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:
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:
The Omaha World-Herald has taken on an issue that I have written about extensively in recent weeks. How does the Census Bureau justify the costs of workers traveling large distances and putting them up at hotels while local workers get paid to sit idly or are terminated?
A waste in U.S. Census operation?
By Christopher Burbach
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
The U.S. Census Bureau has brought in more than 30 out-of-town workers to conduct door-to-door surveys in Omaha, even though some Omaha census employees say they don’t have enough to do.
The Census Bureau expects to spend $42,311 on hotel rooms and food for the workers, who are from Lincoln and other Nebraska locations, said Russ Frum, assistant regional census manager in Denver.
He said there are “about 38” such workers. The Census Bureau expects to pay for 315 hotel room nights. That would work out to about eight nights per employee. Most started June 4. They’re scheduled to leave Friday.
The workers, known as enumerators, are knocking on doors to collect census data at households that did not mail back a 2010 Census form. They’re trying to catch people at home to ask them the census questions in person, or on the telephone. It’s what the census calls “nonresponse follow-up.”
Frum and an Omaha census official, Jackie McCabe, said the expense is justified. They said data collection was behind schedule in some areas, especially northeast Omaha.
“We have brought experienced people in to finish an area that did not appear was going to be finished on time,” said McCabe, local census office manager for Douglas, Sarpy and Washington Counties.
The out-of-town workers are Nebraskans, she said. Local managers had tried to find Omaha crews to complete the surveys in the areas that were behind, she said. (more…)
Here’s an interesting story from the Press of Atlantic City that raises many issues that have previously been discussed on MyTwoCensus.com:
U.S. Census Bureau officials said Friday that confusion over how to count shore residents has made it pull at least 20 canvassers out of Brigantine after a local crew leader resigned in protest.
Debra Dunham, who recently moved to the city from Minnesota, submitted her resignation Thursday and said she was ordered to expedite the counting of residents there even if it meant not following procedures to get accurate numbers.
“The motto from the local census office is ‘Git-r-done,’” she said Friday.
Census officials said their attempts to blanket the area more thoroughly with enumerators was misunderstood as trying to take shortcuts, and so reduced a group of 50 counters to 30 to erase the misconception.
Dunham sent her resignation letter to the city’s offices and the media, and after her concerns were forwarded from the local office in Northfield to the regional office in Philadelphia, officials said they were changing their handling of the area’s count.
Regional Director Fernando Armstrong said his office was investigating Dunham’s allegations, saying all workers are expected to attempt contacting a house up to six times in order to get a complete number of residents.
He said his office spoke with representatives from the local office and instructed them that they should be proceeding with the count according to the normal procedures.
The practice of bringing in more workers, called “blitzing,” was being used because the shore region is notorious for having too few volunteers. But it is also an expensive process, since the bureau pays several workers an average of $18 an hour to canvass a small area.
“What the local office was trying to do was get as much of the shore area done by bringing people from other parts of their territory to get it done before the weekend when you have a lot of people coming to shore homes,” Armstrong said. “It was never the attention to not continue to do door-to-door enumeration.”
Armstrong said there were also concerns among workers that this was taking work away from them, which he said was not the intention.
Armstrong said the bureau needed workers so badly that they had rehired Dunham by the end of the day Friday.
The 30 counters remaining will continue knocking on doors through the weekend and into the middle of July, Armstrong said, both in Brigantine and throughout the region.
Even though spin doctor Steve Jost, tried to Jost-ify the Census Bureau’s failure to pay its employees properly and on time in the comments section of this blog, this latest report from North Carolina details how Congressman Heath Shuler had to step in to enable emergency checks to be issued to Census Bureau employees — checks that are yet to arrive. Thanks to Julie Ball of the Citizen Times for the following:
ASHEVILLE — Some Western North Carolina census workers are still waiting on emergency checks after payroll problems caused some workers to get no or only partial pay this week.
Karla Gay, local census office manager for the city office, said those workers should have the emergency pay by next week, but she could not say for sure when.
“I know that there are people who are living paycheck to paycheck, and it’s very important. I want them to know we are doing everything we can,” Gay said Friday.
Workers who didn’t request emergency pay won’t get caught up on their pay until Wednesday, according to Gay.
