Thursday, February 12, 2009

Senator Judd Gregg would have been a mixed blessing

Today the news that Republican US Senator Judd Gregg has reconsidered and has withdrawn as President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Commerce was met with mixed emotions. Many of us are heaving a sigh of relief as this man as US Senator had proposed that the Department of Commerce be abolished, and had also voted to cut the Census budget in half.
It would have been placing a wolf, rather than a sheep dog, to protect the flocks of the Commerce Department.

What is it that so concerns Republicans about the US Census, required every decade by the US Constitution, and a process that has been in place since our nation was founded. That is sadly simple. Reapportionment, also called redistricting or Gerrymandering depending on who is drawing the lines; is based on the results of the Census. If you look closely at drawing state and congressional district lines; they are based on census tracts. Census tracts are the component of zip codes, and the lowest common denominator for data which identifies ones, race, sex, family status among many census indicators. Democrats want a more fully patterned model of counting that will eliminate the under counting of racial minorities, the homeless, and of course those displaced due to poverty. Republicans want a strict count by mail and household sampling as it supports a literal census
which encompasses under counting. This under counting not only effects the political redrawing of lines; but more importantly the count that determines funds to assist in social programs to cities, counties and states.

Here is my fondest hope that in looking to a new appointee; the White House not only finds a knowledgeable and
proficient executive; but also someone who understands the impact of a thorough and accurate census. I will end this with the admission as a strong supporter of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson; that his exoneration from any shadow of improper actions may still allow him to be a strong, knowledgeable, and able member of the Obama-Biden administration.