in 1992, has emerged as one of the most visible – and viable – members of the beleaguered state GOP and is often touted as a potential statewide contender.

A source close to Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith confirmed “serious discussions” between Democrats in New York and Washington are underway about King’s district.

“It’s an obvious choice because of the population of the area,” he said.

Long Island was once a Republican stronghold, but it has been trending Democratic since the last census.

The GOP still has a 46,072-voter enrollment edge in King’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The number of Democrats has grown faster since the last redistricting, with 16,843 voters added to their ranks since 2001, compared with the Republicans’ 1,336.

King isn’t concerned about being on the Democratic hit list.

“This is dream talk,” he said. “It’s three years from now. I don’t know if I’ll even be alive.”

King, 65, has at times flirted with seeking a statewide office. He ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in 1986 and has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor or even U.S. senator.

King said he had been “99% sure” to challenge Caroline Kennedy had Gov. Paterson picked her and not former Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton‘s old Senate seat.

He said he’ll make a decision by Labor Day, but sounds all but certain to seek reelection for his House seat.

New York’s upstate population loss has caused the state to grow more slowly compared with other states.

As a result, it has consistently lost House seats and is poised to lose at least one, and possibly two, in the next redistricting.

The Democrats‘ ability to control redistricting hinges on whether they hold onto the Senate majority next fall.

New York’s House members are increasingly worried that Paterson, with his historically low poll numbers, will drag down the 2010 ticket, returning the state Senate to the GOP.

“If this was 2014, [Paterson] would be able to ride it out,” a congressional source said. “But never underestimate the power of self-interest of members of Congress with redistricting looming.”

My Two Census

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

The purpose of this blog is to discuss the 2010 U.S. Census.

This blog will serve many functions:

1. MyTwoCensus is the only watchdog of the 2010 U.S. Census (and the first blog devoted to The 2010 U.S. Census, period). Professional journalists, scholars, economists, political scientists, statisticians, historians, and census-taking Americans will use MyTwoCensus to report on all issues and problems that may arise from the bureaucratic data collection process that America experiences every decade.

2. MyTwoCensus is a place where partisan and non-partisan opinions representing all political persuasions can be discussed, with an attempt to strike a balance by discussing all arguments.

3. MyTwoCensus will serve as a forum for U.S. Census-takers (i.e. nearly all Americans aged 18 and higher…at least in a perfect world that’s what it would be) to report shortcomings and successes from the data collection process. You are encouraged to make comments, submit guest blog posts, link to other sites, and provide photos/videos related to your opinions about the 2010 Census and your experiences from the 2010 Census.

4. MyTwoCensus will serve as a place for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who will be employed by the government for this census to share their opinions about the processes involved with the 2010 Census. Workers are encouraged to make comments, submit guest blog posts, link to other sites, and provide photos/videos related to your opinions about the 2010 Census and your experiences from the 2010 Census.