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 ‘Obama’

More Americans with college degrees than ever before

Monday, February 27th, 2012

As GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum tries to appeal to voters by claiming that President Obama is a snob for proposing that all Americans should get a college education, he is apparently hitting home with the 70% of Americans who lack such a degree. Nonetheless, with more than 30% of Americans over the age of 25 now have a college degree, which is the highest percentage in American history. CNN explains it all right here.

Click here for the Census Bureau’s report on educational attainment in the United States.

Rahm Emanuel Wants A Re-Count For Chicago – Disputing 2010 Census Results

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

In the run up to the 2010 Census, Rahm Emanuel took a significant amount of flack for trying to bring the 2010 Census under the auspices of the White House. Republicans were enraged that President Obama’s then chief-of-staff had the chutzpah to try to transform an independent agency into a White House subsidiary. But now Emanuel is in the news for other reasons. As Mayor of Chicago, Emanuel is fighting for the $1,200 that each resident is worth in terms of annual federal subsidies. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is mounting a challenge to 2010 U.S. Census estimates that Chicago lost about 200,000 residents.

Big city mayors regularly contest the once-a-decade census results, which determine how much federal funding flows to different parts of the country. Chicago would gain about $1,200 annually for the next decade for each person added to the official population, according to Emanuel’s office.

Emanuel’s predecessor, Mayor Richard Daley, launched an unsuccessful bid to get Chicago’s 2000 population numbers increased. In 1990, Daley and other mayors tried futilely to get Congress to give them additional time to fight the census results.

The 2010 census estimated Chicago lost about 181,000 African-Americans and about 53,000 whites. Meanwhile, the Latino population grew by about 25,000 and the Asian population went up more than 20,000. Overall, the city’s estimated population in 2010 was 2,695,598.

City workers used estimates of the occupancy rates of housing units in particular neighborhoods to come up with areas they believe the census numbers were low, according to a news release from the Emanuel administration.

Yesterday’s New York Times editorial is a farce and here’s why…

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Yesterday, the New York Times ran the following editorial:

The 2010 census, in its final stages, has apparently been a success — something not thought possible just a couple years ago, when unsteady management, political interference and other problems threatened to derail the effort. The count was salvaged only after last-minute scrambling and major new spending — and after new leaders were put in place by the Obama administration.

For a time, it seemed as if Congress would learn the lessons from the near disaster of 2010. In March, a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers introduced a bill to improve the census, mainly by giving the bureau director more power to run the agency without interference. In April, the Senate committee in charge of the census unanimously passed the bill. The bill has not gone anywhere since then.

Why does that matter, when the next count is a decade away? The best chance for passing a bill is now, when public awareness of the census is high. And the sooner reform is passed, the better, because census planning, done right, is a decade-long project.

The administration, which had to rescue the current census, should certainly know that. But it is the administration that appears to be standing in the way.

At a hearing this spring, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Senator Thomas Carper, Democrat of Delaware, said that Commerce Secretary Gary Locke had complained about a provision giving the director greater independence to communicate directly with the commerce secretary and Congress about problems with the census. He said Mr. Locke also objected to giving the director greater influence over the bureau’s budget.

Mr. Carper suggested that independence to communicate was nonnegotiable, but a compromise on the budget could be found. There is no sign of progress.

In the next few weeks, Mr. Carper’s staff will issue a report on the bill to help other senators as they consider the legislation. The bill is a brief 11 pages and it is uncontested, at least on Capitol Hill. How much help do the other senators really need?

Mr. Carper should speed up the report. If the administration still has problems with the bill, it should make them public and allow the process to move forward openly. Basic reform of the census is needed, and the time to make those changes is slipping away.

MyTwoCensus analysis:

The first part of this editorial labels the 2010 Census a “success” but never states why it is considered as such. Perhaps this is based on the cursory observation of the participation/response rates that were similar to those of 2000. This may be a “success” when taking a quick glance at figures, but let us remember that the Census Bureau’s budget for 2010 was infinitely larger than it was in 2000. (And it took home an extra $1 billion in funding from the stimulus package.)

The second half of this disjointed editorial has a bit of validity, though it isn’t articulated well. Yes, it would be better for America for the Census Bureau Director to have a fixed term that ends in a year that is in between Presidential election years. But Gary Locke has legitimate concerns, and those must be addressed before rushing a bill through committee. The same Senate that can’t pass Climate legislation that’s been on the table forever shouldn’t be expected to jump on legislation related to the 2020 Census.

