Ed De La Garza
Crystal J. Doucette
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.