“At this point, what we are telling folks really is to sit tight … people will be paid on Wednesday,” said Tony Jones, with media relations for the Charlotte Regional Census Center.
U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler sent a letter Friday to U.S. Census officials urging them to resolve the problem.
Gay said between 5 and 8 percent of 1,100 workers who are doing census work in 11 WNC counties had pay problems, getting either no pay or partial pay Wednesday. She could not say how many of them requested emergency pay.
Of five states covered by the Charlotte regional office — North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia — the pay problem only occurred in the Asheville and Charlotte offices, according to Jones.
Jones didn’t have an exact count, but said between 1 and 4 percent of the 1,300 workers in Charlotte either didn’t get paid or got only a partial payment.
Census officials have attributed the pay problem to incomplete or unsigned pay sheets and problems with bank account numbers submitted by workers. But at least one worker has said there were no problems with her paperwork.
“We also had challenges here in the office with getting the volume of work in because it came in late,” Gay said.
Unlike the 2000 Census when workers submitted weekly pay sheets, census workers must fill out and sign a pay sheet every day they work. Each individual sheet must then be audited.
Jones said there are people working “24-seven” on nothing but payroll.
Some WNC workers who didn’t get paid have contacted Shuler’s office and U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s office to complain about the problem.
Stephanie Allen, spokeswoman for Hagan, said the office is turning the information over to U.S. Census officials.
Julie Fishman, communications director for Shuler, said if census workers are having trouble with their pay, they can call Shuler’s office at 252-1651 and leave their name and the city/town they are working in.
Shuler’s office is compiling the information and will send it directly to Charlotte.
SHOW ME THE MONEY! It’s simple. When you’ve got hundreds of thousands of employees working for you, pay them on time. MyTwoCensus.com has received more than a dozen complaints within the past 12 hours from Census Bureau employees, at offices throughout the nation, who have not been paid on time. It is unknown whether this inexcusable error by the Census Bureau is a result of computer system failures (a problem that has plagued the Census Bureau for months if not years — even though Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves said two days ago that the problems were fixed). Even though most of the 500,000+ Census Bureau employees who are out in the field this week are temporary employees, they still depend on this income from the federal government. A great number of these temporary employees were unemployed before their Census Bureau work came about, and thus are now living paycheck to paycheck. Unfortunately, when those paychecks don’t come, everyone is hurt. This is particularly damning because many employees lost their unemployment benefits to take Census Bureau jobs, and will have an extremely hard time getting these payments again once the work is finished.
(Interestingly, a marketing firm called GA1 that had a contract with the Census Bureau publicly accused the government of not paying them on time back in March, but it’s unknown to me at this time whether the situation was resolved.)
One disgruntled employee wrote me the following about her experience, which sounds more like a Kafka novel than an account of living and working in the world’s greatest democracy:
I started working for the census on April 12, 2010. My first paycheck was supposed to be deposited on April 28 but it wasn’t. I called my LCO that day and was informed they entered the wrong account number into their system. They asked me for the correct account number and told me that they updated the system. Next they told me that I had to call the hotline to start the re-issuance process for the missing check. I did as instructed and was told it would take 5-7 business days to be deposited into my acct. The next payday was May 5 and check #2 isn’t there and #1 is still “missing”. I again call the hotline (got the answering machine the first 20+ times) when I finally found a human they wanted to take a message, I refused because I had left countless messages with no return call. So I waited on hold for over 25 minutes. I was told again that the check would be reissued in 5-7 days. Week 3 pay date May 12, finally a paycheck! However it was only for the last pay period. #1 and #2 still missing. I called the hotline today and I’m getting the run-around. They won’t tell me anything! I called DOL and was told they can’t help because technically I’m a federal employee and they gave me another number to call. I called this number and was told they couldn’t help because I was a temporary employee. What can I do? I need my money, I am a single mom with kids to feed. Right now I’m wishing I would have just stayed on unemployment. To top it all off, the uncaring attitude of my LCO doesn’t help… they just say don’t worry. You’ll be paid eventually, we don’t know when but eventually.
To the hundreds of thousands people who are victims of this lax payment plan by the government, know that I am here to fight for you. Please submit your stories in the comments section below. This behavior by the Census Bureau is unacceptable. Today, I am calling Dr. Groves (the Census Bureau Director), Steve Jost (the Census Bureau’s Communications Director), the Public Information Office, and officials who are responsible for the payroll to get to the bottom of this mess.
