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 ‘St. Louis’

Census Bureau falls short in East St. Louis

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Here’s a piece from the Bellvue News-Democrat:

$300,000 census promotion falls short in East St. Louis

Only 63 percent of residents mailed in their forms

BY SCOTT WUERZ – News-Democrat
Despite the investment of more than $300,000 in promotional programs designed to encourage East St. Louis residents to return their census forms, the city had the worst participation rate of any large community in the metro-east.

According to U.S. Census Bureau records, 63 percent of East St. Louis residents mailed in their forms. O’Fallon had the highest return rate of any large city in the metro-east with an 81 percent response rate.

Edwardsville saw 80 percent of residences return their census forms, Fairview Heights had a 79 percent response rate, Granite City had a 78 percent return, 77 percent of Belleville residences and 75 percent of Collinsville households returned their census forms.

Read more: http://www.bnd.com/2010/07/04/1317981/300000-census-promotion-falls.html#ixzz0shiDKdtV

MyTwoCensus Investigation: How many politicians got jobs for their kids or other relatives with the Census Bureau?

Friday, March 26th, 2010

I know that I, along with millions of other people who applied for 2010 Census jobs (Full disclosure: I did this to investigate the hiring process for this blog) never received so much as a call to come in for an interview. Yet, I have now received three tips via e-mail that relatives of politicians (two Democrats and one Republican) have been hired/are employed by the Census Bureau. This is an official call to action for the Inspector General’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office to launch investigations into whether nepotism or other illegal forms of hiring took place during any phase of 2010 Census operations or at the Census Bureau in general:

MyTwoCensus have been tipped off about the following:

1. Austin Esposito, son of Democratic Senator from Missouri Claire McCaskill. Check out some screenshots from his FACEBOOK page. (Come on dude, you should know to up your privacy settings by now. You’re the son of a Senator! I’m surprised little old non-partisan me is the first person to post these rather than GOP operatives or right-wing bloggers!)

Editor’s Note: I am most concerned about the McCaskill/Esposito connection because there have been so many complaints about a lack of 2010 Census jobs in Missouri.

Federal Census officials get an earful from local community leaders

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

H/t to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press for the following:

Days after U.S. Census forms began hitting mailboxes, local religious and government leaders are sounding alarms that St. Louisans will be undercounted thanks to wasteful efforts and poor planning.

The criticism came at a roundtable hosted by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, part of the federal government’s push to encourage community leaders to promote the decennial head count and get residents to return census forms.

At Wednesday’s roundtable, Josh Wiese, an aide to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, complained that the census was using “a cookie-cutter” approach to counting that wouldn’t work in “high-crime, low-education” areas the same way it works in the suburbs.

“If this isn’t done right, we’ll certainly hold the Census Bureau accountable,” Wiese told Cedric Grant, director of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships program, representing the Census Bureau’s parent agency.

Evan Armstrong, of the St. Louis-based International Institute, said he was frustrated that U.S. citizens are given preference for census field work, even if they don’t speak the language of the refugee or immigrant groups they will be counting.

Both Wiese and St. Louis County planning manager Lori Fiegel brought up the challenges of counting the city’s large Bosnian population. Fiegel said her office had been promised a Bosnian liaison, which never materialized. When a census official said the liaison had, indeed, been provided, Fiegel said no one had told her office about it.

“The Bosnian community is afraid of the government, afraid of the government, afraid of the government,” Wiese said. “Then, on April 1, they’re supposed to trust the government before going back to being afraid of the government again the next day.”

William Siedhoff, director of the St. Louis Department of Human Services, said the city’s own annual census of its homeless population, completed in January, would have to be repeated by census workers because the bureau didn’t respond to the city’s suggestion to partner on the January effort.

David Newburger, from the city’s office on the disabled, said data provided by the bureau to help reach the city’s disabled citizens were not specific enough and should include street names. Grant said privacy issues prevented that specificity.

The contentious atmosphere at the roundtable “was based on past experience and the anticipation that undercounts are going to happen again,” Siedhoff said after the meeting.

Dennis Johnson, the bureau’s regional director, defended the census in an interview, saying the effort could not succeed without community partners.

“Someone looking for the federal government to provide all the tools is not going to reach every corner of the community,” Johnson said. “But working through partners who already have outreach systems is one of the most effective communications vehicles the census has.”

