NEWSMAKINGNEWS
 
THE BAYCITIES OBSERVER
Virginia McCullough

"Have I missed the  mark, or, like a true archer,  do I strike my mark?
  Or am I a prophet of lies, a babbler from door to door?"
                                                      Cassandra, as reported by Agamemnon.   

UNITED STATES CENSUS 2000
STOP?   THINK?   STOP!
.

Allow me to share with you a little background about myself.  I live in one of the last "rural" communities in Alameda County, California, USA.  Residents of our town, Sunol, can reach Oakland in thirty minutes and we can be in San Francisco by BART in approximately forty minutes.  I have lived here for twenty years and I still believe that it is the best of all worlds

Sunol used to be a summer hideout for the busy executives of the bustling cities to its north.  There are no subdivisions in this community; each home is unique - very large mansions are next door neighbors to cozy log cabins.  The Little Brown Church hosts weddings every weekend.  An excursion train meanders through Niles Canyon and discharges its passengers at the community park near Main Street.  The fall Bed Races and the 4-H pancake breakfasts bring hundreds of tourists into town.  The remainder of the week our children are seen walking to the K through 8 Sunol Glen Unified School.

Sunol appears to be a quiet community; but looks are deceiving.  The residents of this lovely place are as diverse as the homes that house them.  Seldom do two Sunolians agree on anything; even the daily weather can be debated.  At the small cafe that rests alongside the railroad track, dot.com millionaires argue with mountain men on subjects ranging from the best drought resistant plants to the advantage of computer chips implanted in human bodies.

Politicians in California are anxious to increase their tax base by paving over orchards and farmland at an ever increasing pace.  In 1983 the Alameda County Board of Supervisors decided to place a "for-the-rich-only" gated subdivision on the hill tops above Sunol.  This arrogant government body was confident that the 400 registered voters of the town could do nothing to stop this "greased" development.  Sunol is an unincorporated community that, at the time, had a dog named Bosco as "Mayor".  In the State of California unincorporated towns are forced to referenda the entire county to stop a project approved by the Board of Supervisors.  In the case of Alameda County that would amount to 33,000 signatures that would have to be gathered within 30 days; an apparently impossible dream.  The politicians holding the future of Sunol in their hands were confident that they could laugh all the way to the bank.  Historically Sunol has always been unpredictable; it is like trying to hold mercury in your hands -- it slips between your fingers and runs away.  In the front hallway of my home hangs a hand painted picture that states:

"The Sunol Ridge Referendum -- In commemoration of this valiant achievement by the indomitable people of Sunol: the collection of over 44,000 valid signatures from the registered voters of Alameda County -- April 7 - May 6, 1983   ----   Our Finest Hour"

The community of Sunol made California State history that remains unchallenged today and it remains a voice for small towns everywhere.  The ridge land above the town is now an East Bay Regional Park open for all to enjoy.

I bring you this background so that you can clearly understand the outrage and anger of Sunolians generated by the United States CENSUS 2000.  In honor of our beloved Mayor Bosco Ramos, almost everyone in this community has a dog that owns them.  Cats, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, chickens and goats range free and, for the most part, every human loves them.  One of the great advantages about animals owning humans is that the animals are very protective about their homes.  This is intimidating to door-to-door salesmen, church solicitors, and CENSUS 2000 inquirers.

When I came home one day last week, I found a red and white plastic bag hanging on my gate; it contained the most invasive survey I have seen outside of the IRS filing forms.  I have carefully trained my family that NO  business is to be conducted over the telephone.  We politely,  but firmly, decline to respond to survey requests and the first words out of our mouths to sales pitches are "Not interested".  Mailed political surveys are returned to the sender with postage due.  I am a firm believer in the  sacred "Right to Privacy".

We will respond to the CENSUS 2000 Question 1 on Page 1: "How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2000.  THAT IS ABSOLUTELY THE LAST QUESTION WE WILL ANSWER  --  THE REMAINDER OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE CONSTITUTES AN INVASION OF PRIVACY!

What mother would voluntarily give strangers the following information about her children in this day and age?

1)    The child's name.
2)    The child's phone number.
3)    The child's sex.
4)    The child's race.
5)    The child's marital status.
6)    Whether or not the child attends regular  school or college.
7)    What grade level the child is attending.
8)    The highest degree or level of school the child has completed.
9)    The child's ancestry or ethnic origin.
10)   What language the child speaks at home.
11)   The child's birth place.
12)   The child's citizenship.
13)   Where the child lived five years ago.
14)   The child's physical condition spelling out any physical, mental or emotional conditions.

[And so that grandparents and grandchildren are included state the following personal information]:

15)    Details of the relationship between grandchildren and grandparents.

[For our veterans]:

16)    Details of any military service of residents.

[For just about everyone]:

17)    Income details for any residents during the past week.
18)    The location of any employment during the past week.
19)    State how residents got to their employment during the past week.
20)    State the number of people who accompanied this resident to work.
21)    The time it took to get to work.
22)    If the resident did not work last week, specify why he/she did not.
23)    State if an unemployed resident looked for work during the past 4 weeks.
24)    If unemployed, state if the resident could have started a job during the past week.
25)    State if the resident worked last week, even for a few days.
26)    State for whom the resident worked; specific what kind of industry.
27)    Detail the resident's occupation and duties.
28)    Identify if the employer was a government, not-for-profit corporation, or for-profit corporation.
29)    State if the employee was self-employed or did he/she work without pay in a family business or farm.
30)    Specify how many weeks this person worked in 1999.
31)    Identify all income for this person in 1999.
32)    List ALL sources of income for this person.
33)    Identify who owns this residence.  Describe residence;  state when it was first built; state number of rooms.
34)    State if this residence has phone service and what fuel is used to heat this residence.
35)    Identify how many transportation vehicles are kept at this residence for use by residents.
36)    For one-family home owners only, identify any business on this property and list the acreage.
37)    State the actual sales of all agricultural products from this property.
38)    State the annual costs of ALL utilities for this residence.
39)    State the amount of rent paid and/or mortgage payment amount.
40)    State whether or not mortgage payments include taxes and/or insurance.
41)    State if this property has a second mortgage and, if so, list the amount of the  mortgage payment.
42)    State if real estate taxes were paid on this property last year and list the amount paid.
43)    State the amount paid for property insurance.
44)    State the value of the property if placed on the market for sale.

There are actually 53 questions that CENSUS 2000 wants EACH resident to answer.  For purposes of this article I have combined some of the questions.

The last question  about how much this property will sell for is most interesting in light of the abusive seizure laws enacted in this country.  Now your private property can be seized without charges and/or a trial.  Now the United States Government wants you to place a sale value on your property so that the bureaucrats do not even have to do their own homework.  Answer this question and, if you place the wrong value on your personal home that the government seizes and sells, then the next step will be charges against you for perjury.

I don't know what Nazi created this monstrosity but I do know this ---  as a proud Sunolian, I refuse to answer any of the very personal inquiries about the residents of my home -- in honor of Sunol's proud Mayor Bosco Ramos.  And I wish that every bureaucrat in government showed the love and affection and respect for the citizens that Bosco did during his term in office.   

Virginia McCullough © 3/3/00