For now, MyTwoCensus.com urges ALL EMPLOYEES who have not been paid to contact your Member of Congress and your Senators. Go to their offices if you can, but if not, lodge complaints by phone and e-mail. If you wish, please send me your complaints privately as well. MyTwoCensus is in contact with both Democrat and Republican Members of Congress who will hopefully be able to have some clout to get this problem resolved immediately.
UPDATE: Here’s another update from an anonymous Census Bureau employee Asheville, North Carolina, which to my knowledge is the only place where the media has actually reported these problems:
No one out of the Asheville office was paid properly today. I received 0. Three of my crew also received 0. two got 1 days pay/ 5 got 2 Days pay.
When manager raised cain was threatened with firing.
One enumerator had to borrow 8 dollars for gas to get home. One is threatened with eviction from her trailer.
Asheville LCO told another enumerator to expect to be paid on the 26th.
Asheville LCO said not to worry it was a nationwide computer glitch.
Asheville did not care that these folks had been out of work and need the money…especially the gas they have been buying to do the job.
Please do not use my name or email or I will get fired too.
We heard from other census workers in different cld that they also had widespread pay issues.
No one we heard from in Asheville district got the correct pay.
What can we do? If we raise a stink they will fire us.
The Census is now hiring at $9.00 per hour. we were hired at $11.50/ Are they trying to force us out to hire cheaper workers?
With 635,000 people on the job for the non-response follow-up (NRFU) operation, it’s not surprising that there are a few bad apples in the bunch. On the other hand, it’s tragic to learn that a Census Bureau employee in Connecticut became a carjacking victim. Here are the tidbits about these situations:
According to Connecticut’s NBC affiliate:
A Census Bureau worker was the victim of a carjacking in Hamden, and the suspect is just 14-years-old.
The 50-year-old Hamden resident was sitting in his car, clearly marked with a Census Bureau sign, on Hamden Park Drive Thursday around 6:00 p.m., according to police.
The victim told police the teen came up to him with a gun and ordered him out of the car, then stole money from him.
Jumping in the car, the teen sped away, but returned a short time later and ordered the victim to drive him to the First Street area, police said.
The teen jumped out of the car at First Street and fled on foot.
Working with several leads, police arrested the 14-year-old suspect around 9:00 p.m. Thursday night.
He is charged with carjacking, first-degree kidnapping with a firearm, first-degree robbery and larceny. Police did not release the teen’s identity because of his age.
And from the Fox affiliate in Indiana, a Census Bureau employee raped a woman whom he had previously enumerated…weird:
Posted: May 11, 2010 4:18 AM
A Southern Indiana Census worker sits in jail, charged with brutally raping a mentally handicapped woman.
Now deep concerns from within the neighborhood where police say it took place.
Connie Fry said she was asleep in one room and her daughter in another and had no idea someone was in her home attacking her daughter.
“At one time she told me he was putting his hand over her mouth and he was choking her,” Fry said as she was describing the attack on her daughter.
She said the attacker is 39-year-old Daniel Miller. Fry said he is not a complete stranger, but someone she had met before.
“Three days prior to the night he got here he came from the Census Bureau.” That day – Fry said Miller was dressed professionally and was polite only taking her information for the Census.
Officials with the U.S. Census Bureau confirm Daniel Miller is a numerator, someone employed to go door to door gathering information.
At around 4:30 Saturday morning, police said Miller broke into a home at 5602 South State Road 60 in Pekin, Indiana and brutally attacked and raped Fry’s 21-year-old daughter.
“She had blood shot eyes and bruises on her shoulders and her arms.”
Fry said her daughter is handicapped and could not have defended herself. “She’s got Cerebral Palsy and mild retardation.”
Fry said it was easy to figure out who attacked her daughter because he left behind plenty of evidence.
“He left all his clothes, his wallet and everything in the bedroom. He went out of here with her pajamas and her panties.”
Sheriff’s deputies arrested Miller at his apartment on North Eastern School Road in Pekin across the street from Eastern High School.
“Sometimes we’re here by ourselves because my husband works out of town,” said Evelyn Wisman Fry’s neighbor.
