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 ‘Philadelphia’

Does this lawsuit against the Census Bureau have legitimacy? Perhaps

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

H/t to former MyTwoCensus editor Emily Babay for informing me of the following lawsuit filed against the Census Bureau for its hiring practices. The Philadelphia Inquirer brings us the following:

Phila. woman at center of census lawsuit

By Jane M. Von Bergen

Paying $17.75 an hour, U.S. Census jobs, though temporary, are attractive in an economy where unemployment is stuck at 9.7 percent. But the Census Bureau’s screening policies, designed to safeguard the public, end up discriminating against minorities, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

That’s because the bureau has set up an “arbitrary barrier to employment” for any person with an arrest record, “no matter how trivial or disconnected from the requirements of the job,” the lawsuit, filed in Manhattan, says. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is named as the defendant.

The national suit, filed by Outten & Golden L.L.P. in New York and a coalition of public-interest organizations, seeks class-action status on behalf of those turned down for a job if they were arrested and not convicted, or convicted for an offense irrelevant to the job.

“The U.S. Census Bureau’s top priority is the safety of both our workforce and the American public,” Commerce Department spokesman Nicholas Kimball responded. “Americans must be confident that, if . . . a census taker must come to their door to count them, we’ve taken steps to ensure their safety.”

Kimball declined to comment on the suit.

One of the two lead plaintiffs, Evelyn Houser, 69, of North Philadelphia, thinks she is qualified to fill one of the 1.2 million census positions. That’s because Houser worked for the census before, in 1990.

“What’s the difference between then and now?” she asked in an interview Tuesday. “It’s like a slap in the face.”

The difference, said her lawyer, Sharon Dietrich with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, is the government’s cumbersome screening process.

Computers kick back any application with an arrest record, requiring more documentation, but the Census Bureau doesn’t make it clear what documentation is required, Dietrich said.

The discrimination occurs because the arrest and conviction rates of African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans exceed those of whites, the suit says. Compounding the problem, it says, is that one in three arrests do not lead to prosecution or conviction, yet the bureau’s system does not readily distinguish between arrests and convictions.

“The processes are screening out any kind of criminal case, no matter what,” Dietrich said.

“If you were arrested years ago for a minor offense, you are asked to comply with the same burdensome process as if you had been released from jail last week after committing a murder,” she said,

Plaintiffs’ attorney Samuel Miller, of Outten & Golden, estimates that as many as one million applicants may have been caught up in the process, with tens of thousands unfairly deterred or excluded from employment.

In 1981, Houser was a 39-year-old mother raising four children on welfare and food stamps. Her monthly check was several days away, but she was out of food when, going outside to take out the trash, she found a check next to the Dumpster.

“I went home and told my kids, ‘God sent me a piece of paper that says we’re going to eat tonight.’ ”

Houser shouldn’t have done it, but she tried to cash the check. She was arrested. Instead of being convicted, she was placed in alternative rehabilitation program. Her record remains clean, Dietrich said.

In 1990, Houser got a job with the census. Last year, she decided to apply again and passed a qualifying test.

A month or so later, the Census Bureau sent her a letter, asking her for documentation. The way she read it, her fingerprints would suffice, so she had them taken and sent them in the next day.

The bureau rejected her because, it said, she hadn’t sent the right documentation. Dietrich called the bureau’s communications confusing.

Since then, Houser has been involved in a long appeals process, which culminated in the filing of the suit.

Houser, who lives in subsidized housing, estimated that 25 percent of her working-age neighbors are unemployed. They are “just existing,” she said. “It’s just survival.”

She’s helping her neighbors find a path to employment, Houser said. “I’m a little gray-haired old lady and I’m trying to lead them in a better way.”

MyTwoCensus Investigation: Why is the Census Bureau pointing at some cities to improve while others are left lagging behind in silence?

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Imagine you’re in first grade and you’re playing soccer for a team. Imagine if you’re one of a handful of kids who isn’t playing as well as the others. Now, imagine that the coach tells a few kids who are playing poorly what they’re doing wrong, but he doesn’t tell you anything. So what do you do? You keep doing what you’re doing, which is lousy. It’s lousy because you will never get better. Well, this is what the Census Bureau has done in recent days by pointing out that some states, cities and towns have poor “participation rates” while letting others linger in the darkness.

Just yesterday, I worried that Connecticut didn’t have enough resources for its Questionnaire Assistance Centers. Today, my fears were confirmed when the Census Bureau called out Connecticut on its low response rates. The Census Bureau sent out a press release with the following:

2010 Census Mail Participation Rates in Parts of Connecticut
Behind Rest of the Nation

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves noted today that some areas are
lagging behind the rest of the country in mailing back their 2010 Census
forms. With Census Day on April 1, parts of Connecticut still have some of
the lowest rates of mail participation. Nationally, 50 percent of
households have mailed back their forms. But in parts of Connecticut, the
participation rate is significantly lower, with Hartford one of the
farthest behind at 32 percent.

“We’re concerned about the relatively low response from parts of
Connecticut,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “Every household
that fails to send back their census form by mail must be visited by a
census taker starting in May — at a significant taxpayer cost. The easiest
and best way to be counted in the census is to fill out and return your
form by mail.”

Why single out Connecticut and Chicago when other states and cities are performing even worse? (Conspiracy theorists may start here when they notice that both of these regions tilt Democratic and it would be an insult to the President if Chicago underperformed…)

On Tuesday, a concerned reader wrote to me (note the following numbers have changed since Tuesday…), “This morning the Bureau issued a press release calling out a number of cities and states concerned with their mailback response.  The Bureau called out Anchorage, AK (41% participation response) and Montgomery, AL (41%) as low performing areas.  They also called out several cities in Florida and Jackson Mississippi which have participation rates in the 30’s.