Local complaints mirror national ones. Last year, a string of independent reports from the Government Accountability Office and others found mismanagement and troubling computer failures at the Census Bureau. (more…)

The 2010 Census Road Tour’s Belly Dancers Scare Away Crowds…

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Here’s a great use of federal and state funds…not:

H/t to KMOX in Missouri

At low-turnout Census event, officials worry state could lose Congressional seat

Rebecca Berg Reporting
Kmox@kmox.com

JEFFERSON CITY (State Capitol Bureau) — At an event where state lawmakers and Census officials urged Missourians to “stand up and be counted,” not even belly dancers, free food and gifts could entice people to show up.

The 2010 Census “Portrait of America Road Tour” pulled up to the state Capitol on Monday for a promotional event to encourage participation in the U.S. Census. Organizers attempted to draw crowds with free food, belly dancing, gifts, music and speeches from prominent lawmakers.

Census belly dancers attract statehouse spectators

But few people attended. During a presentation by U.S. Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, state House Minority Leader Paul LeVota and other state and local officials, the audience consisted of fewer than 20 people.

Lori Simms, the Office of Administration spokeswoman, said the weather likely limited the turnout.

“Because it’s cold, a lot of people went inside,” Simms said.

Two state employees, Linda Albin and Betty Lock, braved the chilly weather to eat hot dogs and chips from the event on the steps of the state Capitol.

They said they enjoyed the free food but were not convinced the event would result in greater Census participation.
“If people aren’t already aware of the Census, this isn’t going to help,” Lock said of the food and entertainment.

The stakes for the 2010 Census are high. If Missouri’s population is counted as too low, the state could lose federal funding and one of its nine congressional districts.

Commissioner Kelvin Simmons, the Office of Administration chair who served as the master of ceremonies for the event, said Census participation will be of great political importance to the state.

“We are on the cusp of potentially losing a congressional seat,” Simmons said.  Simmons said losing a seat in Congress would be “significant” for the state and would result in state legislators losing power in the nation’s capital.

Leutkemeyer said he would not predict whether the state will lose a seat.

“It’s a little premature,” he said. “Let’s wait and see what the (Census) count is.”

Earlier, in his prepared remarks, Leutkemeyer noted that he and his wife have already submitted their Census form.

Dennis Johnson, the Census regional director, said he is working with local officials and media outlets to educate people about the Census and promote higher participation than in past years.

“Our goal is to make sure people send in their forms,” Johnson said. “We want to make sure we have more accurate information.”

Getting that information has required billions of dollars in federal funding. Approximately $15 billion was appropriated by the federal government to fund the Census. The event Monday, Simms estimates, cost the state $500.

Advance Letter Trouble In St. Louis: Cities and Zip Codes Mixed and Mangled

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Below are important highlights from an article on STLToday.com:

Advance letters from the U.S. Census Bureau are causing confusion in parts of the St. Louis area that share common ZIP codes.

But census officials said Tuesday that residents and municipal leaders shouldn’t be worried, the information will be correct on the forms, which are set to start arriving Monday.

The one-page notes that residents received this week say the census forms are coming. The notes are part of an $85 million mailing effort to encourage the sending back of the forms. But some of the letters listed incorrect city names, prompting residents and officials to worry about the accuracy of the count.

After the official census forms arrive, reminder postcards will be sent to areas with low responses, said Shelly Lowe, a spokeswoman for the Census Bureau’s national office.

Some residents of O’Fallon and St. Peters received letters with the correct address and ZIP code, but the wrong city name — Cottleville. Cottleville residents are served by some of the same ZIP codes.

Drabelle said the city received at least 20 calls from residents who were concerned about the city name error.

Lisa Bedian, a spokeswoman for St. Peters, reported a similar number of calls. Part of St. Peters borders Cottleville, she said, but some of the residents who called about their letters lived several miles from the border.

“People are worried about whether St. Peters is going to get credit for this,” Bedian said.

She said the city was asking residents to call if they received an incorrect city name on their letters. She said that residents need not leave their names, but that the city was collecting addresses to get a sense of where the letters were sent.

In St. Louis County, some Maryland Heights residents received letters addressed to Hazelwood. The city’s website told residents they would be counted as living in Maryland Heights. Sara Berry, a city spokeswoman, said the city had received a handful of calls.