And here’s a little caveat/prediction for the New York Times: When the mainstream media learns just how much of a mess the 2010 Census was in some parts of the country, and in particular New York (where a dense concentration of media moguls and reporters utterly failed to cover the giant mess that is the New York regional census office) they will be begging for re-enumerations, recounts, and heads to be put on the chopping block. MyTwoCensus.com will elaborate more on this information in the coming days and weeks.

Note: An earlier version of this post questioned why President Obama hadn’t signed a bill seeking to reform the GOP’s “census” mailers. I referred to a blog post that I wrote on May 18, 2010. I subsequently learned from comments on this post that President Obama signed the bill on May 24. I was never made aware of this action by President Obama until today and I apologize for the confusion. Those people who refer to a bill from April should know that the GOP found a loophole in this legislation and continued to issue deceptive mailers. Furthermore, the comment about President Obama was just an aside from a post that focuses on many other important matters which I hope are not overshadowed by my simple error.

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.

Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves says that operations are winding down; Mass #layoffs ahead at the #2010 #Census

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

We knew this day would come. Yesterday, Robert M. Groves tweeted and blogged that 2010 Census operations are winding down.

Groves wrote, “As of Sunday, we have completed and checked-in about 44 million enumerator forms for this operation of the approximately 47 million; we’re at about 93% complete in this operation. We are somewhat ahead of schedule and certainly under-budget.”

My first (snarky) comment is that its not hard to be under-budget when you are given a $15 billion blank check that is more than triple what your predecessors had to work with in 2000.

My second, realistic comment, is that there are still 3 million households that have not been counted. With the end of operations looming near, this invites fraud on many levels, as individuals will likely be pressured by their higher-ups, all the way through the chain of command back to Census Bureau Headquarters in Suitland, Maryland to get forms completed come hell or high water.

Subtly, Dr. Groves also warned of mass layoffs in the coming days. He wrote;

However, for many we will have to say our goodbyes. It is to them that this entry is dedicated –

You were among the best labor force for a decennial census in decades; you brought to the census family the strongest set of skills and intelligence, the best work experience, incredible flexibility, and a strong devotion to serving the American public by devoting your talents to the 2010 Census. On behalf of the full Census Bureau family, I thank you for your service to the country, and I wish you well in the next steps in your careers. I hope some of the experiences you had during this massive, complicated, messy effort will provide knowledge that makes you a better employee in your next endeavor. Thank you again.

Also, please say a warm and fuzzy goodbye to Obama Administration job creation statistics that were inflated by Census Bureau hires!

With latest jobs report, the Census Bureau’s failures to report training hours and part-time jobs come to light

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

For most of you, this is old news by now, but I hesitated to report it because it would probably just make you more angry. It recently came out that most of America’s new jobs are temporary Census Bureau positions that will soon end, which is dismal news for the economy. As MyTwoCensus.com observed, some people on the right are outraged by what they report as false job statistics since Census Bureau employees have been hired and let go (for various reasons) and then re-hired to work for other 2010 Census operations down the road.

FoxNews published reports from Commerce Department and Bureau of Labor Statistics spokespersons:

Commerce Department spokesman Nick Kimball:

“The Census Bureau — like all other employers — reports the number of individuals on its payroll for the specific week the Labor Department uses as a point of reference for measuring the nation’s level of This is not a tally of positions filled during the past month — instead, it is the number of actual individual human beings who received paychecks that week. That number can then be compared to the reports from previous months to understand the changing jobs environment over time.”

Bureau of Labor Statistics spokeswoman Stacey Standish:

“Each month the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Current Employment Statistics (CES) program publishes the employment levels for total nonfarm and component industries. Establishments, including the Census Bureau, are asked to report the total number of workers on their payroll. That is, the establishment is asked to report the total number of employees who worked or received pay for the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. The CES program does not ask establishments to report the number of new hires or created, or the number of persons who were laid off.”