Why did the Census Bureau single out some areas in press releases and not others?  As of Tuesday’s update, these major cities all had participation rates in the 30% range – Houston, TX 33%, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Dallas each at 37%, Austin, TX 33%, Columbus, OH 35%, and Memphis, TN 31%  — yet weren’t mentioned anywhere.

Why call out some locales and not others? If there is a method to this madness, Dr. Groves, Mr. Jost, Mr. Buckner, and other Census Bureau officials are requested to let us know in the comments section why there is such disparity in the levels of attention given by the Bureau to specific poorly performing areas.

The US Census Bureau Falls Short In Paying Contractors, Says GA1 Marketing Firm

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

WASHINGTON, March 23 /PRNewswire/ — Global Advertising 1st (GA1), an award-winning integrated marketing solutions firm, was chosen to meet the US Census Bureau’s increasing needs to recruit applicants for temporary positions necessary to conduct the decennial Census in 2010.

In August of 2009, the US Census Bureau contracted GA1 to handle recruitment advertising in the Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, Kansas City, and Charlotte regions. The campaigns launched during the peak recruiting phase of the 2010 Census, which fell between late 2009 and continues through April 2010.

Although, the efforts of the recruitment campaign have been an overall success, with some regions having a surplus of applicants, the small business agency still has not been paid. The US Census owes GA1 several millions to date and the company has received less than $2,000.00.

“In this economy, it is unfathomable to ask any business, especially one of our size to execute such a major campaign and work six months for free,” says Derrick Hollie, president and CEO of GA1. “GA1 has been caught up in the Census’ red tape and bureaucracy which has resulted in major delays in payment to our firm.”

With an initiative as large as the US Census and the holdup of payment for services rendered, it is impossible for any businesses to survive.  GA1 has continued to extend themselves to this government client despite effects to their credit line and that cannot go on forever.

GA1 was excited to be a part of such an important initiative mandated by the US government, and the agency is prepared to make the 2010 Census a huge success. However, GA1 never thought receiving compensation for work completed would be such an issue.

About GA1:

Global Advertising 1st (GA1) is an award-winning minority-owned, full-service marketing solutions firm that specializes in providing innovative approaches to disseminating our clients’ messages. GA1 has created and implemented campaigns for clients such as the US Department of Education, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Gillette, Dodge, the US Department of State and American Lung Association of DC, and the 2010 US Census. GA1 holds a GSA AIMS Schedule 541 and does the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as a qualified minority-owned business for government media placement certify 8(a). GA1 has also received multiple state and local authorities. For a complete list of our certifications and awards please visit: www.globalad1.com.

Update: Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner sent me the following response to this post:

We are required by law to adhere to federal accounting and financial guidelines, policies and standards to ensure the appropriate use of public funds.  The U.S. Census Bureau promptly pays invoices properly submitted by contractors as long as the information presented in the invoice is correct and is accompanied by the legally required supporting documentation.

In the case of Global Advertising, as of March 25, 2010, the Census Bureau has paid Global Advertising for every invoice properly submitted and accepted. Because they are a small business, we have gone the extra mile and Census Bureau staff personally assisted the company’s employees to prepare their invoices and speed the invoicing process so they can be paid for work performed in an efficient manner.  We deeply regret that the President of Global Advertising did not disclose the extraordinary effort our staff have provided to his company to help them with contract compliance. The Census Bureau values the work of our contractors and will do all that we can to make the invoicing process as smooth as possible, at the same time we are careful stewards of the taxpayers funds.

News from the Keystone State: Pennsylvania Update

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Two interesting stories from Pennsylvania…one from each side of the state:

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, a story about how now deceased Rep. John Murtha’s House of Reps. seat will likely disappear:

The candidate who succeeds the late Rep. John P. Murtha (D., Pa.) in a special election this spring might not want to buy a home in Washington.

That’s because demographers estimate that Pennsylvania will lose at least one seat in the decennial reapportionment of House seats among the states after the 2010 Census – and some political analysts believe the 12th District would be an easy target for state lawmakers reshuffling boundaries before the 2012 elections.

Murtha’s district, which looks somewhat like a crustacean spread over parts of nine counties, was itself gerrymandered into existence to save his job a decade ago, after the Census determined that Pennsylvania would lose two representatives because of sluggish population growth relative to other states.

Even Republicans – who then controlled the state House, Senate, and governor’s office – did not want to lose Murtha or the billions of dollars he steered to Pennsylvania as chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of defense spending.

Murtha, who died at 77 of complications from gallbladder surgery, was buried Tuesday in Johnstown.

From the Philadelphia  Daily News, an article about redistricting within the city of Philadelphia:

IT HAS BEEN almost 10 years since the last redistricting battle was slugged out in City Council, but the wounds are still raw.

That fight, which centered on the Latino composition of upper North Philly’s 7th District and pitted the mayor against the Council president, dragged on so long that Council members went nearly five months without pay.

The final 10-district map featured three twisted, elongated districts that practically define gerrymandering. And during the period without pay, Councilman Rick Mariano took bribes to cover his bills – a decision that landed him in the clink.

“For my colleagues, every time you mention redistricting it’s like a bad toothache,” said Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, who represents the 7th District.

Unsurprisingly, much of Council isn’t exactly excited about revisiting the issue. But next spring, after the 2010 census, they’ll have to redraw the district lines again based on the new population numbers.

The current districts were drawn so each would have about 150,000 residents – or about 10 percent of the city’s population in 2000 – but population shifts inevitably change those numbers, forcing the decennial remap.

After the census numbers are released April 1, 2011, Council must pass a plan and get mayoral approval within six months. If it misses that deadline, Council members’ pay will be withheld – as stated in the Home Rule Charter – which has happened the last two times.

Former Councilman Angel Ortiz, who served as an at-large member during the 1991 and 2001 redistricting debates, said members should buckle their seat belts.

“Rick Mariano threatened to throw me out the window last time,” Ortiz said. “I think it’s going to be a struggle. I think a lot of friendships on City Council may be frayed at the end of this.”

