NEW CENSUS FOR NEW YORK

Julie Menin, the former head of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is the city’s new census director. Making reforms to a census that she believes is hostile to immigrants and minorities, is first on her agenda. She joins us to discuss.

Aired February 13, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'M 'M 'M 'METROFOCUS.'

JULIE IS TACKLING TWO NEW JOBS AT ONCE.

BOTH ARE VITAL TO THE CITY'S WELL BEING AND FUTURE.

HERE WITH SOME DETAILS ON JUST WHAT SHE'S UP TO AND ITS DIRE IMPORTANCE TO CITY.

NICE TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

WE OFTEN TALK ABOUT PEOPLE WEARING DIFFERENT HATS.

YOU MUST HAVE A SHELF FULL.

THE TWO NEW TITLES, NEW YORK CITY CENSUS DIRECTOR AND THE EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT CORPORATION COUNSEL FOR STRATEGIC ADVOCACY.

LET'S BREAK THEM DOWN AND LET'S TALK FIRST ABOUT CENSUS.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ESTIMATE THAT THE CITY HAS PUT OUT THAT MAYBE A QUARTER OF A MILLION PEOPLE DIDN'T GET COUNTED.

RIGHT.

LAST TIME IN THE CENSUS.

MY FIRST QUESTION FOR YOU IS WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT?

WHY IS THE NUMBER IMPORTANT?

WHAT'S THE SIGNIFICANCE

IT'S SO IMPORTANT.

WE GOT TO REMEMBER THERE'S ABOUT $700 BILLION OF FEDERAL FUNDS AT STAKE FOR CITIES AND STATES.

WE GET ABOUT $53 BILLION EACH YEAR GOES TO THE STATE FOR FEDERALLY FUNDED PROGRAM THAT RELATE TO CENSUS AND THE CITY TAKES THE LION'S SHARE OF THAT.

EVERYTHING FROM PUBLIC EDUCATION, TITLE I FUNDS, PUBLIC HOUSING, SENIOR CENTERS, MEDICAID, HIV FUNDING.

THIS IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT.

NO MATTER WHAT SOCIAL SERVICE PROGRAM YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THERE GENERALLY IS A CORRELATION WITH CENSUS.

THAT'S WHY IT'S IMPORTANT.

PUTTING THE IMPORTANT FUNDING ISSUES ASIDE IT'S ABOUT CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATION.

IT'S ESTIMATED IN NEW YORK STATE IF WE HAVE A REAL UNDERCOUNT WE MAY LOSE TWO CONGRESSIONAL SEATS.

WE'RE NOT ONLY TALKING ABOUT THE FUNDAMENTAL REPRESENTATION WE'RE ENTITLED TO BUT ABOUT THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE AND WHAT'S AT STAKE THERE.

DO WE KNOW WHY, WE SUSPECT WHAT THE NUMBER IS OR A GOOD ESTIMATE APPARENTLY ABOUT THE NUMBER, ABOUT 250,000 PEOPLE.

DO WE KNOW WHY THAT UNDERCUT HAPPENED

YES, WE DO KNOW WHY IT HAPPENED IN 2010.

IN 2010 THE FEDERAL CENSUS BUREAU SENDS OUT DOOR KNOCKERS IF YOU DON'T RESPOND TO CENSUS AND THEY ESTIMATED THESE CERTAIN RESIDENCES WERE VACANT WHEN THE CITY KNEW THEY WEREN'T VACANT.

THE CITY CONTESTED THAT BUT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DID NOT AGREE WITH THE CITY'S ESTIMATION ON THAT.

BUT WE'RE BASICALLY, THIS TIME, GOING TO DO THINGS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENTLY.

THE MAYOR HAS ANNOUNCED BY APPOINTMENT.

HE'S ALSO ANNOUNCED WE'RE CREATING A COMMUNITY OUTREACH THAT THE CITY HAS NEVER SEEN BEFORE.

WE'RE GOING TO BE DOING OUTREACH INTO FAITH-BASED COMMUNITIES, INTO CIVIC ORGANIZES, IMMIGRANT GROUPS BECAUSE WE GOT TO BE WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE IS UNPRECEDENTED.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 70 YEARS A CENSUS IS ASKING THE QUESTION ARE YOU A U.S. CITIZEN?

I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT.

THAT'S BEING CONTESTED.

IT IS.

THE CITY IS ONE OF THE PLAINTIFFS.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEBODY WHO SAYS YOU UNDERSTAND MY CONCERN I'M GLAD YOU'RE GOING TO TAKE THIS OVER AND GET THE APPROPRIATE NUMBERS SO WE GET THE FUNDING WE NEED, THE REPRESENTATION WE NEED.

BUT WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL WITH HAVING SOMEBODY CHECK A BOX ON A CENSUS SAYING HERE'S MY NAME, AGE AND YES, I'MCITIZENSHIP QUESTION --

THE FEAR IS WHAT, THEY WILL SAY --

I DON'T WANT TO ANSWER THE QUESTION.

I'M NOT GOING TO BE A NUMBER ANY MORE.

I'M NOT GOING TO ANSWER THE QUESTION.

