_uacct = "UA-2352591-1";urchinTracker(); Head of Foundation Bailed Out Nonprofit Group After Its Funds Were Embezzled New article from NY TImes revelas multiple Whistle Blowers working to shed light on Rathke attempt to avoid the Embezzlement issue: By STEPHANIE STROMPublished: August 16, 2008When the embezzlement of almost $1 million by the brother of the founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as Acorn, surfaced last month, the organization announced that an anonymous supporter had agreed to make it whole.That supporter was Drummond Pike, the founder and chief executive of the Tides Foundation, which channels money to what it describes as progressive nonprofits, including some Acorn charitable affiliates.Mr. Pike is a friend of Wade Rathke, the founder of Acorn and its leader until the scandal broke, and he agreed to buy the promissory note that required the Rathke family to repay Acorn the money that Mr. Rathke’s brother, Dale, had stolen.Mr. Rathke is a member of the board of the Tides Foundation and other Tides-related organizations.Since 2000, the Tides Foundation has provided more than $400 million to nonprofit groups, with much of that money flowing out of donor-controlled accounts it manages in the same way that the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund or a community foundation does.John A. Powell, board chairman of the Tides Network, the umbrella organization for various Tides affiliates, wrote in an e-mail message to The Times that Tides had no involvement in the matter and that none of its money was used to buy the Rathke family’s debt to Acorn.He said Mr. Rathke was on a leave of absence from all Tides boards.In 2000, Acorn discovered that Dale Rathke had embezzled $948,507.50 from it and affiliated charitable organizations. The management committee that controlled the organization decided not to alert law enforcement officials, and negotiated an agreement with the Rathke family to repay the money.That agreement was carried on the books of an affiliate, Citizens Consulting Inc., as a loan to an officer. Sometime in June, Mr. Pike bought the loan from the affiliate, according to e-mail messages between senior executives at Acorn that were provided to a reporter by Acorn employees, who requested anonymity because they feared losing their jobs.Mr. Pike refused to confirm or deny that he had bought the note. “As a rule, I do not comment on my personal finances,” he wrote in e-mail messages in answer to questions about the deal.But e-mail messages among Acorn’s senior executives discuss how to keep Mr. Pike’s identity secret, even as they acknowledge that some of the foundations and philanthropic advisers that have supported Acorn and its affiliates know that he bought the note.“Does Drummond know the word is out?” Steven Kest, the executive director of Acorn, wrote on July 4. “If not, shouldn’t someone tell him?”In a July 12 e-mail message to Mr. Kest, Acorn’s political director, Zach Pollett, wrote: “I talked to Drummond on this yesterday and had Beth Kingsley” — Acorn’s lawyer — “prepare a ‘keep your yaps shut’ confidentiality memo to people at Acorn and CCI.”Charles D. Jackson, a spokesman for Acorn, said the organization would not comment on the purchaser of the note.Acorn’s board members and senior executives have signed confidentiality pledges that forbid them from disclosing Mr. Pike’s identity or discussing the purchase agreement, according to three Acorn contributors who asked to see the agreement but were told they would have to similarly pledge confidentiality. They declined.But a handful of executives at foundations that have contributed to Acorn and Tides have learned through connections at those organizations that Mr. Pike was the buyer.
One of the largest progressive community based organizations in the country, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) announced its founder has stepped down. Wade Rathke, who founded ACORN in 1970, left his position as the organization’s chief organizer after an embezzlement scandal that occurred eight years ago surfaced last month involving his brother and the group’s finances. ACORN’s national board asked Rathke to step down from his position about a week ago. Rathke’s brother, Dale, embezzled almost $1 million from the community group but the crime was handled internally and not reported to the police, allegedly at the behest of Wade Rathke.
From an article on Huffingtonpost.com:
The right-wing blogosphere is abuzz over the article, which reported that an ACORN staff-person embezzled almost $1 million from the organization’s coffers eight years ago. (The aggregate budgets of ACORN and its affiliate organizations back then totaled about $41.5 million). ACORN immediately established new internal controls to put the organization’s financial house in order. But ACORN’s founder and chief organizer, Wade Rathke, covered up the incident in order to protect the wrongdoer, his brother Dale, who at the time was the group’s chief financial officer. Even worse, he kept his brother on the payroll until June 2, although he was long before removed from having any responsibility for the group’s finances. Only a handful of top ACORN staff knew about the scandal, and Rathke persuaded them to keep it quiet in order, he argued, to protect the group’s reputation. The staff group obtained an enforceable restitution agreement so that the funds would be returned to ACORN. With the help of friends and family, his brother has now repaid all the stolen funds. But now that the scandal has surfaced, Wade Rathke has resigned, and his brother has been fired. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-atlas/acorn-under-the-microscop_b_112503.html)
According to an article in the New York Times, New York City ACORN leader, Bertha Lewis said ACORN has received $210,000 in restitution since 2001. An unidentified donor is bailing out the Rathke family for the rest of the money. From the New York Times: “Clearly, this was an uncomfortable, conflicting and humiliating situation as far as my family and I were concerned,” he said, “and so the real decisions on how to handle it had to be made by others.” The executive director of New York Acorn, Bertha Lewis, who has been named director of an interim management committee set up to run the national group’s day-to-day operations, said Dale Rathke was paid about $38,000 a year but that none of that money was used to pay back Acorn. Instead, she said, the Rathke family has paid Acorn $30,000 a year in restitution since 2001, or a total of $210,000. A donor has offered to give Acorn the rest of what the Rathkes owe, and an agreement to that effect should be finalized in coming days, Ms. Lewis said. ACORN is implementing fraud prevention mechanism and according to a statement by the organization’s president Maude Hurd. “We want to assure our many friends and supporters that ACORN’s Board has taken additional steps to ensure increased transparency and accountability. We have a very strong management team in place. Bertha Lewis, the Executive Director of New York ACORN – as a member of that team — has been named interim Director of the organization’s Management Committee, with responsibility for managing the day to day affairs of ACORN. We are hiring an outside accounting firm to examine our financial controls and will be instituting any necessary safeguards.” (http://www.acorn.org/index.php?id=12439&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=22241&tx_ttnews[backPid]=12340&cHash=dc0e2c5e3c) Subscribe to the Indypendent!Comments are temporarily disabled. --> 31 Responses to “ACORN Leader Steps Down, Group Puts New Controls In Order”
As a person of color. A former ACORN staff member, and as a revolutionary, and in light recent revelations of Wade Rathke’s coverup of the theft of 1,000,000USD I just gotta say amen. Wade doesn’t allow dissent within ACORN. Here is what I can tell you, you gotta read Gery DelGado’s ACORN: Growing the movement. DelGado, a founding organizer pushed out by Rathke detailed almost 30 years ago that ACORN had an all white management staff. Until Wade was pushed out of Chief Organizer USA by the board this month? Now Bertha Lewis is heading up the management team to clean up the mess? Wade pushes her under the bus and into the drivers seat as it is teetering on the edge of a cliff? I have not published my real name and I hope you can appreciate why. I am just a lowly organizer who can be easily smashed by Wade’s long arms in the Democratic party.
The kicker for me is that in light of Wade’s racism towards CLU, the embezzlement of 1,000,00 and in my opinion more importantly the horrible treatment of ACORN staff who were from the working class? He is getting promoted to Chief Organizer of ACORN International? Chief Organizer of the World? Are people in LA going to stomach that?
A couple of points. The management staff that helped Wade cover up the theft are still in place and he is Chief Organizer International. Anyone who knows non-profit work knows you can shred the books (most of the them) every 5 years. That would mean Wade and his brother Dale (who was in charge of the cash box) could have done this up top 6 times. We in ACORN know that the 1,000,000 is a drop in the bucket. Meanwhile mangement staff all over the country are switching jobs right now. All except the star chamber.
I remember once at a staff of color caucus there were maybe 150 of us in a room. Bertha Lewis asked all staff who had been there over 5 years to stand. Only two people were standing. Then she asked everyone there over two years to stand and literally like 10 stood up. They then asked everyone over a year to stand and maybe 20 stood. The other 115 stood. I remember the resistance the management staff had to us even having a staff of color caucus and remember hovering outside the door nonchalantly. We all resolved to call Wade and others out on several issues. Wade never even acknowledged our resolve.
There are good people at ACORN. Unfortunately they are overshadowed by things like office riots when people who haven’t been paid in over a month from poor communities explode. They are overshadowed by staff directives that do not allow for true community organizing. The way it is set up working class staff can’t hang with the 60 to 100 hour weeks, the low mileage stipend, the ridiculous fund raising goals set etc..
If you have a kid? And you weren’t born from money you can forget about working for ACORN. The Democratic party and Unions are helping to feed this beast. The outsourcing to ACORN for low wage campaign workers at 7-8 bucks an hour to do VR and GOTV with no minimum standards that workers get paid the Living Wage ACORN has out fighting for? This just feeds the beast. PIRG is doing it, Move on does it and so do others. The only poeple who survive between campaigns are North East liberals from often times Ivy League or private liberal colleges that are using ACORN as a resume stuffer in their climb up the ladder to be an Exec Dir or Dem party operative. What about all those people from black, Latino and other communities of color that really could have excelled at ACORN had they been paid a living wage. When I read the letter circulated about Community Labor Union by Wade Ratke shortly after the unrest that was a result of CLU organized actions in New Orleans by people of color. When I saw that Wade said “these people couldn’t organize a two car funeral”? HE compared them to the CIA mole Chalabi who falsely claimed to represent the Iraqi people (are we a little over the top Wade?). I couldn’t believe the white chauvinism that dripped from this hypocrite. DelGado has it right. A change has to come about in community organizing. Where people form directly affected communities control the work. It has to happen. This was the Ratke I knew, brow beating, condescending, demeaning, and yes racist. As if he deserved to talk to organizers of color (who had comparable experience) in the way that he did simply because he helped some black folks. Or becuase he had read some Alinsky. There was no excuse for the way he treated his staff.
Working for ACORN and watching some of the white folks in the field made me feel like we were putting poor communities in a skinner box to see how they would react if we gave this toy or that stimulus etc.. Or worse like some zoologist trying to get close to a lion or monkey in the jungle and acting proud if they were able to sit and eat with the animals. I am serious that is how it felt.
I hope the people of New Orleans LA take this opportunity to force ACORN to reverse the methods, tactics, and employment policies of ACORN. Save that other 115 organizers out there from souring on organizing for ever.
Also, SEIU you need to tell ACORN they have to pay a living wage or they can’t do SEIU work. Yes SEIU outsourced work to us often, if the Dems, SEIU, or any other progressive group is going to outsource any of their work to anyone. This business of not getting a contract that ensures the workers will be treated fairly has to stop. I have video I have never released of employees rioting in offices who were not paid for over a month. How embarrassing for them, for me, for the movement.
I don’t know if you will print this but judging from your site I thought it might be the right place. I am living in the aftermath of ACORN wrecking my life and many of my friends. Burned out, turned out, and broke. That isn’t the way progressives are supposed to be.
When I found out about the million? I wasn’t even one bit surprised. I have personally seen that much money thrown out the money on nothing in a week at ACORN. By the way, if you leave ACORN the standard line is “F—k them, they left”, you have to secretly leave. It is like a cult. If you do good you can’t get a reference, your supervisor will hint that you are a problem worker. I know it. It is hard to re-enter the field of organizing because you are burned out and you are white listed by ACORN.
Please post this response. Maybe edit it if you feel any of it is over the top. Our story must be told by progressives or the right wing will turn it to stone and nothing will ever change.