Shelly Lowe of the Census Bureau’s public information office commented on a MyTwoCensus post:

First, the Census Bureau does not hire, then fire, and then rehire anyone. Any employee who is fired is fired for cause. We train and hire temporary workers for various operations, most significantly Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) to complete work assignments. When the work is complete, the temporary worker goes into an inactive status. They may be re-activated if there is more work to do, or for another subsequent operation. At no time do we count a re-activation from non-working status as a ?rehire.?

The article goes on to state: “Labor doesn’t check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

This is simply inaccurate. The Census Bureau reports to the Department of Labor and on our public website the number of people paid for work during a given week. We do not report the number of jobs. The Census Bureau reports the total number of unduplicated temporary 2010 workers that earned any pay during a specific weekly pay period. Temporary workers earning any pay during the week are counted only once. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measures changes in employment levels — not the actual level itself — and looks only at the week which includes the 12th day of the month. It is simply not possible for Census to engage in the manipulation of data to artificially inflate the employment report of the BLS in the manner alleged by this news column.

So now we see that the number of people on the payroll each week is the number of people who are reported to the government. However, as we know from previous posts and reports by the Commerce Department Inspector General and Government Accountability Office, there are tons and tons of Census Bureau employees who are “trained” each week but never actually work. Furthermore, there are thousands of Census Bureau employees who are only working part-time. Many workers have twenty hours to work per week, tops. These  figures are not accounted for in the Census Bureau’s tally, which are further compounded by the Census Bureau’s frequent IT malfunctions making it such that Census Bureau employees who are on the clock are merely sitting around and waiting for assignments to come through.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: New York Times editorial has it both right and wrong

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Today, the New York Times published an editorial that praises Congress for initiating bi-partisan reforms of the Census Bureau as it initiated legislation that mandates the Census Bureau Director’s term to be fixed at five-years, a plan that makes it easier to work around the decennial census. However, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and the White House were at first keen on this idea, but have now stalled the plan, despite seven former Census Bureau directors asserting that this is the best way to reform the Census Bureau. Robert M. Groves, the current Census Bureau Director, also supports this plan — but apparently the egos of the others have got in the way of progress:

The Obama administration, which should be supporting the bill, is instead raising objections. It has objected to a provision that would allow the census director to report directly to the commerce secretary. It also has objected to a provision that would require the director to send Congress the bureau’s budget request at the same time it goes to the White House.

However, the editorial strays from its initial goals later on and says this:

The census was in dire straits when President Obama took office, and it took a while for the administration to get organized. The 2010 count is now on track, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Locke and Robert Groves, the bureau director — both Obama appointees.

The New York Times has it wrong. The Census Bureau and the 2010 Census are not “on track” at this point. The myriad technical failures and other problems have already hampered the accuracy of this count and will continue to do so in the immediate future mean that the 2010 Census is NOT on track.

Wall Street Journal: 2010 Census hiring blitz will alter job figures

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

The Wall Street Journal asserts that the national unemployment rate will fall this month, and this is in large part due to the thousands of people who are temporarily working for the 2010 Census. Here’s the article.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: For the sake of employees, tell the truth about how long NRFU operations will last

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

MyTwoCensus has received confidential reports from multiple Census Bureau officials that non-response follow-up operations in many parts of the country are winding down. By law, the Census Bureau can only contact non-responders three times in person and three times by phone — even though MyTwoCensus is currently investigating whether additional illegal contacts are taking place.

Because of the Census Bureau’s computer failures, the 2010 Census may be coming in over-budget (apparently $15 billion wasn’t enough cash…). Since the Census Bureau doesn’t want to take yet another scolding from the Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office, they may try to abruptly end the 2010 headcount ASAP.

With half a million workers on the streets during this large-scale operation, there is significant amounts of confusion about how long jobs will last. Lying to Census Bureau employees, who very well may lose their jobs within the next one or two weeks (by the end of May) is not the answer. Yes, these jobs are temporary, but working through the end of July meant an additional two months of security and stability for many individuals employed by the Census Bureau who may have quit lower paying jobs to take on these positions. Additionally, it seems to be that thousands of individuals went off unemployment to take their Census Bureau jobs. These people should not have been told that they would have 6-8 weeks of work if they really only have 4 weeks of work.

Ed O’Keefe: House passes new ‘census mailer’ bill; Michael “Scumbag” Steele is rebuked.

