I'm a census crew leader, and my crew has just completed our job of getting your questionnaire to you in the month of March so you can be counted as of April 1, Census Day.
We fanned out across rural Aitkin County with our maps, our scripts, our instructions and boxes of your questionnaires. In Minnesota there are half a million residents who are served at the door by census enumerators in the non-urban and more remote parts of the state.
Most folks -- about four million Minnesotans -- receive the questionnaire by U.S. Mail. Because people move around and their
living status can change, my crew had the extra duty of updating the lists and maps that we were given to guide us in distributing questionnaires to all possible living quarters in our assigned areas of Aitkin County. With very few exceptions, my enumerators were successful, efficient, and courteous. Also, with a couple exceptions, we were well received and traveled difficult roads and poorly-charted wild places with safety.
Now as I reflect on this adventure in national service that we have been about, I hear voices and read stories attacking the questions that the government -- through us sworn census workers -- has been asking and delivering. In our county we gave long forms and short forms of the census questionnaire in equal number. The short form is in a packet 6 by 10 inches. The long form, about 9 by 11 inches, is quite a bit thicker, and includes details about schooling, citizenship, work, earnings, commuting, and housing, that require extra time to look up.
Each person only sees one of these two types of forms. They both contain the basic question "How many people live in this house?" and verify the address. They both ask for the phone number and the name, age, and race of each occupant.
It's the many details that the long form requests about each person that appear to raise objections from some citizens. Census workers are sworn to maintain complete and absolute privacy of the information that they collect and process. No agency of any government or anyone but U.S. Census employees may see this data for 72 years, at which time the archives become public.
So now we have given you a questionnaire. Please fill it out as you see fit and return it by Saturday, April 1. Thank you!
April Fool's Joke
When I read the letter from Republican Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum attacking me for my vote against the Republican bonding bill, I initially thought it was an early April Fool's joke. To suggest that my vote against the bonding bill was a vote against veterans is not only incorrect, it's absurd.
I voted against the bonding bill because it offered nothing for our area. Republicans not only rejected funding for worthy projects like Camp Knutson and the Crosslake Library, they also cancelled the $1,355,000 appropriation for expansion of the Brainerd correctional facility simply to make room for more pork projects in suburban districts.
My vote had nothing to do with the World War II Veterans Memorial. To suggest otherwise demonstrates the lengths that Speaker Sviggum will go to distort the facts for political gain. Funding for a World War II Veterans Memorial was originally passed by both the House and Senate last spring, but Governor Ventura vetoed the provision. On the first day of session this year, we asked the Republicans to override the veto. They refused, obviously hoping to use it as political bait in their bonding bill.
That to me is offensive, especially considering my passionate support and efforts on behalf of veterans. A World War II Veterans Memorial is long overdue. To tie its funding to passage of a dubious bonding bill that offers little to outstate Minnesota is political gamesmanship at its worst. It's also an insult to the veterans of our area.
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