Old Posts


This page contains static posts from the old libertychick.com website.  If you had linked to something and it no longer appears here, contact me for a reprint.


Want to Stop Sweetheart Deals for Corrupt Union Bosses? Stop Supporting Their Employers.

January 14, 2010

Are you outraged that corrupt union bosses just got a  sweetheart deal and will now be the only ones (aside from the Amish) to be exempt from this “Cadillac” health plan tax?  I am.

I’m also sick and tired of corrupt union bosses cutting special deals with this President, and using Congress to pass new laws that will control every facet of our lives just to serve their own selfish desires and increase their union memberships.  Even their own rank and file union members can’t stand it anymore.

We’ve called, we’ve written, we’ve faxed, we’ve marched on Washington. We’ve done it all and to no avail.  The labor union corruption and abuse only gets worse – in fact, it’s the worst this country has ever seen.  The money they’ve sucked from the taxpayers and from their own union members and spent on lobbying even rivals that of the banks and insurance companies they are so fond of attacking.  What’s left to do?

Well, I took a step today.  I decided that I want nothing to do with any company that actually negotiates collective bargaining agreements with these corrupt union bosses.  If it’s a company that employs workers from any of these notoriously corrupt unions, they won’t get my business.  And if it’s one that I am forced to keep due to local monopolies (i.e. utility or gas company) or the fact that they’re a public entity (i.e. a hospital), then I will make sure those institutions hear from their many displeased taxpaying residents and consumers.

Just as corrupt union bosses will shakedown companies that are not union shops, why can’t consumers do the same to put pressure on those companies that ARE corrupt union shops?  If we don’t want these criminals taking over whatever remains of our shambles of an economy, we’re going to need to do it ourselves.   Congress and the White House have prostituted themselves out to these pimp union bosses and it’s all gone too far for them to turn back now.

So go ahead. Take charge of it yourself.  Check out this partial list of the companies (including government and other public sector employers) with labor union collective bargaining agreements registered with the Department of Labor.  Look for those that employ the biggest union offenders, like SEIU, and the others in Andy Stern and Anna Burger’s Change to Win labor coalition.  Then tell them you don’t appreciate their support for the same corrupt unions bosses who are taking our hard earned dollars from us and redistributing it to others, while they also get off tax-free with their Cadillac health care plans.

I started by not renewing my Verizon account (sorry to my brother in law…).  And instead of food shopping at my local Change to Win supported A&P, I shopped at a different supermarket. One whose workers’ union doesn’t abuse its members’ union dues to purchase Congressional votes.  One that doesn’t swindle the American people and make a mockery of our political system.   Wherever I can, I’ll make that conscious choice now.  And I feel better already.  Perhaps we should all combine forces and do it – including you union members who yourselves are tired of the abuse and corruption. That might be the only thing strong enough to actually change anything.

Download the complete list of collective bargaining agreements in PDF

View the list online at the Department of Labor website


November 8, 2009

Health Care Trifecta: Pelosi, Joseph Cao & the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

trifecta

The mish-mash politics of US Conference of Catholic Bishops (its President, Francis E. George, shown here), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Louisiana Congressman Anh Joseph Cao. (from three separate photos...)

Late Saturday evening, the house passed the health care bill, H.R. 3962 in a tight vote of 220-215, with one lone Republican – Congressman Anh Joseph Cao (R-LA) – voting with Democrats to give them one of the two votes they needed to keep it on the Yea side.

In viewing the detailed list of all of the recorded votes, while there were a total of 219 Democrats who voted for the bill, 39 Democrats voted against the bill.  The outcome of the vote itself was not all that unexpected, though there were a few interesting details about the events that lead up to the outcome.

The Abortion Factor:  Pelosi, Cao and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Ironically, it was the vote on the Pitts-Stupak amendment just prior to the health care bill’s vote that shifted the final outcome.  In August, it had been voted down in the House Energy and Commerce committee. But the amendment was resurrected as the compromise of speaker Nancy Pelosi and the more liberal pro-choice Democrats  in the House, who reluctantly put it on the table as a last minute bargaining chip in securing the votes of more conservative pro-life Blue Dog Democrats, who had planned on voting against the health care bill.  Speaker Pelosi secured a late critical endorsement on Saturday from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which signed off on endorsing the health care bill only upon condition that the Stupak amendment be included to ensure that no federal money would be used to cover abortions, and that insurance companies participating in the public exchange would be barred from covering abortions.

Had the amendment not been offered at the last minute through the strategic positioning between the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Speaker Pelosi, most, if not all of those pro-life Democrats had indicated they would oppose H.R. 3962, and the bill would not have passed in the House.

But perhaps most interesting was the only Republican to vote FOR the health care bill. That Republican was Congressman Anh Joseph Cao, of Louisiana.  Cao replaced former representative William Jefferson, who in August of 2009 was convicted of 11 of 16 corruption charges against him, after more than $90,000 was discovered in his freezer during a raid on his home and office.

