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 ‘police’

Detroit News: Bribery probe targets former U.S. Census official (Dwight Dean)

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Since June 1, 2010, I have reported about problems in the Detroit office of the US Census Bureau involving Dwight Dean, who was booted from his once-stable perch in the Census Bureau hierarchy in August 2010. Today, I give a hearty thank you to Robert Snell and the Detroit News who have reported that the “former top-ranking U.S. Census Bureau official in Michigan and two other states is being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes and awarding an $857,000 no-bid contract.” MyTwoCensus.com urges federal, state, and local investigators to also investigate the many other Dwight Dean cronies who were very likely conspirators in his activities. Furthermore, as other MyTwoCensus.com pieces demonstrate, at the Detroit office of the Census Bureau, it oftentimes appeared like the inmates were running the asylum.

(Click here for a list of MyTwoCensus pieces involving the Detroit office that name many of the individuals I am referring to.)

Here’s the Detroit News piece (in full HERE):

A search warrant affidavit unsealed Monday in federal court indicates that in November 2010 a grand jury was investigating Plymouth resident Dwight Dean. He was the highest-ranking Census official in Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia until he was abruptly, and inexplicably, replaced in August 2010. No criminal charges have been filed.

This investigation involves a federal official in Detroit, which has been the focus of several ongoing corruption investigations involving City Hall and two Detroit pension funds.

Federal investigators did not put a value on the alleged bribes, which involve dinners at expensive restaurants and what appear to be free tickets to the North American International Auto Show charity preview.

The Detroit businessman named in the search warrant, who admitted giving Dean auto show tickets and paying for dinners, denied doing anything wrong.

“That’s not bribery,” Motor City International President Louis James told The News. “That’s a business meeting.”

Dean had served as Census regional director since 1987 and oversaw a crucial headcount last year that ended with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing vowing to appeal figures that showed a steep population drop. The census is used to determine the amount of federal funding cities receive.

Dean, 64, did not return phone messages seeking comment Wednesday.

The search warrants were executed a year ago and the current status of the investigation was unclear Wednesday.

There is no indication the allegations affected the 2010 census count.

“Over 39,000 people hired locally in the Detroit region worked on the 2010 census. At all times, we conducted extensive quality assessments of operations and census results,” Census Bureau spokesman Michael Cook said.”The assessments of the Detroit region are consistent and within the norms of what we found nationally.”

Federal agents raided Dean’s offices in Detroit one year ago, searching for evidence he accepted gifts, loans or money between August 2008 and August 2010, according to the search warrant affidavit unsealed Monday.

 

Another 2010 Census employee attacked…

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Though there haven’t been media reports of attacks on 2010 Census employees for a couple of months now, so let’s hope that this recent incident in Kentucky is an isolated one:

http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/101074709.html

News from Hawaii: Census taker absolved of trespassing charge

Monday, August 9th, 2010

The Star Advertiser reports the following:

The Hawaii County prosecutor’s office agreed yesterday to dismiss a trespassing charge against a census worker who had been arrested after a Puna resident refused to participate in the survey.

The county also said it will cooperate with the U.S. Census Bureau to prevent similar situations in the future.

“We came to the conclusion that this was the better way to resolve this,” said Kevin Hashizaki, deputy county prosecutor.

Big Island police arrested census taker Russell J. Haas, 57, on March 10 at a home in Puna after the resident, an off-duty police officer, declined to answer questions and asked him to leave the property.

The resident called police, who arrested him for trespassing. “I tried to explain it to them. They didn’t want to hear it. They told me to get the hell out of there,” Haas said yesterday.

Haas had been charged with second-degree criminal trespass, a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $1,000 fine.

“I hope this never happens to any other census worker, any place, any time,” Haas said.

A federal judge in Honolulu dismissed the case, which had been transferred from state court, yesterday.

Hashizaki said continuing to prosecute the case would have required bringing four to five witnesses to Oahu yesterday for a hearing to oppose dismissal of the charge. And if the county was successful, those witnesses would be brought back to Oahu for trial.

“We’re very happy that this was resolved the way it was,” said Jamey Christy, Los Angeles regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “We learned a lot.” Christy said he believes local authorities also learned a lot.

Christy said guidance and procedures for census workers are scripted and that they are the same for census workers across the country. He said there might be room for adjustment for each location.

