Census playing a game of seek-and-go-hide
By John CrudeleNY Post
June 16, 2014 | 10:53pmWhat is the Census Bureau hiding?
And why is it nervous about showing the kind of government transparency that President Obama promised when he came into office?
You already know my gripe with Census.
A person in its Philadelphia office was caught several years ago falsifying data that went into the nation’s jobless report and the Consumer Price Index, both of which tremendously affect financial markets and people’s lives
And — this is the irksome part — Census covered up this misdeed. And the Commerce Department, which oversees Census, also covered it up, until I wrote about it last fall.
Then, after a costly investigation by Commerce’s Inspector General’s (IG) Office, the Census Bureau admitted that, indeed, one of its enumerators — a guy named Julius Buckmon — had faked interviews. But despite witnesses testimony to the contrary, the Commerce IG said there was no truth to Buckmon’s claim that higher-ups ordered him to fudge the numbers.
And, the IG said, it was impossible to fake enough surveys to have an impact on the national figures.
I’ve already showed you in previous columns how that’s an outright lie because all the interviews go through supervisors who can change as many of them as they want.
And supervisors were exactly the people Buckmon fingered.
The Commerce IG did admit, however, that Census workers are undertrained (which, of course, Commerce and Census can conveniently blame on Congress funding).
The IG report is a crock and there’s an ongoing probe by the House Oversight Committee, the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, (I believe) at least one US Attorney’s Office and me.
Now back to the Census Bureau’s nervousness about my investigation.
Months ago, I filed several requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for internal e-mails between Philly Census supervisor Fermando Armstrong and his mentor Stanley Moore, who, up until a few weeks ago ran the Census Bureau in the president’s hometown of Chicago.
Moore, who is an octogenarian, suddenly was reassigned. But after telling me there were 2,000 pages of communications between the two men, Census suddenly could only find a handful of chit-chat e-mails.
It returned my check for the 2,000 pages.
The Post’s attorneys have intervened on this and have heard nothing.
I also FOIA’d e-mails between four workers in the Philadelphia Census office for the months around the 2012 presidential election. Later, I added a supervisor’s name to the request. That supervisor has since taken early retirement.
About six weeks ago, I was assured by Commerce that I would receive those e-mails in three weeks. There are supposedly 1,600 pages of stuff being turned over. So far, nothing!
What am I looking for?
A source has told me that the Philly office was keen to keep the unemployment rate down around the time of the last election. I’d like to see if the four workers in Philly had any discussions about the election on their work computers.
And I’d like to know the contents of the Moore and Armstrong e-mails that suddenly disappeared.
But politics isn’t the only thing I’m searching for. I’d also like to see how contracts were awarded in Philly to make sure everything was (and is) on the up-and-up.
If there’s nothing in those e-mails, why is the Census Bureau being so uncooperative?
Oh, and by the way, the Census Bureau also collects a lot of the crime data for the FBI. So you might want to look at all those stats with suspicion also.
After all, how brave would Census workers have to be to go up to a front door and ask if the family has been involved in any crimes lately?
It is a whole lot easier to put in phony reports.