What makes Cao’s vote so interesting is that Cao sits on the National Advisory Council to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in Nancy Pelosi’s office for that discussion.  Pelosi got her health care vote, the Conference of Catholic Bishops got their abortion amendment…what shall we conclude Mr. Cao may have gotten out of the arrangement?


During the statements preceding the vote on the House floor, Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) offered some particularly powerful comments:

Watch him on video. The last few sentences are the most powerful.


Democrats who voted against the Health Care bill:

No NJ-3 Adler, John [D]
No PA-4 Altmire, Jason [D]
No WA-3 Baird, Brian [D]
No GA-12 Barrow, John [D]
No OH-16 Boccieri, John [D]
No OK-2 Boren, Dan [D]
No VA-9 Boucher, Frederick [D]
No FL-2 Boyd, Allen [D]
No AL-2 Bright, Bobby [D]
No KY-6 Chandler, Ben [D]
No MS-1 Childers, Travis [D]
No AL-7 Davis, Artur [D]
No TN-4 Davis, Lincoln [D]
No TX-17 Edwards, Thomas [D]
No TN-6 Gordon, Barton [D]
No AL-5 Griffith, Parker [D]
No SD-0 Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie [D]
No PA-17 Holden, Tim [D]
No NC-8 Kissell, Larry [D]
No FL-24 Kosmas, Suzanne [D]
No MD-1 Kratovil, Frank [D]
No OH-10 Kucinich, Dennis [D]
No CO-4 Markey, Betsy [D]
No GA-8 Marshall, James [D]
No NY-29 Massa, Eric [D]
No UT-2 Matheson, Jim [D]
No NC-7 McIntyre, Mike [D]
No NY-13 McMahon, Michael [D]
No LA-3 Melancon, Charles [D]
No ID-1 Minnick, Walter [D]
No NY-20 Murphy, Scott [D]
No VA-2 Nye, Glenn [D]
No MN-7 Peterson, Collin [D]
No AR-4 Ross, Mike [D]
No NC-11 Shuler, Heath [D]
No MO-4 Skelton, Ike [D]
No TN-8 Tanner, John [D]
No MS-4 Taylor, Gene [D]
No NM-2 Teague, Harry [D]

November 6, 2009

A Lesson of Hypocrisy and Hitler

Robert GibbsToday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs pulled one of his usual Rules for Radicals tactics and once again tried to paint peaceful protestors of the government-run health care proposal as disturbed, hateful, unpatriotic citizens.  Comically, he then went on to answer a question:

“I will continue to say what I’ve said before. You hear in this debate, you hear analogies, you hear references to, you see pictures about and depictions of individuals that are truly stunning, and you hear it all the time. People — imagine five years ago somebody comparing health care reform to 9/11. Imagine just a few years ago had somebody walked around with images of Hitler. Hopefully we can get back to a discussion about the issues that are important in this country that we can do so without being personally disagreeable and set up comparisons to things that were so insidious in our history that anybody in any profession or walk of life would be well advised to compare nothing to those atrocities.”

bush_hitler_propaganda

Hat Tip to http://www.black-and-right.com for finding this one

You’re kidding, right?  Where have this man and his Chicago henchmen been for the last eight years?  No, they weren’t oblivious to all the Bush Hitler analogies.  Because it’s people from their own party and their labor unions and their community organizing groups and all their little progressive bloggers that were behind all those analogies.  Hey, I’m all for leaving those images for the atrocities that they truly represent.  That’s the respectful thing to do.  So, why won’t the left leave it out of every one of their discussions then?

For those on the left who continue to dramatize these tea party protesters as “terrifying” and “frightening” extremists, for those who insist that there has never been such disrespect for a president of the US, don’t be ridiculous.  The imagery and the words of hate from the angry left are far more insidious than anything the tea party folks could ever muster up.  And the American people are not so stupid to believe a statement like yours Mr. Gibbs.  I mean, it was only less than a year ago when we were still enduring eight years’ worth of these.  Just imagine if these had been Obama’s name or photos used in the signs and slogans…ah, but you and your friends and the lamestream media were silent about it when it wasn’t Obama – in fact, they even publicly praised such signs:

Codepink+Demonstrates+Support+Journalist+Threw+ia3z1tOhqX3l

Code Pink Demonstration in Support of Shoe Throwing Journalist, Dec 2008

m22nz2.jpgmid

Hollywood Protest, March 2003

m22nz1.jpgmid

Hollywood Protest, March 2003

bush-nazi

Bush Protester

Bush_Protest

Bush Protester

wanted

2004 protest

Liars

Jan 2006 Protest, Gay Liberation Network

anti-bush-protest-march-new-york-city

Demonstrators against George W. Bush in New York City, March 2003

bush-war-criminal

Bush Protests, Inauguration Day 2005

bush_protest nazi

Bush Protest Sign

bushprotest

Bush Protest Sign. (I mean, seriously...can you imagine if "Bush" were replaced with "Obama"? The outrage would never end.)

bush20italy20protest

Some Bush Protesters. Now THIS is disturbing, not little old ladies holding American flags.

bush protest fu

Bush Protest Sign. Classy.


