Thursday, April 1, 2010

The violin breaks: Usual Loaves & Fishes dunderheadedness screws up Census count

It was like giving a baboon a Stradivarius violin. It should have easily been anticipated that it was greatly more likely the instrument would be broken than that a wonderful melody would be played.

The poor ignorant 2010 Census people gave Libby Fernandez the possibility of meddling in the count and that is what happened.

Ms. Fernandez is quoted at Channel 10, thus:
"We want everyone to know that you don't have to even give your real name," said Sister Libby Fernandez of Loaves and Fishes, "It's not about the name or your legality here in the United States. It's about counting your head and that you're a resident here in Sacramento."
Elsewhere ― in the original of a Cynthia Hubert story in the Bee online that was changed and greatly shortened after it first appeared online ― Libby is quoted saying that "few, if any" who showed up at Friendship Park on the morning of Mar 30 didn't participate in the Census.

Be aware that on Mar 29 the Union Gospel Mission and Salvation Army shelters were beseiged by a good number of Census workers who gathered data. Almost ALL the guys from Union Gospel Mission go to Loaves & Fishes each morning, and certainly a great many from Salvation Army.

If "perhaps none" of the people showing up at Friendship Park failed to give census information, AND they are encouraged by Fernandez to use false names AND were given very bodacious data-providing parting gifts, the likelihood of a significant double-count of homeless people is certain.

Here is the "parting gift" that early arrivals got for participating in the Loaves & Fishes mismanaged Census-data-gathering effort. Homeless people got all of the following:
  • A spiffy toiletries bag
  • lip balm
  • small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • rain pancho
  • tooth brush with cap
  • toothpaste
  • bandages in a bandage container
Ms. Fernandez is, of course, absolutely dead wrong when she said that "you don't have to even give your real name."  Indeed, of course, it is illegal to lie, giving false data to Census workers.

Here, from what I could find from a brief google search this morning, provisions of Title 13 re penalties for false reporting to a Census worker [emphases, mine]:

Sections 74, 84 and 210 of title 13, U.S.C., 1952 ed., described the same type of offenses, but the penal provisions varied. Section 74 prescribed maximum fine of $1,000 and maximum imprisonment of one year, for refusal to answer or giving a false answer; section 84 prescribed maximum fine of $1,000 for refusal to answer or giving false answer, with no imprisonment; and section 210 prescribed maximum fine of $500 and maximum imprisonment of sixty days for refusal to answer, and maximum fine of $10,000 and maximum imprisonment of one year for giving a false answer. In addition, such section 74 prescribed a minimum fine of $300 for refusal to answer or giving a false answer. This revised section adopts the penalties of such section 210, which was the latest enactment on the subject, and which might have been regarded as having superseded the penal provisions of such sections 74 and 84. According to its own terms, its penal provisions were applicable not only to the censuses of population, agriculture, etc., provided for in chapter 4 of title 13, U.S.C., 1952 ed., but also to any schedules prepared under the act of March 6, 1902 (sections 1–6, 77, 101, 111, and 112 of such title), or under acts amendatory thereof “or supplemental thereto.” This reference did not cover sections 74 and 84 specifically, but such sections, enacted in 1924 and 1916, respectively, could probably be regarded as having been “supplemental” to the 1902 act. In any event, this revised section establishes uniform penalties for refusal to answer, or giving a false answer in the circumstances stated. Further, the prescribed penalties are the maximum, and any lesser penalty can be imposed if the facts of the case warrant it.
For her encouragement for many to give false answers to Census workers with the likelihood [I would say "certainty"] of double reporting resulting, Ms. Fernandez's conduct is greatly more reprehensible beyond what is described in the blockquote above.

UPDATE:  Perhaps the following is most germane to Ms. Fernandez's conduct ― though "intent" to screw up the Census is a part of the described misconduct.  I do not see evidence that Ms. Fernandez had the intention of breaking the law. 
Whoever, either directly or indirectly, offers or renders to any officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof engaged in making an enumeration of population under subchapter II, IV, or V of chapter 5 of this title, any suggestion, advice, information or assistance of any kind, with the intent or purpose of causing an inaccurate enumeration of population to be made, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

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