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 ‘Tennessee’

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.

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.

A Bipartisan Call To Action On Redistricting

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Reps. John Tanner (D-Tenn) and Mike Castle (R-Del) who co-sponsored the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act submitted the following Op-Ed piece that appeared in Roll Call:

The 2010 Census has already been front-page news, igniting angry partisan controversies involving Cabinet nominees, potential third-party contractors and even statistical methodology. Little attention has been paid, however, to the Congressional redistricting that will follow and to the abuses that have become inherent in the process.

In dozens of states across the country, politicians will quite literally be sitting down to select their constituents instead of the other way around. And those constituents will be stuck with those decisions for a decade. This is not the democracy that is taught in civics classes across this great nation.

With that process once again so close at hand, it is more urgent than ever that the American people demand that Congress fix this broken system and curb the abuses of gerrymandering that engineer predetermined political outcomes.

Each state has the authority and responsibility to design a Congressional district map that will best serve its citizens, drawn according to population, geography and federal voting rights laws, including the Voting Rights Act. We share the view of many that these district lines should not, however, be drawn to benefit certain candidates or political parties.

We will introduce legislation this week to reform the redistricting process. The Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act would limit redistricting to once a decade, after census data is available, to be carried out by an independent commission made up of bipartisan appointees. Our legislation will be similar to legislation originally proposed in the 109th Congress and that we sponsored in the 110th Congress.

It will not be easy to convince our colleagues to reform a process that often helps ensure their re-election. The push, therefore, must come from outside organizations and grass-roots approaches. Americans for Redistricting Reform and the groups in it, including the League of Women Voters, the Brennan Center for Justice, U.S. PIRG, the Committee for Economic Development, the Campaign Legal Center and the Republican Main Street Partnership, are strong advocates for fixing our broken system. Other organizations from across the political spectrum have joined us in this fight and will continue to decry the implications of a broken system.

Our Founding Fathers wisely knew the American people needed a legislative body directly responsive to their interests. By their vision, the House of Representatives was to be the only federal entity elected directly by the people (Senators were originally selected by state legislatures). They designed the House’s two-year election cycle to make Members directly and immediately accountable to the electorate.

Over time, however, many involved in the system have learned to manipulate it. Gerrymandered district lines, in effect, silence the voices of those who disagree with them politically. Too often, the process today utilizes advanced mapping technology, along with polling and party affiliation data, to draw district lines that protect incumbents and weaken the voice of each district’s minority party.

The judicial system has effectively sanctioned this culture of gerrymandering with various rulings permitting blatant partisan power grabs. A 2006 Supreme Court ruling essentially gave state legislatures freedom to redistrict anytime they want — even in the middle of a decade — for whatever purpose they want, including pure political gain.

Currently districts are engineered with impunity to protect incumbents, with voters’ voices diluted as they are packed together to achieve partisan ends. The resulting preordained outcome feeds citizen apathy, drives down voter turnout, depresses competition and entrenches incumbents who are protected from real competition and real accountability at the polls. The only serious challenges to these “safe seats” come from the extreme wings of their own parties, only serving to further polarize Congress.

Under this system, many Members of Congress are more beholden to a partisan base than to solution-oriented pragmatism. The outcome is a polarized political atmosphere where few are willing to work together in the political center, where most Americans reside.

Unfortunately, the public outrage that is still mustered over partisan gerrymanders builds and crests as the voters are divvied up by politicians every 10 years. By the time the next census comes along, the public, and even the media, is not paying much attention until it is too late.

America’s disaffected voters have been missing from this movement to reform the process, but their voices will be necessary to change the system. Most Americans today do not realize the negative impact many years of gerrymandering has had on Congress’ ability to accomplish the nation’s common goals.

Even as we face the greatest economic challenges most Americans have ever lived through, polarization and gridlock brought on by gerrymandering has limited Congress’ ability to address the issues with effectiveness, common sense and bipartisanship. The time to act is now, before the next election (the last before the census) is upon us and it is too late. We are asking our colleagues, our allies and the American people to help us to rectify this grave miscarriage of democracy.

Person to watch: The GOP’s John Ryder

Monday, May 18th, 2009

One of the many after-effects of the 2010 Census, in addition to funding changes, is redistricting. Thus, both major political parties will be jockeying to ensure that the redistricting process favors their interests. Yesterday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele called upon Tennessee native John Ryder to spearhead the Republican Party’s redistricting efforts. Here’s the article from the Memphis Flyer about the appointment:

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Memphis lawyer John Ryder, who has served as Republican National Committeeman from Tennessee for most of the last two decades, has been named by RNC chairman Michael Steele to chair the party’s national redistricting committee.

Ryder has been the lynchpin of the state Republicans’ redistricting efforts after each of the last two census revisions — in the periods 1989-1994 and 1999-2003 and was instrumental in the party’s deliberatons as far back as 1976.

More than a decade ago, then state Republican chairman Randle Richardson bragged on Ryder’s redistricting expertise during an address to the Shelby County Republican Party steering committee and quipped, “That’s his idea of good sex!” (The modest and somewhat embarrassed Ryder would later contradict that metaphor, claiming propensities that were normal and red-blooded, but Richardson’s remark did summarize the Memphian’s zeal for a subject that many others considered esoteric and difficult.)

Said Steele in announcing the appointment: “I am proud to announce the appointment of John Ryder to this Republican National Committee leadership post. John has been a tireless advocate of Republican principles both in the state of Tennessee and across the country and I look forward to working with him to prepare state parties for redistricting efforts following the 2010 national census.”