Revised Population Figures Now Official

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

The Census Bureau doesn’t always get their estimates right, and they permit cities and towns to refute the numbers by providing evidence that the Census Bureau’s count was wrong. Here are this year’s revised population estimates after all the challenges have come in:

Accepted Challenges to 2008 Population Estimates
Area State Challenge
Acceptance date
Original 7/1/2008
Population Estimate
Revised 7/1/2008
Population Estimate
Brookwood town AL 10/05/2009 1,449 1,977
Montevallo city AL 11/02/2009 6,061 6,318
Bella Vista town AR 09/30/2009 16,388 25,449
San Diego city CA 11/10/2009 1,279,329 1,305,754
Boulder city CO 11/10/2009 94,171 99,466
Colorado Springs city CO 11/24/2009 380,307 397,317
Doral city FL 11/10/2009 23,974 30,727
Jupiter town FL 11/24/2009 48,879 50,201
Lauderdale Lakes city FL 10/30/2009 31,004 32,119
Miami-Dade County FL 11/24/2009 2,398,245 2,478,745
North Miami Beach city FL 11/02/2009 37,997 41,247
Opa-Locka city FL 10/30/2009 15,287 16,574
Moscow city ID 10/30/2009 22,798 24,252
Rexburg city ID 11/10/2009 28,028 28,459
Oak Park village IL 11/10/2009 49,557 53,187
Great Bend city KS 10/05/2009 15,564 15,638
Lexington-Fayette Urban County KY 10/30/2009 282,114 292,240
Jefferson Parish LA 11/02/2009 436,181 444,655
Orleans Parish LA 11/24/2009 311,853 336,644
Boston city MA 11/24/2009 609,023 620,535
Bridgewater town MA 11/10/2009 25,774 27,218
Fitchburg city MA 11/10/2009 40,239 42,215
North Reading town MA 11/10/2009 17,272 14,444
Springfield city MA 11/10/2009 150,640 155,521
Westfield city MA 11/10/2009 40,608 42,125
Winthrop town MA 11/10/2009 21,880 17,943
Worcester city MA 11/10/2009 175,011 182,596
Independence city MO 10/30/2009 110,440 121,212
Kansas City city MO 11/02/2009 451,572 480,129
St. Louis city MO 10/30/2009 354,361 356,730
Winston-Salem city NC 10/05/2009 217,600 227,834
Rockland County NY 11/02/2009 298,545 298,747
Geauga County OH 11/10/2009 94,753 98,817
West Milgrove village OH 07/17/2009 77 166
Philadelphia city PA 11/24/2009 1,447,395 1,540,351
Bluffton town SC 11/24/2009 4,312 12,333
Germantown city TN 11/02/2009 37,251 41,011
Newport News city VA 11/10/2009 179,614 193,212

Philly’s Growing For The First Time In 60 Years!!

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Watch out world, Philly’s on the rise…this after Boston’s challenge of Census Bureau estimates was recently approved…From Philly.com:

Good news, Philadelphia!

After decades of population loss, the city has stopped shrinking, according to revised Census Bureau estimates delivered to the city earlier this week.

On Monday, the city received a letter from the Census Bureau raising the 2008 population estimate by about 93,000.

In October, Philly challenged the bureau’s 2008 estimate of the city’s population, which the bureau had set at 1,447,395. It was the first time that the city had challenged the bureau’s estimates since a challenge program began earlier this decade.

The new estimate of Philadelphia’s ’08 population is 1,540,351 people, 4,220 higher than what even the city had believed. The difference came from the bureau’s having more accurate counts of those living in prisons, nursing homes and college dorms, said Gary Jastrzab, the city’s deputy director of city planning.

The city’s population peaked at more than two million people in 1950, then began a 50-year decline.

“For the first time in nearly 60 years, we can demonstrate that Philadelphia’s population is growing, not declining,” Mayor Nutter said.

He said that the new estimates highlighted the importance of the 2010 Census, which will have legislative and fiscal ramifications for the city.

“City, state, and federal [representation] are all affected by the census figures because of required redistricting,” he said.

The city would get more funding from the federal government if it could prove it was growing, Nutter said.

Cities starting Census outreach efforts

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

As we told you last month, the Pew Charitable Trust found that major cities are behind in their outreach and awareness preparations for the 2010 Census.

That’s changing now.

Philadelphia, which was at the center of the Pew study, took a step toward those outreach efforts earlier today, when Mayor Michael Nutter announced an executive director for Philly Counts, the city’s Census-awareness campaign. Patricia Enright, a current Nutter aide, will assume that position.

That appointment came just days after Detroit officials announced plans to use volunteers and community organizers to help with outreach and making sure all citizens are counted.

Making sure all citizens are counted is a top priority in cities like Philly and Detroit, which have seen significant population loss in recent years. From 2000 to 2008, both cities ranked in the top five for the greatest decrease in the number of residents.

As the 2010 Census will determine federal and state funding based on a city’s population, there’s a lot of incentive for cities — especially those with declining populations — to put forth great effort in making sure all of their residents get counted.

Readers, what’s going on in your city? Are Census-awareness efforts already under way? How effective do you think they will be?

