OHIO - (Another Census Article) Census Makes Mistakes on Labels

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Title: Census Makes Mistakes on Labels

Tuesday, April 04, 2000


Census 2000 has many Shaker Heights residents wondering whether they count.

The U.S. Census Bureau - which has spent weeks urging the nation to "Be Counted" and fill out census forms - did not properly address many forms for Shaker Heights. Those residents, as a result, never received a Census 2000 form.

The bureau yesterday could not pinpoint the number of residents affected. But in the past week, dozens of Shaker Heights residents have called City Hall, the Census Bureau and The Plain Dealer to complain that they had not received their forms.

"This is a little more extensive than a couple of streets," said Sue Hack, a Census Bureau manager who is overseeing the count in northern Ohio. "Were still working on why it happened and trying to see the extent of the problem."

Hack said the bureau had the proper addresses for Shaker Heights in its master computer file. But when address labels were printed, streets and numbers were mismatched.

"Theyre making such a grand effort to count everybody, and this is a major screw-up," said Bobbi Reich, a Courtland Oval resident who has been waiting for a census form to show up in her mailbox.

Nancy Saada, who lives on Braemar Rd., has also been waiting for her census form, aware that billions of dollars in government money is distributed based on census data.

"Somethings gone wrong somewhere," she said. "Im concerned that this is just the tip of the iceberg."

Another clue that something went wrong in Shaker Heights, a city with nearly 30,000 people: As of Sunday, only 41 percent of the citys residents had mailed back forms, according to the Census Bureau. In the 1990 census, 77 percent of Shaker residents responded.

Mark Reynolds, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Services Cleveland district, said the Census Bureau address list for Shaker Heights had "a lot of mistakes." Postal employees returned any forms with mistakes to the Census Bureau, Reynolds said.

"Everything that was given to us, we delivered it on time," he said. "If we couldnt put it in someones mailbox, we returned it."

Hack, of the Census Bureau, pointed out that workers would start going door-to-door at the end of the month to count people who did not send back forms.

"If we have to recanvass Shaker, we will do that to get everybody," she said. "Theyre right to be worried, and, fortunately, they let us know."

East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor also claimed yesterday that a large number of residents in his city had reported not receiving census forms. Census officials, however, said they had no evidence that the mailing problem extended outside Shaker Heights and asked Onunwor for specific addresses to verify his claims.

In preparing for Census 2000, the bureau spent weeks working with local governments to make sure it had updated address lists and maps. Dan Feinstein, a Shaker Heights city planner, worked with local census workers last year to make sure Shaker Heights addresses were accurate.

"Im concerned about the mailing," Feinstein said. "Itll make more work for the Census Bureau in Shaker Heights."

E-mail: aachkar@plaind.com Phone: (216) 999-4814




-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), April 04, 2000

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