In light of the life ACORN organizers lead to think of Rathke and his brother living rich and happy while ACORN Live lives like this. ACORN Organizers MUST: Go door to door ALONE in the dark in high crime neighborhoods. Work 10 hours a day and 11-4 on Saturday with no overtime. Work 60 hours (sometimes more) a week for 25,000 a year. (That’s 8.68 an hour which is not a living wage anywhere in the Unitied States) Go door to door no matter the weather conditions (that includes lightning). Get two members a day in low income neighborhoods who have bank accounts and commit to give $10.00 a month regardless of income. Collect cash and carry it with them until the end of their workday. Get arrested when called upon to do so. BAIL themselves OUT! Shake down local businesses for money. Not carry personal protection. Even when sick go door to door alone no matter the neighborhood. Work while Sick. Work without overtime. Not organize a union. Manipulate members when necessary. Not complain about sexual harrassment. Allow themselves to be the subjects of homophobia, sexual oppression, and even racism by superiors. Lie to funders. Lie to members.Work with other organizers who are abusive and sexist. Abandon chapters when the members are too poor to raise large amounts of money. Do outsourced work for Unions at wages that are below union wages and living wages. Wait for their paychecks for months after they resign, quit, or are fired. Tolerate never getting reimbursed for personal expenses (mileage,cell phone,copies) Tolerate money for community organizing being placed into accounts set aside for political action. Allow their staff to be hired guns for whatever effort their supervisor determines important. Thanks for the memories Wade.
anonymous Says: July 19th, 2008 at 9:56 pm I totally agree. I currently work for ACORN, and have personally dealt with condescending attitudes towards me because of my age and the color of my skin. I feel sorry for those who work in the field, risking their lives for a paycheck. The organizers are looked upon as “low-skilled” and ignorant. Unless one has worked for (survived) ACORN for at least 10 years, they are treated with absolutely no respect. This has to stop. The management skills of some the superiors of the organization are absolutely incompetent. They are placed in these positions of power, not because of merit, but because they have allowed themselves to become members of the “cult.” The work atmosphere is very uncomfortable. One would think that after numerous lawsuits for incompetence of supervisors, that this would change. WRONG. Employees are still afraid to ask questions or say the “wrong thing” because of fear of being fired. It is funny how the #1 fan of unions is actually ANTI-UNION when it comes to their employees. The work dynamic of ACORN reminds me of a “Get Rich Quick” scheme: Organizers are trained and lied to, only to be placed into an office that is drowning in debt. Some have gotten lucky and become successful, while the remaining 98% remain hopeless, drained, and absolutely BROKE. Hopefully Bertha Lewis, the interim director, will turn this whole mess around. Community organizers and other ACORN workers deserve the workplace respect and LIVING WAGES THEY WORK SO HARD FOR OTHERS TO RECEIVE. It is a crying shame that ACORN was run with such hypocracy and disdain for the poor.
Hopefully, there are better days ahead for this organization. Although the management is questionable, there are still workers and volunteers who are dedicated to promoting TRUE SOCIAL JUSTICE in their communities. It is unfortunate that their work has been overshadowed by the ignorance of a small few. I encourage these workers to keep working and fighting for the issues they believe in. ACORN NEEDS MORE LIKE YOU TO SURVIVE. Although the Wade Rathke have given us all a chance and opportunity to earn a living working for what we believe in, his archaic (and demeaning) way of management is no longer tolerable. Transparency is the key for success in any company. Workers AND MEMBERS do not deserve to be kept in the dark about anything dealing with any issue affecting the organization. A CHANGE IS NEEDED AND THE TIME IS NOW TO DO SO. THANK YOU
mike howells Says: July 19th, 2008 at 11:54 pm The failure of the left intelligentsia in the United States to seriously address the glaring and longstanding contradictions that pit the so-called guiding principles of ACORN against the actually existing internal regime of the organization is, at least to me, very troubling. Having been active in New Orleans in the struggle for justice over the last twenty-five years I’ve reached the conclusion the good arising from ACORN’s best interventions is far outweighed by the bad arising from the organization’s Michael Milliken approach to community organizing. As far as the treatment of its “organizers” go ACORN has a long history in this city of exploiting them ruthlessly. ACORN New Orleans has subjected its workers to union busting, poverty wages and witch hunts. ACORN New Orleans almost certainly used its connection with former Mayor Marc Morial to sidetrack attempts by workers at City Hall to win union recognition in the late 1990s. And ACORN avoided the struggle to reopen public housing in post-Katrina New Orleans like the plague. The list goes on and on and on.
How can the left in America expect to build a mass movement powerful enough to turn the tide against neoliberalism while turning a blind eye to even the grossest abuses of power by what is arguably the most powerful “progressive” non-profit/grass roots organization in the United States? I direct this question specifically to Noam Chomsky, Frances Fox Piven and Mike Davis since these individuals occupy both a prominent position in America’s left intelligentsia and maintain a more than cordial relationship with ACORN’s longstanding leadership. Mike HowellsC3/Hands Off IbervilleNew Orleans, Louisian P.S. Isn’t it sad that activists affiliated with a supposedly progressive organization feel compelled to hide their identity when they criticize it.
John Brownz Says: July 21st, 2008 at 9:05 am Notice anything interesting about this? SEIU 100 in New Orleans1024 Elysian Fields Ave.New Orleans, LA 70117504-872-0480 ext 118504-617-6045 FAX Now here is the address for Citizens Consulting Inc:1024 Elysian Fields AveNew Orleans, LA , 70117-8402 Now Here is the address of ACORN National in New Orelans (Wadeâs office) ACORN National Louisiana1024 Elysian Fields Ave.New Orleans, LA email@example.comPhone: 504-943-0044 Iam 99% sure ACORN housing is at the same address in NOLA So OK there are corporate executives that donât have a deal this sweet.He got his union, his Non profit, his mortgage company, and his own private nonprofit run by his brother to slice some pie off in administrative and lobbying fees on every transaction. No foundations have a problem with this? My god. How many paychecks can one so-called organizer derive form one building. Seems like the only thing Wade has organized well is his own bank account. How can Wade throw up his hands 8 years ago and say âoh my god my little brother stole a million dollars rigth here in my own office, how could it be? Well for the best interest of the movement letâs cover it up ok everybody? And I will get everyone to pitch in and pay back our I mean his 1 million dollar debt.â If you were ewver around the New Orleans office for any length of time you would understand. Oh yeah anyone find it interesting that the ACORN office where NOLA members are welcome to hang and see what is going on is not at this address. Perfect crime! This is better than catch me if yo can
imACORNc? Says: July 23rd, 2008 at 1:56 am In defense of ACORN; It is easier to destroy than to create. So why bother improving the largest organization of low-income community groups when you can just trash talk it? Seriously, i’ve been an imc volunteer for like, seven years, and i’ve worked for ACORN for about half as long. neither is perfect, both suffer rad highs and painful lows. In my experience, there are some Head Organizers i would never want to work for, and there are others who deserve the title of “Organizer” and whatever amount of respect you deem worth of organizers. But guess what; the movement for human freedom in the united states is littered with assholes. that’s right, being anti-republican does not make you a decent person. and even decent people fuck up, sometimes…big time. Justice and Mercy have always been staring each other in the face and it’s never easy when you find someone in your own ranks who is operating against your principals. but i have yet to come across one “all-volunteer network”, one “activist group” or any other type of organization that hasn’t had this problem. The difference here is that ACORN pays people for their work. that somehow makes us inscrutable by the all-mighty standards of holier-than-thou activists. The high powered executives and government fucks who are running this world into the ground do not complain about 70 and 80 hour workweeks. hell, my ancestors worked just as many hours in the coal mines and even more hours to organize the miners. know who you’re up against here. the enemy is ruthless but we demand more leisure time… Just to be clear, Head Organizers are the people with bottom line responsibility for the office they are in. There’s something like 100 of them, maybe more. ACORN does not have a perfect batting record when it comes to hiring the 100 best people on planet Earth to fill those positions. Perhaps we need more navel-gazing before we go to work. My point is, it is very easy to have a horrible experience when working for ACORN if your H.O. is a dick. Ask IMC people if they enjoy everyone in the network, you’re going to find that assholes are everywhere. i know that bullet points get a lot of attention, so here’s a line by line response to “John Brownz”. (that’s not a little uh…self-aggrandizing?) my responses follow the dash… ACORN Organizers MUST: Go door to door ALONE in the dark in high crime neighborhoods. - we doorknock until about 8 pm most nights, sometimes it gets dark. i tell organizers to do what feels safe. we have plenty of work to do after dark. but this does get to one important point; organizers are no more or less safe than the PEOPLE LIVING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. think about it…living…alone…at night…in a high crime neighborhood…all night…by yourself…every day…because you’re poor…and america doesn’t give a shit about you. this cuts to the liberal-whiny-over-privileged-woe-is-me attitude a lot of kids come into the work with. maybe you should organize sharks or tarantulas or ice-burgs, something a little less dangerous. hey, i hear PETA is hiring! Work 10 hours a day and 11-4 on Saturday with no overtime. - minus one hour for lunch mon-friday and it’s actually 10-2 on Saturday = 49 hours/week, not… Work 60 hours (sometimes more) a week for 25,000 a year. (That’s 8.68 an hour which is not a living wage anywhere in the Unitied States) - salary starts at 26,500/year, with full medical (at no cost), paid sick, paid vacation and paid discretionary leave = 10.40/hr (living wage) with sweet benefits. (you know; figures don’t lie, but liars will figure) Go door to door no matter the weather conditions (that includes lightning). - kind of like the mailman huh? hey - maybe you should organize lightning, i bet that’s less scary than the poor part of town. Get two members a day in low income neighborhoods who have bank accounts and commit to give $10.00 a month regardless of income. - you know damn well no organizer actually does that every day, it’s called a “goal”, get one. Collect cash and carry it with them until the end of their workday. - we prefer not to carry cash, which is why our membership decided years ago to switch to a bank draft system for dues. Get arrested when called upon to do so. - NOT TRUE BAIL themselves OUT! - wtf? Shake down local businesses for money. - you can fund-raise, that’s great, but we are not the mafia. you can not “shake down” the local grocer. Not carry personal protection. - sorry, no guns at work…i thought that was a law or something?…. Even when sick go door to door alone no matter the neighborhood. - take your paid sick days Work while Sick. - again, that’s why you have them. come back when you’re not bringing down the office. Work without overtime. - yeah, i guess you didn’t know what “salaried” meant when you took the job Not organize a union. - this is a fun one. Organizing the organizers is redundant, that’s what activists do. (chill people, it’s a joke, an organizers joke but still…) Manipulate members when necessary. - wow, you were not good at this. If you can’t talk to ACORN members without feeling like you’re manipulating them, then i think it’s best for you to not do this work. just to be clear; it is NOT ok to manipulate anybody. Not complain about sexual harrassment. - expressly AGAINST ACORN POLICY. we fire people for sexual harassment. Allow themselves to be the subjects of homophobia, sexual oppression, and even racism by superiors. - your superior should be fired, you should have contacted their superior, it’s spelled out in the staff policy Lie to funders. - also not allowed Lie to members. - REALLY not allowed, i mean…what the hell were you doing? Work with other organizers who are abusive and sexist. - getting redundant… Abandon chapters when the members are too poor to raise large amounts of money. - Head Organizers are responsible for maintaining the momentum and finances of the local organization, sounds like you may have had a shitty one. for that, all of us at ACORN apologize. Do outsourced work for Unions at wages that are below union wages and living wages. - i don’t know where to start; a) you can say no to any project, b) this is not a policy of ACORN’s, c) union organizing has always been a god-awful experience, d) eh fuckit’ you just didn’t like this job, i didn’t like bar-tending…we all have our preferences. oh and e) i know a lot of union workers that don’t make 26,500/year. Wait for their paychecks for months after they resign, quit, or are fired. - yeah, i’m sure you were a basket of joy to work with and they just couldn’t trip themselves up fast enough to get that check to you. Tolerate never getting reimbursed for personal expenses (mileage,cell phone,copies) - that just shouldn’t happen. just don’t wait like, five fucking months before you submit your reimbursements, that shit piles up. Tolerate money for community organizing being placed into accounts set aside for political action. - that’s actually illegal, please contact your supervisors supervisor, APAC funds need to be kept separate from organizational dues. Allow their staff to be hired guns for whatever effort their supervisor determines important. - all “efforts” are determined by ACORN members. and yes, you are their hired gun. it’s called a “job”, that’s why you get paid. Thanks for the memories Wade. - i would like to see you build something better. i’ll give you a head start, how’s 38 years? we’ll see if you even get out of the sandbox. All in all, the people who want to see us fail enjoy seeing us struggle and fight. Nothing is perfect, life sucks so suck it up and get on with it. Hey, i heard there’s a bunch of people getting together to…. (oh, and because of the sensitive nature of the issue and the fact that i respect the IMC and ACORN very much, i’m choosing to exercise my right to speak anonymously. hope that’s ok with everyone.) peace.