NOW THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT WHEN PEOPLE ANSWER CENSUS, THEIR INFORMATION IS 100% PROTECTED.

TITLE 13 OF THE U.S. CODE PROTECTS THE CONFIDENTIALITY.

TITLE 13 ALSO IMPOSES ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ACTUALLY SEVERE PENALTIES, $250,000 PENALTIES, IMPRISONMENT UP TO FIVE YEARS FOR SHARING INFORMATION WITH ANOTHER FEDERAL AGENCY OR WITH ANYONE ELSE.

WE WANT TO ASSURE NEW YORKERS THEIR INFORMATION IS 100% PROTECTED.

DOES THIS COME BACK TO -- I DIDN'T KNOW ALL OF THAT DETAIL.

IT DOES COME BACK TO THE OUTREACH EFFORTS.

I'LL SAY ON THE LITIGATION AND WE GOT A FAVORITE RULING AT THE DISTRICT COURT LEVEL, THIS CASE IS GOING UP TO THE SUPREME COURT.

THE CITY IS A PLAINTIFF IN THIS LITIGATION AS WELL AS MANY OTHER STATES AND CITIES.

WE'LL FIGHT THIS TO THE MAX.

WE BELIEVE THE QUESTION IS ENTIRELY UNLAWFUL AND IT WILL ATTEMPT TO SILENCE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES.

LET ME TALK ABOUT THE OTHER FUNCTION YOU'RE INVOLVED.

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT, CORPORATION COUNSEL FOR STRATEGIC ADVOCACY.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

IT'S BASICALLY LOOKING AT WAYS THAT WE CAN EITHER SUE BAD CORPORATE ACTORS WHO ARE PREYING ON NEW YORKERS.

THAT'S THE WORK I DID BEFORE AS COMMISSIONER ARE OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS.

IT'S LOOKING AT WAYS WE CAN SUE THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION THAT ARE TAKING ACTIONS DETRIMENTAL TO NEW YORKERS.

SO I'VE BEEN TEACHING A CLASS ON THIS VERY SUBJECT CALLED WHEN CITIES TAKE THE LEAD.

WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS DEREGULATING WHETHER INSUME PROTECTION, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION OR A WHOLE HOST OF AREAS AND WHERE THE MAIN LEGAL AVENUES ARE FOR THE CITY TO BE ABLE TO LITIGATE.

SO I'M REAL EXCITED ABOUT THESE TWO NEW ROLES THAT BRING ME BACK TO THE CORE WORK I'VE DONE AS A LAWYER.

IN THAT POSITION, SUE THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ICE NOT AS IF OTHER ADMINISTRATIONS HAVE NOT BEEN SUED.

THIS IS NOT AN OFFICE SET UP JUST TO GO AFTER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.

THE FUNCTION IS AND YOU TALK ABOUT ANY ADMINISTRATION.

WHENEVER ANY ADMINISTRATION.

DEREGULATION IS SOMETHING THAT'S HAPPENED IN NUMEROUS ADMINISTRATIONS AND THE EFFECTS IT CAN HAVE ON CITIES IN PARTICULAR IS SIGNIFICANT.

IT'S LOOKING AT THE WAY THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS TAKING ACTIONS, OR FAILING TO TAKE ACTIONS AND HOW THAT'S AFFECTING NEW YORKERS.

ALSO LOOKING AT BAD CORPORATE ACT WRORS WHO ARE PREYING ON NEW YORKERS.

TALK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE BIT MORE.

WHO WOULD YOU BE LOOKING AT AND WHAT KIND OF SCENARIOS.

WHEN I WAS COMMISSIONER OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS, DEBT COLLECTORS.

WE BROUGHT A NUMBER OF LAWSUITS AGAINST FOR PROFIT COLLEGES THAT WERE REALLY SCAMMING NEW YORKERS WITH ALL SORTS OF TERRIBLE PRACTICES.

SO IT'S LOOKING AT THESE VARIOUS AVENUES WHERE WE REALLY FEEL NEW YORKERS ARE BEING HURT AND ARE BEING PREYED UPON.

SO WE'RE VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS WORK AND I THINK IT CAN BE INCREDIBLY IMPACTFUL.

WE'RE ALSO GOING TO BE LOOKING AT ISSUES AROUND GERRRYMANDERIN AND VOTING REITS.

THAT'S ANOTHER AREA FOF CUSS.

SOME CASES ARE WORKING THEIR WAY UP TO THE SUPREME COURT.

I THINK THE ANSWER IS THE CITIZENS OF NEW YORK CITY ARE HAPPY THAT YOU GOT TWO MORE HATS TO PUT ON.

THANK YOU.

BECAUSE THOSE ARE AREAS THAT ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO CITIZENS AND CERTAINLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING IN TERMS OF OUTREACH AND GETTING PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON IS ESSENTIAL FOR ALL OF US.

SO PLEASURE TO TALK WITH YOU.

AS THIS CONTINUES TO ROLL ON MAYBE WE'LL GET YOU BACK.

WOULD LOVE TO BACK.

ABSOLUTELY.

YOU TAKE CARE.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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