How about “Priority Snow Plowing” as a prize?

As you know — and if you don’t, when did you die? — the US Census occurs every ten years, on the 10 20 30 40 , etc. year and this being 2010, well, you get the picture — and if you don’t, go away, Jeff Reed. The adults are talking.

Pittsburgh is currently looking at a 67% completion rate of the Census, which is kind of pathetic.  They’re not asking you to VOTE, people; they’re asking you to take a head count.

I am an over-achieving Census-filler-outter because while I wait until just about the last possible second to do everything, like PAYING MOTHERLOVIN’ EFFITY BLEEPITY SONS OF HELLSPAWN TAXES, I understand the importance of the Census and I filled out that badboy the second it showed up in my mail.

I had fun with the ethnicity questions because I am married to a Mexican and my children are 1/2 Mexican.

It would appear that Mexicans are classified as White, not “persons incapable of showing up on time, ever!” as I classify my husband.  So now I’ll call him, “You White man of Hispanic ethnicity incapable of showing up on time, EVER.”  Seriously, when I first met him in Mexico, my sister and I told him to meet us at a restaurant at 4:00 p.m.  He rolled up at 6:00 p.m. and we said, “Hey, I thought we said 4:00.”  and he looked at his watch and said, “Right. It’s only 6:00.” Un-vee-lee-ba-vle.

Back on track.

In an effort to encourage completion of the Census here in Pittsburgh, Lukey has come up with a genius reward for the neighborhood that achieves the highest Census completion rate.  Are you ready for this? This is so exciting.

A proclamation!


I mean, have you ever SEEN a proclamation?!  It is this sheet of legal paper with a very official embossed seal and it says things like “whereas” and “wherefore” and “thereforewherethouforeart” and “heretoforeeverafterarthouwhere” and it is signed by Lukey and it comes in a snazzy blue faux-leather folder and everything!

They’re going to see a 110% completion rate now that there is a coveted proclamation at stake, and the living-dead start asking to be counted.

But seriously, fill out the Census, would you?  Not because you want that proclamation.  Fill it out so you can be counted and Pittsburgh can be counted and maybe get a bigger slice of federal pie.  Unless you are the Duggar family, it will take you like two minutes to fill it out.

As for the proclamation, I’m pretty sure the only neighborhood that would be excited about a proclamation is the Neighborhood of Make Believe, but even then, I bet Henrietta Pussycat would be all, “Meow meow stupid proclamation meow meow,” and Lady Elaine Fairchilde would take one look at Lukey and whip a boomerang at him all, “A proclamation?!  That’s all we get?!  A proclamation?! Proclamate THIS, bitch.”


  1. Lauren
    April 15, 2010 12:51 pm

    So, if Lukey agreed to add a “shire” at the end of the borough that got the census filled out the fastest, would that work? North Side Shire?

    I live in El Paso. Think of the problems they’re having filling out the census here : ) (BTW, can totally relate on the whole concept of time thing.)

  2. James
    April 15, 2010 1:01 pm

    I think it is funny that they can get a completion percentage. Aren’t they counting to find out how many people there are? How do they know how many have not turned it in if the main purpose is to count how many people there are?? ;) I know, I am being a little facetious and realize they have methods of knowing how many households there are, etc, it just always makes me laugh…

  3. StacyfrPgh
    April 15, 2010 1:13 pm

    I’m sure Lady Elaine doesn’t swear.

  4. bluzdude
    April 15, 2010 1:14 pm

    I would guess they measure what they got back vs. what they sent out, for a ballpark percentage.

    And my form is done. You’re welcome, Government.

  5. Jake
    April 15, 2010 1:21 pm

    Well, the next step is to have the great U.S. Census Bureau knock on your door to take a manual tally…

    I wonder if they’ll actually start enforcing the fining of households that don’t respond if the return rate gets too low.

  6. Shibori
    April 15, 2010 1:26 pm

    Sigh. I would be happy to fill out my census form- if I ever got it. You see, in their infinite wisdom, the same federal government who won’t deliver my mail if the PO Box number (that they require me to get because they won’t deliver mail to my house which is literally directly across the street from the post office- no kidding- 30 feet from door to door) is above my street address rather than below, sent the census forms with our street addresses rather than the PO Boxes. Now do you think the lovely employees of said post office, with all of about 400 boxes to service, who know us all personally and know what goes in what box would do the right thing and deliver them anyway? Nope. They sent all of them back to the feds, and we have never seen or heard of them again. And there doesn’t seem to be any way to go on the expensive, fancy census website to say- Hey! I didn’t get my Census form- can you send me one at this address? So I may never be counted. Thanks to an antiquated and stupid post office system that won’t recognize my real address but then sends mail only to that address. Yay government. This is my proclamation.