Avencia Launches Redistricting the Nation.com, a Ground-Breaking Public Engagement Web Application

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Philadelphia, PA – October 21, 2009 – Following the upcoming 2010 census reports, states and municipalities will engage in a nationwide legislative redistricting process.  But in some parts of the country, the redrawing of district boundaries for partisan advantage has been rampant, which ultimately reduces the impact of individual voters on the election, resulting in lower voter turnout, and less competitive races.  The expanded use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has created both new potential for sophisticated gerrymandering and a possible means of implementing unbiased redistricting. 
With Redistricting 2011 around the corner, Avencia Incorporated, a Philadelphia-based geographic analysis and software development firm, is releasing the “Redistricting The Nation” (www.redistrictingthenation.com) website to provide the public with better information about the legislative redistricting process and tools that support and encourage fair representation and competitive elections.  
The site allows citizens and advocacy groups to:Enter their address (nation-wide) and view the “shape” of their federal, state, and local election districts.Learn who is in charge of drawing the boundaries of their election districts (e.g., independent commissions or elected representatives). Compare the “compactness” scores of their election district to other, similar districts (less compact and unusually shaped districts are more likely to be gerrymandered).Draw new district boundaries on a map and generate compactness scores for the new district. Avencia is also concurrently releasing a revised version of its 2006 study of gerrymandering (“Redraw the Map on Redistricting 2010”).  The new study expands the scope and methodology of Avencia’s original “Gerrymandering Index” to include state-level districts, council districts, and political wards for several new cities, and introduces three additional techniques for measuring districts’ compactness.  While poor compactness scores do not prove gerrymandering, they are a measurable indication of the practice.
The whitepaper ranks the ten most gerrymandered local, state, and federal districts in the country based on four different measures of compactness.  The study reveals some interesting findings. For instance, at the Congressional level, both FL-22 and NC-12 rank high in the study’s Top Ten for all four measures of compactness, while some of the worst offenders at the local level are: Philadelphia, PA-District 7; Miami, FL-District 2; Jacksonville, FL-District 11; Houston, TX-District E; New York, NY-District 4; and Philadelphia, PA-District 5.
Avencia is no stranger to political and election-focused projects.  Earlier this month, Avencia and Committee of Seventy, the Philadelphia region’s premier non-partisan government watchdog group, launched a sister website to the “Redistricting The Nation” site, dedicated to raising public awareness in the Greater Philadelphia area about the potential impact of the 2010 census on federal, state, and local election districts, available at www.redistrictingthenation.com/philadelphia.  During the November 2008 presidential election, the firm built a Voting Incident Tracking and Mapping web-based application that tracked voting problems in real-time to enable Committee of Seventy’s record-setting 1,000 person volunteer force to respond faster and more efficiently.  Avencia also worked for multiple candidates in races to generate campaign walking and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) maps, and most recently generated over 400 campaign financing analysis maps for MapLight.org for their ‘Remote Control’ report.
“It is exciting to be able to leverage our global database of legislative districts and GIS analysis tools to promote good government and nonpartisan redistricting,” said Robert Cheetham, Avencia’s CEO. “It is a process that can be easily manipulated to protect incumbents and discourage competitive races. Our goal with this new site is to both educate the public early in the Census 2010 cycle, and to create software tools that will promote a more open, citizen-driven and transparent redistricting process in 2011.”
Political geography is at the center of several ongoing projects at Avencia.  The white paper analysis of compactness of election districts was made possible by Avencia’s Cicero product, a legislative district matching and elected official lookup web API, developed for local governments, unions, businesses, and non-profit political and advocacy organizations to match citizens with their local, state, and national elected officials.  Cicero taps a global database of legislative district maps and information about politicians, legislative bodies, and election events.  Initially beginning with only a few cities, Avencia has grown the database to include national, state and local legislatures for the United States and several other countries and made an interactive version available to the public.

 

About Avencia
Avencia is an award-winning, Philadelphia-based geographic analysis and software development firm specializing in the creation of innovative location-based software tools to enhance decision-making processes.  Avencia believes these location-based technologies can help promote the emergence of more dynamic, vibrant communities. For more information, visit www.avencia.com

Philadelphia Lags Behind in 2010 Census Preparation Activities

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Hmmmm…maybe Philly Mayor Michael Nutter was either too busy dealing with Philly’s fiscal crisis or just not as committed to the 2010 Census as he claimed to be at a Senate hearing in April. Thanks to the Pew Charitable Trust for producing such a comprehensive report:

PEW REPORT EXAMINES CENSUS PREPARATIONS IN PHILADELPHIA

AND OTHER MAJOR CITIES

Philadelphia Lagging Behind Others in Preparation Activities

A new study from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative finds that Philadelphia is lagging behind other major cities in mounting the kind of local outreach and awareness campaign for the 2010 Census that many experts consider important for achieving a full count.

The studyPreparing for the 2010 Census: How Philadelphia and Other Cities Are Struggling and Why It Matters, looked at the preparations of Philadelphia and 10 other major cities for the 2010 Census. These include the five cities with larger populations than Philadelphia—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix—and five chosen for their similarities to Philadelphia and their experience in dealing with the Census—Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh.

The report finds that almost all of the cities studied have less money and fewer staffers for this Census than they did in 2000.

“Census preparation really matters,” said Thomas Ginsberg, project manager of Pew’s Philadelphia Research Initiative. “The outreach efforts are a cross between an election campaign and a municipal self-promotion drive, with very real ramifications that will be felt for the next 10 years.”

Philadelphia officials are planning to announce their local outreach campaign soon. And officials interviewed for the study say they are confident of their ability to catch up and conduct an effective outreach effort. In addition, they have launched the city’s first-ever challenge to the official population estimates the U.S. Census Bureau issues each year. The challenge, if fully accepted by the bureau, would produce a number showing that Philadelphia’s population is now growing after six decades of decline.

Seven of the other 10 cities had appointed or hired Census coordinators by last summer and had launched their citywide coordinating committees by early October. The other three—Boston, Chicago and Detroit—already are lined up to receive considerable financial and organizing support from local and statewide donor networks established specifically for the Census.

Preparing for the 2010 Census lays out what is at stake for cities: Without strong outreach and technical preparation by cities, the Census Bureau may have trouble improving its urban counts over previous Censuses and raising the below-average rate at which residents participate in its official once-a-decade count. That could lead to greater undercounts of certain groups or an entire city, which in turn would affect the population basis on which billions of tax dollars will be distributed over the coming decade and by which legislative seats—federal, state and local—will be allocated in 2011.