November 2, 2009

Daggett Robocalls and Democratic Funding Gets Creepier with Victory 2009 Volunteer Campaign

We’ve all be talking about this for weeks now.  Rumors that labor unions like SEIU are purposely throwing money and support to Chris Daggett in an effort to siphon away votes from Republican challenger Chris Christie to help secure a Democratic win for the re-election of Jon Corzine. Then rumors that the Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America are also helping in that endeavor, in partnership with the NJ Democratic State Committee.  But it’s been just that- rumors.  At least until now.

Earlier this weekend, that talk heated up as more people were reporting receiving RoboCalls against Christie and in support of Chris Daggett.  Some noticed that the mandatory disclosures at the end of the call stated the call was sponsored by “NJDSC”, the NJ Democratic State Committee.  And now, proof has surfaced.

Save Jersey produced this video yesterday, with a recording of one of the robocalls and the disclosure at the end. Listen carefully as it states “paid for and authorized by Victory 2009 and the NJDSC, 196 West State Street, Trenton, NJ. (609) 498-6025 (or 2025, it was hard to hear it…).

robocalls

Here’s a question no one’s asking:  Who is “Victory 2009″?

Well, it’s a Corzine campaign of course!  Check out this PolitickerNJ article from the NJ Democratic State Committee, “Democrats Take Action at Events Across NJ During September Surge: Weekend of Action“.  Look at the fourth paragraph where it states, “The “September Surge: Democratic Weekend of Action” is a cooperative effort of the Corzine ’09, Victory 2009 and Yes We Can 2.0 campaigns.” I think that makes it quite clear that Victory 2009 is a Democratic, Pro-Obama campaign group.

I also find in interesting that the article discusses the September Surge as a kickoff to a massive volunteerism campaign, beginning 9/11/2009 to celebrate Obama’s National Day of Service.

“Volunteers from all backgrounds are taking action in neighborhoods across all 21 counties of New Jersey. The “September Surge: Democratic Weekend of Action” expanded upon the National Day of Service, when Democrats took a break from campaigning to volunteer at food banks, neighborhood clean-ups and service projects. Grassroots efforts are continuing through Sunday, with outreach to potential voters by thousands of volunteers knocking on doors, phone banking and showing their support for Governor Corzine and New Jersey Democrats at rallies, neighborhood house parties and BBQ’s. New Jersey college and university students also are joining in efforts by organizing campus Vote By Mail drives and peer-to-peer communication.”

Well, how convenient that Democrats have instituted a mandatory national service commitment for Americans and decided to celebrate it just before the peak of election time, giving them access to all those doors to knock on and food banks to work in and phones to bank…oh, but it’s in the name of volunteerism, right?  Phone banking, door knocking, house parties…none of those have anything to do with campaigning for Corzine, and in the future for other Democrats.

This is so corrupt it is absolutely amazing.  Further, it’s a disgrace that this administration, Democratic Congressional leaders, the DNC, and Organizing for America (who also participated in this effort) would take advantage of the tragedy of 9/11 to insult us with such a farce.  Shameful.

Oh yeah, organization located at this address?

New Jersey Democratic Party
Joseph Cryan
Chairman
194-196 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608
phone: (609) 392-3367
http://www.njdems.org
jcryan@njdems.org

As the Star Ledger is now reporting, Mr. Cryan denies Dems involvement.  You be the judge.

MoreMonmouthMusing is also reporting on this story here.


September 29, 2009

Patrick Gaspard, Federal Community Organizer?

There’s More to the Web of ACORN, SEIU Health Care, Working Families, ACT and America Votes

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

All this business about Patrick Gaspard, White House Political Director (the Karl Rove of the Obama White House), not having any affiliation with ACORN is absolutely absurd.  Have this administration and its state-run media outlets actually convinced themselves that the American people are really that stupid and ignorant?

I won’t even spend a lot of time on this one, because I’ve already covered it in older posts…as have many others, and it’s simply not worth spending much time on it since others are also covering it.  Just take the evidence and encourage the media to set the record straight.  Start with Ben Smith at POLITICO, who apparently settled for the usual ACORN semantic antics.

Hint to media:  just because it doesn’t say “This is ACORN” in giant letters on the front cover doesn’t mean it’s not ACORN.  Go to the 527 registrations, IRS records, FEC records and financial reports.  I know, it takes a little bit of extra time and work…maybe another 15 minutes extra…but that’s what journalists are supposed to be doing, isn’t it?