He also said a way to prevent such incidents is for census officials to have discussions with local officials in advance.

That would include meetings with county police chiefs, said Larry L. Butrick, assistant U.S. attorney.

Haas said he had been working the Puna area for at least a month when police arrested him. He continued collecting census data after his arrest.

Note: Haas continued collecting census data after his arrest. Isn’t this a violation of the Bureau’s own policies?



Census worker details encounter prior to fatal police shooting

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Check out this news from the Appeal-Democrat about a California woman who was shot to death by police after some sort of incident with a Census Bureau employee:

By Rob Young

The fiance of a woman shot to death by Yuba City police is no longer charged with assaulting a U.S. Census Bureau worker.

The worker, Jeannette Sager, gave her deposition Wednesday in Sutter County Superior Court because she will be unable to attend an Aug. 27 preliminary hearing for the fiance, Lionel Craig Patterson, said Deputy District Attorney Cameron King.

Victoria Helen Roger-Vasselin was shot May 20 at her home in the 700 block of Mariner Loop after allegedly pointing a shotgun at police.

Patterson is still charged with assaulting officers with a gun, King said after the hearing.

Sager said Patterson answered the door at Roger-Vasselin’s home, then slammed it, saying “We don’t want any.”

When she rang the bell again, Patterson answered and was more receptive when he realized she was a census worker. But then Roger-Vasselin, smelling strongly of alcohol, appeared behind him and told him not to talk, Sager said.

When Patterson told her it was a census worker, Roger-Vasselin said, “We’re not doing that,” Sager said.

Patterson seemed to become hostile again and said, “Yeah, we’re not doing that,” Sager said. Sager said she apologized for interrupting their evening, explained that it would take only a few minutes to answer the questions, and that she would be sent back later if the answers weren’t provided.

Roger-Vasselin said, “Oh, really,” and pointed a dark-colored gun at her, raising it to near-shoulder level. Patterson took her hand and raised it so the gun was no longer pointing at her, Sager said.

“I was looking at her face. I thought she looked smug,” Sager said.

Sager said she backed away from the door, then ran. As she ran, Patterson yelled, “Do you think you want to come back now?” she said.

“It sounded like he was trying to provoke me in some way,” she said.

Sager said she sat in her car and cried for a couple of minutes before calling her supervisor, then drove to her home a few minutes away. But she decided not to go inside because her mother was there and would be upset by what happened she said.

Instead, Sager said, she drove to the Yuba City Marshalls store, then to Target, but didn’t go inside either store because her supervisors were calling.

A supervisor called police, who had Sager meet two officers at her house. The officers had her look at gun photos on the Internet to try and find one like the one Roger-Vasselin held. They said they were waiting for backup before going to Roger-Vasselin’s house and that Sager might be needed for a “field line-up” if there were an arrest, Sager said.

About 11:30 p.m., two other officers came and said she was needed at the Police Department “because of the way things went down at the house. They didn’t say what,” Sager said.

Patterson’s attorney, Jesse Santana, cross-examined Sager.

Sager told Santana it was still light when she arrived at Roger-Vasselin’s house, although the front porch was dim. She was wearing a U.S. Census Bureau identification card on a lanyard around her neck and was carrying a bag labeled “U.S. Census” in 2-inch letters but wasn’t sure if the label was showing, she said. (more…)

Rumor: Shakeup in Milwaukee?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

The last rumor about a management shakeup in Brooklyn proved to be 100% true. Anyone know anything about this rumor from a Census Bureau employee in Wisconsin:

My FOS told me today that last Thursday-Friday (6-17, 18) at  the Milwaukee LCO, about 10 people were taken away in handcuffs and there is now an armed Homeland Security guard on duty at all times. My LCO supervisor has been transferred to that LCO to clean up and a new supervisor is being sent in from Chicago RCC to cover my West Allis area.

Strange news of the day…Census worker “abused” in Tennessee

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

For the full story click HERE:

Suspect ‘tired of’ visitors stopping by

By CHRIS GRAHAM

A Chapel Hill man was arrested after allegedly holding a U.S. Census worker against his will.

