Census Bureau Suffers from ACORN'S Bad Rep

Community groups hesitant to cooperate with bureau

By Matt Bartosik
|  Friday, Sep 25, 2009  |  Updated 1:20 PM CDT
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Census Bureau Suffers from ACORN'S Bad Rep

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The Census Bureau has cut ties with ACORN, but it may be too little, too late.

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The U.S. Census Bureau is having difficulty working with local community groups—especially in Chicago—due to its former ties with ACORN, says Robert Groves, the new head of the people-counting-bureau.

Just a few months from now, the 2010 census forms will be delivered to mailboxes all over the country. Normally, the Census Bureau works with 100,000 small community groups, along with ACORN, to help advertise the safety and importance of these forms.

But now those groups are reluctant to partner with the bureau because of controversies surrounding ACORN.

The bureau already severed its ties with the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) this month, after employees for the organization were caught on tape advising two people posing as a pimp and a prostitute on how to work the system to get a mortgage.

"The negative press on ACORN was becoming a distraction, and hurting our overall effort to get the facts (about the census) out," Groves said, reports the Washington Post.

It may be too little, too late.

"I just came back from the Chicago region," Groves said at a press conference in D.C. "I talked to partnership specialists, and they were telling me that the existence of ACORN as a partner and the negative press and the action of the local groups affiliated with ACORN were actually impeding their getting other partner agreements in Chicago."

The census, which takes place every 10 years, helps determine how more than $400 billion in federal funds should be distributed.

Groves is concerned that the ACORN controversies and the recession may prevent people from participating. He could not stress enough how important citizen input is.

"I want to carefully say that the people served by ACORN are important to us," he said. "We need their participation in the census."

Matt Bartosik, a "between blogs" blogger, is sad that texting cannot be listed as an occupation.

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