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

H/t to the venerable Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post for the following…Looks like it only took a small piece of legislation and little more than 24 hours for Congress to make a bipartisan renunciation of the idiocy and ignorance of scumbag RNC Chairman Michael Steele and the rest of the “I don’t care about the opinions and values of mainstream Republican elected leaders” Republican National Committee.:

The House unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that closes loopholes in the “census mailer” law in an effort to stop the Republican National Committee from using the word “census” on fundraising mailers.

Lawmakers moved quickly to close the loophole as the Census Bureau continues its operations of the 2010 Census.

The bill, introduced Tuesday by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), removed any ambiguity from the law signed by President Obama this month that makes it illegal to use the word “census” on an envelope or document without a disclaimer stating that the sender is not associated with the U.S. government.

Issa’s bill clarifies that it’s illegal to see the word “census” without a disclaimer if it’s visible through the envelope or on an outside cover or wrapper or on the envelope itself.

Issa, a reliable critic of the Obama administration and Democratic lawmakers, introduced the bill and took a swipe at GOP leadership on Wednesday morning, saying their mailings “violated the spirit” of the original law.

“I would say to people who raise money, whether it’s the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, other political entities or nonpolitical entities who simply want to have their envelopes open to raise money or get their message out, don’t use the census,” Issa said. “Don’t even think about using the census because it’s wrong. If something is deceptive, then it’s wrong under the law we already passed.”

Democrats and minority and senior citizen rights groups had blasted the RNC and the National Republican Congressional Committee for sending such solicitations earlier this year.

Thus far, is the 2010 Census a success or failure?

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Obviously, for me, the jury is still out on the above question. But on Monday, Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post tackled this question:

At least 72 percent of American households returned their forms to the U.S. Census Bureau this year, matching returns for the 2000 headcount. Final numbers will be announced on Wednesday and Obama administration officials cheered the early numbers late last week as evidence of successful outreach efforts.

But a leading Republican Census critic phoned The Eye within minutes of Friday’s announcement and raised an interesting point:

“This census cost more than double what the census cost in 2000,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). He finds it curious that officials would be happy to only match 2000 figures despite a 2010 budget that was more than three times what was spent ten years ago.

“They spent $300 million on advertising that a lot of us were critical of and they’re getting poor results in the places we know we have problems,” he said, referring to a controversial Census Bureau Super Bowl ad panned by critics.

The agency’s 2010 budget was the same as 2000 on an inflation-adjusted basis, said Census Bureau spokesman Steven Jost.

“We spent just 5 percent more in equivalent dollars this year on a population that was 10 percent bigger,” he said in an e-mail. The 2000 Census was also the first conducted with a paid advertising campaign, so 2010′s headcount needed an equally robust ad strategy to stay even with previous numbers, he said.

In his e-mail Jost listed other reasons for only breaking even with 2000: The country has grown in size and diversity since 2000 and the last headcount was conducted at a time of economic prosperity when Americans had a better opinion of government.

“Most observers of the census during the last several years predicted these factors would make the job tougher in 2010 but so far the public has got us off to a great start,” Jost said, noting that the second part of Census operations kicks off soon when census takers start knocking on doors.

So who’s right? Chaffetz or Jost?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Michael Steele and the GOP – Are you kidding me? Republicans continue ‘census mailings’ despite law

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Michael Steele and the national GOP are a bunch of ignorant individuals who are completely out of touch with their party’s mainstream. Even after Congress showed strong bipartisan support for a measure to ban deceptive census mailings (now a law signed by President Obama), these idiots continue to act illegally — and they are openly defending their actions. They should be prosecuted. Eric Holder and the Justice Department, I hope you’re reading this. H/t to Ed O’Keefe for the following…and I hope that Jon Stewart creates a segment mocking this BS on The Daily Show in the near future:

The Republican National Committee believes that a new round of mailings which use the word “Census” does not violate a new law banning such deliveries.

Democrats and news organizations in Nebraska, Utah and Washington state have called out the new Republican mailings as illegal and detrimental to 2010 Census efforts.

The mailings appear to violate a law signed by President Obama on April 7 that passed with bipartisan support in both chambers. The law requires mailings with an envelope marked “Census” to state clearly the sender’s return address and provide a disclaimer that the mailing is not from the federal government.

But the RNC will keep sending such mailings regardless of the new law, according to committee spokesman Doug Heye.

