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Is NYS Governor Patterson Playing Politics With The Census Grant?

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Two weeks after the stated New York Census grant deadline of December 15th, Governor David Patterson’s office suddenly announced in a press statement on December 31st, the list of grant awardees.

In the Caribbean community, CaribID and the Caribbean Immigrant Services Youth Core, which have been leading the Census education effort among this bloc with their own resources since 2008, have been dismissed from among the grant awardees of the $2 million in set aside for Census awareness.

This despite the fact that based on CaribID’s advocacy led to a congressional and senate bill was introduced in April and May of 2009 to call for a Caribbean American origins category on U.S. Census forms and the organization is a national partner of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Further, CaribID is the main group at the forefront of leading the push through many partners in the media, churches and groups in New York State and nationally, to educate Caribbean nationals on the need to count in 2010 Census. It is no secret what CaribID has managed to achieve in one year with its own time and resources – not only in New York but across the country.

Yet funds have been allocated by the governor’s office to two Caribbean groups that have no background or track record in publicly raising the Census as a concern since their existence. It is only now that these groups have suddenly expressed interest in the Census given the fact that there is a two million carrot at stake. And the governor’s office has failed to look at track records on this issue but handed the carrots to these groups.

Worst, no Caribbean group was selected for a media grant despite the fact that this bloc is the most undercounted across the city.

“The decision is an insult and an outrage and begs the question as to the transparency of this grant application process,” said Felicia Persaud, founder of CaribID. “Were applications even reviewed or studied based on organization’s track record on this issue or was the decision made based on groups that are supporters and cronies of the governor?.”

The CaribID founder added that the decision smacks of the complete and continued dismissal of the Caribbean American bloc, even by the U.S. Census itself. To date, said Persaud, no Caribbean company or media houses have even been allocated a slice of the $300 million that will be spent in promotion of the 2010 Census.

“It’s a double whammy,” said Persaud, while asking the governor’s office and the Census Bureau for explanations on the dismissal.

CARIBID is an initiative of Hard Beat Communications, in collaboration with CBeanMedia.tv, the Caribbean Immigrant Services and a growing number of Caribbean media houses and organizations across the U.S. They include the Caribbean Research Center, the Bowling Green Association, Ecaroh Entertainment, the Jamaica Organization of New Jersey, Brooklyn Center for quality Life, TSO Productions, the Caribbean Association of Mid West America, The Midwest Caribbean Network,  Students of Caribbean Ancestry, the Guyanese American Workers United, Jamaica Diaspora representative, Marlon Hill and Soca De Vote,  the D.C., Chicago, New York and Atlanta carnival associations, Curtis Ward Associates LLC and a large number of media houses and media practitioners including DJ Norrie, Power 105 FM; the Caribbean International Network, Caribbean World News Network, Irie Jam Media, Bobby Clarke, One Caribbean Radio, South Florida Caribbean, Whatz Up TV, Deeraj TV, Carib Nation TV, CaribVoice Radio, Tropicalfete, Jason Walker, WFGG Atlanta, Eddy Edwards, Ken Webb, SMAC Productions, Everybody’s Magazine, Jamaicans.com, Caribbean Life Style TV, Sharon Gordon, Bevan Springer, Ian Edwards, Von Martin and Ron Bobb Semple among others.

CaribID`s ultimate goal is to secure a Caribbean ancestry or origins category on the Census form. So far, the group has secured a congressional and senate bill, the Caribbean Count bill, which calls for an origins category on future forms.

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