[HPN] Law firm challenges Census rebates

I CAN! 2000 icanamerica@email.msn.com
Wed, 12 Apr 2000 01:52:34 -0500


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Valdosta Daily Times
                                4/11/2000


      Law firm challenges Census rebates



--------------------------------------------------------------------------
      By BRIAN LAWSON  <vdt.editorial@thomnews.com>
      VALDOSTA -- While 15 residents took advantage of Valdosta's $5 offer for
returned Census forms Monday, the city also drew the ire of a public interest
law firm which has challenged Census methods before the U.S. Supreme Court.

      Valdosta began its program of offering a $5 bill to city residents who
bring in their Census forms and paid out $75. The forms included an estimated 43
people, said Valdosta Grants Administrator Angela Severino, who is supervising
the Census program for the city.

      In the interest of improving the city's response rate, which has stayed
well below the state and national averages, the Valdosta City Council Thursday
authorized a five-day program to pay city residents $5 for returned Census
forms. The effort began Monday and will end Friday at 5 p.m. City Manager Larry
Hanson and Mayor Jimmy Rainwater had discussed offering a $5 credit to city
water customers, but determined the record-keeping would be too complicated,
Hanson said.

      But the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a conservative public interest law
group that successfully challenged the Clinton Administration efforts to use
statistical sampling for the Census this year, has expressed concern about the
program.

      Matthew Glavin, the foundation's president, sent a letter Monday to
Valdosta Mayor Jimmy Rainwater arguing the payments may constitute a violation
of Georgia's constitution, which forbids "gratuities" to induce economic
activity for the general welfare.

      "I strongly suggest before handing out any money that the city get a
formal opinion from the (Georgia) attorney general's office," Glavin said.

      Hanson said the city hears concerns from individuals on a regular basis
and said the city was not "overly concerned" about Glavin's letter.

      "It certainly was a surprise," Hanson said. "Obviously it is a group
looking for something to do."

      Hanson said City Attorney George Talley was out of town Thursday, prior to
the council vote, but the proposal was approved by the Southeast regional
assistant director of Census Bureau. He noted a number of other cities across
the U.S. have provided financial incentives, including utility credits, for
returned Census forms.

      Glavin questioned the wisdom of such a course.

      "The Census Bureau does not have much familiarity with Georgia law,"
Glavin said. "I find it absolutely astonishing any city would go forward with a
program like this without review by legal counsel. It suggests irresponsibility
on the part of the city council."

      Hanson said the Georgia Constitution seems to be referring to grants and
payments to a private individual, for example, who receives a large sum to bring
an industry to town.

      "I can't think of anybody, by any stretch of the imagination, who would
think of $5 as a grant," Hanson said. "As of today, we spent $75 -- two weeks
ago we lost a grant for $500,000 (to help fund a recreation building near Fry
Street) that we would have received automatically if we receive metropolitan
status."

      Glavin also questioned whether the city's charter allows such payments and
asked for a copy of the charter to be sent to his Atlanta office.

      Hanson said the charter does allow incentives to be paid to lure industry,
which are typically far more costly than the expected burden of the Census
pay-out.

      Hanson also dismissed Glavin's concern that the program would encourage
multiple forms being mailed in by one household, skewing the count. Hanson said
Census officials have indicated the code for each address will ensure only one
form is counted per household.

      Glavin said a copy of his concerns have been sent to Georgia Attorney
Thurbert Baker's office.

      While Valdosta has drawn some unwelcome attention, few customers were
aware Monday that ATT Digital Cable was offering a $5 credit off monthly cable
bills for Census forms returned until Friday to their Valdosta office at 1921 N.
Ashley Street.

      "We knew the percentage of returns were a little low," said Sally Bloom,
general manager of ATT's Valdosta office. "So we offered our services as
community support. We feel like we benefit from it, too."

      The city of Hahira will give residents $5 off their utility bills for
forms returned to city hall, City Manager Susan Doner said.

      "We have had such a low response rate," she said. "It was 45 percent as of
Friday. That's lower than Lowndes County and the state of Georgia."


