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2010 census kicks off with rally at L.A. City Hall

April 6, 2009 | 10:58 am

Census Hundreds of U.S. census employees gathered with city officials outside Los Angeles City Hall this morning to kick off the first major field operations for the 2010 count.

“The census is here!” shouted Esther Cepeda, manager of the local census office downtown.
Music played and employees carried signs that read: “The census, coming to your neighborhood” and “Yes we can! 2010 census.”

“Census data touches our lives every day,” Cepeda said, adding that workers during the initial field operation would use hand-held GPS devices for the first time to update an address list so they can accurately mail 2010 census forms.

Councilman Jose Huizar told the audience it was important to count each person.

“The groups who are most under-counted are the people who need our help the most,” he said, specifically referring to people who are homeless or immigrants or people of color. During the last census, Los Angeles missed out on about $200 million in funding because of under-counting, he said.

“Do we want that to happen again?” Huizar asked the crowd.

“No!” they responded.

Huizar also announced that census data collected by workers would be kept confidential and would not be given to immigration or police officials.

Matt Weikel, 22, lives in Koreatown and said he joined the census because he was looking for work between film jobs and other creative projects.

“This is good temporary work,” said Weikel, who will earn about $17 an hour as a census taker.

Ira Schlesinger, 55, said he joined because he  "would like to help make a difference and make some money.”

Schlesinger, who lives in Hollywood, held up an outline of three blocks he was preparing to canvass this week. One of his other motivations for joining the census, he said, was to “help our government work a little more efficiently.”

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz

Photo: Lev Mallinger holds a sign joining hundreds of census employees as they rally to mark the beginning of field operations for the 2010 census at the Los Angeles City Hall. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times