Before the White House, Gaspard was National Field Director for America Coming Together (ACT), one of 33 groups that made up the coalition of America Votes (ACT is now defunct due to FEC violations and the use of convicted felons as door-to-door voter registration canvassers for the organization…but you can still view their cached site using the handy WayBackMachine from Alexa).

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

“America Coming Together”, one of 33 members of the America Votes coalition:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge



Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

America Votes coalition partner,  ACORN:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

And then of course, Gaspard was also executive vice president of politics and legislation for Local 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.  I wrote about this in a prior post, where I discuss all of the internal SEIU connections inside the White House that are in effect lobbying for government run health care, which incidentally would benefit SEIU by expanding its membership pool of health care workers from 2 Million to an exponential number of millions!  But that’s a whole other post altogether, and I’d recommend you give it a good read.  Not only does it include Gaspard, but how about former SEIU Counsel and ACT/America Votes director John Sullivan, who Obama appointed to the Federal Election Commission?  And National Labor Relations Board Appointee Craig Becker, another former SEIU Legal Counsel? Read the full post and look at the big picture – it’s bigger than just Patrick Gaspard.  (I’m beginning to think the White House is Purple inside).

Anyway, back to Gaspard…  If you also look at SEIU’s and Change to Win’s various filings with the Dept. of Labor and other agencies that detail their expenses, ACORN has been a recipient of payments in return for various organizing activities, including election related work.  I hardly think that Gaspard would have no knowledge of such, given that he was running SEIU’s political unit during the same timeframes.  SEIU, while an extension of ACORN, also utilizes ACORN as a vendor for GOTV and other political activity services, and Gaspard would have been top of that list as a client at the very least.

You may not find current references of SEIU on ACORN’s website and vice-versa, because they’ve scrubbed them due to negative press.  But once again, a quick search using the WayBackMachine will refresh one’s memory.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

And then there’s also the Working Families Party, which is an ACORN political unit that endorses candidates that represent its values and those of its alliance partners.  If you don’t quite make the connection, you’ll see they share the same offices and address, as well as the same staff.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Also, as recently as 2007, Gaspard served on the advisory board of the Center for Working Families, the  political and policy strategy umbrella of the Working Families Party / ACORN.  In fact, Gaspard sits on the board with Jon Kest, director of national campaigns for ACORN (also known for his entanglement in the ACORN / New York Times / Forest City Ratner / Atlantic Yards scandal and brother of Steve Kest, ACORN National Executive Director).

Just to make sure you see it, here are their names together on the Center for Working Families letterhead, sharing the ACORN address in Brooklyn:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

There’s plenty more to help illustrate the connection between Patrick Gaspard and ACORN and SEIU (and America Votes and America Coming Together and the Working Families Party…) but is it really necessary to pull out every paper connection one can find?  There’s enough out there to chew on.  And if that’s still not enough, then simply ask anyone who worked for ACORN before Gaspard made the move to the White House.  Those in his geographic circle especially – both in ACORN and in SEIU – will tell you he had plenty of connections with ACORN.

You can review some of the ACORN and SEIU financial trails on my “ACORN Money Trail” page. View federal grants to ACORN, government grants to the Tides Foundation that were then donated to ACORN, SEIU expenses on the 2008 Presidential election, campaign donations from ACORN, Working Families Party, and SEIU to middle-man 527 organizations to Barack Obama, and a library of ACORN legal documents and letters.


September 28, 2009

ACORN loses another partner as Bank of America suspends programs

In the wake of the recent video scandals depicting ACORN employees counseling an undercover aspiring journalist posing as a prostitute with a human smuggling ring of underage child prostitutes, Bank of America is the latest to pull out of its partnership with ACORN, at least for now while investigations are underway.

According to a special marketing page of the ACORN Housing website that promoted the Bank of America partnership,

“Since 1990, ACORN Housing and Bank of America partnership has created over 55,000 new homeowners in low-and-moderate income neighborhoods. Our partnership is aimed to promote stronger neighborhoods and curb Predatory Lending in underserved markets.”

The loans financed through this joint partnership were offered at very low interest rates to certain buyers in specific underserved geographic locations.  These programs were established with several banks through the department of Housing and Urban Development, after the Community Reinvestment Act required banks to stop the practice of redlining in 1977, and was then enhanced even further in 1993 under Clinton to allow 0% down payments, unsecured loans and stated income applications.  That legislation required banks to apply the same lending criteria in all communities, regardless of the economic risk posed by particular areas based upon the location’s median income, crime rates, or prior property damage reports.  (see a great video of the timeline of events from CRA to bust)

ACORN flourished in the face of such legislation, forming partnerships with banks and local community groups to provide housing, mortgage and financial counseling to residents of those underserved communities.  The federal government provided funds directly to ACORN and to the banks, as well as through middle-tier organizations such as the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, now known as NeighborWorks, which was established after the CRA specifically for the purpose of distributing funds on behalf of the government to groups like ACORN.

