American: Notes WASHINGTON Down for The Count

Notes WASHINGTON Down for The Count

For decades, Presidents have used the census as a patronage honeypot, dispensing part-time counting jobs to allies at the grass roots. Even Jimmy Carter, who championed civil service reform, signed a waiver in 1979 so that his followers could be hired. But George Bush has apparently missed the 1990 census gravy train.

The reason is an unusual mixture of efficiency and political naivete at the Commerce Department, where Secretary Robert Mosbacher did not ask Bush to sign a waiver until he knew there would not be enough nonpolitical applicants to fill 2,700 management jobs, which pay up to $18 an hour.


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