April 17 Meeting Minutes

Illinois 2020 Census Advisory Panel
April 17, 2020


Phone Number: 312-535-8110 Access Code: 802-409-251#

WebEx Link: https://illinois.webex.com/illinois/j.php?MTID=m21edb7aefd17f6b8a03a14e4ac9141a8


Panel members on WebEx: State Representative Carol Ammons, Deborah Bennett, Former Representative Mike Fortner, Representative Elizabeth (Lisa) Hernandez, State Representative Theresa Mah, State Senator Iris Martinez, State Senator Dan McConchie, Maria Pesqueira, State Representative Andre Thapedi.

Panel members absent: State Senator Kimberly Lightford, State Senator Any Manar, State Representative Ryan Spain, State Senator Jil Tracy.

Staff in attendance on WebEx: Deputy Governor Sol Flores, Secretary Grace Hou, Oswaldo Alvarez, Ryan Croke, Marishonta Wilkerson, John Schomberg

Welcome and Introductions

The meeting was called to order by Deputy Governor Sol Flores at 9:00am. IDHS General Counsel John Schomberg summarized the roll call. The panel achieved a quorum.

Public Participation

Tyler St. Clair of CommonCause IL asked that given the Census Bureau request to extend the self-response period to October 31, 2020 - will the IDHS Census Advisory Panel continue its work as well? If so, until what date? Deputy Governor Flores responded that the Governor's Office will look into extending or amending the Executive Order.

Anita Banerji of Forefront asked: related to the Census Bureau's request for extension of self-response - what is IDHS Census office's messaging to their RI's/Sub-recipients on what this extension means for their workplans, in other words, does IDHS expect grantees to continue to their work? And if so, with what funds? Secretary Hou responded that DHS intends to support Census efforts all the way through.

Griselda Vega Samuel from MALDEF asked if the Census Office can provide a breakdown of how the State's remaining Census money is being spent? And if there are remaining funds, what does the state plan to do with those funds? Marishonta Wilkerson responded that all funds have been designated and a breakdown can be viewed at census.illinois.gov.

January and February Minute Approval

Having a quorum, the panel unanimously approved the January 17, 2020 and February 21, 2020 minutes.

2020 Census Grant Program Update

Oswaldo Alvarez shared that in response to COVID-19, the Census Office is moving forward to working with Regional Intermediaries (RI's) to adjust budgets and outreach plans. The Census Office is continuing to help with administrative needs and to help RI's increase their reach through digital and social media platforms. Marishonta Wilkerson also shared that the City of Chicago, Cook County, Forefront, and the State are collaborating on social media storms and are all using unified hashtag #MakeILCount.

Mr. Alvarez went on to share that Illinois is one of the top ten states in the nation for census response rates. The average national rate is 49%, but Illinois' response rate is 53.4%. Among the top counties are Kendall, DuPage, and Lake County, all with over a 50% response rate. Ms. Wilkerson continued that among the counties that need more outreach are Harden County, Calhoun County, Henderson County, and Cook County which currently has a 47% response rate. The city of Chicago currently has a 41% response rate and the Census Office is continuing to work with the city and Cook County to coordinate and increase of outreach there.

Timeline Review

Ms. Wilkerson informed the group that the U.S. Census Bureau has identified a new operational timeline for the Census Portal. The closing date for the census portal has been moved from August 14th, 2020 to October 31st, 2020. The Census Bureau has requested congressional approval to the statutory deadline. The original date for redistricting data to given to the states was March 31, 2021, but now that delay will likely mean it is delivered by July 31, 2021.

Sen. Martinez asked how that would affect timing for redistricting, and Former Representative Fortner shared from his experience that the data for the states should be released over a twelve-week period at five states per week, starting as early as mid-April and continuing as late as July. Ms. Wilkerson thanked Former Rep. Fortner for sharing his experience and confirmed that the Census Office would let the panel know when they had more information on that timeline.

Representative Hernandez asked how they revised timeline would affect Census Advisory Panel meeting schedule and if the Panel will meet until after October 2020. Deputy Governor Flores responded that the Governor's Office is working with its legal team to establish the how the Governor's Census Executive Order's might need to be extended and that is the Governor's Office intention to continue convening the Census Advisory Panel. Rep. Andre Thapedi asked if the panel would then move to redistricting questions, and Deputy Governor Flores assured him it would remain limited to census matters.

Deborah Bennett asked about Chicago's 41% response rate and if there is a racial equity response team. Ms. Wilkerson let her know the regional intermediaries are working with local resources, such as CPS lunch sites, to do outreach to families, and asked Ms. Bennett to let her know about the work of any model organizations for RI's to emulate and partner with.

Rep. Carol Ammons shared that her local regional intermediary is their local public health organization and is completely overwhelmed by COVID-19. She asked if the Census Office can get information on that response in those census tracts and Ms. Wilkerson let her know that that data comes in twice a week from the Census Bureau and she can resend.

Rep. Thapedi asked for clarification on the 41% response rate for the city of Chicago because to him that seemed terrible. Mr. Alvarez responded that it is below the state average, but ahead of comparable cities like New York, Houston, and Los Angeles. Rep. Thapedi shared that he was frequently out on the streets during the election cycle and he saw little to no activity on the Census. Ms. Wilkerson shared that most RI's are now working remotely, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms. Wilkerson encouraged the panel to look for the Census Office's marketing firm's ad spot during the Sunday night airing of "The Last Dance."

The next Census Advisory Panel meeting is scheduled for May 15, 2020.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:43 am