ACORN & SEIU protest "Corporate Excess" in March of 2009

ACORN & SEIU protest "Corporate Excess" in March of 2009

Bank of America issued a statement today, indicating that “Bank of America takes recent allegations made against Acorn and Acorn Housing Corporation employees very seriously.”

Just this past year, Bank of America provided ACORN with a $2 Million grant, despite all of the “End Corporate Excess” protests held at Bank of America locations by ACORN and the SEIU, along with other co-protestors.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.  Something tells me Bank of America was probably anxiously awaiting this very opportunity to sever their forced ties with ACORN.

Considering the anticipation of additional videos that are expected to surface in the near future, multiple agencies are jumping on board in their agreement to launch investigations into ACORN’s activities.  Even many Democrats are jumping onto the bandwagon, which implies that many suspicions about questionable campaign finance practices may not be “right-wing conspiracy” after all.

Bringing the investigating agencies up to date with the following list of those investigating or taking action against ACORN :

Prior ACORN Posts on Liberty Chick:

Related Videos:

View Burning Down the House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis on YouTube.

View ACORN / SEIU protests against Bank of America and read more about how their relationship with Bank of America really came about.


September 11, 2009

UPDATED: US Census Bureau Severs Ties with ACORN, Notifies Congress. And now the IRS, too.

UPDATES:

9/23/2009

The Internal Revenue Service has now severed ties with ACORN, stating it would no longer include ACORN in its volunteer tax assistance program, which offered free tax advice to about 3 million low- and moderate-income tax filers this spring.  “It is absolutely critical that taxpayers have trust in our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program partners,” the IRS said in a statement obtained by The Hill. “In light of recent events, the IRS has decided to terminate its relationship with ACORN.”  Interestingly, ACORN’s Bertha Lewis insists that it was ACORN who severed the ties, and not the IRS, despite today’s press release from the IRS which states the opposite.

Read the full stories from the Associated Press, (updated AP story), and then read the full story from The Hill

ACORN & Project Vote share this address

ACORN & Project Vote share this address at 739 8th St SE, Washington, DC‎

The Director of the U.S Census Bureau has sent a letter to the national headquarters of ACORN, notifying the organization that the census bureau has decided to sever all ties with ACORN. The group will not be permitted to participate in the 2010 census activities.

A copy of the letter has also been delivered to the US Congress.  News outlets are awaiting a copy of the letter, and I will post it as soon as it’s available.

This news comes after the breaking stories and videos yesterday and today from James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, posing as a prostitute and her boyfriend running for Congress, exposing ACORN’s practices of willingly counseling people on how to break the law and cheat the system to obtain housing loans and tax credits.

Employees from ACORN were ultimately fired in both the Baltimore and now the Washington DC offices over the incidents.

Additionally, 11 more workers were arrested this week by the FBI and Florida Police, after being accused of falsifying almost 900 voter registration cards in Miami-Dade County last year.  This was just the latest in a string of incidents and filings.  It’s still not even the tip of the iceberg in comparison to the shell game ACORN has been playing with taxpayer dollars through “donations” to 527 organizations.  Donating or spending funds for partisan causes is illegal for groups like ACORN, which are restricted to non-partisan activities under IRS regulations for groups receiving federal funds and grants.  But ACORN seems to have been skirting those rules by apparently funneling those funds instead through 527s organizations, a practice which Congress and the Justice Department have to date refused to investigate.  But any average citizen looking at publicly available financial reports would easily draw the conclusion themselves…

Let’s see what Congress does now.  Probably nothing.  If so, it’s again time for our voices (and votes) to be heard.

Click to view PDF

Click to view PDF

Download PDF of  the letter from the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau to ACORN


September 10, 2009

UPDATED: ACORN & Your Tax Dollars Hard at Work…to Buy Homes for Brothels and Fund Human Smuggling

UPDATE  9/23/2009

ACORN filed suit today in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City against Hannah Giles, James O’Keefe, and Andrew Breitbart for Breitbart.com LLC.  Their claim is that the recordings were in violation of Maryland’s Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code §§ 10-402(a) and 10-410, which requires two-party consent to all electronic surveillance.  ACORN has demanded a jury trial and the following in damages:

  • Compensatory damages of $500,000 for each of the two ACORN employees in the MD tape and $1 Million for ACORN
  • Liquidated damages of $1,000 per plaintiff against all defendants
  • Punitive damages in the amount of $1 Million per defendant
  • Plus court & attorney’s fees and any other relief “as the interests of justice may require”

Download a PDF of the full complaint filed with the court.

Download a PDF of the the cease and desist letter to FOX News from ACORN general counsel, Arthur Schwartz (9/10/2009).

UPDATE, 9/12/2009:

In a shocking and unbelievable twist to this story, the two undercover journalist/video makers who exposed this story have now become the story themselves.  Baltimore city state’s attorney, Patricia Jessamy (Obama supporter and campaign donor), is actually considering filing formal charges against the two, claiming they may have violated Maryland statutes that prohibit taping subjects without two-party consent.  She is apparently reviewing the video and audio and collecting more information in order to make that determination.