The stakes are particularly high in Philadelphia and other big cities that have high concentrations of the hard-to-count groups, including renters, immigrants, African Americans and Hispanics. According to an analysis conducted for the Philadelphia Research Initiative by Temple University statistician Eugene P. Ericksen, the Census Bureau likely undercounted Philadelphia’s population by an estimated 8,326 people a decade ago, or about 0.5 percent. Many of the other cities included in the report had similar or larger estimated undercounts.

About $430 billion in federal funds were distributed to local governments and residents in fiscal 2008, the last year for which such numbers are available, based at least in part on Census data. Analysts at the Brookings Institution say that Philadelphia and its residents received about $2,796 per capita, through Medicaid, housing vouchers, transportation funding and other programs. Due to the ways that the funding formulas work, the amount of money that would be generated by counting additional Philadelphians would be less than $2,796. But how much less is hard to say. It would depend on numerous factors, including the demographic characteristics of the individuals.

Apart from outreach campaigns, the study found that all 11 cities, including Philadelphia, have been participating in the voluntary technical Census Bureau programs that many experts consider more important to achieving a full count. The programs include a massive updating of household addresses, through which the cities submitted more than 1.5 million new or corrected addresses for the bureau to target next spring.

“For Philadelphia, a significant impact of the Census results could be in terms of the city’s psyche and its ability to promote itself. The city would get a lift if the headcount in 2010—or the challenge being launched over the recent population estimates—shows a population gain,” said Ginsberg. The count in 2000 was 1,517,550, and the most recent estimate was 1,447,395. The city’s challenge contends the recent figure should have been 1,536,171, higher than either previous figure. The Census Bureau is expected to rule on the city’s figure by the end of 2009. Pew’s research found that many cities have no plans to appropriate any public funds specifically for Census preparations; this is the case in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh, although all of those cities, including Philadelphia, expect to make use of existing staff and resources with some staff help from the Census Bureau. A decade ago, the city put in $200,000 and received $165,000 in philanthropic donations.

The shortfalls are leading many cities to rely on unpaid volunteers and grassroots organizing even more than in the past. City officials in Philadelphia are still hoping to receive funds from private sources. The William Penn Foundation has committed $12,350 for data analysis; city and Census Bureau officials held an initial briefing with other potential local funders in late September.

About the Report

To prepare this report, Thomas Ginsberg, project manager of Pew’s Philadelphia Research Initiative, studied numerous reports about the Census and talked to officials at the Census Bureau, independent experts and officials in Philadelphia and the 10 other cities. The report includes independent work done by Eugene P. Ericksen of Temple University, a nationally-recognized expert in assessing the accuracy of the Census, and by the Brookings Institution.

About The Philadelphia Research Initiative

The Philadelphia Research Initiative was created by Pew in fall 2008 to study critical issues facing Philadelphia and provide impartial research and analysis for the benefit of decision makers, the news media and the public. The initiative conducts public opinion polling, produces in-depth reports, and publishes briefs that illuminate front-and-center issues.

About Pew

The Pew Charitable Trusts (www.pewtrusts.org) is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. We partner with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations and concerned citizens who share our commitment to fact-based solutions and goal-driven investments to improve society.

Live-blogging Philadelphia’s 2010 Census hearing…

Monday, May 11th, 2009

12:57 – 25 people at this meeting…poor turnout…90% work for the Census Bureau…Sen. Carper not here…will it start on time?

1:04 – Sen. Carper doing introductions…he shook my hand and introduced himself earlier.

1:05 – Sen. Carper discussing stats about 1.4 million Americans working for Census Bureau (largest peacetime hiring effort)

1:06 -  6 million people missed in 2000 count. 1.3 million people counted twice.

1:07 – Hispanics miscounted 4 times as often as whites in 2000 says Carper

1:08 – Mayor Nutter going to speak…he’s in a rush and has to leave in 10 min.

1:10 – Michael Nutter says Philly will lose $2,300 per person not counted in 2010 Census

1:12 – Challenges for Philly: Locating households, encouraging people to return their forms…accurate address listings from US Postal service very important.

1:13 – Nutter: Master list doesn’t have 56,000 addresses that Philly City Gvnt reviewed and updated for Postal Service

1:15 – Nutter: Afro-Americans disproportionately represented in economically disadvantaged and Latinos in linguistically challenged areas

1:15 – Linguistic issues must be addressed by Census Bureau. INS and deportation issues must be addressed.

1:16 – improve response rate: 1. issue exec order 2. city-wide campaign 3. establish multicultural network

1:17 – Only through raising public consciousness that we can make this work – Nutter says his office will help out.

1:17 – Nutter leaves, Sen. Carper thanks Nutter

1:18- 3 minute video will be shown now…forgot my popcorn

1:19 – This is the same propaganda video stuff that’s available on YouTube on the Census Bureau’s channel…but informative!

1:21 – Still awake, still here…they’re playing sentimental “a photograph, a portrait of hopes and dreams” theme song…is Sen. Carper shedding a tear?

1:23 – De. Congressman Castle talking…discussing differences between allocating $ based on population rather than earmarks and pork legislation etc.

1:26 – Boring Del. Congressman Castle talking about why people don’t respond…this is called preaching to the choir, everyone here works for the Census Bureau

1:30 – Now Mayor Baker of Wilmington is speaking…making jokes, got no laughs

1:33 – 50% of Wilmington residents live in rented homes…this=bigger problems for counting.

1:34 – Mayor Baker thinks door to door messaging is important…like political campaigns.

1:36 – They make Joe Biden jokes about talking off the cuff…

1:37 – Baker says, “Who cares what Rush Limbaugh and FoxNews think” now that they’re in the minority…

1:38 – Baker makes more jokes and finishes his statement. Back to Sen. Carper…

1:39 – Philadelphia Managing Director Camille Cates Barnett is speaking…really sad story about her: http://www.kyw1060.com/pages/1430697.php?