James T. Brewer, 61, 3026 Highway 270, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

Travis Ryder, 20, told deputies Brewer became aggressive toward him when he went to Brewer’s home June 9 to collect Census information. The victim alleged Brewer was aggressive toward him and took the identification badge from his neck, tore up his census documents and took the keys from his truck, according to an incident report.

The report states Brewer then took Ryder to an outbuilding on his property, melted a Coca-Cola can with a blow torch and asked the census worker if he knew what physical injury the blow torch would do to his hand.

Ryder told authorities throughout the ordeal Brewer acted as if he had a weapon in his pocket and told him that no more census workers should come to his home or “they might not leave.”

Brewer later told authorities he was only trying to scare the worker, saying four others had already been to his home and “he was tired of it.”

He was released from Marshall County Jail after posting $8,500 bond.

Census workers have increasingly been the target of violence.

Since late April, there have been 252 incidents nationwide in which Census workers were threatened or harmed — 86 of which involved weapons such as guns, axes and crossbows — according to The Washington Post.

Daily Sound Off: Census Bureau refuses to protect employees

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Here’s today’s Daily Sound Off…However, I will say that in my personal dealings with Mr. Le, he has been cordial, respectful, and helpful. I am not sure if it is is his responsibility as a media specialist or the responsibility others in management positions to deal  with these issues:

I am a crew leader in Oakland CA.
To date, crimes have been committed against two of my employees, including assault with a deadly weapon and criminal threats.

As a crew leader, I have had to fight with the Oakland Police Department to ensure that the officers take reports on these crimes and report them to the District Attorney’s Office.

I reported the previous assault to my FOS and to management. To date, no one at the LCO has assisted in helping the harmed enumerator. I also reported the assault that occurred earlier tonight, but I don’t expect the LCO to help me.

This evening, I attempted to reach out to Sonny Le, the regional media specialist for the U.S. Census.  I explained that my enumerators were unsafe and that I needed his assistance in spreading the word to the community that residents must cooperate with the census and refrain from threatening enumerators.

Mr. Le was abrupt, rude, disrespectful and condescending.  He said he “doesn’t answer to me” and, in essence, threatened me with retaliation for daring to speak to him about what is happening to my crew.

Now I understand why the residents of Oakland think it’s OK to physically threaten the enumerators.  The LCO and the Regional Census staff have, through inaction, allowed this conduct to continue.

Here’s Mr. Le’s profile:
http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2010/news/1004/gallery.census_workers/3.html

Strange incident of the day: Local news crew captures homeowner’s confrontation with 2010 Census worker

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

This is from KOB.com, an NBC affiliate in New Mexico:

Today’s strange news…this time from Pittsburgh, PA

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

(For the full story from thepittsburghchannel.com click HERE)

BURRELL TWP., Pa. — State police have charged an Indiana County man with assault, saying he attacked two teenage census workers.

According to police reports, 18-year-old Austin Kwisnek and a female juvenile were collecting data for the U.S. Census when Timothy Cowan chased them from his property on Hebenthal Lane in Burrell Township.

Video: Watch Marcie Cipriani’s Report

Police said Cowan, 43, proceeded to follow the workers’ vehicle down the road after they left.

At one point, the workers’ vehicle went off the side of the road and Cowan went up to Kwisnek’s window and grabbed him by the shirt and neck, police said. According to the police report, Cowan then threatened to punch the girl in the face and used “vulgar” language toward her.

A Yuba City, CA woman was shot and killed after a Census visit

Friday, May 21st, 2010

The story is tragic and bizarre — after residents pointed a gun at a Census employee, attracting police to the area, a woman refused officers’ demands to lay down a shotgun she was carrying and was shot. It’s sad that an irrational fear of Census takers seems to have fueled gun threats yet again, and it’s even sadder that it had to result in the loss of a life this time. From Appeal-Democrat.com:

Woman shot, killed by Yuba City police

May 21, 2010 11:18:00 AM

A 67-year-old Yuba City woman was shot and killed by officers when she pointed a shotgun at them and refused to put it down, according to Yuba City police.

Victoria Helen Roger-Vasselin was pronounced dead late Thursday at her home at 764 Mariner Loop in an affluent neighborhood on the city’s far south side.
Roger-Vasselin was the sister of the late Thomas E. Mathews, a Yuba County judge and district attorney.

“They shot her dead,” Roger-Vasselin’s distraught son said outside the house Friday morning.