Even though police say they have arrested the right person, neighbors along Indiana 60 in Pekin are concerned that someone trusted by the government to go door to door is now charged with such a serious crime.
“That’s scary for him to know exactly who’s in the home,” Wisman said.
Miller is charged with rape and burglary and is in the Washington County Detention Center on a $150,000 full cash bond.
Census officials tell Fox 41 a background check is performed on all employees and anyone with a criminal history is not hired.
HOUSTON—A man was killed and his family members beaten after three suspects barged into a north Houston home Saturday afternoon, police said.
Investigators said one of the suspects pretended to be a census worker to gain entry into the house, located in the 400 block of Truman.
Family members said the victim’s son opened the door for the suspects, believing they were with the census.
Larry Johnson Jr., the nephew of the victim, said the suspects tied up and beat his cousin and aunt after barging into to the home.
Johnson said his uncle, Reginald “Pete” Haynes, walked in on the crime and was ambushed.
“They tied him up and stabbed him and tried to submerge him in water,” Johnson said.
Haynes later died at the hospital.
Family members said the men ransacked the house for two hours.
“They were looking for money and my aunt gave them everything that they had and it wasn’t enough for them,” Johnson said.
Neighbor Randell Harmon said he even watched the suspects leave after the crime and had no idea what had happened.
“I saw three gentlemen walk out and I didn’t think anything of it,” Harmon said. “They didn’t look at me. They got in the truck and they left.”
The incident left people in the community fearful about who might come knocking at their door.
“They’ve taken something precious from us,” Johnson said. “They really have.”
Neighbors said census-takers started working their street weeks ago.
According to HPD, the suspect who claimed to be a census worker showed no ID badge. Investigators said they don’t have a good description of any of the suspects.
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.”
On this web site, particularly in the comments section, many people use acronyms and other jargon associated with the 2010 Census. MyTwoCensus has obtained both a list of acronyms — essentially a 2010 Census dictionary — and an employee handbook that you can use as you need it. I will be linking to this post in our “links” section so this information is easily accessible for all:
And even more acronyms/definitions available from the Census Bureau’s glossary: http://www.census.gov/dmd/www/glossary.html
The following New York Times editorial concerns the class action lawsuit that we reported on last week. For many months now, MyTwoCensus.com has criticized 2010 Census hiring practices. Here’s the editorial:
The Census Bureau is hiring a million or more people to assist with the 2010 count. It is temporary work, but it pays well. With national unemployment at nearly 10 percent, it looks like an excellent opportunity. That is unless you are one of the nearly 50 million Americans with any arrest or conviction on record.
A new class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of applicants who say they were unfairly turned down for census jobs based on an opaque screening policy that relies on F.B.I. checks for any criminal histories. Those checks are notoriously unreliable. A 2006 federal report found that half of them were inaccurate or out of date.
The Census Bureau is vague about what makes someone ineligible. In Congressional testimony, it suggested that it is excluding people who have been convicted of crimes involving violence and dishonesty. The bureau’s Web site seems to say that applicants whose background checks turn up any arrest — no matter how trivial, distant in time, irrelevant to the job — receive a letter advising them that they can remain eligible only if they produce “official court documentation” bearing on the case within 30 days. Incredibly, the letter does not identify the alleged criminal activity. Applicants must prove eligibility, even if they don’t know why they were flagged.
Official court records are often unobtainable for the millions of people whose convictions have been sealed or expunged or for people who have been arrested and released because of lack of evidence or mistaken arrest. This problem falls heaviest on black and Hispanic communities where stop-and-frisk policies and indiscriminate arrests are common.
The hiring problem is not limited to the Census Bureau. After 9/11, Congress required port workers to undergo F.B.I. background checks to keep their jobs. Last year, a study by the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for workers, found that the government had mistakenly denied credentials to tens of thousands of those workers.
States and cities are wisely revising employment policies. The federal government needs to develop a fair and transparent screening system for job applicants and a more effective appeals process. Congress must also require the F.B.I. to verify the criminal records — and find missing data before issuing background checks.
Census forms are now due back and non-response follow-up operations are starting across the country. With some 600,000 workers (or more) on the job right now, there are bound to be problems. If you know of anything that is out of the ordinary, please don’t hesitate to contact MyTwocensus.com!
