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 ‘New Orleans’

Transcript and commentary from Census Bureau Director’s latest press conference

Friday, June 4th, 2010

The transcript is now available on the Census Bureau’s web site. Highlights include the following:

1. On page 12 Direct Robert M. Groves sidesteps a question asked by Carol Morello of The Washington Post inquiring about why Dwight Dean was given the boot.

2. On page 17 he sidesteps a question that claims that there are only two bilingual numerators in the whole New Orleans region.

3. On page 18 he sidesteps giving details about the PBOCS (paper-based operations control system) failures.

The Suitland Files: Inside The Census Bureau (Part 2)

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

I apologize for taking so long to post the second half of the series that I started nearly two weeks ago, but I’ve been traveling extensively and things were getting quite hectic. Without further ado, I present to you an inside look into my meeting with top communications/public relations/press officials at the Census Bureau’s HQ in Washington, DC:

After making idle chit-chat about Europe, climate change, and Dr. Groves’ travel habits (like any good reporter, I try to extract information wherever possible) for more than half an hour with two private security guards inside their security booth on the perimeter of the Census Bureau’s fenced off headquarters (they refused to let me sit on a bench outside even though it was a warm day…), I was greeted by Derick Moore (who Steve Jost authorizes to make the official Census Bureau comments on MyTwoCensus posts) and Eun Kim, a new Census Bureau PR official who until very recently was a DC reporter for Gannett (hmmm…I wonder why she jumped over to the dark side…).

After clearing a round of metal detectors, I made my way up the elevator with my two aforementioned handlers. I was led to a waiting room where I made some chit chat with Derick and Eun who each told me about their careers in private sector media. (I pray every day that the allure of a solid government salary with good benefits doesn’t one day catch up with me too…) Steve Jost, chowing down on a sandwich and french fries, returned and had us follow him into his office. We all sat down, with me at the head of the table. With white hair and a bit of scruff on his face, Jost wasn’t the devilish and egotistical Nazi I expected he might be, but rather a jovial guy who immediately poked fun at my comments about him on this site. I replied that I made those comments when I was thousands of miles away in the safety of my own home, and I had never expected to be sitting down with him in person. But I had no regrets. My job is to be a watchdog, and a vigilant watchdog I will be.

Last to arrive at our meeting was Stephen Buckner, the mouthpiece of the 2010 Census (spokesman) who had the boyish charm of a high school quarterback. I’m sure that fifteen years ago he easily cruised his way to a victory during elections for homecoming king.

Jost was the leader of this round-table, so between french fries he started firing off all of the positive accomplishments that he and his team have made, while clearly avoiding any of the shortcomings. Here’s a rundown of the most interesting things that he said:

1. High unemployment rates and homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure will cause problems with the 2010 Census.

2. The hardest group to count is “young, unattached people” who move frequently, only have cell phones, are between jobs or studies, etc. — NOT immigrants or minorities, as one might expect from all of the Census Bureau’s hard-to-count group advertising…(MyTwoCensus will investigate this further in the near future!)

3. The Census Bureau has created a series of ads using pop music…get ready to find these on your TV screens starting in early January.

4. The participation rate in the Census increased for the first time since 1970 in 2000, despite general trends that fewer and fewer people are involved in civic activities like voting, performing jury duty, etc. Hopefully they can once again reverse this trend in 2010.

5. 95% of media consumers will be reached multiple times by 2010 Census advertising campaigns.

6. 53% of 2010 Census advertising is local. 47% is national. (Note: MyTwoCensus has not heard back yet as to whether our proposal to let the Census Bureau advertise for the 2010 Census on this site was accepted…)

7. Spoiler Alert: Sesame Street will be featuring a 2010 Census storyline via The Count and Rosita characters.

8. 2010.Census.gov was redesigned.

9. Though 173 forms of social media have been integrated with Census Bureau awareness efforts, no I-Phone Application has been created for the 2010 Census.

10. The 2010 Census forms will be mailed to all households in America (hopefully) on March 17, 2010. (Let’s hope drunken St. Patty’s day revelers don’t interfere with the efforts of the U.S. Postal Service…)

11. When selecting advertisements for the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau asks the creative directors of 12 different advertising firms to submit proposals via a “creative rumble.”

12. Hopefully there won’t be a repeat of the 2000 Advance Letter Debacle in 2010…

13. There will be extra Census Bureau staff in New Orleans to personally hand deliver 2010 Census questionnaires to every household.

14. The address canvassing portion of the 2010 Census provided data that there are approximately 134 million individual housing units in the US, down from original estimates of 140 million.

15. Many addresses in places like Las Vegas where construction on homes was started but never finished have been deleted from the 2010 Census rolls.

16. Very, very, very few people hired to work for the Census Bureau as temporary workers have quit during the 2009-2010 cycle, as other jobs are extremely scarce.

17. On November 17 at 9:30am, Dr. Robert M. Groves will be holding his next monthly “State of the 2010 Census” address…

I was given some handouts (drawings of a 2010 Census logo on a NASCAR racecar that will be unveiled soon), portions of powerpoints (that showed me data about levels of Census participation), and had the opportunity to see one of the hip-hop music based commercials that was recently shot in LA and will soon be airing nationwide. It was a smooth operation, and my questions were answered well. Were the answers necessarily honest? No. But did the PR team effectively do their jobs to give give off the image of squeaky clean 2010 Census communications operations? Absolutely.

Louisiana GOP Hopes To Take Drastic Measures To Prevent The Loss Of A Congressional Seat

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Here’s the scoop from the New Orleans Times-Picayune (click HERE for complete article):

BATON ROUGE — The chairman of the state Republican Party said Saturday the state party is looking at ways to prevent “illegal aliens” from being counted in the 2010 federal census. The goal is to preserve a congressional seat for Louisiana, he said.

Roger Villere of Metairie told the Republican State Central Committee, the party’s governing board, that if illegal immigrants are counted in the census, Louisiana likely will see its congressional delegation drop from seven to six House members. House seats are apportioned based on each state’s population in the census.

Villere said states such as Texas and California would pick up representation in Congress because of the large number of immigrants living in them. Federal policy is to count all residents, regardless of their legal status, at the time the census is taken.

“If they do not count the illegal aliens, we would not lose a seat” despite population declines caused by recent hurricanes, Villere said.

“We feel like we need to protect our sovereignty,” he said. “If we take the illegals out of the mix, we could retain one of our congressmen. … We are investigating our options. This is something we are seriously looking at.”

Villere said a decision will be made by year’s end on whether to file a lawsuit or lobby the administration and Congress for a policy change to exclude illegal immigrants. He said he has been in discussions with “people of national stature” on the matter but refused to name them.

“It is not a Republican problem,” he said after the committee’s quarterly meeting. “It is a Louisiana problem.”

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, estimated that 8 million illegal immigrants living in the country are now getting health care paid for by taxpayers.

During the meeting, committee members rejected a plan to hold a nominating convention in Lafayette, Baton Rouge or New Orleans next year to rally the party around one candidate each for a U.S. Senate race and the seven congressional seats.

A convention would energize and unify the party while drawing media attention, according to main proponent Mike Chittom of Baton Rouge.

News from NOLA

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Great article from the New Orleans Times Picayune (click HERE for full piece):

The changing face — and faces — of New Orleans

by Sarah Carr, The Times-Picayune

Sunday August 23, 2009, 3:00 PM

The Katrina-imposed exile of New Orleans natives and the influx of newcomers have many wondering if the city’s culture has been permanently diluted or only refreshed with new blood.

John McCusker / The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans native Timolynn Sams and newcomer Gill Benedek stand on Canal Street in New Orleans.

Growing up in Broadmoor, Timolynn Sams traversed the neighborhoods of her hometown by instinct. On bike rides to visit her cousins miles away on Tchoupitoulas Street, or on solitary walks to Hollygrove, she knew exactly which streets were safe and which houses she could stop at to use the bathroom or chat with friends.

Those days are gone. And Sams does not believe the intimate familiarity that defined the New Orleans streetscape will return any time soon.

“I think that’s something we’ve lost, ” she says. “We don’t know where our people are.”

Four years after Hurricane Katrina, encouraging new statistics suggest New Orleans has regained three-quarters of its prestorm population, defying predictions that the city would never again approach its former size.

That statistic, however, masks a subtler shift. The city is now home to a tide of newcomers unprecedented in recent history, including Hispanic day laborers, idealistic young teachers, and urban planners all drawn by the unique opportunity to help a devastated city rebuild, almost from scratch.

How do you count the drunks on Bourbon Street? Go bar to bar.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

The following report from the Associated Press makes us wonder if we are really living in the year 2010 or 1910, as technology continues to elude us and door-to-door interaction is on the rise. Nonetheless, the MyTwoCensus team applauds the decision of Census Director Robert M. Groves to accurately count the residents of New Orleans without succumbing to the partisan interests of New Orleans’ often-controversial mayor, Ray Nagin. Nagin’s call to count former residents of New Orleans who no longer live there as current New Orleans residents is selfish and detrimental for the rest of the country. If former residents were counted as still living in New Orleans, then the municipalities where these people currently reside would not receive the proper federal funding that they deserve and need to compensate for the extra bodies.


By BECKY BOHRER (AP) – 6 hours ago

NEW ORLEANS — Census forms will be hand-delivered in the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas affected by the 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita to get the most accurate count possible following concerns that the region could lose federal representation and funding.

The measures announced by U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves on Tuesday did not go as far as those sought by Mayor Ray Nagin and some advocacy groups to locally count potentially thousands of former residents scattered across the country who are trying to come back.

By at least one estimate, 75 percent of New Orleans’ pre-Katrina population has returned in the nearly four years since the Aug. 29, 2005, storm and levee breaches. In some neighborhoods, there remain huge swaths of empty homes.

Groves said he shared Nagin’s concerns, but “the proposal to count people where they want to be is something that would really be a massive change.”

Census rules dictate people be counted “in their abodes,” as of Census Day, he said, and Congress has not changed the law to reflect situations like refugees of Katrina and other disasters, missionaries spending time overseas or noncitizens being included in the count.

“So we have to follow the law,” Groves said. “In the 2010 Census, we’ll count people where they usually live.”

Census workers in the region are expected to hand-deliver an estimated 300,000 questionnaires to homes in 11 south Louisiana parishes affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Additional hand deliveries are expected in parts of Mississippi’s Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, also affected by the 2005 storms, and parts of Galveston Island, Texas, which was hit by Hurricane Ike last summer, said Jeff Behler, deputy regional director of the census’ Dallas office.

Census officials said 2,400 workers would be hired in the New Orleans-area office, but they could not immediately provide a total cost for hand-delivering forms. They said hand deliveries are sometimes used in very rural parts of the country and on some tribal lands.

Nagin repeated his call Tuesday to include former residents who moved away from the city and are working to come back, saying an accurate count is “essential” for the future of the region and providing needed services to displaced residents when they return.

“We’re looking forward to a good count, as high as we can possibly get it,” Nagin said.

There’s a lot at stake: the 10-year count, which starts with surveys going out in March, will help decide congressional representation and distribution of at least $400 billion a year in federal funds across the country.