“I think she was just startled” by late visits to her home, he said.

Before he could give his full name, a relative or family friend took him by the arm and led him inside, shutting the door.
Officers went to the Mariner Loop home after receiving a call at 9:04 p.m. about weapons being brandished.

A U.S. Census worker “had been confronted by residents who pointed a firearm at the worker and said they would not answer any questions and closed the door,” said police spokeswoman Shawna Pavey.

When two male officers arrived, 51-year-old Lionel Patterson answered the door, armed with a handgun, police said.

“As officers were dealing with the male, a female approached the door with a shotgun and ignored officers’ orders to release the weapon. As the female advanced on officers, she continued to point the shotgun at officers in a threatening manner and the two officers fired their service weapons, hitting the female,” police said.

Both officers fired their guns, said Pavey, adding she didn’t believe Roger-Vasselin or Patterson fired.

Both officers were uniformed and clearly identifiable as police, Pavey said.

Pavey said toxicology testing after an autopsy Friday morning will determine if alcohol or drugs were factors in the incident.

The officers have been placed on routine administrative leave while the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office investigates the incident.

A neighbor, Bob Dhaliwal, said he was in bed when heard people, including one woman, shouting and yelling, followed by five or six shots. When he came outside, officers with guns drawn had the male suspect on the ground, then took him away in a patrol car, he said.

“All I saw was him being arrested. I assumed he shot somebody,” Dhaliwal said.

Patterson lives at the same address. Pavey and neighbors said it wasn’t clear what the relationship was between him and Roger-Vasselin.

Dhaliwal and other neighbors said they didn’t know Roger-Vasselin well.

“She kept to herself,” Dhaliwal said.

One neighbor, who declined to give her name, described Roger-Vasselin “pleasant but reserved,” almost reclusive.

“She was much more social when she moved first moved in. The economy was better then,” the neighbor said.

Neighbors said they had also received nighttime visits from a female census worker.

Roger-Vasselin owned the house for about three years but rented it for about six months while she worked in Hawaii, returning to Yuba City six to nine months ago, the neighbor said.

When her mother, Lillian Mathews-Crumrine, died in 1998, Roger-Vasselin lived in Kauai, Hawaii.

When the former judge, Thomas E. Mathews, died In 2005, Roger-Vasselin was living in San Francisco. Then 63 and a regional membership executive at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, she was one four employees involved in an age- discrimination lawsuit against the Marriott Corporation.

Shocking story from Wisconsin: Census worker accuses police of profiling and harassing him while doing his job

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

H/t to Stephanie Jones and The Journal Times for the following scoop. I really could not believe my eyes when I read this story:

RACINE – A U.S. Census Bureau worker has accused Racine police of harassing him while he was working last week and said he has filed a complaint.

Alexander Avila, 21, of Racine, was out last Friday knocking on doors for the census when police in an undercover car stopped him to ask what he was doing, he said. They then started harassing him about his brother who has warrants out for his arrest, he said. They ended up giving him three tickets for traffic violations, which he said were not justified.

I felt scared, intimidated, threatened and racially profiled,” said the written complaint that Avila said he filed Monday with the police department.

Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen said his department will be fully investigating the complaint.

But Wahlen said, “We have a right to ask about his brother.”

His brother, Steve Avila II, has nine warrants out for his arrest for traffic violations, Wahlen said.

Avila said once he told police he didn’t know anything about his brother they should have let him continue with his job.

I was treated unfairly,” he said to The Journal Times Monday.

Representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed Alexander Avila works for the Census and Muriel Jackson, spokeswoman for the bureau, said “we will look into this.”

Avila’s grandmother, Maria Morales, coordinator for Voces de la Frontera in Racine, reported the incident to the Journal Times and Avila confirmed it. Both are U.S. citizens, they said.

Voces de la Frontera is a Wisconsin nonprofit that works to help low-wage and immigrant workers.

Morales has been involved with events to address racial profiling and police harassment and she couldn’t believe now it happened to her grandson.

Police stopped Avila when he started on his route on the 1100 block of Erie Street, he said.