“We’re trying to get the word out as best we can and let people know to go ahead and fill out their forms,” she said.

Dennis Johnson, a spokesman with the regional office in Kansas City, said an outside contractor prepared the letters using postal data. The city name on the letter will have no effect on the official census form, he said. Johnson said the official census forms had a bar code with information about exactly where the residence was situated. He said the Census Bureau had been working with city and county officials to make sure addresses were accurate.
“It’s not going to affect the population count,” Johnson said. “They will be tabulated properly for each jurisdiction.”

Scott Hanson, city planner in Edwardsville, said his city had had technicians review data from the census to make sure it included recently annexed properties. “We’re keeping a close eye on that,” he said.

The letters generated controversy in 2000, too. That year, they included return envelopes for those who wanted to receive census forms in another language, but no English explanation was printed on the envelope.

A Cohort Of Census Bureau Officials Stay At The Ritz Carlton…On Your Dime!

Friday, December 11th, 2009

From BergersBeat.com:

At least one local purchaser of distressed commercial real estate tells the columnist that a St. Louis Chrysler plant will be hitting the market any edition. Broker? DESCO says the tipster. . .Which three additional local banks are this close to takeovers?. . .Taking a census at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Clayton, an insider noted that a party of 15 from the U.S. Census Bureau stayed there – not even in the City of St. Louis, where Missouri’s Census of Schools was launched by the bureau’s director Dr. Robert Groves.

Are we going to have to file a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request to find out whether this is true? Hopefully not, as we just inquired about this with the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office. To be fair, the Census Bureau could have negotiated a pretty hefty corporate discount at The Ritz, particularly because it’s doubtful that the place is swirling with customers in this economy. But as one GOP insider said to us, “No wonder their budget’s out of control!”

UPDATE: Dr. Groves did NOT stay at the Ritz. And the other government officials stayed there for $110 per night (government rate). Case closed. (See below for the official Census Bureau response!)

Stephen,

Dr. Groves did not spend the night. He flew into St. Louis for the day to
participate in a Census-in-Schools event with Subcommittee Chairman Lacy
Clay and officials from the City of St. Louis. Three Census Bureau staff
members from Headquarters and nine from the Kansas City Region were in town
to support this event, which required a lot of preparation and received
national and local press coverage. Staff also were involved in operational
and partnership activities involving the Director and Chairman Clay. This
is an area that had a low mail response rate in 2000, so extra efforts by
regional staff are critical to improve the response rate and decrease the
undercount. Census Bureau staff stayed at the Ritz-Carlton because it is
centrally located and offers the government rate of $110 per night.

Burton H. Reist
Assistant to the Associate Director
Communications Directorate

Congressman says minorities are not counted equally

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

We came across the following blog post written by Sean Rose of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. MyTwoCensus has made inquiries to Asian-American elected officials about their opinions on what Rep. William Lacy Clay has said:

WASHINGTON — Minorities and urban neighborhoods have long been under counted by the U.S. census and officials are hoping that a $312 million ad campaign can reverse the trend for the 2010 tally.

But Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, is wondering if the Census Bureau is spending all of that money wisely.

After hearing testimony today before the House Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee, which Clay chairs, the congressman took exception to the amount of funds targeting Asian-Americans, which have been better represented than other minorities in past census data.

“What was alarming was that in the Asian communities in America, they have tended to be historically over counted,” Clay said.

Of the money headed toward advertising, $27 million will specifically target Asians-Americans, while $36 million and $39 million will target blacks and Hispanics respectively.

Asian citizens were actually over counted in the 2000 census while the numbers from the last two census attempts have consistently under counted blacks and Hispanics. The 2000 census missed an estimated 3 million people.

None of the spending amounts are final and Clay said he expected to see revised numbers at the next subcommittee hearing.

“It’s a work in progress,” Clay said.

This funding from the bureau is meant to increase the response rate among these communities by stressing the importance of the census through ads and school programs. The bureau is also planning to increase spending to $280 million on partnerships with community groups and leaders in places that have a low response rate to better address problems of finding residents and getting a response.

As a whole, Missouri’s 69 percent response rate was higher than the 67 percent national average. In contrast, St. Louis, home to many minorities that the census has not traditionally reached, had a 53 percent response rate in 2000.