Anonymous Says: July 23rd, 2008 at 6:46 pm I can honestly agree that there has been a sense of inequality amongst organizers up until recent years. I have been an organizer with ACORN for 3 years now and through whatever we have been through I can say I would not want to work anywhere else. I have organized for SEIU and other labor and community organizations. ACORN has the least of problems comparably. Thank you imACORNc for answering most of the issues posted. You complain about walking in dangerous neighborhoods alone? Come on. Honestly. So may be for a minute you understand what it’s like for our membership to walk home alone for just a minute. ACORN organizing is not for everyone. Not everyone can do it. But many of us can and have for years now. Yes, we work long hours, yes we get comparably lower wages, yes we have to work to fundraise for our office. Big deal! I hear so many complaints from staff from my office and other offices that they have to work for this and work for that. Come on people. So many people pick out every little bad thing from ACORN and never see it for what it has done an can do.
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 6:30 am Here is a link to a large number of angry African Americans in Kansas protesting over unpaid wages. Guess Koolaid drinker imACORNc thinks they all deserved. Including Josephine who had been with ACORN 9 years at the time? Is that it? You are such a sychophant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ6SrZODbHg To the Koolaid drinker imACORNc: So people who are hard to deal with in any way deserve to go unpaid? regardless of whether they have children or any other circumstance? Seriously? You know what I would hate you if I didn’t know how well you have been brain washed. Why has ACORN lost numerous cases in liberal states like Washington and California. If you know so much then you will know that: ACORN filed a lawsuit in California seeking to exempt itself from the state’s minimum wage of $4.25 per hour in 1995. ACORN alleged in its complaint that “its workers, if paid the minimum wage, will be less empathetic with ACORN’s low and moderate income constituency and will therefore be less effective advocates.” The court denied ACORN’s petition; the denial was sustained on appeal I mean how can you defend such bullshit. If we pay the minimum wage then our members won’t empathize with the orgasnizer?I got a better one. If the staff member working in a predominantly Latino, African American or poor community they will have less empathy with some white guy, with a college degree, who doesn’t seem to care if he gets paid or not and has nothing to lose (because it is obvious he can always go back to mom and dad), who looks at other staff from lower economic backgrounds as “not as committted as he” because he doesn’t have any kids to take care of. I know management staff have kids so don’t throw that shit out. Their schedule is more flexible and some of them drag their kids to national meetings (who pays for that) while organizers of color watch them play with their kids during meetings?That is so fair, isn’t it? You going ot deny that? You can’t it is true. Oh yeah, you telling me no one has ever waited for timely submitted expenses to be reimbursed? If you are are then you must be in one really cool office and I would have loved to work there. Why are HOs allowed to be dicks? Why does the ACORN management system allow that? Finally you got it all wrong if you think everyone who wants to see this shit fixed wants to see ACORN go down. It is just false. I would love to see ACORN live up to what it claims to be. That would be cool. Love to see evidence of some change. Are you saying because Wade was at ACORN 38 years that somehow that means ACORN is perfect has no improvements that it needs? Because if that is what you think then you are no such thing as a community organizer.
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 6:53 am So let us hear your analysis of this back and forth, pal. A writing by Wade belittling African American organziers followed by a condemnation by a pretty long list of African American SEIU organizers, allies, and even the former AFLCIO official and radical Bill Fletcher condemning Wade’s racist attitude towards others in the movement. So Mr. I been in three years are you going to call Bill Fletcher names? Fascinating article about ridiculous fight Rathke picked with New Orleans respected African American Activists.This gets wordy. This upsets me almost more than the embezzled money. In fact it does. To understand the background of this you must understand that CLU is the African American and allied organizations in NOLA that had a pretty militant protest against the city tearing down public housing with no intention of replacing it.The second article is the actual absued rant Rathke wote onhis blog www,chieforganizer.org. The third letter is a letter signed by many respectd African American and Cuacasian veteran organizers including the like of Bill Fletcher, representatives of the SNCC and SEIU reps condemning Rathkes racist and disruptive comments about what he must see as “competing” groups trying to help after Katrina. Rathke is basically trying ot say ACORN in is the only group in Louisiana that has a right to organize black folks. Remember Until last week ACORN’s management team has been all white (with brief exceptions) for 38 years. This is a very remarkable look into the mind of Rathke. I read all this and come away saying this ” Rahtke gets away with this?!@! and isn’t removed as vice president of SEIU local 100? How is that? They don’t condemn racism in SEIU? The fourth letter is signed by numerous reputable leaders in the civil rights and labor community condemneing Wade’s racist stance. A stance he later apologized for. Last I checked the apology was not accepted. This is kind of complicated for folks on the periphery. Understand this. Foundations were looking to Rathke to identlfy organizations with a capacity to organize in the aftermath of Katrina. He does here what he does best. Shit talk any other group that might be involved so ACORN gets all the funding. Here is a group that makes national news throwing down a militant action against public housing being destroyed AND NOT REPLACED and Rathke acts as if what they are doing is a personal insult to him! Obviously Wade didn’t live in those projects. Also understand this, Rathke has been set up with mulitple paychecks for years had his wife running the Louisinana operation and his brother running the for profit corporation Citizens Consulting INC that did all the accounting, lobbying (1.6 million just between 1998 and 2004 in lobbying alone), and also did the accounting for the massive project Vote, ACORN housing that rights mortgages, and any other operation they could throw in the mix. Rathke came from wealth and he figured out how to keep it that way. Anyway here is the stream in his own words and the response from the black community please distribute widely it is almost and probably is more disturbing than the embezzlement. White Labor Leader Wade Rathke Attacks Black-Led CLU/PHFWade Rathke is a seasoned organizer who helped found ACORN and SEIU Local 100 in the 1970s. He has remained strongly active in both groups and in a number of others. It is therefore all the more disturbing to see Rathke, a key player in building an organization that “pioneered multi- racial and multi-issue organizing,” make such an concerted and destructive attack on Community Labor United and its Black leader Curtis Muhammad. On Friday, on his blog, Chief Organizer, Rathke was unbelievably condescending. The most bizarre, and in some ways insulting, question I have been asked in the wake of Katrina is to identify groups to act as sponsor go betweens, just as if New Orleans was another foreign country like Iraq. It is insulting because whether we are talking about almost 10000 family members of ACORN in New Orleans or a couple of thousand members of Local 100 from the city – we have a base, it just doesn’t happen to be in New Orleans, since it is caught in the diaspora now. A good example is something called Community Labor United (CLU). This is a little bitty thing of maybe a dozen or two activists that has convened meetings off and on for years mostly on Saturdays for a while at Dillard and last I heard at the Treme Community Center. Mainly it is not labor but it has a couple of well intentioned AFT teachers that are personally involved and Curtis Muhammad, who ran a small local union for UNITE for a couple of years before he retired, was often in attendance. Mostly I didn’t recognize the few other folks there, but some may have been students or whatever. Curtis is a good guy, but good love him, he wouldn’t be able to really move any thing in New Orleans, because he doesn’t have the base, the weight, the contacts, or the history god love him. To the best of my knowledge CLU was semi-defunct in recent years and certainly never had a paid staff or any capacity. Back 5-6 years ago when it was trying to first get started, we used to send folks to some of the Saturday meetings because they wanted to support our work and act as a bridge to other communities, but over the last couple of years that has also petered out. But now a wave of water moves through New Orleans and I actually get inquires about whether or not CLU can help in some way. Huh? What? They are nice people and we count them as friends and allies, but are we talking about something real there? Of course not! Could they handle money? No reason to believe that. Do they have a base in New Orleans? No not whatsoever. Heck, I don’t know if they could organize a two car funeral if they were driving both cars. They have only convened forums in the past to talk about stuff. If that was needed, they could do that I suppose, but there are a lot of folks who can do that. What is truly bizarre about this attack is that the passing reference to Iraq is actually part of an extended conceit, in which Rathke compares CLU and Curtis Muhammad to Ahmad Chalabi. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had a candidate to front for the Iraqi people – Dr. Ahmad Chalabi. He had been running the Iraqi National Congress for many years from the United Kingdom. He had a degree from the University of Chicago. He was connected. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was not as certain and neither was the Army. Each in turn had their own ex-pat Iraqi leaders who they hoped would get traction once repatriated to home soil. Make no mistake though. When they were not in Iraqi, but working the world promoting schemes for liberation armies or business ventures or this or that, they had friends and sponsors based on the value that these men and their political formations served to their sponsors, not for the Iraqi people. They were tools in the hands of others. Watching the embarrassment of the Bush Administration when it was trying harder to install provisional and puppet fronts for the invading force, I would have thought we might have all learned lessons about making sure as an a priori in these matters that one should be very, very careful not to anoint someone from afar, who can not operate on the ground. Now in the middle of the post-Katrina shakeout, I can see that this is not the case. Progressives seem not to want to learn what the conservatives have taught us. We want to make sure we learn the lessons the hard way with our own embarrassment. In the wake of Katrina everyone and their brother seems to suddenly be interested in New Orleans and trying to figure out a way to insert themselves and their issues into the muck that remains of the city. Some of this is a good thing. Where it gets hairy is when people try to create representatives for the people for the purposes of the sponsors and the donor community, just like we have seen in Iraq. The obvious implication here is that CLU and Curtis Muhammad are not only corrupt, but pawns of the Bush administration. Complicating matters for Rathke is Naomi Klein, who has written positively of CLU in The Nation. Thus, in addition to his racist dismissal of Muhammad (”Curtis is a good guy, but good love him [sic], he wouldn’t be able to really move any thing in New Orleans”), Rathke takes a sexist swipe at Klein. How do Calabi’s happen? Just this way! CLU was somehow mentioned by Naomi Klein in a piece in the Nation. I have no idea what she knows about New Orleans, but I imagine she was grabbing something out of the hat. The article gets reprinted some places, and all of a sudden Chalabi is out and about in New Orleans. Naomi Klein isn’t from New Orleans, but she is a good investigative reporter, who went to New Orleans early in the disaster and did important work. The article Rathke alludes to certainly shows Klein to have done her homework about community organizations, political leaders, and business interests in NOLA. Further, organizers who support the interests of low-income people should be very interested in what Klein turned up about the housing situation in New Orleans. More to the point, however, CLU did not simply ride the wave of the fifteen minutes of fame that Klein afforded them. From the first weeks following the disaster, there was a steady stream of press releases and media appearances that indicated a broad political vision and ambitious and determined political organizing, which I was also hearing about through my own contacts among the Civil Right Movement veterans community, of which Muhammad is a well-known part. If Rathke has a legitimate argument with CLU about organizing tactics or a different political vision, that’s fine. He has not articulated anything concrete. Rather, he has engaged in the worst kind of baseless attack that plays on racial power dynamics and has the potential to be highly destructive to a grassroots people’s movement. I have more to say about the racism involved in Rathke’s attack and in some of the responses to it and to Curtis Muhammad’s response. But first I will post an important response to Rathke from a coalition of activists (next up). Below, in order, is Rathke’s attack, Curtis Muhammad’s response, and an open letter in support of Muhammad. Chalabi and KatrinaKuala Lumpur 41 days of exileWade Rathke Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had a candidate to front for the Iraqi people – Dr. Ahmad Chalabi. He had been running the Iraqi National Congress for many years from the United Kingdom. He had a degree from the University of Chicago. He was connected. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was not as certain and neither was the Army. Each in turn had their own ex-pat Iraqi leaders who they hoped would get traction once repatriated to home soil. Make no mistake though. When they were not in Iraqi, but working the world promoting schemes for liberation armies or business ventures or this or that, they had friends and sponsors based on the value that these men and their political formations served to their sponsors, not for the Iraqi people. They were tools in the hands of others. Watching the embarrassment of the Bush Administration when it was trying harder to install provisional and puppet fronts for the invading force, I would have thought we might have all learned lessons about making sure as an a priori in these matters that one should be very, very careful not to anoint someone from afar, who can not operate on the ground. Now in the middle of the post-Katrina shakeout, I can see that this is not the case. Progressives seem not to want to learn what the conservatives have taught us. We want to make sure we learn the lessons the hard way with our own embarrassment. In the wake of Katrina everyone and their brother seems to suddenly be interested in New Orleans and trying to figure out a way to insert themselves and their issues into the muck that remains of the city. Some of this is a good thing. Where it gets hairy is when people try to create representatives for the people for the purposes of the sponsors and the donor community, just like we have seen in Iraq. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin tried this strategy slightly with his recent appointments of a commission, but was simply the usual home cooking from the Poydras Street business crowd with their favorite front people and the usual gang of suspects, just a few bigger names. The most bizarre, and in some ways insulting, question I have been asked in the wake of Katrina is to identify groups to act as sponsor go betweens, just as if New Orleans was another foreign country like Iraq. It is insulting because whether we are talking about almost 10000 family members of ACORN in New Orleans or a couple of thousand members of Local 100 from the city – we have a base, it just doesn’t happen to be in New Orleans, since it is caught in the diaspora now. A good example is something called Community Labor United (CLU). This is a little bitty thing of maybe a dozen or two activists that has convened meetings off and on for years mostly on Saturdays for a while at Dillard and last I heard at the Treme Community Center. Mainly it is not labor but it has a couple of well intentioned AFT teachers that are personally involved and Curtis Muhammad, who ran a small local union for UNITE for a couple of years before he retired, was often in attendance. Mostly I didn’t recognize the few other folks there, but some may have been students or whatever. Curtis is a good guy, but good love him, he wouldn’t be able to really move any thing in New Orleans, because he doesn’t have the base, the weight, the contacts, or the history god love him. To the best of my knowledge CLU was semi-defunct in recent years and certainly never had a paid staff or any capacity. Back 5-6 years ago when it was trying to first get started, we used to send folks to some of the Saturday meetings because they wanted to support our work and act as a bridge to other communities, but over the last couple of years that has also petered out. But now a wave of water moves through New Orleans and I actually get inquires about whether or not CLU can help in some way. Huh? What? They are nice people and we count them as friends and allies, but are we talking about something real there? Of course not! Could they handle money? No reason to believe that. Do they have a base in New Orleans? No not whatsoever. Heck, I don’t know if they could organize a two car funeral if they were driving both cars. They have only convened forums in the past to talk about stuff. If that was needed, they could do that I suppose, but there are a lot of folks who can do that. How do Calabi’s happen? Just this way! CLU was somehow mentioned by Naomi Klein in a piece in the Nation. I have no idea what she knows about New Orleans, but I imagine she was grabbing something out of the hat. The article gets reprinted some places, and all of a sudden Chalabi is out and about in New Orleans. Habitat and Enterprise have had very small, precious operations around housing in New Orleans which are producing very, very few houses annually. Best believe they are everywhere now as if they could really do something in New Orleans. This is a President Bush prop up. But, a prop up is a prop up, and there will be a day of reckoning. People will move back to New Orleans. There will be a battle for the future of the city and people will not be able to be ignored or merely represented from afar. Their opinions will matter more than the opinion pages. Hopefully progressives will not be caught with Chalabi on their hands and learn one lesson from Rumsfeld about this phenomena. October 1, 2005 MY RESPONSE: (already sent to Wade Rathke and Andy Stern):Curtis Muhammad I read with great anger, the public statements made by Wade Rathke, a Vice President of SEIU, about me, Curtis Muhammad, and my work. I waited almost a week before sitting down to write this note. I waited to see if the largest labor union in the United States whose membership is more than fifty percent black and other people of color, would chastise this man for publishing statements which have the effect of a bombing of a church or a civil rights meeting, or the shooting of a civil rights worker during the heyday of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. I asked myself would SEIU and ACORN want to align itself with the sentiments and actions of a new Klu Klux Klan. I waited to see if a progressive organization or labor union or a civil rights organization or individual leaders would demand that this man be fired or held to account for such racist and slanderous statements. Does Wade Rathke believe that he has the right to appoint and anoint the leadership of black led organizations and coalitions the way that ACORN and SEIU choose their own leadership? While noting no response, I wondered what would have happened if he had made such derogatory and inflammatory remarks and comparisons about a Jewish or other white person or labor leader or Black person, who had won favor from the white liberal establishment of America. The truth is I have organized poor black folk for 45 years and I have always known that it was okay to do to, and say or say anything about poor blacks in the U.S, including murder them, and not expect to be punished or reprimanded especially if you are a white male. In fact, the leaders of this country have just tried to murder 150,000 poor back folk and succeeded with the death of about 2,000. Because Community Labor United was quickly able to bring together a broad coalition of grass roots organizations and get some national recognition and support for our work, Wade Rathke, ACORN, and SEIU attacked our character and belittled our work and compared me personally to Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi who provided the lies and misinformation about non-existent weapons of mass destruction that gave Bush the cover to invade Iraq. When one successfully attacks another’s character, that act is the equivalent to murder. What we have here is an arrogant white racist Vice President of SEIU, founder and leader of ACORN, to slander a Black man for his participation in trying to help organize the same poor black people who Bush, Blanco, Nagin and seemingly the whole leadership of the U.S. government left to die just because they are black and poor. These statements and actions are intended to dismantle the legitimate leadership of this new movement for self determination, but they will do the opposite. They will strengthen CLU and the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund because the people who’ve been abandoned, neglected, left to die… way before Katrina… are determined to lead in the struggle for their future and will NEVER again be compromised, stepped on or stepped over. Statements such as Wade Rathke’s only diminish him and his organization because they are unprincipled and reflect character decay. Mind you, this attack comes while SEIU and the other Change To Win unions are deciding whether to donate funds and organizers to support our work. Further, Andy Stern has allocated millions of dollars to fund a campaign to unionize the workers at Wal-Mart stores under the leadership of this very same racist arrogant white boy who spent millions of SEIU members’ dues money trying to organize hotel workers in New Orleans and never organized a single hotel! I’ll close with a little story: many people think the Klan stopped shooting us, burning our churches, bombing our offices and freedom houses because the government made them stop. The truth is the movement stopped the Klan, led by poor, black communities of people. Wade, Andy, ACORN and SEIU we invite you to a face to face meeting. We were taught to try and negotiate with the white power structure before we attacked. Please see chronology of work below. It ain’t personal; it’s business, Curtis MuhammadPeople’s Hurricane Relief Fund & Oversight Coalition (PHRF) Timeline: (August 20 ~ October 16, 2005)-Saturday, August 20, 2005: Community Labor United (CLU) has monthly breakfast forum at the Treme Community Center in New Orleans; ACORN presents current Living Wage Campaign -Monday, August 29, 2005: Hurricane Katrina occurs-CLU reaches out via phone calls and email to reach CLU activists-Conference call of available CLU activists-Thursday, September 1, 2005: CLU sends out Action Alert widely via email-Vanguard Public Foundation agrees to host PHRF account-Tuesday, September 8, 2005: Press Conference held in Houston, TX outside of Astrodome-Speaking engagements-Conference call of CLU activists- invitation extended widely-Website www.communitylaborunited.net established-Jackson, MS, Communication Center established-Tour of shelters along I-10 (from Jackson to Houston)-Saturday, September 10, 2005: Meeting held in Baton Rouge of CLU activists and supporting organizations- decision to become the PHRF and to establish workgroups-Legal, Education, Finance, Health Care, Media, Internal Organizing workgroups begin to meet via conference call -September 30 ~ October 2, 2005: PHRF retreat held at Penn Center in South Carolina- Interim Coordinating Committee established, more workgroups formed (Economic Justice, Reconstruction, Safety and Accountability, etc) -New Orleans, LA, Communication Center established, plans for reconstruction in New Orleans -Education Work Group Summit to take place -Begin to canvass major southern cities with large numbers of evacuees -1-800 number to be established
An Open Letter to the Labor Movement regarding Katrina Response from the movement: Brothers and Sisters, The crisis for the working class (whether employed or not, waged or not) continues to grow. Even as the nation, and especially the poor and Black working class of the Gulf states and New Orleans in particular, tries to pick up the pieces after Katrina’s (and Rita’s) devastation, the assault by capital and their partners in the government grows more intense — the suspension of Davis Bacon and OHSA safeguards, plans to defund the safety net to finance business interests in the reconstruction of the region, little thought to how those left behind will find a home in the reconstruction process and its outcome. The Democrats have failed to articulate a credible alternative to this plan or address this crisis in any significant way. It is also true that the flip side of disaster is opportunity. For the trade unions the moment presents a unique opportunity, not open since the sit-downs of the 1930s, to bring dignity, voice, a living wage and benefits in the form of unions to the masses left behind in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, particularly the poor and African Americans. It is a well-established fact That Blacks are the most pro-union force in the U.S. They have proven time and time again to be this country’s most dedicated fighters of oppression. But the trade union movement may not be able to take advantage of this opportunity unless it addresses issues not yet confronted in any meaningful way by the debate and programs of the two new federations. Now these issues have surfaced in the wake of Katrina, specifically in a piece by ACORN and SEIU leader Wade Rathke entitled “Chalabi and Katrina” (www.ChiefOrganizer.org, 3 October 2005) that disparages an organization, Community Labor United, and one of its principal organizers, Curtis Muhammad, with deep roots in the voter registration drives in Mississippi, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and for the last 20 years a part of the New Orleans community. Days after the hurricane and while struggling with their own displacement, CLU folks began to pull together what has become the People’s Hurricane and Relief Fund. Since then they have held two national meetings, the first on September 10th with participation from 49 different organizations, and the second, September 30th-October 1st, with more than 100 participants from prisoners’ and women’s rights groups, predominantly black cultural, faith-based, and educational groups, non-union worker organizations, community groups, legal scholars, and the ACLU. A Coordinating Committee, representing the breadth and community organizations throughout the Gulf Region as well as CLU’s own base, was chosen by the survivors, and working subcommittees and 6 regional communications centers (organizing offices) have been established. There has been widespread support for the PHRF both nationally and internationally. (For more, see the PHRF website: www.communitylaborunited.net.) With this background we want to examine the issues raised by “Chalabi and Katrina”: Confront racism within our movement. White leaders, even those whose membership base is predominantly Black and Latino, should be careful about making pronouncements about who is genuine and who has the requisite skills. Confronting racism means understanding that our culture and economic and political system is build on racialized capital and we operate within that context. Diversity should not be confused with power. If we are serious about bringing unions to the south (all those red states and their right-to-work laws), then we need to cede power to those very folks we seek to organize. The job of unions is to help give these forces additional information and resources they might not currently have so that they can chart their own future. This movement must be built democratically from the bottom up, engaging the base to develop tactics and strategies that speak to their constituencies’ own needs, culture, and history. The grassroots must control their own organization and movement. Remarks that belittle the work of grassroots activists of many years standing, organizing on a model based on experience among working-class and poor Blacks of the south that does not fit the union template, have no place in the labor movement. We have too much to learn from each other. Fund and collaborate, and be prepared to take leadership from indigenous Black (and Latino, Asian, and Native American) forces on the ground. Many of these forces prior to the hurricane were not organized in ways that the unions are. They do not have a large paid staff, or offices with all the trappings. But that does not mean that organizations like CLU are “little bitty” or insignificant or cannot “handle money” or could not “organize a two car funeral” (as Rathke puts it in “Chalabi and Katrina”). This disrespect fails to acknowledge, on one hand, that the base of the labor movement (and with it dues dollars) and that of the CLU are the same, and on the other hand, the severe obstacles, principally racism and the legacy of slavery, that on-the-ground folks face in the south. Networking and informal ties have protected and nourished their organizing long after efforts like Operation Dixie or the Civil Rights Movement have moved on or declared victory. Organizations like CLU demand our respect and support. Build a united front against the enemies of working people, employed or the unemployed poor. Our task is so huge that we can not afford to undercut each other with name-calling, patronizing statements, and inappropriate remarks. We must air differences in a principled way. Many of us work with ACORN in our cities and are on good terms with many organizers from that group. We cannot believe that such a provocative and destructive letter was circulated by Rathke to other ACORN leaders or reflects their views. We hope that people of good will in ACORN will give some signals to disassociate themselves from this divisive and chauvinist tactic. None of us has discovered the sure-fire way to organize or build a movement. Let’s not give our enemies more fire power than they already possess. The Cold War era purges of the labor movement should have taught us that. We exist at what one might describe as a “Katrina moment.” It is a moment of both reflection and action. It is a moment to better understand and unpack the issues of race and class that have become so obvious through this disaster. It is also a moment to challenge the prevailing neo-liberal economic theories that were partially to blame for the scope of the disaster and seem to be central to the discussion of the nature of reconstruction. It is also a moment for a mass response to the disaster, which means that this is not the time for any one organization to hold itself up as the central core or the provider of franchises. To put it in other terms, this may be a moment to lay the foundations for a rebirth of a labor movement that is in synch with other social forces that share our opposition to the steady slide toward barbarism. In solidarity, (In alphabetical order) Ajamu Baraka, Executive Director, US Human Rights Network Gene Bruskin, co-convener of USLAW* Kathy Engel, founding Executive Director MADRE, cultural and communications worker Ray Eurquhart, retired UE 150 volunteer organizer Bill Fletcher, Jr., President, TransAfrica Forum Badili Jones, member, SEIU Local 1985 Elly Leary, Vice President and Chief Negotiator, UAW 2324 (retired) Eric Mann, veteran of CORE, SDS, and UAW Marsha Steinberg, Field Representative/Organizer SEIU Local 660 Makani Themba-Nixon, Executive Director, The Praxis Project Jerry Tucker, former member, International Executive Board, UAW Steve Williams, Executive Director, People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER) Finally, to little IMCACORNC Wade isn’t the only organizer in America with 38 years in. Want examples?
