Now is the time to be counted

By Nick L. Shrimp

“You know,” Slim Smith once said in a previous life, “they talk about the guy who invented the wheel. They say he was pretty smart. I don’t know. I think the guy who invented the axle was pretty smart, too.”

And so it is, we come to Census 2020, on this day, April 1, Cenus Day.

With all of the focus on the crises du jour these days, there’s an important document that arrived in the mail in March. It’s something that should not be ignored. It’s something that merits your attention. It’s something that will impact your quality of life and your community in myriad ways.

Some maintain that voting is the most important right as citizens in this democratic republic. The decennial census, the case could be made, is even more vital. The results will tell you where you will vote, but more important it helps foster the notion of one person, one vote.

Quick example: Each of the Biloxi City Councilmembers represents what is supposed to be an equal number of residents, within a 10 percent margin. An undercount in any ward, whether it’s Ward 2 or Ward 7, means that one councilmember could represent far fewer people than really exist and another councilmember could be burdened with answering to hundreds of more constituents.

Everyone deserves an equal voice, and the way to have that equal voice and fair representation is not only by voting, but by filling out the Census questionnaire, and, frankly, making sure everyone in your household is counted.

But council representation is but a fraction of the importance of the Census.

Some could argue that representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, where years ago the Census saw Mississippi reduced from five representatives to four, is a far greater example. It’s not necessarily that Mississippi saw a decline in population; it may be a case of other states showing more growth. How do they do that? By taking a few minutes to fill out the Census.

In a state so heavily dependent on federal aid, it’s vital that the federal government have a clear picture of Mississippi — and Mississippians.

The Census, that Constitutionally mandated task, influences every conceivable fact of your life — whether you realize it or not. You don’t want government in your life? Be thankful that it is. It’s the school your child attends, the bridge (even the Popp’s Ferry Bridge) and the roads on which you drive or the public transit system you use, the libraries, the federal aid (Medicaid, Medicare, TANIF, head start, etc.) you or a family member receives, the fire station around the corner you have (or want), the neighborhood parks you walk (or might one day have), and the list goes on and on.

The key thing is you need to do it now. Getting it right the first time is much easier than the uphill battle of trying to revise Census numbers after the count is taken.

It’s so much benefit for so little effort. In 10 minutes — some say nine — you can have it filled out and you will have done your duty as a citizen.

Don’t just be the wheel. Be the axle.
See the census website
Video: Learn more about the census
Video: “FoFo” Gilich, numbers man

The in’s and out’s of a curfew

Biloxi Police Chief John Miller appeared on the city’s Be Prepared video Tuesday afternoon to explain details of how the city’s nightly curfew will be enforced when its begins Thursday at 11 p.m.
See the six-minute video