Rep. Sam Farr

SamFarrNewWhat are your thoughts on President Barack Obama’s recent efforts to reduce global nuclear stockpiles?

This has been a very active spring in the realm of nuclear proliferation issues.

First, on April 6, the Obama Administration released its Nuclear Posture Review, and while I hoped to see far stronger language in the document, it does move U.S. nuclear policy in the right direction.

Then, two days later, President Obama signed an arms reduction treaty with Russia, reducing warheads by 30 percent and launchers by half. Not perfect, but moving in the right direction with a sometimes-challenging partner.

And to cap off this flurry of activity, the president hosted a 47-country Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. The two-day meeting resulted in pledges to secure nuclear material and strengthen and implement international treaties.

Moreover, the summit demonstrated America’s commitment to a multilateral approach to confronting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, one of the most pressing foreign relations challenge tests we face.

It’s clear to me that President Obama shares my desire to one day live in a nuclear-free world.

Here on the Central Coast, we have deep ties to the nuclear nonproliferation issue. In addition to peace groups throughout the Central Coast, we’re also home to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

CNS, which trains nonproliferation specialists and serves as a clearinghouse for news and analysis, is the largest nongovernmental organization in the nation devoted to research and training on nonproliferation issues. In addition to advising government agencies in advance of the summit, CNS experts also played an important role for media around the world to help explain what was happening.

I can’t say that things are perfect. As with so many issues, I wish progress would come quicker and deliver more dramatic results. But what we’ve seen over the last few weeks—the progress that President Obama has made—gives me hope.

I’ll continue to work to eliminate nuclear weapons, and it’s nice to know I have some dedicated partners to move us in that direction.

Why should residents take the time to fill out the 2010 Census?

We get excited every couple years by the Olympics. A lot of Americans even get jazzed for the World Cup every four years. But it seems we find it a little harder to gin up enthusiasm for the census, which only rears its head once a decade.

But there’s no question the ramifications are longer lasting and affect a lot more people. Census data are used in federal formulas to dole out around $445 billion each year, meaning this count will decide where nearly $4.5 trillion in federal funds will be directed.

This means funds for schools and classroom sizes. It means money for police departments and the number of officers they can deploy. It means salaries for firefighters and equipment to make them effective. It means dollars for road construction and repair and other vital transportation projects.

The census is so much more than just a few simple questions.

In fact, a recent study found that during the previous census, individuals in the regions that saw the highest undercounts cost their communities around $3,000 per person. Over the course of 10 years, that means every man, woman and child who were not included on census forms cost their communities $30,000 in federal funds.

The census isn’t cheap. It’s expected to cost the federal government around $1.5 billion to complete. A large chunk of that money is used to pay for households that didn’t mail their returns back in.

Each household that mailed in the form cost the government $.42. For every household that fails to return the form, the government shells out $57.

If you forgot to send in your form, there are still a couple ways to be counted. First, you can talk to the census taker when they visit your home. Those visits should begin in May and will last a couple months. It’s estimated that a household requires three visits and three phone calls before they’re counted; you can help by being available early on.

You can also call 1-866-872-6868 and a census taker will record your information over the phone or send you a replacement form by mail. For Spanish speakers, the number is 1-866-928-2010.

Santa Cruz County did a pretty good, sending 71 percent of its census forms back to the Census Bureau. That’s better than California (69 percent) and Santa Cruz’s 2000 result (70 percent). But it’s not high enough.

I hope that over the next few months, Santa Cruz’s rate will climb much higher and we’ll get the federal funds we deserve. 

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