When police stopped him they asked him what he was doing and he told them he was working going door to door trying to collect information for the 2010 Census and showed them his identification, he said. They then questioned the validity of his identification and then when they saw his name they started asking about his brother. He told them he did not know where his brother is and does not talk to him. But one of the officers accused him of lying , Avila said . Then the officer told him that he had seen him driving and said he failed to signal when he turned at State Street, Avila added. They also told him he was driving suspiciously, Avila said in his complaint. He told officers he has a binder full of addresses for people he has to contact and he said he was having trouble finding some of the addresses.

Then police accused him of reading the binder while he was driving, but he said he was not reading while he was driving.

I knew the address and street numbers but … I just had a difficult time finding them,” he said in the complaint.

He ended up receiving three tickets for failure to signal, inattentive driving and obstruction of vision because he had two small necklaces hanging from his rearview mirror, he said.

He said he filed the complaint because he was treated unfairly and didn’t want it to go unreported.

I just want them to know they cannot go around and harass someone for no reason,” Avila said. “I don’t want to be afraid.”

MyTwoCensus Investigation and Editorial: Census Bureau Employee Murdered!

Friday, September 25th, 2009

As was reported here and across the news media yesterday by the Associated Press, Bill Sparkman, a Census Bureau field worker in Kentucky, was murdered on September 12 with the word “fed” scrawled into his chest. Unfortunately, the MyTwoCensus team can’t be in rural Kentucky at this time to investigate this matter on the ground, but that doesn’t mean that we are not using all available resources to determine what happened.

10 Questions that MyTwoCensus Hopes To Answer ASAP

10. If Bill Sparkman’s body was found on September 12, why did it take 11 days for this story to come to the media’s attention?

9. Why was it the Associated Press that broke the story rather than local news sources? (Did the police and FBI fail to report this incident to the press?)

8. Why was Bill Sparkman working alone?

7. If the Harris Corp. Handheld Computers (HHCs) functioned properly, is there a GPS record of his last known wherabouts? (Is it possible to mine data from Bill Sparkman’s handheld computer and the Census Bureau’s data network to determine Mr. Sparkman’s duties on the day he was murdered?)

6. Noting that this incident took place in a rural area, would such an incident have occurred if Sprint, the network that the Census Bureau contracted to handle telecommunications, functioned properly in rural areas, allowing Bill Sparkman to call for help when he was in trouble?

5. How did Sparkman’s body make its way to the forest? If his vehicle was nearby at the time of his death, why couldn’t he escape?

4. Where were Mr. Sparkman’s supervisors when he didn’t complete his tasks on time?

3. Did the Kentucky State Police and FBI fail to properly investigate this incident?

2. Is there a violent movement brewing in America against Census Bureau employees or was this an isolated incident? (Were any threats made against Census Bureau employees prior to this incident? If so, were ALL EMPLOYEES warned of possible dangers?)

1. Who committed this horrific act?

Today, the Louisville Courier-Journal provided some updates on the story that could be of interest:

Police said the area has a history of drug trouble, including methamphetamine trafficking and marijuana growing in its forested valleys between steep hills and ridges.

“That part of the county, it has its ups and downs. We’ll get a lot of complaints of drug activity,” said Manchester Police Chief Jeff Culver.

He added that officers last month rounded up 40 drug suspects, mostly dealers, and made several more arrests in subsequent days.

Dee Davis, president of the Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, said Clay County is impoverished and has a “pretty wild history of a black market economy, a drug economy.”

Questions for Census Bureau Field workers

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

MyTwoCensus has received unsubstantiated reports about the following issues, and we are hoping for our readers to share their knowledge with us so we can further investigate:

1. Have you ever been threatened by Census Bureau employees who are higher up on the food chain than you? One reader recently reported, “The ELCO threatened that if I did not collect all the handhelds before the weekend, they would ‘call the police’ and ‘have them go after the listers to get the handhelds back.’”

2. Have you ever received a text message alerting you that “Census Bureau employees were killed in a car crash?”

3. Please let us know if you have heard something similar to the following: “During training, employees were told that a female census worker in Alaska who had been to a certain address was later stopped by police who demanded to know if she had been at that address.  She refused to tell him because of the confidentiality rules, but then the officer showed her a photo and asked if she had seen this person, and she said, ‘yes.’ Subsequently she was fired for breach of confidentiality.”

If you have anything to report or feel that we should look into a problem, individual, piece of technology, or procedure, or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to e-mail us at mytwocensus at mytwocensus.com.