From Staff, Wire Reports WASHINGTON _ The Bush administration
Monday decided not to correct the 1990 census that overlooked more
than 5 million people _ a decision that will likely cost big cities
and states millions of federal dollars over the next decade.
Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher said that to adjust the
count would be to "abandon a 200-year tradition of how we actually
count people." The government has never jettisoned official census
numbers in favor of population estimates in the two centuries that
it has been counting Americans.
Monday's decision lets stand Oklahoma City's 1990 census
population figure of 444,719, and Oklahoma's 1990 census count of
A federal court had ordered Mosbacher to decide by Monday
whether population estimates were more accurate than the census
numbers and should be used instead of the head count.
"Before we take a step of that magnitude, we must be certain it
would actually make the census better and the distribution of the
population more accurate," Mosbacher said. "After thorough review,
I find the evidence inconclusive and unconvincing.
"Therefore I have decided that the 1990 census count should not
be changed by statistical adjustment."
The choice was important because the official census numbers
are used to determine where billions of dollars in federal money
will go and how many representatives each state sends to Congress.
Several big cities and states have vowed to return to federal
court to demand the tally be corrected.
By the Census Bureau's own estimate, the census count of 248.7
million is too low by 5.3 million people. Many of those not counted
in 1990 were blacks and Hispanics living in large urban areas.
The alternative to the head count is an estimate that comes
from a survey of 165,000 households conducted by the government
about the time of the census. It is commonly believed that the head
count census missed millions of people whose existence was verified
in the survey.
Under the alternative, Oklahoma City's population would have
been revised upward by 2.3 percent to 455,000, and Oklahoma's count
would have risen 2.1 percent to 3,214,000.
Mosbacher's decision was immediately criticized in the
jurisdictions that stood to lose the most.
"It could deprive New York of hundreds of millions of dollars
in federal aid as we head into the year 2000," said Robert Abrams,
New York state's attorney general.
"California will not get its fair share of federal funding or
full delegation of elected representatives in Washington," said
Rep. Norman Y.
Mineta, D-Calif. The corrected numbers would have given
California an additional seat of Congress.
"I am enraged," said Rep. Ronald D. Coleman, D-Texas, where the
estimate said more than a half-million people were missed. "The
Republicans have, in effect, told minority voters in the United
States `You don't count."'
Cleveland's city planner, Michael Andrezejewski, said his city
would lose $1.11 million a year in federal funds because of
"I think it's absolutely crazy that they're not going" to
correct the head count, Andrezejewski said.
New York City in 1988 sued to force the government to correct
the census numbers and will press for quick action to reverse
"We'll go back to court," David Goldin, assistant corporation
counsel for the city, said before Mosbacher's announcement. "We'll
ask the court to order that the census be corrected."
The estimate found that about 2 percent of the population was
missed in the tally taken in April of 1990.
"We counted about 98 percent of all the people living in the
United States, an extraordinary feat" considering the diversity and
mobility of the population, Mosbacher said.
U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., said there was no question the
1990 head count missed people, but trying to use the estimate
created too many technical problems. …