If it is determined that the audio portion now being heard on YouTube was illegally obtained, it is also illegal under Maryland Law to willfully use or willfully disclose the content of said audio. The penalty for the unlawful interception, disclosure or use of it is a felony punishable up to 5 years.

View the complete update from NewsBusters here.

View the cease and desist letter from ACORN general counsel, Arthur Schwartz, to FOX News here.

End update.

Watch and listen to both of the videos on the site I’m about to send you to.  As James O’Keefe from Breitbart’s Big Government, the author of the full post and owner of the videos describes,

“While manipulation or entrapment occurs when people are encouraged to do things they otherwise wouldn’t, the pre-set trap is their own [ACORN’s].  These tactics allow the viewer to see ACORN’s soul; their playing field and their morality, out in the open.  Their system is based on conflict and change for its own sake.  This system is based on totalitarian principles and class war techniques. These people understand pressure, power and self-interest.  When the Baltimore employees saw we were shady dealers, their instincts clicked in, as we were prime recruits.”

prost1

In the undercover videos (see both Part I & Part II at the Breitbart Big Government site), ACORN housing and tax counselors in Baltimore, MD counsel a prostitute who needs to purchase a home for a brothel.  As the prostitute describes that she’ll be running a brothel, and will be smuggling in underage prostitutes from overseas, watch and listen as an ACORN tax specialist counsels her to classifiy prostitution as “performing arts” on her IRS forms, then counsels her to write off her clothing, grooming, and gifts.  In the end, she estimates the prostitute can write off $7,000 to $8,000 of her $9,000 monthly salary.

She also provides guidance on “how to make it legal” when discussing the prostitute’s IRS predicament in smuggling her underage prostitutes in from El Salvador.  “You claim them as dependents”, she advises.

“If they don’t know, then they won’t know to come look for you….if they’re under 16, or they don’t have a social security number, then they don’t even exist.”

Oh yeah – it’s not actually a prostitute. It’s an aspiring journalist and her Congressional candidate boyfriend is an activist filmmaker.  Good thing ACORN didn’t know it. They do now.

And the conversation gets more interesting from there.  Once again, we all find ourselves asking, “Why are we giving these groups taxpayer funds?” and “Why won’t Congress have them investigated?”  Well, once again, consider those questions asked.

See it all, with the full unedited videos, at “Chaos for Glory: My Time With ACORN” by James O’Keefe.

Full transcript here.  Full audio here.


September 8, 2009

Why the Van Jones Controversy is a Far Deeper Issue that Needs Attention

Could lingering tension from the fallout reach into your home?

Van Jones’ frequent teachings to people from disadvantaged communities have included views like, “white polluters are poisoning communities of color”.  He may have resigned from his White House post, but this former czar’s Green Jobs programs will continue on without interruption.  Many of the beneficiaries – and Van Jones admirers – of one such program are now graduating from stimulus-funded Residential Weatherization Certification training programs all across the country.  And while Congress and the White House refuse to denounce the racially divisive statements of Van Jones, these graduates will soon be moving onto the next phase of their certification program:  performing government mandated Weatherization work in your private home.  In light of rising tensions over the fallout, does this concern anyone?  It concerned me, because I’m in NJ and I personally have already received the materials requesting that I make an appointment to have a “certified weatherization specialist” come in to inspect my home and do an energy efficiency assessment. (To skip down to the NJ Green for All Program and see these documents, click here).

Throughout all of the recent controversy about Van Jones, and now finally his resignation, there was always something that had personally kept nagging at me.  I’d been researching for some time the money and resources that this administration, progressive philanthropists, and labor unions have been investing in ‘Green’ initiatives.  I’d also done a prior post back in June, “Whose Agenda is it, Really?”, about the fact that the current agenda and policies, as well as most of the stimulus package, appear to have been written by the labor unions and not by our current members of Congress.

Several seemingly unrelated sets of documents that I have in my files were consistently popping into my mind as I continued to follow the Van Jones story.  And the more that I heard such hateful rhetoric directly from the mouth of Van Jones on video, the more concerned I became, and the more that “nagging feeling” kept prodding me to go through my research folders so that I could make whatever connection might be bothering me.  And now I know why Van Jones’ statements were bothering me, for more reasons than the outwardly obvious:

Click to view image full size

Click to view image full size

Van Jones is a man that progressives and environmentalists have held high on a pedestal. Like the President, he is a skilled orator and a best-selling author. He has represented causes that he claims aim to lift individuals out of poverty. This administration and everyone close to it, including key members of Congress, know everything there is to know about Van Jones.  He has been a guest at many of their own events, where some of his recently publicized controversial statements were made. They have embraced his views – good AND bad – for years.  The words of Van Jones have helped mold the opinions of likely hundreds of thousands of individuals across this nation, especially in inner-city and poverty stricken areas.  Make no mistake, Van Jones was, and still is, a very powerful force. He is an influencer, a channeler, a persuader. He can affect others to say and do things. And for years, he has been preaching his self-proclaimed Marxist views, the evils of “suicidal gray capitalism”, and he has been telling the residents in communities of color that “white polluters” have been “poisoning their communities.”