“In reviewing the new law, our legal department determined such mailings are not covered. Therefore, they will continue,” Heye said in an e-mail. He would not elaborate on the legal determination.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who authored the bill, sounded incensed.

“What is with these guys?” she said in a statement. “Congress passes a law in record time, with unanimous bipartisan support in both houses, to reduce confusion about the real Census. But there they go again, trying to make a partisan buck on the Census!”

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has been asked by Nebraska Democrats to weigh in on the matter. Under the old law, postal inspectors deemed such mailings legal.

Holder to look into gov’t use of FOIA exemptions

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

H/t to MyTwoCensus.com Chief Technology Officer Evan Goldin for telling me about the following snippet that comes from the Associated Press. As many of you know, I have filed multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain information from the Census Bureau, yet many of these requests remain unfulfilled or contain significant amounts of redacted information when I receive them, demonstrating that the Obama Administration’s transparency goals have yet to be fulfilled.

By SHARON THEIMER

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder says he’s going to find out why the administration has often used a legal loophole to keep information secret even though President Barack Obama ordered more openness.

Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee he found statistics on Freedom of Information Act denials analyzed by The Associated Press “troubling.” The AP has reported that one year into its promise of greater transparency, the administration was more often citing FOIA “exceptions” to withhold records, even as requests for information decreased.

In response to questions from Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, Holder said Wednesday that he doesn’t know why the use of exceptions increased, but will find out.

2010 Census spoofed on SNL

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Anyone catch the most recent edition of Saturday Night Live? Well, Christopher Walken and Tim Meadows no longer the sole proprietors of SNL census sketches. Check it out here:

First biracial president? Nope! First black president? Yes!

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Though MyTwoCensus would have classified President Obama as biracial, he views himself as “black” and his kids as “black” too. The following confirmation to our inquiries was first reported by the New York Times:

It is official: Barack Obama is the nation’s first black president.

A White House spokesman confirmed that Mr. Obama, the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, checked African-American on the 2010 census questionnaire.

The president, who was born in Hawaii and raised there and in Indonesia, had more than a dozen options in responding to Question 9, about race. He chose “Black, African Am., or Negro.” (The anachronistic “Negro” was retained on the 2010 form because the Census Bureau believes that some older blacks still refer to themselves that way.)

Mr. Obama could have checked white, checked both black and white, or checked the last category on the form, “some other race,” which he would then have been asked to identify in writing.

There is no category specifically for mixed race or biracial.

Instructions for the census’s American Community Survey, which poses the question in the same way as the 2010 form, say that “people may choose to provide two or more races either by marking two or more race response boxes, by providing multiple write-in responses, or by some combination of marking boxes and writing in responses.”

In the 2000 census, when Americans first were allowed to check more than one box for race, about 6.8 million people reported being of two or more races.

Obama Completes Census Form But His Answers Are Unclear…Some Transparency Please?

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

According to the Associated Press, the White House did not respond as to how the President filled out the “race” question. This is a complex issue as President Obama is of mixed race, yet his wife and daughters and mother-in-law are likely considered to be African-American. But it’s still a pretty big and important question that the White House SHOULD answer. Let’s hope we get some info here, just so other multi-racial households will have some knowledge and guidance… (I just Tweeted a message over to @PressSec — Robert Gibbs — so hopefully he will respond!)

Justice Department Says: Patriot Act Does Not Override Privacy of Census Information

Friday, March 19th, 2010

The following is a story from Feet In 2 Worlds, an pro-immigration reform organization:

By Diego Graglia

In a new attempt to reassure undocumented immigrants that taking part in the 2010 Census is safe and that the Census Bureau will not share information with other government agencies, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D.-N.Y.) obtained a letter from the Department of Justice stating that the confidentiality of the count is not superseded by the Patriot Act.

Velázquez sent two letters to the agency in September and December last year, asking what effect the anti-terrorism bill could have on the confidentiality protections the Census Act provides.

“Your letters express concern on the part of some members of the public that information-gathering or information-sharing provisions of the Patriot Act may override the confidentiality requirements of the Census Act so as to require the Commerce Secretary to disclose otherwise covered census information to federal law enforcement or national security officials,” wrote assistant attorney general Ronald Weich in a response dated March 3, 2010.