1:40 – Barnett: Census data helps draw City Council districts…she cites 2007 Brookings study – $377 billion allocated based on 2010 Census

1:41 – Barnett: For every person we miss counting, $2,263 in funding lost…

1:44 – Barnett whips out 1 page strategic plan for Philly census…

1:45 – Add 75,000 residents in the next 5-10 years=Goal for City of Philly

1:46 – Since 2000 Philly has added 22,000 converted housing units…56,000 additional addressees have been handed over to Census Bureau from Philly.

1:48 – Economic downturn=people get displaced…complicates counting process.

1:49 – Only 23% of AfroAmerican Philadelphians have high school diplomas and 13% have college degrees.

1:52- Barnett repeats every single thing Mayor Nutter already said…eyelids shutting…

1:53 – Barnett finished with positive message…back to Sen. Tom Carper

1:55 – Carper asks Barnett what she learned from 1990 and 2000 Census.

1:56 – Barnett says major issue in previous Census operations=accurately ensuring population growth is properly recorded

1:59 – Congressman Castle talking about working with clergy…he references US Marshalls getting ministers to have criminals confess.

2:01 – Castle asks if clergy can be of help to get people out…Barnett talks about faith-based groups for outreach.

2:03 – Congressman Castle asks how landlords can help w/ Census. He admits he doesn’t know the legality of this.

2:05 – yadda yadda yadda – hopefully MyTwoCensus gets to ask some HARD-HITTING QUESTIONS. EVERYONE is falling asleep (woman next to me)

2:13- Carper’s aide just passed him a note…he’s now ending with Barnett and Baker…maybe abruptly ending mtg?

2:16 – New panel now on the Dais — Tom Mesoundbourg (acting Census Director) speaking…invoking founding fathers. Also on the Dais now: - Pat Coulter, Executive Director, Philadelphia Urban League

- Norman Bristol-Colon, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, State of Pennsylvania

- Wanda M. Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware

2:20 – Mesounbourg LIES! he says operations are going smoothly and address canvassing in philly almost done! – (THE INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT FROM MAY 09 DISAGREES) READ THE MOST RECENT UPDATE: http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/census_bureau/

2:25: Mesounbourg concludes “Our operations are not intended to count many of us, they are intended to count all of us.”

2:26 – Norman Bristol Colon now talking…he has a heavy Latino accent…hard to understand!

2:27 – More Puerto Ricans living in USA than in Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

2:30 – Colon urges Census Bureau to have a plan to count undocumented and documented residents in the same way and counts EVERYONE.

2:31 – Colon insists that Census data remains private and is not released to the INS or other immigration officials.

2:33 – This is pretty much turning into a pro-immigration rally…Colon passionately speaking…only 20 people remain in the room here.

2:34 – Colon says that redistricting will help Latino populations so they can have more representation in gvnt.

2:36 – Colon finished speaking…now hearing from Pat Coulter, head of Urban League Philly – Urban League and Census Bureau have worked together since 1970.

2:37 – Coulter just quoted Dick Polman, my journalism Professor at Penn!

2:38 – Here’s the article Coulter quoted from: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/americandebate/Head_counts_and_head_cases.html

2:42 – Coulter finished speaking, now last but not least, Wanda Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware

2:46 – Wanda Lopez is very well spoken, but unfortunately no new information added.

2:49 – Congressman Castle asking questions then “calling it a day” as Sen. Carper put it.

2:53 – Congressman Castle asks if celebrities can do public announcements to promote the Census…Director Mesenbourg says the Bureau is pursuing this.

2:54 – Mesenbourg says a PR firm has been hired to do this…which firm is this? Coulter mentions Oprah as possible spokeswoman.

2:55 – Wanda Lopez suggests using local radio in addition to ads on Univision.

2:56 – Castle thanks panel. Carper ending mtg. now…NO HARD-HITTING ISSUES ADDRESSED!

2:57 – Carper says President and First Lady and possibly Sasha and Malia could be used to promote 2010 Census…Wondering: Will they be counted in Chicago or DC?

2:58 – Carper acknowledges problems with handheld computers and asks Mesenbourg to weigh in on correction of problems.

2:59 – Mesenbourg: Handheld only used for address canvassing NOT the non-response follow-up operation in May 2010. Too risky to do that he says

3:01 – 8 million addresses given to Census Bureau from state/local gvnts says Mesenbourg

3:02 – “introduced risk mitigation strategies” – aka 5 different strategies to reduce risk for address canvassing…

3:03 – Mesenbourg says in this economy only 12% of hired applicants didnt show up once they were hired.

3:03 – This explains why we are so far aheadin our address canvassing operation…”highly skilled work force” enables us to finish operation earlier than planned.

3:04 – Carper addresses the Inspector General’s report from earlier to Mesenbourg about failures that we mentioned earlier (top article on http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/census_bureau/)

3:05 – Mesenbourg acknowledges that in 6 out of 15 locations that Inspector General visited, the Census Bureau employees were not following orders.

3:06 – Mesenbourg deflects the criticism that Carper addressed — saying that all employees received a text message on their handhelds to follow procedures more closely.

3:08 – Sen. Carper asks more hard-hitting questions (finally)! Impressed that he addressed these issues, though not satisfied w/ responses…

3:13 – Closing statements from Castle and Carper before they “call it a day.”

3:14 – Carper quotes Richard Nixon: “The only people who don’t make mistakes are the people who don’t do anything.”

3:15 – Carper says his office was originally worried about lack of technology used in this headcount, but his fears have now been alleviated.

3:17 – Carper thanks everyone who joined us and Census Bureau staff. Carper quotes Lamar Alexander “hearings should be called talkings.”

