Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin is apologizing for flubbing the most anticipated Statehouse story of the week: the release of key 2010 city and town census numbers.
Galvin called reporters to his office Tuesday morning to tell them that Boston's population had declined by nearly 15,000 _ or just under 2.5 percent _ since the 2000 count. He also said Springfield's population had dropped by 1.6 percent, enough to bring it under 150,000 _ a key figure for qualifying for certain federal aid programs.
The news was disappointing.
It was also wrong.
Soon after news outlets started reporting the numbers, Galvin said he realized his error. Computer filtering software had apparently erroneously counted some census tracts that had few residents as having no residents at all. Many of those census tracts were in areas considered urban.
Galvin called an afternoon news conference to announce the correct census numbers.
Those showed Boston's population rising from 589,141 in 2000 to 617,594 in the 2010. It also showed Springfield's population remaining above 150,000 residents.
The numbers are critical to drawing new Statehouse and congressional districts.
Galvin cautioned that it was too early to speculate on how the population figures would affect the redistricting process. (Massachusetts is losing one of its 10 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives because of overall population shifts announced earlier by the U.S. Census Bureau.)
A chastened Galvin, who conceded he had acted a little too hastily in trying to rush out the latest news, called Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to correct the information and apologize for the mistake. He also put in a call into Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno's office.
Galvin said he's learned an important lesson: "Always check your math."