Weich then went on to say that the precedents in federal legislation which protect census participants’ information from disclosure support “the view that if Congress intended to override these protections if would say so clearly and explicitly.”

No provision of the Patriot Act, he added, contradicts that view.

At the same time, a different letter, this one part of a signature-gathering campaign, showed that efforts to distance the Census campaign from the stronger enforcement of immigration laws of the last few years have not been 100% successful.

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights wants support for its request of a “suspension of immigration enforcement activities in order to maximize immigrant community participation” in the Census.

Immigrant advocates have expressed concerns that undocumented foreigners won’t participate in the Census out of fear of government officials.

NNIRR notes in the letter that “in the past two census periods, during 1990 and 2000, many operations were suspended for specific periods,” but it also acknowledges that the Obama administration and the Department of Homeland Security “have thus far not indicated that they will take any steps.”

The Feet in Two Worlds project on the Census is made possible thanks to the generous support of the 2010 Census Outreach Initiative Fund at The New York Community Trust.

The Multiracial Debate

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

H/t to the Chicago Tribune for producing a lengthy piece of journalism:

By Oscar Avila, Dahleen Glanton,

Look in the mirror and what do you see?

When the census form arrives in mailboxes this week, the complex answers to that question will help paint America’s evolving portrait, with repercussions for a decade and beyond.

For most people, the census will be a simple 10-minute process. For others in this nation of Barack Obama, Jessica Alba, Tiger Woods, Halle Berry, Apolo Ohno and Joakim Noah , questions of mixed race and ethnicity will prompt soul-searching over how to categorize themselves among a small but growing minority in the national fabric.

The census is a montage of self-portraits that will detail the ways a nation of nearly 309 million has changed since 2000, including migration, family size and housing patterns. While that data is easier to quantify, critics say a rote list of boxes and checkmarks can’t adequately reflect all the racial and ethnic transformations.

On Chicago’s South Side, the daughter of a black father and white mother will check both. Her brother will check black. Their children will write in “mixed” or “biracial.”

A Brazilian immigrant will mark a box that says Hispanic, though she doesn’t accept the label. A woman from Jordan won’t check Asian, though she is. A man born to a Japanese mother and white father considers himself white only at census time.

Another respondent may check four racial boxes like the multi-ethnic Woods, who invented his own identifier: “cablinasian,” a mix of Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian. Obama jokingly labeled himself a “mutt,” but he won’t find that box on the form.

Some bemoan the absence of a separate “multiracial” box to check. And beyond race and ethnicity, the form won’t account for the principal factor by which many Americans identify themselves: There is no category for sexual orientation, so some gay activists plan to protest by affixing pink stickers on the envelope.

“The lesson is that, like reality, like our lives, census data are messy,” said Jorge Chapa, a University of Illinois professor who has consulted for the Census Bureau. “But the messiness does reflect the growing diversity and our complexity as a people. It’s closer to the truth.”

Over the years, the census form has changed to reflect racial realities. A historic switch for the 2000 census allowed Americans to click more than one category, meaning that the son of a Kenyan father and a white woman from Kansas can now officially be both races. About 6.8 million Americans, 2.4 percent of the population, checked more than one racial box.

A Brookings Institution survey has shown a doubling of mixed-race marriages over the last two decades. A Pew Research Center report last month documented that younger generations were far more tolerant of racial mixing than their elders.

People who mark more than one race box are not counted more than once in the overall population tally. But they would add one additional person to each racial category they choose.

Susan Graham, executive director of California-based Project RACE, which advocates for multiracial families, said a hodgepodge of individual boxes is not sufficient to describe her children. She is white and was married to an African-American, and their children have a singular identity as multiracial American.

“The term ‘multiracial,’ we believe, is important and should be on the form. Words are important,” Graham said.

Researchers have found that people’s self-identities can be fluid: Over the course of their lives, they can more strongly identify with various parts of their ancestry at different times.

Kenneth Prewitt, who directed the 2000 census, said some civil-rights groups have resisted the concept of checking more than one race out of fear that it will dilute their influence.

Prewitt said the “Hispanic” term, one used mainly in the U.S., is especially confusing. The term, which the Census Bureau first used in 1980, describes an ethnicity pertaining to Spain but can include white, black and other races. He would include one catch-all category merging Hispanics with other race identifiers, or eliminate all boxes and have everyone write in their preferred identities.

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