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 7:10 am One last question?imACORNc How does it serve the best interest of ACORN for Rathke not to resign but get to stay on as Chief Organizer international? How does it help ACORN for the management team members that hid the embezzlement from the members not to step down? How does it help for Maude if as it seems she did know about the embezzlement not to allow new leadership to take over? Please I would love to see ACORN improve and survive this. Do you think the members at the ground level aren’t pissed about this? You will see. There is the easy way and the hard way to do this. The easy way is clean slate in regards to the embezzlement. The hard way? You figure it out.
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 7:28 am Oh yeah really the last thing. How do you feel about that the Mexican Government has found ACORN Guilty of labor violations. These aren’t White kids, these aren’t snot nosed whiners, these are unpaid Mexican ACORN workers who had backgrounds in organizing, I am sure you have something to say about claiming they deserved because they were hard to work with or that in your book these Mexicans are eltitist compared to your college educated caucasian revolutionary self. Note that has been posted by not some right winger or internal ACORN Flamer. This is from Claudia Elias, San Diego Maquiladora Worker Solidarity Network(619) 245-9227. I am sure in your book she is just another cowardly right winger out to destroy ACORN. Given the fact this org works against the mistreatment of Mexican Maquiladora Workers, I am sure you all knowing three year in white organizers can condemn them outright as counterrevolutionaries. haha You know what, jerk I know a black organizer that was with ACORN for 10 years that ACORN ripped off till he sued for his back wages and he won. Don’t give me your crap about “I bet you were a joy to work with”. A$$hole! BY THE WAY THIS CASE IS STILL PENDING AS ACORN HAS REFUSED TO PAY OR MAKE THE PROPER EFFORT TO ALLEVIATE THE SITUATION.Here is the website http://tijuanatales.wordpress.com/2008/04/15/help-the-struggle-of-the-former-workers-of-acorn-tijuana/ Here is the article.Help the struggle of the former workers of ACORN TijuanaApril 15, 2008 And another bit of info from my inbox: Monday, April 14 11:00AM in front of the offices of ACORN at Third Ave. Suite 102, Chula Vista CA 91911 The former workers of ACORN Tijuana and other organizations of Mexico and the United States are confronting ACORN over its practices against the rights of labor and the health of its Mexican workers. We demand: A. The payment of the official judgment given which was handed down by the Local Board of Conciliation and Arbitration the 6th of September of 2007 in favor of the organizers Lilia Leon and Maria Antonieta Robles for being fired without justification and for other amounts due them such as the payment of lost wages from the day of their firing to the day they are paid, all their due under Mexican labor law. B. The payment of 4 two week pay periods owed to Carmen Valadez as well as her medical costs in the IMSS for a week of hospitalization for diabetes in 2007 and the constitutional indemnification and other amounts owing for failure to comply with her labor contract for the reason that in the last two months of her work in ACORN they did not pay salaries due. In October 2007 Carmen Valadez renounced the labor relationship with ACORN because of the failure to pay her and the failure to provide medical and socialservices owed. C. We demand that ACORN stop its practices of violating the human and labor rights of its workers, of the health of its community organizers, women workers of ACORN in Tijuana, and of its workers in various cities throughout the United States in cities such as Saint Louis, Chicago, Seattle, and other places. Our demands are directed to the central office of ACORN in New Orleans, to Wade Rathke, founder and chief organizer of ACORN USA and International, Ercilia Sahores, International Organizer responsible for ACORN Mexico, and Suyapa Amador, principle organizer of ACORN Tijuana, and Maude Hurde, President of the Executive Council of ACORN in the USA. Endorsed by: Lilia León, Antonieta Robles y Carmen Valaldez Ex Trabajadoras de Acorn Tijuana in Struggle, Centro de Información para Trabajadoras y Trabajadores (CITTAC), Colectiva Feminista Binacional, La Otra Tijuana, San Diego Maquiladora Worker Solidarity Network Information: Claudia Elias, San Diego Maquiladora Worker Solidarity Network (619) 245-9227 firstname.lastname@example.org
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 7:36 am Former workers irked at ACORN Carmen Valadez made a name for herself as a social activist, at one time assisting factory workers with labor-related disputes. When the U.S.-based ACORN social justice organization opened a Tijuana office to work with some of the city’s poorer communities, Valadez and five local women with similar backgrounds seemed to be a perfect fit to work there. Former workers irked at nonprofit5 women say ACORN lags on pay, benefits By Anna Cearley, Staff WriterSan Diego Union-TribuneDecember 27, 2007 Carmen Valadez made a name for herself as a social activist, at one timeassisting factory workers with labor-related disputes. When the U.S.-based ACORN social justice organization opened a Tijuanaoffice to work with some of the city’s poorer communities, Valadez and fivelocal women with similar backgrounds seemed to be a perfect fit to workthere. Instead, most of them ended up challenging the Mexican branch of ACORN forfalling behind in salary payments and contributions to the state healthinsurance system. None of the original six team members is with theorganization anymore. ACORN officials say there was no deliberate attempt to shortchange thewomen. Ercilia Sahores, Latin American director for ACORN, said the lapse inmedical coverage was because of a delay by the Tijuana ACORN office innotifying the post office of a change of address. Sahores said the organization makes every effort to pay employees on time,but it is a nonprofit with limited funds. In some cases, she said, the womendid not perform at the expected level. “They weren’t providing the services required of them,” Sahores said. “Therewere certain work hours and goals, and, unfortunately, this didn’t takeplace, and it’s costly to keep workers who aren’t doing their jobs.” The women, most of whom started in 2005 with salaries of about $900 a month,said they worked hard and achieved results. Two of the former employees who said they were forced to leave said ACORNMexico failed to provide a severance payment equal to three months pay, asrequired by Mexican law when an employee is let go without cause. A statelabor commission ruled in favor of the women, though they say ACORN Mexicohasn’t paid them. Valadez’s case is pending. As part of her claim, she is trying to get ACORNMexico to pay the $4,400 bill she received after she was hospitalized for adiabetes-related problem during the time ACORN let its medical coveragelapse. Two other former employees’ cases, which involve pay issues, were eventuallyresolved through an agreement, Valadez said. It’s unclear whether the sixthemployee had a labor issue with ACORN Mexico. David Sepulveda, who represents ACORN Mexico, said the group is trying toresolve the pending cases but the organization doesn’t have enough money topay the women. He said the group started as a branch of U.S. ACORN, but it’s now legallyindependent. He said this limits the ability of the women to pursue actionoutside of Mexico. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, whichwas started during the 1970s, bills itself on its Web site as “the nation’slargest community organization of low-and moderate-income families, workingtogether for social justice and stronger communities.” However, thenonprofit has been criticized by some former employees in the United Statesfor what they described as problems with delayed paychecks and otherlabor-related issues. In 2004, ACORN started expanding its work to Peru, Argentina, the DominicanRepublic and Canada. Jill Sears, ACORN’s international developmentcoordinator, said she wasn’t familiar with the Tijuana case but believesACORN operates abroad in a professional way. Valadez and two other former workers interviewed for this story said theirjobs included getting residents to contribute $1 per month to support ACORN.In return, they worked with residents to pressure the government for morestreetlights, fencing and community centers. Valadez said the idea was to build a grass-roots association unadulteratedby the involvement of political parties that undertake similar projects inhopes of receiving votes. The women said they were eager to be part of the new project and hadestablished nine community committees despite heavy skepticism fromresidents. Raquel Herrera, 39, said the problems started in January 2006 when she wentto the doctor for treatment of what turned out to be a throat infection. Shewas told she would have to pay out of pocket because ACORN Mexico hadn’tkept its contributions to the state health system up to date. Several of the women who were later let go said they were told that theorganization was running out of money, but Valadez said that doesn’t releaseACORN Mexico from legal obligations to compensate workers. Latin American director Sahores, who is based in Argentina, said the Tijuanasituation was unusual. The original staff, including the local director, isbeing replaced and a new group of organizers is attempting to continue thework, she said. “This has been a very unfortunate case for us,” she said
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 7:41 am How many videos and court rulings against ACORN for violating poor workers of color rights do you have to see?Let’s not forget the WObllies even won a case against ACORN for back in Seattle? It is true maybe it hasn’t happened to you but don’t disrespect those it has hpaaened to. Get real
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 10:55 am Found some more stuff for you to explain the first is really good. And Wasn’t Mitch Klein one of the best HO’s. Why is he in the Baltimolre media making excuses for not PAYING HIS ORGANIZERS!! By Charles Rabin, The Miami Herald Knight Ridder/Tribune Business NewsNov. 17–Dozens of low-income workers who fought and helped win a battle to raise Florida’s minimum wage — but haven’t yet been paid for their work — turned a Miami campaign office upside down in anger, an agency official said.Elizabeth Andrades, who heads the Hialeah office of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), said a boisterous crowd took over the Miami office at 1380 W. Flagler St., on Monday. One woman carried a bat. The kitchenette was set on fire, she said. Do-Gooder BluesEx-Employees Expose Financial Problems at ACORN SANDRA STEWART WANTED TO BE PAID for the work she’d done. After graduating from Goucher College in May, Stewart followed a professor’s advice in obtaining a position, starting on May 22 as a $250-per-week intern at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a national social-justice group with a Maryland chapter based in Baltimore. On July 15 she wrote to City Paper, stating that she had left the job because “up until this morning it had been eight weeks exactly that I had not received any payment for my work.” That day she had received a $500 check from ACORN, she explained, but was still awaiting payment for the remaining six weeks of service.It turns out that Stewart wasn’t the only one looking for overdue payments from ACORN. At the time a City Paper inquiry began, the organization faced a Baltimore City tax-sale lien on its Charles Village property, a court judgment in Prince George’s County for failure to pay a landlord for rented office space, and complaints from several other ex-employees about paycheck problems. By ACORN’s own admission that it has been having trouble administering payments to many part-time voter-registration workers it recently hired.“I find it completely ironic that an organization that fights for social justice” has trouble paying its workers, Stewart wrote.Since arriving here in 1999, ACORN has organized efforts in Baltimore on several fronts, including downsizing the Baltimore City Council, supporting fair and safe housing for the poor, and pushing for a “living wage” for workers. Stewart’s complaint that ACORN wasn’t dealing fairly with its own employees, however, had not previously been brought to public attention. By July 21, several days after City Paper had first contacted ACORN about Stewart’s complaint, the ex-intern had been paid in full.At first, Stewart’s former bosses-ACORN director Mitchell Klein and Baltimore County coordinator Michelle Moore-blamed the situation on Stewart, saying she failed to submit necessary paperwork. But by July 21, they were accepting fault for not paying Stewart in a timely fashion: “What happened to Sandi was bad,” Klein says apologetically.After hearing of Stewart’s complaint, City Paper searched the courts to see if ACORN was having problems making other payments. It was.On June 22, a nearly $7,000 court judgment was entered against the group in favor of Bradco Realty, the owner of office space ACORN had been renting in Hyattsville.“They were not paying us,” explains Bradco principal Michael Weinberger. “And we got tired of writing letters and making phone calls. Nobody even answered the phone. So we turned it over to a local attorney.”On July 18, just as City PaperUapproached ACORN about the problem, the group paid the $7,000. Klein disputes Weinberger’s version of events, asserting that ACORN believed Bradco was overcharging them. “We lost,” Klein says. “And now we’re paying.”On June 30, another court action was filed against an ACORN affiliate, Baltimore Organizing and Support Center Inc. Short Line 2005 LLC filed a foreclosure lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court against the group, setting in motion a process that could have ended with Short Line 2005 owning ACORN’s building at 16 W. 25th St. Information obtained from the city’s Finance Department revealed that the support center had not paid real estate taxes, water bills, and other city-administered fees since it purchased the property in 2004. As a result, the city’s lien against the support center was sold at tax sale to Short Line 2005 in May 2005, and Short Line filed the suit in order to exercise its right to collect the money the center owed.