  7. Sooska
    April 15, 2010 1:42 pm

    Was the proclamation written with a feather pen and on a parchment scroll? was it read aloud in Market Square by a guy dressed like he stepped out of the 3 Musketeers? was it announced with herald trumpets(you know, the long ones?) I suggest Las Velas host a proclamation night and proclaim something.

    How does hubby get meals delivered to patrons in good time?

  8. Toad
    April 15, 2010 1:48 pm

    I can totally hear Lady Elaine saying that — and when I read it, I read it in a Lady Elaine voice. It was perfect.

    ……..[As Mr. Rodgers rolls over in his grave]

  9. Amanda Furman
    April 15, 2010 1:50 pm

    As part of my job as an ESL teacher, I have to help register students when they come into the school (either as kindergarteners or new students). That stinking race / ethnicity thing is so dumb! I had a parent go through the entire checklist and said “No, I’m not this.” to ALL of them!

  10. Monty
    April 15, 2010 1:56 pm

    Lady Elaine looks like a drunk Bill Clinton. Did her cheeks and nose get redder or did my parents just have a shitty t.v. when I was little?

  11. bucdaddy
    April 15, 2010 2:08 pm


    Don’t EVER put that effing picture up there again, EVER. I just ate lunch, and I scare easily. Use Freddy Kreuger or Jason Vorhees or something.

    “I filled out that badboy the second it showed up in my mail.”

    I did too, and sent it in, and two weeks later I got another Census form. So now I don’t know what to do. Did they lose the first one? Did they just send two to cover their bases? If I fill in the second one and send it in am I going to get arrested for double dipping? So many questions. Maybe I should just send it to shibori.

    Through the, you know, mail.

  12. DanW
    April 15, 2010 2:09 pm

    Woo-Hoo, my neighborhood (Swisshelm Park) is winning! Eat our dust, Summer Hill!

  13. Mama Moose
    April 15, 2010 2:15 pm

    How about, the the 5 boroughs in Allegheny County with the lowest participation must merge? That will get them in!

  14. bigslacker
    April 15, 2010 2:33 pm

    Wait….I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but……if they know that only 67% of people filled out the census, don’t they already know how many people there are?

  15. LB
    April 15, 2010 2:47 pm

    1) That is the scariest picture I’ve ever seen. I’m surprised the whole generation that grew up watching that didn’t turn into psychos.

    2) @bucdaddy–I got two census forms also… when I got the second one it said “if you already returned your form, feel free to ignore this one”. So I guess they were just covering their bases. And wasting paper and time and resources. Yay, government!

  16. Shibori
    April 15, 2010 2:47 pm

    Thanks for the thought, Bucdaddy, but you’d better FedEx it!

  17. Gia v.
    April 15, 2010 3:03 pm

    I care about the census and all.. and yes I did fill it out.. but I think I more curious about the story of “how I met my never on time late Mexican husband” I am sureeeee that would be funniest story ever.. or at lest you would make it;)

  18. Carpetbagger
    April 15, 2010 3:17 pm

    And second prize: Two proclamations!

    They couldn’t come up with something better? Like a ride on a private jet? A city vehicle? A trip to Mardi Gras? Hanging out with Snoop Dogg?

  19. spoon
    April 15, 2010 3:33 pm

    Why isn’t this shit online? Seriously. If PennDOT can get things together for me to take care of a drivers license I think the US Govt. could figure it out. They should use the same system to track down me when i dont pay a bill. Bill collectors always know how to find my ass.

    It came to my house as “resident” anyways. I should have said I had 9 kids named Miguel and we all are polish mexicans with a twist of german for sass.

  20. unsatisfied
    April 15, 2010 3:42 pm

    not sure which is scarier — the pic of jane “GRRRRrrrrrrrr…” orie or lady elaine.

  21. NewBurgher
    April 15, 2010 4:02 pm

    Ack – haven’t sent ours back yet. But when I do … all I’m telling them is how many people live here; with the small addition under “ethnicity” … where I’ll write in “human being.”

  22. one-eyed dick
    April 15, 2010 4:48 pm

    You know the real reason the gov’t is taking a census? They know exactly how many people are living in your house because they have “reverse-vision” on your TV since they switched to digital. They’re just taking the census to see who’s telling the truth.

    They’re watching me now. Where’s my foil hat??

    Do you think Sarah Palin will look like Lady Elaine when she gets older? Not to diss Lady Elaine or anything….

  23. Bojack
    April 15, 2010 5:17 pm

    I’m like 1/8th or 1/16 Spanish, which I gratefully consider the genetic reason I used to get a nice no-burn tan when it was still safe, even tho I have blond hair and green eyes.

    1/32 French, 1/16th Irish, and what does all that get me?

    Membership in the only club that DOESN’T get to be a victim of a “hate” crime!

    God help us!