       Street address:
      201 North Troup St.
      Valdosta, GA 31601
      Mailing address:
      P.O. Box 968
      Valdosta, GA 31603

      Phone:
      (912) 244-1880
      (912) 244-3440
      (800) 600-4838

      Fax:
      (912) 244-2560

      E-mail:
      Circulation
      Newsroom

      Publisher:
      Jeff Heard

      Managers:
      Advertising:
      Sandy Sanders

      Circulation:
      Cody Graves

      Editorial:
      Steve Meadows



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
H. C. Covington, Executive Director
I CAN! America,  LLC
Management & Resource Consultants
icanamerica@msn.com

Homeless & Housing Resource Center
http://www.icanamerica.intranets.com
1.800.678.5774   Fax 1.505.209.2619
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
END FORWARD

**In accordance with U. S. Copyright Law, Title 17 -  Section 107,  this
material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

"To be truly radical, one must make hope possible,
rather than despair convincing."



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<DIV><FONT face=3D"Times New Roman" size=3D7>Valdosta Daily =
Times</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3D"Antique Olive"=20
size=3D2>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbs=
p;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp=
;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;=20
4/11/2000</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3D"Antique Olive" size=3D2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3D"Antique Olive" size=3D2>&nbsp;</DIV>
<TABLE width=3D575>
  <TBODY>
  <TR vAlign=3Dtop>
    <TD width=3D430><FONT face=3DArial size=3D1>
      <P><FONT face=3DArial size=3D4><B>Law firm challenges Census=20
      rebates</B></FONT><BR>
      <HR noShade width=3D430>
      <FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><STRONG>By </STRONG><A=20
      href=3D"mailto:vdt.editorial@thomnews.com?Subject=3DForward to =
BRIAN LAWSON"><STRONG>BRIAN=20
      LAWSON</STRONG></A><STRONG>&nbsp;&nbsp;&lt;<A=20
      =
href=3D"mailto:vdt.editorial@thomnews.com">vdt.editorial@thomnews.com</A>=
&gt;</STRONG>
      <P>VALDOSTA -- While 15 residents took advantage of Valdosta's $5 =
offer=20
      for returned Census forms Monday, the city also drew the ire of a =
public=20
      interest law firm which has challenged Census methods before the =
U.S.=20
      Supreme Court.=20
      <P>Valdosta began its program of offering a $5 bill to city =
residents who=20
      bring in their Census forms and paid out $75. The forms included =
an=20
      estimated 43 people, said Valdosta Grants Administrator Angela =
Severino,=20
      who is supervising the Census program for the city.=20
      <P>In the interest of improving the city's response rate, which =
has stayed=20
      well below the state and national averages, the Valdosta City =
Council=20
      Thursday authorized a five-day program to pay city residents $5 =
for=20
      returned Census forms. The effort began Monday and will end Friday =
at 5=20
      p.m. City Manager Larry Hanson and Mayor Jimmy Rainwater had =
discussed=20
      offering a $5 credit to city water customers, but determined the=20
      record-keeping would be too complicated, Hanson said.=20
      <P>But the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a conservative public =
interest=20
      law group that successfully challenged the Clinton Administration =
efforts=20
      to use statistical sampling for the Census this year, has =
expressed=20
      concern about the program.=20
      <P>Matthew Glavin, the foundation's president, sent a letter =
Monday to=20
      Valdosta Mayor Jimmy Rainwater arguing the payments may constitute =
a=20
      violation of Georgia's constitution, which forbids "gratuities" to =
induce=20
      economic activity for the general welfare.=20
      <P>"I strongly suggest before handing out any money that the city =
get a=20
      formal opinion from the (Georgia) attorney general's office," =
Glavin said.=20