“This is the first time I’m hearing about this,” Klein stated when asked about the lawsuit on July 19. Later, Maryland ACORN’s board chair, the Rev. Gloria Swieringa, thanked City Paper “for pointing out a tremendously erroneous situation that had not been brought to our attention.” The same day, ACORN cut a check for more than $18,000 to settle the matter.At first, Klein stated that the group’s failure to keep current on its taxes and other city bills was due to Hurricane Katrina’s disastrous impact last fall on ACORN’s national offices in New Orleans, where many of the state chapters’ finances are administered. However, after researching the matter, Klein learned that in fact the payments had not been made because the bills had been sent to the group’s old office at 825 Park Ave., Baltimore Organizing and Support Center’s address of record.After Stewart leveled her complaint about having a hard time getting paid by ACORN, three other ex-employees who recently left their jobs came forward, recalling similar problems. One, a former community organizer who claims ACORN still owes reimbursement money to him, asked to remain anonymous because the group requires workers to sign a statement that they won’t talk to the press. (Klein confirms that ACORN’s employees are to have “no contact with the media without specific prior approval from a supervisor.”) The ex-employee did not want to risk his anticipated repayment by being quoted by name in an article.“I did have to wait a number of weeks for my paycheck,” the ex-organizer says. “And I left because I decided I would no longer put up with their stuff. It seems to be a pretty routine thing.” He adds that “people have been getting angry with them for not getting paid.”“I had problems getting paid,” Zuri Barnes, 28, also claims. The former community organizer worked for ACORN for seven months, he says, and was owed money after he quit recently. (Klein asserts that Barnes did not properly submit paperwork to get paid.) “I eventually got paid after numerous phone calls and going in and confronting my former boss,” he recalls. “I’ve heard cases of people who are still waiting to get paid. It’s a major issue, and it all comes down to administration. And this is a group that does community organizing, and yet it is so disorganized.”Khary Williams, a 24-year-old former ACORN community organizer, echoes the complaints. “I got my money,” he says. “It was just very late. I left because I felt like I needed a job where, when it’s payday, I get paid.”Klein admits that ACORN “is not perfect,” adding that its payroll problems were exacerbated recently when the group ratcheted up its staff with a lot of part-time workers who are registering voters around the state.“People get paid regularly here, but there are paperwork problems, and it is not the best system in the world,” he says. “Obviously, we’re not trying to screw people over-we want people to get paid on time. But there are some problems. We try to do the best we can.”Klein, however, expresses surprise about complaints from former community organizers, because they filled salaried positions in a different pay class from the part-time voter-registration workers.“The voter-reg stuff, sure, we’ve had some problems there,” he says. “But I know that our community organizers get paid. Generally, our payroll does run on a regular basis. Maybe one or two days late, but that’s rare.”Asked if he believes the publicity about these problems will lead to more complaints to City Paper about payroll problems, Klein says it will.“I guarantee it,” he predicts. “Everyone’s going to complain. But there are a lot of people who like working for us.”
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 11:15 am imACORNc, We understand you been a big bad organzizer for what did you say? Oh Yeah Half of a whole seven years so we are going to let you slide on all that racist extremism you are spouting in defense of DUH Wrath of Rathke. But as you can see from the posts above. You are new school slick, simply new school. Maybe it will take you a little longer to figure out the truth or maybe you enjoy kicking around poor folks who need their paychecks and reimbursements TO FEED THEIR KIDS AND PAY THEIR BILLS! Maybe you didn’t hear the 9 year staff member of ACORN talk about how VR money was being used for Political IN THE VIDEO of UNPAID STAFF RAISING HELL ABOUT NOT GETTING PAID!!!! Maybe you didn’t see the ruling from the government of MEXICO against ACORN and in favor of 5 female ACORN ORGANIZERS who were f$$cked over. Maybe you didn’t see that. Maybe you didn’t see the umpteen times police were called in 2004 to throw pissed off unpaid workers out their respective ACORN offices. Maybe you didn’t see where ACORN offices were looted and lit on FIRE by angry workers. You little trust fund elitist. How amazing. When people say our jobs should reflect what we are fighting for. A Living Wage and a work day that doesn’t break someones back? You say “it smacks of elitism”. Pal, you don’t know me but I would love to show you what SMACKS of elitism. How many more examples do you need? You must work in ACORN Heaven. You must be John Kest’s Secretary or something with that how many milion dollar budget? We all want ACORN to grow up FROM THE GROUND UP, It has been run from WADE DOWN for 38 years. All you gotta do is talk to Maude for 5 minutes to tell that. It is a shame that so much potential could be shit away by snot nosed Dilettantes like you and the rest of your preppy socalled organizers. We would all love to see ACORN respect the other orgs around them and they will. Trust me they will.
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 11:38 am BY the Way ACORN is so Great let me ask you where is: John CrossKen McCoy Should I keep going with the list of people deemed at one time to be great organizers who have been fired? or pushed out? or just left disgusted? I can tell this the list will get longer. It is already a lot longer. 10-15 year vets have left recently and iff you know anything about organizing or ACORN you will admit that is true. We are compiling a list of Head Organizers that have left in the last three after doing great for ACORN at their jobs and got great results. Wonder what an interview with those folks would sound like. Tell ya what, you don’t seem to care about. There are a lot of folks out there that are holding back in hopes that ACORN reforms itself that have a ton of info that really don’t want to use it. That really want to see ACORN Change. After 38 years it would seem like a little change wouldn’t be that hard to pull off.Why do they hold back? You know after reading your post? Running out of reasons.
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 8:03 pm Notice: This guy has still failed to respond to anything about Wade Rathke’s culpability in the embezzlement of 1 million bucks. Question Mr “Half of 7 years” Organizer? IF ANY OTHER ACORN EMPLOYEE HAD STOLEN 1,000,000 BUCKS WOULD WADE HAVE BEEN WILLING TO COVER IT UP? ACORN HAS HAD EMPLOYEES INDICTED FOR CASHING EMPLOYEES CHECKS!!!!! You know good and well they would have done absolutely nothing to save anyone but Rathke’s brother from Jail! Also- Would any other non-profit with so much on the line let the brother of the director run the books? HELL NO!! Would any other org let the Directors wife be the Head Organizer of the New Orleans office? This is ACORN’s fatal flaw at this moment in time! The Director was allowed to insulate himself with his family at the top so that he could do whatever he wanted. If you think the members came up with that idea you are one sick KoolAid drinker. It is so transparent. You are so transparent. Anyone reading this might note. Everything that imACORNc put in his post was the exact way that I originally described as the Modus Operandi. Shit talk and belittle any critic. Any documented case of workers getting screwed is written off as “well you probably deserved it”. Really thanks for making the point. Also the standard line- a white guy imACORNc calls a person of color elitist for wanting safe work conditions and a healthy workload. This is exactly what these white racists in ACORN do constantly.It is amazing this punk doesn’t respond to why White staff retention is so low compared to African American and Latino. Amazing he doesn’t respond to the overwhelming white national mangement team that ACORN had the entire 38 years Wade ran it. You obviouisly haven’t read “Organizing the Movement The Roots and Growth of ACORN” by Gary DelGado. 9 year ACORN founding Latino organizer. Folks should read his book, He is a well respected organizer even today. His analysis showed a white bias in ACORN and it’s top down method of operation. Grassroots Organizing is bottom up. ACORN has always been from Wade down. Read DelGado’s book and see for yourself. He wasn’t a whiner, a right winger, or a disgruntled loser. He is a pre-eminent thinker in the field today. So keep on with your lies and we will keep booting up the truth.How an office is started: ACORN sends organizer into open office. Organizer does a drive and hires other organizers to do drives. None of the members of the office in question get to chose that organizer. That is decided somewhere else. How does a new state get organized? How about a new international office? ACORN invades a territory and then once the membership is recruited they are asked by a board carefully selected by the organizer through where the organizer decides to put the bulk of his or her time. The board is created after numerous chapters are created. It is only then that the organizer has to get a vote from the board agreeing to keep the organizer in charge. This can be done by as few as three people. The whole process can take as much as tow years although it is to take according to ACORN like 6 months?ACORN’s Organizing model is more like an invasive plant. It is not an organic process.
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 8:08 pm Ecxcuse me I stated something backwards in my last post. I wrote “It is amazing this punk doesn’t respond to why White staff retention is so low compared to African American and Latino. ”It should have read the opposite:It is amazing this punk doesn’t respond to why Latino and African American staff retention is so low compared to whites in an organization whose membership is predomianantly people of color.
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 9:15 pm So you said I didn’t have my facts. OK so you were right about one and only one thing ACORN raised it’s pay to a walloping 26,500. Whoopee. But check this out. Quotes from Rathke admitting that tehy forced people to sign contracts saying htey would work 80 hours a week. Still, Acorn is vulnerable to charges it doesn’t practice what it preaches. Its manual for minimum-wage campaigns says it intends “to push for as high a wage as possible.” But it doesn’t pay those wages. In 2004 Acorn won a $9.50 an hour minimum wage in Santa Fe, N.M., for example, but pays its organizers $25,000 a year for a required 54-hour week–$8.90 an hour. This year Acorn had workers in Missouri sign contracts saying they would be “working up to 80 hours over seven days of work.” Mr. Rathke says “We pay as much as we can. If people can get more elsewhere, we wish them well.” Now you say nothing about the issue of how we staff of color have been discriminated against by ACORN in promotions yet: Current and former Acorn employees say the problems in Kansas City and St. Louis are no accident. “There’s no quality control on purpose, no checks and balances,” says Nate Toler, currently head organizer of an Acorn campaign against Wal-Mart in Merced, Calif. In 2004 he worked on an Acorn voter drive in Missouri, and says Acorn statements aren’t to be taken at face value: “The internal motto is ‘We don’t care if it’s a lie, just so long as it stirs up the conversation.’” Mr. Toler expects to be attacked as a disgruntled employee, and that “I may have my head chopped off for telling the truth.” Indeed, he has this year filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint alleging that Acorn has consistently promoted whites to management positions over equally qualified blacks. But his allegations are backed by three former Acorn employees who have filed similar EEOC complaints. One of them, Sashanti Bryant of Detroit, Mich., was a community organizer for Acorn. She told me it has a problem paying employees on time and has almost no minorities in its upper echelons. Loretta Barton, until June of this year a lead Acorn organizer from Dayton, Ohio, and another EEOC complainant, told me that “all Acorn wanted from registration drives was results.” Ms. Barton alleges that when she and her co-workers asked about forming a union they were slapped down: “We were told if you get a union, you won’t have a job.” There is some history here: In 2003, the National Labor Relations Board ordered Acorn to rehire and pay restitution to three employees it had illegally fired for trying to organize a union. In response, Mr. Rathke says he is neutral on internal union-organizing efforts and that “when you’re dealing with thousands of employees a year you’ll have some who complain.” He also said the four complaints lodged with the EEOC had all been dismissed. When told that wasn’t the case, he said “there may be some loose ends to be tied up . . . I’m not going to impugn any of the people involved.” In the end you sound like some Walmart rep defending Walmart regardless of the facts. Now you go figure.