The following incident took place in March in Northern Idaho. MyTwoCensus.com believes that this incident should be considered more than a misdemeanor in the eye of the law, as it was directed at a federal employee who was working at the time. CNN commentator Eric Erickson’s heinous words mirror this incident in a strange yet shocking way.
H/t to the CDA Press for this:
A St. Maries man was cited for firing his shotgun near a U.S. Census worker who was trying to deliver the man his questionnaire in March.
Richard L. Powell, 54, faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for exhibition of a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor offense.
The census worker alleges he was trying to deliver Powell the population-counting questionnaire on the afternoon of March 3, when Powell told the worker to get off his property at 396 Powell Road near St. Maries, according to the Benewah County Prosecutor’s Office.
Powell then went into his residence and returned with a shotgun, and fired the gun in the air, the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office said.
The census worker waited a few days before reporting the alleged crime to the sheriff’s office, and Powell was cited a week after the alleged incident.
Powell did not return a message left by The Press seeking comment Friday.
His pretrial conference is 9 a.m. April 26 at the Benewah County Courthouse.
Immediately after MyTwoCensus broke the story that Census Bureau “listers” have finished their jobs way ahead of schedule (and were then released from their temporary duties, making them ineligible for unemployment), a tip from a mid-Atlantic state came into our inbox…
It appears that there has been a sudden change of policy within the Bureau: Whereas two days ago, the Census Bureau was proud that it had completed so many tasks early (and lied to its employees about how long they would be working), it seems that now the Census Bureau has gone to the other extreme, by adding tons of unecessary work for its low-level employees, work that could enable the spread of Swine Flu.
We assure you that the credibility of our source has been established. As we hope to protect that person’s identity, we will not reveal anymore information. Here’s the scoop:
“So the only people on the streets now are listers and Quality Control listers, people making the list of addresses and double-checking parts of the list of addresses.
It is exceedingly simple work, making sure “100 Main St.” in the computer matches up with “100 Main St.” on the ground. Ninety-nine percent of homes have their numbers posted, so there is no need to actually interact with anyone. The work moves pretty fast.
That’s when the regional census office decreed that we need to knock on every door and make a “courtesy contact.”
Here is the e-mail from the regional office:
“The purpose of this message is to ensure all Listers clearly and fully understand that they are “required” to knock on “every” door to verify addresses during the address canvassing operation.”
Again, almost none of this work actually requires talking with residents. (This is unlike the phase of the operation in 2010, when we’ll be knocking on the doors of people who don’t turn in their forms.) Making us knock on every door is going to slow our work to a crawl. And it will be completely pointless. During a “courtesy contact,” we don’t ask any questions, and merely say hi.
But in this time of swine flu anxiety it seems strange to require government employees to be making all kinds of unnecessary contact with dozens of strangers a day in their homes”
When a pandemic could be upon us, why has the Census Bureau decided to start making unnecessary “courtesy contacts” with citizens? Why is meaningless work being created for Census Bureau employees? Is it to prevent what happened in Philly from happening elsewhere by going to the opposite extreme and adding non-essential work to the mix?
The Census Bureau uses the following statistic as a talking point: For each additional 1% of Americans who turn in their Census questionnaire on time, the Bureau saves $80-90 million. However, knocking on doors to say “hi” has little to no correlation with ensuring that people fill out their questionnaires in the fall. And these “courtesy” visits could very well be facilitating the inadvertent spread of Swine Flu germs, endangering both Census Bureau listers and the unsuspecting citizens they visit.
After two Census Bureau employees went missing earlier today, one wonders: Why aren’t GPS systems installed in the handheld computers that all Census Bureau enumerators must carry? Why was there such a lack of communication between supervisors and their employees that the precise location of the employees could not be determined until many hours after they went missing and search efforts were underway from state police, firefighters, and troops?
The Chicago Tribune reported the following when the two employees were found:
STEPHENSON, Mich. – State police say two workers with the U.S. Census Bureau who were stranded on an isolated road in Menominee County have been found after an eight-hour search.
A news release from the Stephenson post said the women’s car got stuck Wednesday night on the seasonal road.
They called for help on a cell phone. But a poor connection prevented dispatchers from pinpointing the women’s location.
Troopers, volunteer firefighters and other law enforcement agencies helped with the search.