  24. Michele
    April 15, 2010 5:26 pm

    Just sent mine back today… the funny thing is that my sister lives downtown and nobody in her building even got a Census form. I guess they don’t know that anybody lives in that building.

  25. Pensgirl
    April 15, 2010 5:35 pm

    For those who don’t understand what the 67% is about…that number represents dwellings. But the census about the people, people. Just because they know they sent a form to your house doesn’t mean they know how many people live there.

  26. NewBurgher
    April 15, 2010 6:54 pm

    And for those who don’t get sarcasm … all I want is “equality” in my whiteness. Why if you’re “white” that is your only choice, why are we the only generic race? My husband was born in the US, and is a mix of Irish and English, I’m a naturalized citizen originally from an Eastern European country, our son is adopted from a yet different Eastern European country. Where are my classifications? Why is there no box for “Polish European”; “Czech European”; “Bulgarian European”; heh? Hell, I would even take “European American-Polish” or whatever. Until then, I’m just classifying as all as “human beings.” No, wait, I think I’ll just put “American” – that’s even better.

  27. bucdaddy
    April 15, 2010 8:26 pm

    Easiest way to get most people to send in a form: Turn it into a lottery. Random Census forms will be drawn for a $1 million prize, or 10 $100,000 prizes or something. The Census is going to cost $14 billion. What, they can’t find $1 million out of that for prize money?

    I’d say that would be a good way to get people to vote too, but credit for that idea would have to go to a friend.

  28. gunnlino
    April 15, 2010 8:48 pm

    I’ve thought this from my childhood growing up in the ‘Burgh, Lady Elaine looks like a horrific burn victim and, prior to remote controls being invented, I ran from the room when she came on the TV screen.
    ‘Course I’d never seen a Botox Nancy Speaker of the House OR one of the Orie ( sp ) sisters.

  29. spoon
    April 15, 2010 9:31 pm

    where all the white women at

  30. Luke Steelerstahl
    April 15, 2010 9:49 pm

    I haven’t sent my census form in either. I’m worried I’ll get in trouble if I tell anyone I’m living in Verbanic’s basement in Bradford Woods.

  31. unsatisfied
    April 16, 2010 12:20 am

    they at my crib, spoon!

  32. butcher's dog
    April 16, 2010 8:14 am

    Shibori #6 may be my new BFF. When these things were mailed we were away, with provisions for mail being forwarded and then held just before we were coming home. Post office was told not to forward the forms, just send ’em back as “temporarily away”. Of course, one was delivered to the mailbox at the seasonal rental property at which we were staying, even though no one lives there full time.

    So when we got back we saw a story about calling a number if you didn’t get your form. We called. Their first question: “Do you have the code number above the bar code on the form you were sent?” Um…no, shithead. We don’t have the fucking form, which is why we’re calling you. You made the post office send it back, remember? Sorry, we can’t send out another form without that code.

    OK, so now I’m waiting for someone to show up at my front door sometime in May. Hope I’m home (ain’t spending the entire month of May on the couch waiting). This person should expect a metric shitload of attitude from me while I’m answering the questions. There are times, although only a few, when I think the Tea Partiers may be onto something with the whole government thing.

  33. bucdaddy
    April 16, 2010 10:02 am

    Ah, butcher’s dog, ease up and try real hard to be nice to the boy or girl (it’ll probably be some college kid, or maybe a retiree) who comes to your door. It won’t be his/her fault, and besides it’s a tough job. Imagine being a Jehovah’s Witness and everyone HAS to let you in. That’s a metric shit-ton of resentment right from the start. And for what, $8/hour?

  34. Scott
    April 16, 2010 11:11 am

    Just to broaden the perspective here, Detroit has a census completion rate of under 10%. Michigan overall is under 20%. 67% sounds pretty stout to me, although I do agree with Ginny that it is a no-brainer to complete and return.

  35. spoon
    April 16, 2010 11:48 am

    @unsatisfied eat your beans

  36. Megamom
    April 16, 2010 1:45 pm


    It varies by area across the country, but in Pittsburgh census takers are paid $15.75 per hour.
    One should still be nice to them, though.

  37. Cathy
    April 16, 2010 1:53 pm

    “Proclamate THIS, bitch!” — Priceless!

    BTW- We are counted in my house…

  38. Bram R
    April 17, 2010 1:08 pm

    FYI, I’m working with the Census Bureau this year — position TBA — and I can tell you that this proclamation is likely to mean a lot to some people. It’s clear from the regional managers to the subregional coordinators on down, everybody wants to do their job really well and have that fact be duly noted. A formal internal Census contest probably would NOT be a good idea, but I know several folks already who would lust after a little civic proclamation like this one.

    And YES, you haters, I have no intention of violating either the letter or the spirit of the Hatch Act.