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 9:45 pm You see everybody? All these Mexicans and African Americans and the 100s of voter registration workers that went unpaid for long periods of time? They are all just Racist elitists compared to you the Joe Stalin of ACORN. If the troops say “were bleeding” ACORN says “Be Proud to give blood”. We aren’t talking about a handful of disgruntled people. We are talking about at least over a thousand VR workers across the country who protested at offices between 2004-2008. We aren’t talking about shitty organizers being the only ones that didn’t get paid. We are talking about people on staff up to 10 years who got screwed repeatedly. This goes all the way back to the beginning when 9 years after ACORN started Latino organizer that started with Wade at ACORN’s birth wrote an acclaimed book about ACORN’s failure to develop leadership of color. Not just paid leadership but the members as well. You just can’t handle the truth. I got a great idea on how ACORN restores some faith. Find a way to get Gary Gelgado to come back and restructure ACORN. This would show ACORN would be willing to go back to the early mistakes and begin correcting them. We all know that won’t happen because we have heard Wade and the way he talks about Gary as a traitor who hurt ACORN and screw him just like ACORN has done with every innovative thinker on staff. You white ACORN wonks who go along with every damn thing Wade says are the elitists and you know it.At this point, you are just defending yourselves because you are under attack!
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 10:05 pm By the way to anonymous and IMACORNC about “walking in the neighborhood alone maybe you see how the members feel? You assholes I grew up where our members live. It may make you feel all puffed and proud to be white and walk through a poor neighborhood. Other reputable orgs have the organizers in the street with the members onlyh because you look like ET walking through the hood by yourself. You are sent to organize by yourself to maximize profit and turf. Period. How do people in those neighborhoods organize? By Church, by gang, by culture. They see you alone and think you are a moron and that you have no power. That is why the majority of ACORN organizers never finish their drive.You think you know how organizing is done? You know how ACORN begging for money from poor people is done. You don’t know shit about organizing. What ACORN does now is just a little better than the PIRGS. It is better than the PIRGS but not much. Note this, how many times has anybody out there heard ACORN raise hell about Police Brutality? Almost never. It almost always trying to crack down on crime, get more police. ACORN has an unspoken national policy of steering organizers to steer their chapters away from that issue. Why? You tellin me no ACORN community was ever in need of protesting police? Here is a typical ACORN community that found itself confused when the issue came up and this from black folks from ACORN posting on Indy Media you RACIST!: Harrisburg activist abused by policeby Kimberly Wilder Sunday, Sep. 09, 2007 at 2:00 PM Activist Diane White was attending her local block party. A policeman arrived and questioned celebrants, who were behaving peacefully and had a permit for the event. The policeman pulledDiane White to the side, abused her, pepper-sprayed her, and handcuffed her. There is still no police report. Yet, Diane White was charged. Public Meeting on September 11th. Diane White: Police abuse and the media My name is Kimberly Wilder. I am a friend and colleague of Diane White. Diane White is an activist from Harrisburg, PA. She is also active in the Green Party. Recently, Diane helped organized a “Dismantling Racism” workshop at the Green Party Annual National Meeting in Reading, Pennsylvania. Diane White is also active in the Green Party’s national Black Caucus. And, she is a leader in her community, advocating and organizing on many levels. On September 1st, Diane White was attending an ACORN sponsored block party in Harrisburg. Despite the fact that the neighbors had a permit, and Diane was doing nothing wrong, Diane White was falsely arrested and hurt by a police officer. Unfortunately, when Diane and her supporters try to get the press to write about the situation, they can’t, because the press can’t confirm it happened, because there is no police report filed. Hopefully the activist community and the independent media can come through for Diane. I have some information and requests from her below. Also, Diane gave me some digital photos of her wounds. If anyone wants to publish the photos, or has a reporter that needs them, please contact me at: votewilder at yahoo dot com and I will try to arrange something. Latest e-mail from Diane White: Here are some photo from my digital. My back, my neck and my swollen ankle is the main source of pain. There are no pictures for that. Others have taken pictures, but I don’t have them. There has been no press coverage of this incident because there is no criminal complaint or police report in the system. As long as the event has not been documented the story cannot be substantiated by the media. However, I have been assured by the Chair of Public Safety, Patti Kim that she and other members of city council will get to the bottom of this. They cannot intervene in the courts, but they can call for an investigation and they have done so. We are planning to attend the city council meeting en masse on Tuesday, 9-11 to ask Council to put an end to Police Brutality/Terrorism in the Community. [For meeting information, go to: http://www.harrisburgcity.com] I have the support of the members of ACORN, however it is still up in the air about where the organizers are coming from. But ACORN is supposed to be run by its members and I have been assured by the members that they are with me. The politicians are playing politics as usual. Again thanks for your continued support. By the way, if any of you are journalist or writers please help me make some noise. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper or send out a press release call for an end to Police Brutality/Terrorism in OUR Communities and Drop the Charges related to the Illegal Arrest of Diane White! Peace, Blessings & One Love,Diane This is typical ACORN bullshit. Members are supposed to run the organization but when they really start to upset a predominantly Democratic city by protestiong the police? Can’t help ya. I am sure all these black folks are elitists as well.
John Brownz Says: July 24th, 2008 at 10:26 pm For anyone who cares? ACORN staff generally hate anrchists by the way if you didn’t know that. ACORN prefers to see their chapters brag about more police, more law enforcement, more crack downs on “thugs” etc… This is drummed in early by mangement, at least it was to me. Always told to try to get the members working on street lights, speed bumps, cleaning parks, and standing up against crime (whatever that means). It is always told to fight for easy victories that don’t upset the Democratic White leadership in a big city. When the members are wanting to take on big emergency issues, the management will give you a polite smile and say “what if you could get them to work for more street lights”. Or some stupid shit. I have personally heard that shit from National Management. Bottom line. ACORN’s finest so to speak. Another line. When possible organize homeowners and not renters. Quote from national management? “Renters move around to much and they don’t have any money”. How is that for standing up against injustice.
John Brownz Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. July 25th, 2008 at 5:59 am If I wanted to get nasty I could merge about 20 (actually 3 times more if I call a few people for their ACORN EMAIL lists and well? Then I could start merging about three thousand interorganizational contacts from Belgrade to Baton Rouge and then we can have some real fun! Bubba. WHy haven’t I?/We/You? Because we actually care about seeing something salvaged here. You screwed with the wrong bunch of hombres. You don’t think some people are smart enough to have a butt load of phone numbers they could start robocalling?Right now!Lose the Whimp,Fire the management team that rubber stamped Wade saving his litlle brother’s butt THis means EVERY BODY!!!Maude has got to go!Implement new policies to insure low income leadership of color rise to the top in ACORN Work your butts off to bring back some of the people who left in the past few years out of disgust who are committed to community organizing and I will take down every site and put up a very positive one about ACORN’s new commitment to empowering the people from the communities we organize to become the captqains of this ship. Ever seen Braveheart? You f**CKED MY LIFE I HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT MY Principleshe ACORN Headlines, I wanted to be fair and give this individual who politely bothered to write me at my blog to state his case and respond. Below is his letter and my response. Anonymous said…While I’m not clear on why you keep posting about all the negative stuff when the organization is clearly trying to move away from the Rathke era, I respect your desire to try to push ACORN to live up to its values. But I do want to point out one factual error in your headlines. Wade Rathke is not currently employed by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. He _is_ still the Chief Organizer of an entity called ACORN International, but that organization is separately incorporated. This is important because under the terms of that incorporation the original ACORN, the one he “resigned” from, has only one seat on its Board of Directors. The others are filled by ACORN International members from the various countries where AI operates: Canada, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, India. While the US representative would love to fire Wade, the other Board members have a different perspective and are reluctant to move in that direction. I think from the outside this looks like splitting hairs from the outside but from a legal stand point, the US ACORN members simply can’t fire Wade from his job at AI. However, because of the fact that from the outside it looks like Wade “resigned” but then got a promotion, there is a large faction of senior staff and a large faction of US ACORN leaders who want him gone from that position as well. That and the fact that they want him disassociated with anything called ACORN or a part of the ACORN family of organizations because of the scandal and his attempts to purge the organization of anyone who disagreed with him. I believe that a set of negotiations around his AI situation are on-going, but I don’t know the timetable for them or what demands are really on the table. I’m hoping that at some point you might cover some of the positive changes that are coming about as a result of the current transition, rather than posting news stories from two years ago, but I’m not really expecting it. But it would be useful to understand what a positive vision for the transformation of the organization would be from a radical perspective rather than a rehashing of past failings. Well, a boy can always dream, right? 8-) July 24, 2008 5:11 PM My responseJohn Brownz Said : To start off and for the record I busted my ass for ACORN, Hit every goal I was told to hit, my former employees hang out with me all the time and we still have a community of justice between us. I see the members I worked with on a regular basis. They are no longer members. Well actually i spent a big chunk of my life doing lots of positive things to advance the social justice movement and ACORN. I would love to pass on positive changes. I have nothing but respect for Bertha Lewis and I have nothing but respect and love for the field of community organizing. I’ve devoted my life to it. ACORN just about burned me out forever. Trust me if I wanted to post some negative things about ACORN I could. This an effort to avoid that.So, in response to your statement: International ACORN is not part of ACORN?You know and I know it is. Just as the AISJ is seperate from ACORN but it is an intrinsic part of ACORN’s funding and structure. Where did the start up capital come from?I know where it came from. They do not report at Head Organzer and Management meetings? Don’t they come the end year meetings? Why is that if they are a seperate Organization? Now this is a website I just went and what do you call this? http://www.acorn.org/index.php?id=2683 Now on this Acorn.org website I found this?International OfficesACORN International is building community organizations of low-income families, and partnering with grassroots organizations outside of the United States. ACORN International aims to strengthen democratic movements for social change, as well as build connections between community-based organizations across borders and cultures. ACORN International has offices in Argentina, Canada, Peru, and Mexico, and facilitates the India FDI Watch Campaign. We are establishing direct membership chapters in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Kenya, and Nigeria and are exploring partnerships with established membership-based organizations in Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea. > ACORN Argentina> ACORN Peru> ACORN Dominican Republic> ACORN Canada> ACORN Mexico Now what is that. I searched the site and found that. Now when I go to this site, the offices link? I find thishttp://www.acorn.org/index.php?id=2593Now on this site the US offices, the national, and the international! I don’t know if you know it or not but that is pissing alot of people off. Especially since this is linked as well: So Sorry, we aint buyin it. Also why am I able to reach Wade’s Chief Organizer page form the ACORN page? Either he is gone or not. If ACORN is a out control freight train that has already left the station. Then USA ACORN will sue them for all resources drained from our members and will demand they change their name! What I hear you saying is that Wade’s dream of a Walmart of Organizing is coming true on our sweat and dimes. Whether the members like it or not. Meanwhile people out here who continue to organize with no help from ACORN because we BELIEVE IN COMMUNITY ORGNANIZING are really getting tired of the daggers and razors in our backs. I am doing this because members who were busting their asses and meeting all goals had their office yanked out from under them because there weren’t any hot elections coming up. That isn’t organizing, Wade thinks it is, IT IS NOT! Wade and ACORN organize where they are preaching to the choir. They aren’t in the places where the real fight is. We can build a new organization in this country that respects the individual culture of organizing of each region. ACORN has stomped all over everyone in this country’s toes and they shouldn’t have stepped on mine. Because I delivered way more than my paycheck and because I am in till the end and I don’t give a F&&CK!I will devote the rest of my life to building true organizing, while ACORN farms you guys out as the outsourced migrant workers of whatever flavor of the day they are contracting. I have seen some awfully questionable farming out of ACORN workers and I have the paperwork from it. I haven’t broke with everything I have because I would really like to see ACORN take up the cause of: Well we will fill in these blanks soon Ever see Brave Heart? (Stupid ass movie) This is the scene where idiot Mel says’: I’ve to peck a fight” rides out tells the English to “ride back to England apologizing to every home along the way for hundreds of years of oppression BUTT before they leave they must bend over and kiss their own A$$e$. Ok that was dumb.Just tried to find an example someone from your culture would understand. Ok the bottom line is ACORN is sucking up all the air in the bell and starving alot of great efforts for social change along the way. It is got to stop. Things must change.
imACORNc? Says: July 26th, 2008 at 6:18 pm i do not have to defend other people’s fuck ups. you have an ax to grind, and you have a forum. you’re trying to take every flaw ever committed over the last 38 years by anyone working for or associated with ACORN and blame everyone who works for ACORN for it. that’s called guilt by association and i don’t play that game. oh, and i don’t have a college degree or a trust fund. there, i outed myself. it’s a new day at the ‘corn, we’re shifting gears and moving forward. i’m sure that indymedia will be there to document it all. it’s strange to think that in the 10 years i’ve been politically active i’ve been able to help the worlds’ largest all-volunteer media network come into being, grow a real anti-poverty organization in my city and now possibly see the election of the first African-American President in our nations’ history. there’s far to much ahead to let some screw-wad who fucked up payroll 5 years ago take the wind out of our sails. sorry i didn’t have time to read all your rants, i’m kind of busy.
