Representatives of a coalition of the nation’s mayors--including New York City’s David N. Dinkins--met for the first time Wednesday with Commerce Secretary Robert A. Mosbacher to complain of a nationwide population undercount and urge that the figures be revised as quickly as possible.
The meeting was an effort on the part of about 20 cities to pressure federal census officials to adjust population figures before states and cities reapportion political districts starting next year. The 1990 census figures are to be presented to President Bush on Dec. 31.
“We urged the secretary to reaffirm, publicly, that he is giving serious consideration to a statistical correction,” Dinkins said. “And we urged the Census Bureau to release corrected census data as soon as possible.”
A lawsuit brought by several plaintiffs, including the city of Los Angeles and the U.S. Conference of Mayors--which Dinkins represented Wednesday--would require that Mosbacher decide whether there will be a statistical correction of the 1990 census figures by next July 15.
However, the Conference of Mayors has also proposed a statistical adjustment of the figures by early April to accommodate all states in the redistricting process, spokesman Lance Simmens said.
Dinkins said that he was not especially “encouraged” by the meeting with Mosbacher, who told him that he needs more data before he can make a decision.
“It’s much too early to decide,” Census Bureau spokesman Michael Darby said. “If the data is not available on July 15, the secretary agreed to not adjust (the figures).”
Next week, cities should begin receiving census figures that were adjusted after cities filed challenges to the preliminary housing unit counts issued in August, a department spokeswoman said.
The Census Bureau’s preliminary figures put Los Angeles’ population at 3.42 million--up 15% from 1980. However, the city contends that at least 49,513 dwellings were not counted, which would increase the city’s population count by 123,783.
“They missed dwelling units and people in the dwelling units,” said Gregory Lipton, head of research for Los Angeles’ community development department.