For the second straight week, Houston City Council today debated a modest contract with a local communications firm, Lopez Negrete, to help the City boost its participation in the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census. The agenda item, first introduced on May 1, was delayed for a week but passed easily on May 8, despite every Republican voting against it.
The $650,000 contract represents a tiny fraction of the City’s general fund budget, which is well over $2 billion, and a small investment to reach Houston’s approximately 2.3 million residents.
But listening to conservative council members, you’d think this small outreach effort constituted some theatrical socialist plot to destroy America. Republicans Greg Travis, Mike Knox, Steve Le and Dave Martin breathlessly took to the mic one after another to decry attempts to simply count who actually lives here as a thinly veiled left wing takeover scheme.
Lest these councilmen forget, a complete count of Houstonians means all-important federal dollars for the City of Houston. Dollars for flood control, infrastructure, education and transportation. Last we checked, Houston desperately needs its fair share of federal funds — why wouldn’t we want to ensure every resident is counted?
It is no secret the Trump administration has a very different approach to the 2020 Census. Its efforts to include a citizenship question on next year’s form are aimed at discouraging participation among immigrants and communities of color. Heavily Caucasian states in Rust Belt would stand to benefit from those efforts, both in terms of federal funds and in the congressional reapportionment process, which will based on the Census.
Diverse communities like Houston and states like Texas would suffer. Fewer congressional seats, and fewer federal dollars, despite our rapidly growing population and historical underinvestment from the feds.
Underneath their hysterics, Travis, Knox, Le and Martin simply showed their naked Republican partisanship. Instead of prioritizing a complete count, which would maximize resources needed to continue Harvey recovery, improve traffic mobility and educate kids, these guys are worried some brown person might get registered to vote during the Census process. Heavens no!