Thursday, March 8, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 112



Staff Editorial


Tom Carpenter                      Ed De La Garza                       Crystal J. Doucette 
Romina Kim                           Jim Parsons


Missed a few

Commerce Secretary Don Evans announced the government would use a hard count supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau to determine redistricting and how $185 billion will be doled out annually. This announcement came as a blow to states counting on the nearly 3.3 million people who may be left out of the mix.

Evans defended his decision by stating the Bureau suggested using the initial numbers. He also said numbers that would include "sampling" could be included at a later time.

When newer numbers weren't included in the 1990 Census, Texas lost out on $93 million per year. Those numbers weren't released until years later, meaning Texas lost out on hundreds of millions of dollars in the '90s.

A little more disconcerting than that is that minorities seem to be the group most likely to be left out of the "raw numbers." And that's after the Bureau made a big deal about having increased participation from minority groups.

Of those minorities, 4.7 percent of Native Americans, 2.9 percent of Hispanics and 2.2 percent of blacks were not included. U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes claimed more than 2 million Hispanics were left out. Those are numbers that leave minority groups feeling at least a bit irate.

For them, it's further proof the government cares little about their well-being. For a Republican president who faced enough of a hard time with minority groups going in, more resentment is the last thing he needs.

While Democrats could receive good news if the redistricting improved their chances of gaining a majority in Congress -- a probability with adjusted figures -- the true problem with using the initial numbers comes from the extra money a boosted population could provide.

The dilemma begins with President George W. Bush and the GOP, who point to the Constitution's insistence on a hard count and claim new figures don't guarantee an accurate count.

But the Supreme Court -- often maligned for siding with Bush in December -- said nothing about keeping new data from being included when it came time to allocate funds.

Those criticizing Evans' decision would be better off focusing on that aspect.

It's a bad idea to complain about not having a majority when your current constituents are your real concern.

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