Oh, it's ON! As promised, Mayor Bloomberg has officially issued a challenge to the U.S. Census Bureau, and, after smacking his gloves in the face of his arch-nemesis at the Census, Dr. Robert Groves, the two will face off with pistols at dawn. (Don't worry about Bloomberg, Groves will probably miscount the bullets when he loads his gun.) At stake is some $7 billion in federal funding over the next decade, which would be cut back if the city fails to prove that the Census Bureau grossly miscounted in Brooklyn and Queens. In Jackson Heights, for instance, the Census found that the population decreased by nearly 5,200 people, or by about five percent, between the years 2000 and 2010.

“In all my years as a legislator, I have never seen a census so poorly conducted," incensed Census scold Sen. Charles Schumer told Crain's. "To say there are abandoned buildings in growing, bustling neighborhoods is, on its face, absurd. The Census Bureau needs to conduct a recount immediately to get this right, and I will continue pushing them to do just that.” It's far too late to have any impact on the city's Congressional redistricting, but the city's challenge is motivated by that sweet, sweet Federal aid. Some analysts believe the official count, which tallied the city population at just under 8.2 million, missed nearly 250,000 residents.

The city pins most of the blame on the Census office in Brooklyn that was responsible for Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst, and the Queens office that counted Jackson Heights and Astoria. Bloomberg hopes to add at least 60-80,000 to the total count, and in his letter to Groves, he writes, "This disproportionate concentration of vacancy suggests that some aspect of the census enumeration went awry in these two offices, with likely processing errors that may have hindered the proper reporting, compilation, and tabulation of census results."