Last chance to make your census mark
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:01 PM
"Whatever happened to Census 2000?Ninety-nine percent done, reports our erstwhile colleague Jack Swanson, lately a recruiter for the local arm of the federal nose-count.This was confirmed by Becky Beemer (spouse of another Review alum, fabled sportswriter Dave), who marshalled a rotating team of 10-15 fieldworkers as they tracked down those who didn't respond to the census by mail. There remains a period of accuracy checking, the so-called Coverage Improvement Follow-up, but most of the shoe-wear is over. And notwithstanding a few rude people, Becky told us, I think it went pretty well.Reflexively, we thought at one point about tagging along with a census doorbeller, just to talk to the folks who were missed the first time around. Might make an interesting news story - why hadn't folks sent in their questionnaires on April 1? Was anti-government chic infecting corners of the island? Just who was out there in hidden Bainbridge?We were disabused of that notion by a reminder of the strict privacy laws surrounding the whole endeavor. Jack relayed one anecdote that, if it was reported in the media, we seem to have missed. Said he:The enumerator would get fired and fined $5,000 (for disclosing who was being contacted). That happened in Virginia or someplace down south, when two enumerators showed up on the doorstep of the governor's mansion while two TV guys just happened to be there to talk to the governor about something entirely unrelated. The cameraman photographed the enumerators handing the governor his census form and gently admonishing him for not asking for one sooner. They both were fired.We got stiff lectures, Jack added.But we were amused to learn through roundabout means (note to census enforcers: we're not telling where) of one prominent Bainbridge family overlooked by the feds, at least so far. Turns out - as confirmed Tuesday by son Ian - that the Bentryn clan received no census material in the mail and has yet to be tracked down by fieldworkers. We suspect the winery residence slipped under the radar because it has a Highway 305 street address, pretty unique among islanders. The omission of Ian Bentryn's Crystal Springs home remains a mystery as, he notes, I get junk mail here.Perhaps it's illustrative of the challenges faced by Beemer and her staff. Beemer reports that a total of 2,450 housing units were tracked down on foot, to cross-reference households against post office boxes and the like. Some families were missed; some houses were vacant, or were vacation homes for those with a primary residence elsewhere; some didn't exist by virtue of having been moved or torn down.So, if you didn't a census form in the mail and somehow weren't contacted by fieldworkers, you can still get a form by calling (800) 471-9424.Addendum: In the meantime, city finance director Ralph Eells has been rooting around on his own. For anyone who wants confirmation that this community has been getting rooked out of population-based state shared tax money, consider:Bainbridge Island now has 18,601 folks registered with the state Department of Licensing- and an official population of 19,560. Doubtless, some of those on file simply with the DOL are youngsters who just have ID cards, but you can probably balance those out against the elderly set who have let their licenses lapse and are no longer in the system.So either a lot of you are learning to drive young, or our census numbers are going to be huge. The results have to be on the president's desk by the end of the year - can't wait."