Big upcoming 2010 Census event…

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Mark your calendars, because on Monday we will be live-blogging from The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia at an event that is sponsored by Senator Tom Carper (D) of Delaware, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security that is responsible for the 2010 Census. If you have any questions that you would like us to ask on your behalf, please submit them to mytwocensus @ mytwocensus.com. Here are the event details:

WHAT:   “Making the Census Count in Urban America”

WHEN:   Monday, May 11, 2009, at 1:00 p.m.

WHERE:   The National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

Kirby Auditorium

525 Arch Street

CONFIRMED WITNESSES:

– Tom Mesenbourg, Acting Census Director

– Camille Cates Barnett, Managing Director, City of Philadelphia

– Hon. Michael Nutter, Philadelphia Mayor

– Hon. James Baker, Wilmington Mayor

– Pat Coulter, Executive Director, Philadelphia Urban League

– Norman Bristol-Colon, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, State of Pennsylvania

– Wanda M. Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Census Bureau vexes ex-newswoman, others who counted on a job

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Today, Daniel Rubin’s column in The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s discussed Laura Mansnerus’ MyTwoCensus opinion piece that detailed her experiences working for the U.S. Census Bureau:

Census Bureau vexes ex-newswoman, others who counted on a job

One of the underreported consequences of the newspaper industry’s collapse is what happens when grumpy truth seekers have to find work in the Real World.

Exhibit A: What occurred when former New York Timeswoman Laura Mansnerus took a seasonal job in Philadelphia as a supervisor for the U.S. Census Bureau.

She blogged about her experience last week on MyTwoCensus.com. It’s a cautionary tale of bad math, black ice, and moose warnings.

We talked about her great misadventure over coffee at Cafe Lutecia by her home near Fitler Square. She began by referring me to a 1971 study of Parisian office workers that found the biggest complainers were those who were most engaged in their work.

This tends to be true in newspapering as well, noted Mansnerus, who worked for the Times for 22 years, most recently as a reporter in Trenton. “People are constantly saying to superiors, ‘That’s a stupid idea.’ You don’t get punished for that. People might think you’re a jerk, but people understand that the reason we’re there is because we are crabby people.” Crabby but effective, in theory.

This, she said, is not the culture of the Census Bureau.

Back in January, she answered an ad on Craigslist Philadelphia for census takers. She had just finished a fellowship with the Open Society Institute, and was writing a book proposal to expand her research into the way New Jersey law treats sexually violent predators.

She welcomed the idea of walking around Philadelphia all spring, counting things. “How beautiful!” she thought.

A few weeks after she took a test at a South Philly rec center, she was hired as a supervisor for $19.25 an hour. The person on the phone told her she’d work between 10 and 12 weeks, Mansnerus said. She figured on pocketing as much as $10,000 before taxes. Her goverment career was over before she knew it.

It wasn’t just that she and her boss got along like cats and dogs, as she put it. (She was the cat.) And it wasn’t that she told her boss once to shut up, though she did.

Her problem was the numbers.

The assignment was address canvassing, which is necessary before 2010 census forms are mailed out next March.

Crew leaders were assigned assistants – called listers. Mansnerus had 17 people working under her initially. Their job was to walk around and figure out where people were living.

She was startled to look at the number of addresses she had been given to verify. The whole job looked as if it could be knocked off in a week or two. When she questioned her supervisor – divide the number of workers by the number of addresses, she suggested – he didn’t see her point.

“I think your math is a little off there,” he told her.

Her people were finishing their second week of canvassing when the worked dried up. A couple of hundred temps across the city met similar fates. “People had put their kids in day care,” she said. “People really thought they could pay some bills for a few months.”

At a meeting where crew leaders were hoping to hear that the bureau would find more work, they received a memo from regional director Fernando Armstrong stressing the importance of deadlines.

They were also given information sheets to hand out that she suspected were boilerplate, since they warned of the dangers of black ice and moose. No more work materialized. Neither did black ice or moose. Listers who needed to reopen their unemployment claims asked if the bureau would write letters to certify they were out of work. No.

I asked Armstrong if it was true the bureau had hired too many people for too little work, as Mansnerus contends. He said he didn’t know.

“Assuming what she describes is accurate, it is not unique,” he said. “We have other areas that have a similar situation.”

As for Mansnerus, she figures this might be her last hurrah with Uncle Sam. “We were just cells,” she said, “that showed up on someone’s performance sheet.”

She took leave of her newspaper job once before to go to law school, clerk for a judge, then prosecute environmental polluters for the Environmental Protection Agency.

But newspapers drew her back in. When her fellowship ended last summer, she looked at what was happening in the industry and called it a career.

The loss of people like her in newsrooms is a tragedy whose magnitude we have yet to fully appreciate – all that talent sitting idle. It’s not easy to change a bureaucracy like the Census Bureau when you’re just another of its numbers.

Note: This article does not represent the opinions of MyTwoCensus.com, Stephen Robert Morse or Evan Goldin. The views expressed are those of the author. That said, MyTwoCensus welcomes written, video, photographic, and multimedia contributions from any individual with a 2010 Census-related story to tell.

EXCLUSIVE: Former NYT Reporter Exposes Census’ Mishandling of Operations

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

By Laura Mansnerus

Well, the census job in Philadelphia is over. They hired way too many of us. We finished a couple months ahead of schedule. They trained people for a week so that they could work for two weeks. We all miss the paychecks we thought we’d have. The Census Bureau goofed. Does Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke know this? Probably not.

My census job was a total accident. This winter, I was on hiatus from my career in the dying newspaper industry, having left my job to take a fellowship that, of course, came to an end. When I regained consciousness, the whole publishing industry was staggering toward a cliff. Uh-oh.

In January, I was prowling on Craigslist — and the Census Bureau was recruiting for the address canvassing phase of the 2010 Census: Work 20 to 40 hours a week for 10 to 12 weeks.

And before long I was a “crew leader,” hired at $19.25 an hour to supervise canvassers, known as listers, who would be verifying every address in my district of Philadelphia. All over the nation, listers would be updating maps and address lists so the bureau would know where to send questionnaires for the 2010 Census. Fine.