And just as Van Jones resigns, many of these disciples, beneficiaries of $500 million (with billions more to come) in Green Jobs stimulus funds, will become graduates of weatherization training programs, and then they will be sent directly into the private residences of the very people that Van Jones has told them have been “poisoning their communities”.

THIS is the reason that this is a bigger story than a 9/11 Truther petition or a right-wing smear story. This is a story that needs investigating, and one that needs to be told, before any of these residential programs – currently optional –move into the mandatory participation phase.  The mainstream media has an obligation to serve as one of the checks and balances, a duty it’s grossly neglected to perform in recent months.

Continue reading →


August 10, 2009

HELP OBAMA REFORM HEALTH CARE, GET PAID ($400-$600 Per Week)

Portions of this post come from Caleb Howe over at RedState.  Read his entire post, “Let’s Talk Astroturf“.  It’s a fantastic jewel.

No kidding. That’s a real job ad heading. One of hundreds placed this week.

With Pelosi and her cronies publishing scathing editorials in today’s newspapers about the “Astroturf” and the “manufactured activism”, I must question whether she’s really of the opposite sex.  Because this woman has got to have the most ginormous BALLS  that have ever been known to humankind (and animal species).  There is solid proof out there all over the web that these hacks are feverishly hiring “activists”…most of the ads for which have been placed in only the last week.  I mean, have you SEEN these things???  The web is just oozing with hundreds of them…all across the country.  Like ants at a picnic.

Hello??  Are you still there, mainstream media?? It’s me, America.

Caleb reveals the job ads that he and others found online, at places like Craig’s list, that have been posted by various organizations hiring activists to “HELP PASS OBAMA’S HEALTH REFORM AND EARN $325-$500 PER WEEK!”. Here is just one screen shot below that was captured (because I’m sure someone will remove the ads as soon as the bloggers get this word out).

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

My contribution to this will focus on showing you how YOU pay for this…eventually…

Let’s take the “Working America” ad, for example:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Working America is AFL-CIO:

Click to view websiteClick to view website

And YOUR taxpayer dollars help the AFL-CIO every year.  Here’s just a little snapshot of some funds they received from the government the last 8 years. I haven’t even pulled any 2009 yet, but trust me…in next year’s reports, you’ll likely see funds that paid for today’s rent-a-thugs…they’ll just be hidden under something else, like “Training” or something:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge. You can also view this full report and search others at the usaspending.gov website.

Other groups hiring include:

Washington CAN!

http://www.washingtoncan.org

The Fund for the Public Interest

Runs more than 70 field offices for groups like the The State PIRGs, the Sierra Club, Human Rights Campaign, and Environment America.  And if you are familiar with these groups, then you know well enough who funds them. That would be George Soros, who has just spent $5 Million to lend a hand this August on Mob-Watch.

Find the jobs on their sites at:

http://www.jobsthatmatter.org

http://www.fundforthepublicinterest.org

Other good links on the day’s Astroturfocracy Watch:

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/06/24/who%E2%80%99s-funding-the-obamacare-astroturf-campaign/

http://www.lookingattheleft.com/2009/08/pelosi-astroturf-healthcare/


August 10, 2009

Public Service Director of SEIU Brutally Assaults Activist in Unprovoked Attack

At a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Russ Carnahan in St. Louis, MO on 8/6/2009, 6 individuals were arrested after a confrontation between a protester and several members of the SEIU labor union.  Mr. Kenneth Gladney was physically assaulted by SEIU members and suffered injuries.  But of course, that’s not the story you’ll hear from the White House, Congress and the mainstream media – they will leave out the details about who did the beating, and will manipulate it into something entirely untrue.

From an earlier report by the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

A conservative activist from St. Louis, Mr. Gladney said he was attacked by some of those arrested as he handed out yellow flags with “Don’t tread on me” printed on them. He spoke to the Post-Dispatch from the emergency room at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, where he said he was awaiting treatment for injuries to his knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face.

Gladney, who is black, said one of his attackers, also a black man, used a racial slur against him before the attack.

“It just seems there’s no freedom of speech without being attacked,” he said.

Members of the local Tea Party Coalition, a movement that has emerged to counter Obama’s policies, had urged their members to attend Carnahan’s forum, which in turn spurred Democrats to establish a strong presence.


A spokesman for the SEIU, which represents about 1 million health care workers,
said the appearance of union members at Carnahan’s town hall meeting was not in response to protests mounted by opponents of Obama’s health care plan.