      <P>Hanson said the city hears concerns from individuals on a =
regular basis=20
      and said the city was not "overly concerned" about Glavin's =
letter.=20
      <P>"It certainly was a surprise," Hanson said. "Obviously it is a =
group=20
      looking for something to do."=20
      <P>Hanson said City Attorney George Talley was out of town =
Thursday, prior=20
      to the council vote, but the proposal was approved by the =
Southeast=20
      regional assistant director of Census Bureau. He noted a number of =
other=20
      cities across the U.S. have provided financial incentives, =
including=20
      utility credits, for returned Census forms.=20
      <P>Glavin questioned the wisdom of such a course.=20
      <P>"The Census Bureau does not have much familiarity with Georgia =
law,"=20
      Glavin said. "I find it absolutely astonishing any city would go =
forward=20
      with a program like this without review by legal counsel. It =
suggests=20
      irresponsibility on the part of the city council."=20
      <P>Hanson said the Georgia Constitution seems to be referring to =
grants=20
      and payments to a private individual, for example, who receives a =
large=20
      sum to bring an industry to town.=20
      <P>"I can't think of anybody, by any stretch of the imagination, =
who would=20
      think of $5 as a grant," Hanson said. "As of today, we spent $75 =
-- two=20
      weeks ago we lost a grant for $500,000 (to help fund a recreation =
building=20
      near Fry Street) that we would have received automatically if we =
receive=20
      metropolitan status."=20
      <P>Glavin also questioned whether the city's charter allows such =
payments=20
      and asked for a copy of the charter to be sent to his Atlanta =
office.=20
      <P>Hanson said the charter does allow incentives to be paid to =
lure=20
      industry, which are typically far more costly than the expected =
burden of=20
      the Census pay-out.=20
      <P>Hanson also dismissed Glavin's concern that the program would =
encourage=20
      multiple forms being mailed in by one household, skewing the =
count. Hanson=20
      said Census officials have indicated the code for each address =
will ensure=20
      only one form is counted per household.=20
      <P>Glavin said a copy of his concerns have been sent to Georgia =
Attorney=20
      Thurbert Baker's office.=20
      <P>While Valdosta has drawn some unwelcome attention, few =
customers were=20
      aware Monday that ATT Digital Cable was offering a $5 credit off =
monthly=20
      cable bills for Census forms returned until Friday to their =
Valdosta=20
      office at 1921 N. Ashley Street.=20
      <P>"We knew the percentage of returns were a little low," said =
Sally=20
      Bloom, general manager of ATT's Valdosta office. "So we offered =
our=20
      services as community support. We feel like we benefit from it, =
too."=20
      <P>The city of Hahira will give residents $5 off their utility =
bills for=20
      forms returned to city hall, City Manager Susan Doner said.=20
      <P>"We have had such a low response rate," she said. "It was 45 =
percent as=20
      of Friday. That's lower than Lowndes County and the state of =
Georgia."=20
</P>
      <P>&nbsp;</P></FONT></FONT></TD>
    <TD width=3D10><IMG height=3D10=20
      src=3D"http://www.sgaonline.com/graphics/10x10.gif" width=3D10> =
</TD>
    <TD width=3D130><FONT face=3DArial size=3D1><U>Street =
address:</U><BR>201 North=20
      Troup St.<BR>Valdosta, GA 31601=20
      <P><U>Mailing address:</U><BR>P.O. Box 968<BR>Valdosta, GA 31603=20
      <P><U>Phone:</U><BR>(912) 244-1880<BR>(912) 244-3440<BR>(800) =
600-4838=20
      <P><U>Fax:</U><BR>(912) 244-2560=20
      <P><U>E-mail:</U><BR><A=20
      href=3D"mailto:vdt.circulation@thomnews.com">Circulation</A><BR><A =

      href=3D"mailto:vdt.editorial@thomnews.com">Newsroom</A>=20
      <P><U>Publisher:</U><BR><A =
href=3D"mailto:jeff.heard@thomnews.com">Jeff=20
      Heard</A>=20
      <P><U>Managers:</U><BR>Advertising:<BR><A=20
      href=3D"mailto:mae.stokes@thomnews.com?Subject=3DFORWARD TO SANDY =
SANDERS">Sandy=20
      Sanders</A>=20
      <P>Circulation:<BR><A =
href=3D"mailto:cody.graves@thomnews.com">Cody=20
      Graves</A>=20
      <P>Editorial:<BR><A =
href=3D"mailto:steve.meadows@thomnews.com">Steve=20
      Meadows</A>=20
      <P></P></FONT></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></FONT>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~<BR>H. C. Covington, =
Executive=20
Director<BR>I CAN! America,&nbsp; LLC<BR>Management &amp; Resource=20
Consultants</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2><A href=3D"mailto:icanamerica@msn.com"><FONT=20
size=3D2>icanamerica@msn.com</FONT></A><BR><BR>Homeless &amp; Housing =
Resource=20
Center<BR></FONT><A href=3D"http://www.icanamerica.intranets.com"><FONT=20
size=3D2>http://www.icanamerica.intranets.com</FONT></A><BR><FONT=20
size=3D2>1.800.678.5774&nbsp;&nbsp; Fax=20
1.505.209.2619<BR>~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~</FONT></DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>END FORWARD</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>**In accordance with U. S. Copyright Law, Title 17 =
-&nbsp;=20
Section 107,&nbsp; this material is<BR>distributed without charge or =
profit to=20
those who have expressed a prior<BR>interest in receiving this type of=20
information for non-profit research and<BR>educational purposes=20
only.**</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT size=3D2>"To be truly radical, one must make hope possible, =
<BR>rather=20
than despair convincing."<BR><BR></DIV></FONT></BODY></HTML>

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