I loved the prospect of spending springtime on the streets while putting off a hideous job search. Moreover, I tend to believe that the public sector does important things, even though I once worked for the E.P.A., one of the worst government agencies known to mankind. The census is a worthy undertaking. The Constitution told us to do it! So I walked into this job with a pretty sunny outlook.

The crew leaders started in March. We were told we’d be working into June. The official deadline for the address canvassing operation, I learned later, is early July.

In my chunk of Philadelphia, seven of us crew leaders were trained the first week, and the next week we trained assistant crew leaders. The third week, each of us would train about 15 listers. Then we would parcel out “assignment areas,” or AA’s, smaller districts with 300 or so addresses each, to the listers.

My supervisor, Ian Hemphill, said we would be all working all-out, full-time and furiously, because the Philadelphia region was behind schedule. It took me a week and a half to start wondering about this. The crew leaders and assistants had already knocked out a few assignment areas. Even fumbling with the balky software on our little hand-held computers, you could finish an AA in a day. My district had 90 AA’s left to assign. I’d have 15 listers.

“Ian, am I missing something?” I asked him when he called a meeting of the crew leaders. “I have 90 AA’s left, and they’re sending me 15 listers. That’s 6 per lister.”

“Oh, ho, I think your math is a little off there,” Ian said.

“Wellllll, I have 90 AA’s, divided by 15, and that’s 6.”

“Let’s get our terms straight here. Six per what? Six per day? Per week?”

Another crew leader, a quiet young guy headed for graduate school, entered the conversation: “SIX … for … the … rest … of … the … entire … operation.”

We could finish the whole thing in a week. Given some slow listers and half-functioning computers, it would take two weeks. But Ian was not persuaded. We all went home.

Wait, I said to myself. The Census Bureau was about to screw a bunch of barely employed people. They had been told they would work until June. They wouldn’t. Worse, this is the agency charged with sophisticated demographic analyses for government and business throughout the nation — no, the world — and with 10 years’ planning time the people running it didn’t know how long it takes x listers to verify y addresses? I had a supervisor who couldn’t divide 90 by 15?

I went to Google News. All around the country, newspapers were running friendly features as address canvassing started in their communities. The Census Bureau, as many of these reporters had copied from its press releases, hired 140,000 people to verify 145 million addresses. Ooops. So they were doing this everywhere. They hired one person for each 1,000 addresses. In Philadelphia they had hired one per 2,000 or so addresses. How long could that take?

The next week, while our listers were chewing through AA’s, Ian trained a second wave of listers who would serve (if needed) as replacements. Meanwhile, we were encouraged to fire people wherever possible. I did not fire anyone. I got two more listers. I got 19 in all, though one was fired because he had failed the security check. (When the local Census authorities learned this, he was already on the job — your federal security clearance dollars at work! — so I had to confiscate his computer and badge immediately while we were out on the street. But that’s another story…)

They people who were hired were top scorers on the same test I had taken. Some had not worked for months and were hugely relieved to have jobs, any jobs. They took their mission very, very seriously. We got lost in discussions about how to treat houses that appeared to be abandoned or buildings that might be divided into illegal apartments, even though our supervisors did not want us to spend much time on concerns like this.

The listers were in their second week on the job when the AA’s dried up. My big crew leader map was plastered with check marks. The listers had put in their first full day on April 3, and most were on their last AA’s when the crew leaders were summoned to headquarters on April 15. The assistant manager for field operations, a mild sort named Wayne Wolfgang, who seemed to be trying to do the right thing, announced, “There’s rumors out there that we’re running out of work.” Not true, he said. “We have a lot of opportunities to move people around. We still have work for everybody.”

Since the crew leaders had been instructed not to open our mouths at this meeting, we didn’t. The office manager distributed a memo from the regional director, Fernando Armstrong, stressing the importance of meeting deadlines. Attached was a warning about driving safely, and anticipating hazards like black ice and moose. We were supposed to pass these out to our listers. And we did! You’re out of work, but if you had any, you should watch for moose on Washington Avenue!

Ian wanted us crew leaders to tell people, “We will find you work.” I ventured, “I’m telling them, ‘we might find you more work.’” Ian got mad. “No! We WILL find you work!”

Nothing materialized, though. Listers who needed to reopen their unemployment claims asked if the Census Bureau would provide letters to certify that they were out of work. No, The Census Bureau wouldn’t do such things.

Many people had passed up other temp jobs or even quit jobs to take jobs with the Census Bureau. “What am I going to do?” said one middle-aged woman whose other job was passing out samples at a liquor store a few hours a week. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said, six or seven times. She gave me phone numbers of a couple market research firms that convened focus groups.

Others just wandered away. A few called or visited the office to deliver a piece of their minds. This was to be avoided at all costs. Keep them away from us, the last text message from Ian said. It also said, “Congratulate Listers [sic] on a quick accomplishment of their mission. Stress the positive. Stress the value of a period of federal employment with the possibility of recommendations.”

Today was my last day. I turned in the equipment I’d gathered up from listers, and on the way out of the office I saw Wayne Wolfgang. I asked him a question: “Why did the Census Bureau hire 20 people, including me, to do 97 AA’s?”

“Well, that was the number he was given by headquarters,” he said.

There was no mistake. We finished early. So what?

Wolfgang, apparently looking for congratulations until the end, said, “Did it ever occur to you that we’re efficient?”

“No,” I said.

Laura Mansnerus was an editor and staff reporter at The New York Times for 22 years. She was a 2007 Soros media justice fellow. She is also a no-longer-practicing lawyer.

Note: This article does not represent the opinions of MyTwoCensus.com, Stephen Robert Morse or Evan Goldin. The views expressed are those of the author. That said, MyTwoCensus welcomes written, video, photographic, and multimedia contributions from any individual with a 2010 Census-related story to tell.