John Brownz Says: July 27th, 2008 at 7:02 am I never fucked up payroll but it looks like your buddy Mitch, and Wade, and Helene, and Zach, and Patrick, and etc…I know you can’t respond because you are defacto saying it is true.You never responded to the white concentration of upper level management, nor the constant missed payrolls nationwide.Not 5 years ago but in 2006, and 2004, and 2000. You are just a newby who knows nothing of organizing.As if YOU built ACORN! HA. You said you been around 3 abnd a half years, such a Koolaid drinking cult member.You might notice payroll was fucked up in Tijuana last year, not five years ago.You never responded to the question: Would ACORN have ever protected anyone else from embezzlement charges, besides Dale?You don’t respond to Mitch Klein one ACORN’s oldest and best HO’s having facked up payroll. Not because of Mitch, Mitch is great. No it was because of CCI and ACORN’s fucked up structure.You really just can’t respond because you know Bill Fletcher (respected former officer of AFLCIO, author, and African American radical has patently condemned Stalin, Oh I am sorry I meant Rathke.You can’t respond because Mitch told the media himself that ACORN’s system fucked up. I know Mitch.Mitch didn’t fuck up. ACORN national fucked up. O h and we are so impressed white boy took a break from college to hobnob with the masses. You such a bad ass. Let us see.Tijuana- One year agoSt Louis-2006Baltimore-2006Miami-2004Colorado Springs? Dude I could go on and on with the payroll screw ups from the last 4 years. We don’t know what crack you been smoking but you need to take your head outta your A$$.Bet you money Obama aint saying shit to ACORN before the election. Wade fucked that up. Tht doesn’t bother you. We are where we are in spite of ACORN not because of it.
John Brownz Says: July 27th, 2008 at 7:03 am ACORN HEADLINES July 27th 2008 Rathke CHIEF ORGANIZER OF THE WORLD, Untouchable Unless indicted US ACORN WANTS RATHKE GONE, IN USUAL STYLE RATHKE STRUCTURES INTERNATIONAL ACORN SO HE CAN’T BE REMOVED! MEMBERS WANT REFORM OF ACORN, RATHKE HARDLINERS DUG IN LIKE THE TALIBAN FORMER HO’s BANDING TOGETHER TO BRING NEW LIGHT TO ACORN ACORN GET’S 7.8 MILLION TO SQUANDER AWAY ON HOME FORECLOSURES WHILE PROBLEMS ARE NOT FIXED!! SEXUAL HARASSMENT RAMPANT AT ACORN FOR DECADES, STAFF TOLD TO SHUT UP OR LEAVE Rathke Chief Organizer of the WORLD!!!! SO as has been laid bare by recent insiders from ACORN and based on what we have known for sometime: Rathke has been laying his plan to leave ACORN for 8 years. Now we all understand his obsession with building ACORN INTERNATIONAL. AI is set up with a seperate board outsid US boundaries. AI has offices in countries with no extradition treaties to the USA. THINK ABOUT IT ACORN NUT HEADS. Wade up in front of the room with his little slide shows and everyone sitting there thinking “our offices are struggling here why is he expanding. Wade can move to India or Argentina with impunity and run WORLD ACORN the WALMART OF ORGANIZING. Meanwhile back at the ranch members are pissed and many staff are more pissed. WADE IS EATING LAMB VINDALOO AT THE TAJ ! Dale is carrying his bags and setting up an accounting firm.Helene is browbeating some poor organizer in LIMA and telling her if she doesn’t get her numbers up they will have to close the TIKI hut office they built from scratch because the price on thatch has gone up. Then Wade will be beamed by satellite to the Annual ACORN Year End Year Beginning Meeting With a Yak carrying his laptop and Sat phone into Hindu Kush where he is positioning himself to make an organizing deal with the Taliban on the Paskistan Afghan border. He is pretty sure he form an alliance with OBL to buy the Taliban. Thus bringing about world peace and gaining a rise in pay for Sherpas working on Everest. Wade Rathke is thought to be the father of the organizing technique of just buying up every union and organzation in the world and changing it’s name to ACORN. Rathke Hardliners Dug Into Caves in Arkansas like Taliban refusing to give up control! Refusing to give up control of ACORN Rathke’s innner circle have holed up in a cave in Arkansas intent on waiting out any possible decision to move forward. ACORN USA in an effort to lure them into the open left a stack of bankdrafts from uppermiddleclass communities with checks stapled to them hanging in trees outside the caves. The hardliners refused to come out though in a rare display of common sense they are hoping that a hurricane as big as Katrina will hit New Orleans and people will forget the current conflict in the chaos. Then they will come back in to scrub streets abandoned by residents in an effort to scarf up some juicy federal grants. Former ACORN HO’s Banding Together: Email lists, phone lists, mailing lists, funder contacts, International network of contacts, allied orgs pissed about the way they were treated.More coming. Lawsuits
John Brownz Says: July 27th, 2008 at 8:30 am Hey imACORNc, you said: ” I do not have to defend other people’s fuck ups. you have an ax to grind, and you have a forum. you’re trying to take every flaw ever committed over the last 38 years by anyone working for or associated with ACORN and blame everyone who works for ACORN for it. that’s called guilt by association and i don’t play that game. ” My response?: You started this whole conversation defending other people’s fuck ups? You remember 38 years yatayatayata? You are just coming to grips with the fact that you are living a lie.Excuse me pal, my ax is everyone’s ax it is the people’s ax to grind, because Wade Rathke, Zach, and the whole gang ripped off and lied to the people, the members, the organizers etc…Wake up chitlins for brains.I got one response to ya. Can you say Gary DelGado! One of the founding organizers with ACORN 9 years who wrote an acclaimed book that basically said everything that was happening then is is happening now?That’s right you are a racist you don’t care what a Latino who has been organizing as long as Wade with just as much acclaim says. YOu are tooo revolutionary for that. Child
John Brownz Says: July 27th, 2008 at 8:34 am Oh I get it you don’t think it is a fuck up to steal 1,000,000 from a people’s organzation!
John Brownz Says: July 27th, 2008 at 8:52 am All the sudden it’s “in the ten years I’ve been an abtivist”. You sound like the kid at the keg party who pretends he has been drinking fo ryears so people will think he can hold his liquor. Grow up.
A whistle-blower forced Acorn to disclose the embezzlement, which involved the brother of the organization’s founder, Wade Rathke.The brother, Dale Rathke, embezzled nearly $1 million from Acorn and affiliated charitable organizations in 1999 and 2000, Acorn officials said, but a small group of executives decided to keep the information from almost all of the group’s board members and not to alert law enforcement.Dale Rathke remained on Acorn’s payroll until a month ago, when disclosure of his theft by foundations and other donors forced the organization to dismiss him.“We thought it best at the time to protect the organization, as well as to get the funds back into the organization, to deal with it in-house,” said Maude Hurd, president of Acorn. “It was a judgment call at the time, and looking back, people can agree or disagree with it, but we did what we thought was right.”The amount Dale Rathke embezzled, $948,607.50, was carried as a loan on the books of Citizens Consulting Inc., which provides bookkeeping, accounting and other financial management services to Acorn and many of its affiliated entities.Wade Rathke said the organization had signed a restitution agreement with his brother in which his family agreed to repay the amount embezzled in exchange for confidentiality.Wade Rathke stepped down as Acorn’s chief organizer on June 2, the same day his brother left, but he remains chief organizer for Acorn International L.L.C.He said the decision to keep the matter secret was not made to protect his brother but because word of the embezzlement would have put a “weapon” into the hands of enemies of Acorn, a liberal group that is a frequent target of conservatives who object to its often strident advocacy on behalf of low- and moderate-income families and workers.Wade Rathke said he learned of the problem when an employee of Citizens Consulting alerted him about suspicious credit card transactions.
ACORN Organizers, Former Organizers, Funders, Allies wonder wht the future will be if Wade Rathke is to continue as Chief Organizer of ACORN International.
These are not the first concerns from within ACORN or the left over the questionable management and organizing methods of Wade Rathke former Chief Organizer of ACORN USA.
RATHKE REMAINS ON ACORN STAFF AFTER PRETENSE OF STEPPING DOWN
4 ACORN MINORITY STAFF FILE EEOC DISCRIMINATION CHARGES AGAINST ACORN
ACORN FOUNDER STEPS DOWN AFTER HE COVERS UP THEFT OF 1,000,000 USD BY HIS BROTHER!
Tijuana MEXICO ACORN WORKERS RIPPED SAY THEY WERE TREATED LIKE SWEAT SHOP ORGANIZERS
ACORN COMMUNITY IN COLORADO SPRINGS SAYS THE ORG STILL TAKES MONEY FROM THEIR ACCOUNTS EVEN THOUGH ACORN IS LONG GONE
Unpaid ACORN Workers in Miami Set Fire To Office
On Wade's ongoing role in ACORN:
Now on this Acorn.org website I found this?International OfficesACORN International is building community organizations of low-income families, and partnering with grassroots organizations outside of the United States. ACORN International aims to strengthen democratic movements for social change, as well as build connections between community-based organizations across borders and cultures.ACORN International has offices in Argentina, Canada, Peru, and Mexico, and facilitates the India FDI Watch Campaign. We are establishing direct membership chapters in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Kenya, and Nigeria and are exploring partnerships with established membership-based organizations in Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea.> ACORN Argentina > ACORN Peru > ACORN Dominican Republic > ACORN Canada > ACORN MexicoNow what is that. I searched the site and found that.Now when I go to this site, the offices link? I find thishttp://www.acorn.org/index.php?id=2593Now on this site the US offices, the national, and the international! I don't know if you know it or not but that is pissing alot of people off. Especially since this is linked as well:So Sorry, we aint buyin it. Also why am I able to reach Wade's Chief Organizer page form the ACORN page?Either he is gone or not. If ACORN is a out control freight train that has already left the station. Then USA ACORN will sue them for all resources drained from our members and will demand they change their name!What I hear you saying is that Wade's dream of a Walmart of Organizing is coming true on our sweat and dimes. Whether the members like it or not.Meanwhile people out here who continue to organize with no help from ACORN because we BELIEVE IN COMMUNITY ORGNANIZING are really getting tired of the daggers and razors in our backs.I am doing this because members who were busting their asses and meeting all goals had their office yanked out from under them because there weren't any hot elections coming up. That isn't organizing, Wade thinks it is, IT IS NOT!Wade and ACORN organize where they are preaching to the choir. They aren't in the places where the real fight is. We can build a new organization in this country that respects the individual culture of organizing of each region. ACORN has stomped all over everyone in this country's toes and they shouldn't have stepped on mine. Because I delivered way more than my paycheck and because I am in till the end and I don't give a F&&CK!I will devote the rest of my life to building true organizing, while ACORN farms you guys out as the outsourced migrant workers of whatever flavor of the day they are contracting. I have seen some awfully questionable farming out of ACORN workers and I have the paperwork from it. I haven't broke with everything I have because I would really like to see ACORN take up the cause of:Well we will fill in these blanks soon: