2002-06-05 / Editorials


Flawed Census

To The Editor:

Possibly two thirds of Americans completed the census form in 2000, but for Americans of European ancestry there wasn’t any place for them to relate their ancestry on the short form. Just checking the box that states white, enumerates them as Anglo Saxons.

The long form, that’s supposed to provide an ethnic and racial profile, is discarded by many Greeks because the financial and other information might not be held in confidence. I arranged for the basics of the census to be translated into Greek because I wanted the Greeks to know that census information is kept confidential for 72 years.

My request, for 50,000 copies of the Greek version of the basics of the census for New York state was not only accommodated by the federal government, but copies were printed for the entire United States, thereby recognizing the Greek language as the 49th language to be utilized on selected federal forms.

Governor [George] Pataki and many others refer to Astoria as little Athens because of its 200,000 Greeks. Astoria is the only place in America where there are probably as many Greek Orthodox as Roman Catholics.

Due to the affluence of the Greeks there are 300 ethnic organizations with 171 under the umbrella of the Hellenic Federation plus parochial schools, a high school, and let’s not forget to mention a monastery, nunnery, day care, church mission center and cultural center.

Sixty-five percent of Greeks own their businesses and homes in Astoria and are served by six Greek banking systems two of which are mortgage banks.

Besides the Western Queens Gazette there are two excellent Greek newspapers printed in Astoria including 20 dailies from Greece.

The census for blacks, Latins, Asians is more precise as to the count. There are 50 percent more Italians, 40 percent more Jews in America than are listed in the enumeration.

For 27 years I’ve been involved in demographics and in 1997 I formed a Greek coalition comprised of ethnic organizations and seven churches. I set four goals and after sending 5,200 letters to city, state and federal governments, we achieved a supplemental voter registration form in Greek, 2) a pamphlet, "Why vote in Greek," 3) the Greek language utilized on the New York subway in public ethnic announcements, and 4) providing space on the long census form for ancestry and language. Then in 1998 I established the first Hellenic census committee, the United States 2000 Census Hellenic Steering Committee of New York state, which accomplished a 50-state outreach with the census bureau, testing and hiring Greeks in New York at the Chian House, Macedonian library and Federation of Hellenic Societies. Let’s not forget that recognition of the Greek language by its utilization by the federal and city governments has opened the door for public ethnic ads in the Greek media.

May I please take a moment to offer thanks to the memory of my mother and father for my religious and family values, plus gratitude to Dr. Gemellos, Tony Barsamian and everyone who gave me support for my two committees.


Athan John Christodoulou

Chairman, U.S. 2000 Census Hellenic

Steering Committee of N.Y. State

Hire Locals For City Jobs

A copy of the following letter was received by the Gazette.

Honorable Michael Bloomberg

Mayor of the City of New York

City Hall

New York, NY

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

Sending teams to various nations around the world recruiting personnel for our city agencies may be a disturbing and an embarrassing policy. The rationale often offered by city and state agencies is that a shortage of skilled personnel to fill qualified positions is so severe that they are forced to surf the world’s labor pool. This action can be construed as being a strong indication that a lack of foresight and planning exists on the part of the city and state agencies. Spending millions of our tax dollars advertising and proselytizing our city’s labor needs in far-away places can only hurt the unemployed and underutilized. Why then do we continue this deleterious practice?

Shortages of lifeguards are caused by the failure of state and city officials to recognize the importance of learn-to-swim programs. There is a pressing need for more and better utilized public and private recreation centers and pool facilities. The American Red Cross at one period in recent history implemented safety and swimming campaigns that ensured any and all the benefits of extensive learn-to- swim programs, lifeguard and first aid training. An ample supply of skilled lifeguards was always available. Whatever became of the American Red Cross’ welcome initiatives? Our young people were provided with those basic skills that would help them to receive jobs, acquire health life-long benefits and, at the same time, enhance our social order.

Why not establish appropriate educational programs in the colleges and universities--learnings which will afford our citizens the opportunity of having employment whether as a teacher, police officer, or in the computer or allied fields. Let us provide them with the proper financial incentives so they could acquire those professional skills that would benefit our city. It would be less expensive and more socially worthwhile to educate and prepare our citizens for a future in our social order than to confess to the world that we are unable to cope with our current labor shortages, particularly so since we are experiencing an increase in unemployment.

Mr. Mayor, I urge you to make an investment in our people. We have the energy and the commitment to face our responsibilities as citizens of this great metropolis. We only lack the opportunity.

With warmest regards,

Chet Szarejko

Little Neck

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