Ramona Oliver said the union has conducted an intensive national campaign over the last several months and plans to organize more 400 events this month alone around the country advocating health care reform and economic recovery.

“The members didn’t come to talk to the angry mob outside, they came to talk to the congress people inside,” Oliver said. Oliver said about 15 to 20 members attended Thursday’s rally.

“All our members want is to have a civil discussion. There is no campaign to confront the tea baggers,“ she said.

(Blogger’s Commentary:  Oh, OK…you want to have a “civil discussion”, so you actually use phrases like “angry mob” and “the teabaggers” in your official union responsive statement?  That pretty much points to the root of the issue)

Below is a letter from David B. Brown, attorney for Kenneth Gladney, sent to the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition:

August 7, 2009

Dear Mr. Hennessy:

I am Kenneth Gladney’s attorney. Kenneth was attacked on the evening of August 6, 2009 at Rep. Russ Carnahan’s town hall meeting in South St. Louis County. I was at the town hall meeting as well and witnessed the events leading up to the attack of Kenneth. Kenneth was approached by an SEIU representative as Kenneth was handing out “Don’t Tread on Me” flags to other conservatives. The SEIU representative demanded to know why a black man was handing out these flags. The SEIU member used a racial slur against Kenneth, then punched him in the face. Kenneth fell to the ground. Another SEIU member yelled racial epithets at Kenneth as he kicked him in the head and back. Kenneth was also brutally attacked by one other male SEIU member and an unidentified woman. The three men were clearly SEIU members, as they were wearing T-shirts with the SEIU logo.

Kenneth was beaten badly. One assailant fled on foot; three others were arrested. Kenneth was admitted to St. John’s Mercy Medical Center emergency room, where he was treated for his numerous injuries. Kenneth was merely expressing his freedom of speech by handing out the flags. In fact, he merely asked people as they exited the town hall meeting whether they would like a flag. He in no way provoked any argument or altercation, as evidenced by the fact that three assailants were arrested.

We hope that Kenneth fully recovers from his injuries; however, he is in great pain at this time. We will be pursuing legal action at our discretion. This was a truly senseless hate crime carried out by racist union thugs. Regretfully, Representative Carnahan’s statements blaming Kenneth for being a disruptive force are wholly untrue and slanderous. We would like to think that an elected official in Representative Carnahan’s position would gather accurate information before carelessly rushing to judgment.

Kenneth supports conservative ideals, although he subscribes to no particular political party. We are calling on the SEIU, Representative Carnahan, and President Obama to condemn the racist actions of these union thugs. In the days to come, we will be investigating whether these thugs are working at the behest of Representative Carnahan and how strong their alliances to various organizations–such as ACORN–may be.

We hope the St. Louis Tea Party and tea party organizations around the country will protest Representative Carnahan’s offices and also protest SEIU offices in every major city across the U.S. These Democratic strong-arm tactics must end now.

Regards,

Attorney David B. Brown

UPDATE FROM THE ST.LOUIS TEA PARTY COALITION:

Tea Party researchers have discovered some interesting news on one of the people arrested for beating Ken Gladney.

Elston K. McCowan is a former organizer – now the Public Service Director of SEIU Local 2000 – and board member of the Walbridge Community Education Center, and is a Baptist minister, has been a community organizer for more than 23 years, and now, he is running for Mayor of the City of St. Louis under the Green Party.

Something tells me that while this incident is far more distasteful than Gates-Gate, and it was largely in part spurred by the administration and Congress members themselves through their conference calls with union leaders (including SEIU) and emails sent via Organizing for America requesting that SEIU “provide cover” at these events, I still do not think that Mr. Gladney will receive even the hint of an apology from this President. Instead, he’s attacked all over again with lies and the manipulation of media from the very people who we elect to support and protect citizens from such heinous acts.  Conservatives, Libertarians, Republicans and all others alike have grown sick and tired of this behavior and the regular liberal playbook tactics.  I wonder if our politicians will ever do the right thing and put a stop to their own shenanigans, which are at the very root of these problems and are fueling the unions to provoke these otherwise quiet and conflict-avoiding conservative individuals.


July 23, 2009

Is ACORN Intentionally Structured As a Criminal Enterprise?

Below is the Executive Summary from the report filed today by the House Committee investigating the activities of ACORN, followed by their Key Findings. The full report outlines the details behind each finding, and provides examples of the evidence supporting the findings.  Download the full report here.

Regarding findings #3  and #4 below, you may want to check out some of my old posts that reference specific examples of such activity. More specifically, some of the same reports and documents referenced in the House report footnotes have been available on my ACORN Money Trail page, where I’ve been posting supporting documents for all my ACORN related research and posts over the last several months.  (Refer specifically to reports on this page from USAspending.gov, referenced on page 63 of the House report)

U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Darrell Issa (CA-49), