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 ‘North Carolina’

Daily Sound Off: North Carolina problems not fixed…

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

This comes from North Carolina:

I started my Census work on April 27, 2010. At first, I was notified that my first week of Census work would be training and would be help near my home in Etowah, NC. At the last minute that was changed to a somewhat distant location in Asheville, NC.  The classroom instruction included complicated Census-taking requirements and presented quite a challenge with all the bureaucratic details from how to properly fill out time sheets (blue ballpoint pen only, times stated in quarter-hour increments and hours in 0.25 decimal blocks) to literally hundreds of pages of instructions. Even for me, a person with graduate degrees, this was a formidable amount of information to absorb. The last day of class was to use what is referred to as Address Assignment (AA) books which listed the addresses to be Enumerated. Howvere, the books were not available due to “computer problems”. So, no instruction in the use of the AAs could be done. The first experience with the AAs was the following week when we were actually performing the Census Enumeration.

Before we started Census work we all had to be fingerprinted. That is good and I have no problem with that security measure – except that I have read that convicted felons were accepted as Census-workers in spite to the figerprinting. A few days later I was notified that the quality of my fingerprints were unacceptable and that I needed to go to the Local Census Office (LCO) in Asheville to be re-fingerprinted. Of course, I was paid for my time ($11.50/hr) and mileage ($0.50/mile) to drive from my home to Ashville and back. As I came to find out a good percentage of my classmates also had to be refingerprinted.

When I started performing my Census work, instead of working locally, I was assigned to an area about 30 miles from my home. Again receiving time and mileage compensation to and from my house.

Every day we were all required to turn in our time-sheets for the previous day at the meeting place 30-miles from my home. An interesting aside is that even if one did not work on a given day they were required to turn in a timesheet for the prior day. In doing so they then needed to turn in a time sheet the next day for, perhaps, just the time and mileage incurred to turn in the time-sheet the previous day. This could prove to be a form of perpetual motion.

You have undoubtedly read or heard about the problems in paying the Census-workers. In spite of statements to the press by a Ms. Carla Gay of the Asheville LCO, payment errors were commonplace, not isolated instances, and, as best I can tell were NOT, in many cases, due to employee errors. Even if they were, Ms. Gay’s comments to the Press were unacceptable and just go to point out how complicated the time-sheet protocol was and what a lack of management experience she has.

Since many people took Census work due to dire financial situations, the paycheck error produced severe hardships. Those people who managed to reach the Regional Office in Charlotte were told that emergency checks would be sent by Federal Express to their home – allegedly at a cost of $25 per check! According to conversations I’ve had with Representative Heath Shuler’s office in Washington, Rep. Shuler has started an investigation in this but one example of mismanagement. I’m not optimistic that his investigation will go anywhere.

One problem I encountered early on in the Census was the lack of respondents that were home when I stopped at their residence. We were told in no uncertain terms in class, to seek out a “Proxy” – a neighbor to garner whatever information we could about the residence we were supposed to enumerate. We were further told that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES were we to know on any neighbor’s door to obtain Proxy information. The neighbor has be be outside on the street to approach them. Several weeks later when we were admonished for not competing more Enumerations we were questioned as to why we did not knock on neighbor’s doors to obtain Proxy inputs. We were then told we WERE supposed to know on doorrs. When we were permitted to do so our success rate increased appreciably.

Throughout the Census process I and others I spoke to were constantly asked by people we contacted why we were there since they had mailed in their Census Questionaires and, in many cases, had also been visited by other Census-workers. In my own case I mailed in my Questionaire before April 1 and yet, while I was out performing the Census a Census-worker visted my home to complete a Census.

I receive all my mail at a USPS PO Box. Toward the end of March was read a small notice posted in our Post Office that PO Box-holders would NOT receive Census forms. In my case I had to go to the local library, not the Post Office, to obtain a Census Questionaire. No PO Box holder I sebsequently spoke to ever knew that they would not receive a Census Form if they had a PO Box.  A month or so ago another notice was posted in our Post Office that, if you had a PO Box and wanted a Census form you could call an 800-number to have one mailed to you!

The last week presented a fiasco as far as Census Enumeration assignments were concerned. I was asked (on short notice) if I could perform Census work in some remote and distant locations (Cashiers and Highlands). This was fine with me, after all I WAS being paid time and mileage.I appears that many people were being sent to these areas and since the Census was clearly in a panic mode, several people were asked to deliver their completed Census form to the Asheville LCO. Again time and mileage for all.

A few weeks ago, for reasons I don’t know, we were informed to immediately turn in all Census forms and data, completed or not. Two days later materials were redistributed to we were told to continue our Census Enumeration.

One recent assignment I accepted was to drive to a “Wendy’s” in Cashiers, NC and wait for other Enumerators to turn in their forms so that I could drive them to the Asheville LCO. A sat there for about four hours, doing nothing. A census Crew Leader was already at “Wendy’s” and it appeared that if the LCO management could have waited aother hour after the first back of Questionaires were brough in the Crew Leader could have delivered all the Questionaires to Asheville. As it was, I made one trip and, supposedly, one hour later the Crew Leader made another one.

In taking to other Census-workers, it appears that my experiences were commonplace. The so-called Management for the 2010 Census is most definitely Reactive, not Proactive. Have they learned nothing from previos Census? Apparently not. I frequently encountered what I would call “panic management” with telephone calls informing me that so task had to be performed ASAP. I will stress that at no time was I subjected to pressure to enhgage in these assignments. But is was clear that panic as the motivation.

The above recounted episodes so upset me that I called Representative Heath Shuler’s, Senators Kay Hagan’s and Richard Burr’s offices in Washington.  At Senator Burr’s office I spoke to, Bryan, a staff member who informed me that the Senator has received number calls and had written a letter to Robert Groves, the Director of the 2010 Census. Ryan further informed me that Groves’ response addressed some issues but didn’t really provide satisfactory answers. In response to my question whether Dr. Groves (he is a Ph.D and a University of Michigan Professor), LuAnne Holifield (who, as far as I can determine, is the heard of the Asheville LCO) or Carla Gay could be fired, Ryan was pessimistic, saying that is is virtually impossible to fire anyone in Government employment. Besides, Groves was appointed, not hired.

Although I would never condone nor participate in violence to resolve issues such as this, I’ve come to understand and appreciate what would lead people to consider such acts. The feeling of the lack to power and the arrogance toward those who are suposedly there to serve us, the taxpayers, in infuriating.

As a side note, I recently had a brief meeting with Ms. Holifield. Her lack of any courtesy and just plain rudeness was disgusting.

This post is dedicated to the Census Bureau’s Associate Director of Communications Steve Jost: More pay delays for Western North Carolina census workers

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Even though spin doctor Steve Jost, tried to Jost-ify the Census Bureau’s failure to pay its employees properly and on time in the comments section of this blog, this latest report from North Carolina details how Congressman Heath Shuler had to step in to enable emergency checks to be issued to Census Bureau employees — checks that are yet to arrive. Thanks to Julie Ball of the Citizen Times for the following:

ASHEVILLE — Some Western North Carolina census workers are still waiting on emergency checks after payroll problems caused some workers to get no or only partial pay this week.

Karla Gay, local census office manager for the city office, said those workers should have the emergency pay by next week, but she could not say for sure when.

“I know that there are people who are living paycheck to paycheck, and it’s very important. I want them to know we are doing everything we can,” Gay said Friday.

Workers who didn’t request emergency pay won’t get caught up on their pay until Wednesday, according to Gay.

“At this point, what we are telling folks really is to sit tight … people will be paid on Wednesday,” said Tony Jones, with media relations for the Charlotte Regional Census Center.

U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler sent a letter Friday to U.S. Census officials urging them to resolve the problem.

Gay said between 5 and 8 percent of 1,100 workers who are doing census work in 11 WNC counties had pay problems, getting either no pay or partial pay Wednesday. She could not say how many of them requested emergency pay.

Of five states covered by the Charlotte regional office — North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia — the pay problem only occurred in the Asheville and Charlotte offices, according to Jones.

Jones didn’t have an exact count, but said between 1 and 4 percent of the 1,300 workers in Charlotte either didn’t get paid or got only a partial payment.

Census officials have attributed the pay problem to incomplete or unsigned pay sheets and problems with bank account numbers submitted by workers. But at least one worker has said there were no problems with her paperwork.

“We also had challenges here in the office with getting the volume of work in because it came in late,” Gay said.

Unlike the 2000 Census when workers submitted weekly pay sheets, census workers must fill out and sign a pay sheet every day they work. Each individual sheet must then be audited.

Jones said there are people working “24-seven” on nothing but payroll.

Some WNC workers who didn’t get paid have contacted Shuler’s office and U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s office to complain about the problem.

Stephanie Allen, spokeswoman for Hagan, said the office is turning the information over to U.S. Census officials.

Julie Fishman, communications director for Shuler, said if census workers are having trouble with their pay, they can call Shuler’s office at 252-1651 and leave their name and the city/town they are working in.

Shuler’s office is compiling the information and will send it directly to Charlotte.

Anti-immigration group wants 2010 Census used to find illegal immigrants

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Thanks to Northwestern University’s Medill News Service for the following:
By Abby Sewell
Medill News Service

WASHINGTON — An anti-immigration group has launched a push for U.S. census data to be used to enforce immigration law.

The North Carolina-based group Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee called Monday for its supporters to flood congressional offices nationwide with calls to introduce legislation that would allow 2010 census data to be used to identify and deport illegal immigrants.

Immigration advocates and experts said the proposal would be unworkable and would run counter to the purpose of the census.

ALIPAC President William Gheen called his proposal a response to widespread efforts by the census to reach out to immigrant populations through measures such as Spanish-language ads.

“We can’t allow illegal aliens to steal taxpayer allocations and taxpayer representation by being counted on the census,” he said.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican who represents Frederick County, was among the congressional incumbents endorsed by ALIPAC in 2010. Bartlett’s spokeswoman, Lisa Wright, said to her knowledge no one had contacted the congressman’s office about the group’s proposal.

Census population figures are used, in part, to determine federal funding and congressional representation for each state.

Lisa Navarrete, vice president of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy organization, called ALIPAC an extremist group and equated taking their immigration policy proposals seriously with taking advice on affirmative action from a white supremacist group.

Gheen “is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” she said. “On the contrary, what the problem has been for years with the census is a significant undercount of Latinos.”

Census Bureau spokeswoman Samantha O’Neil had no specific comment on the ALIPAC proposal but said that the bureau is tasked with counting every resident, regardless of citizenship status. Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing personal information collected in the census with any other agency.

“We take our orders from the Constitution, and we’ve been doing it the same way since 1790,” O’Neil said.

The 2010 census did not include any questions about immigration status. ALIPAC is proposing that identifying information provided on census forms should be run against federal databases to flag potential illegal immigrants.

Audrey Singer, a senior fellow in the metropolitan policy program of the Brookings Institution, said it would be impossible to verify immigration status based on the information provided on the 2010 census.

“There’s no magical database out there that could accurately and reliably inform us about a person’s legal standing in the country,” she said. ” … On the accuracy of doing that, it would be a surefire failure, not to mention all of the legal and ethical consequences.”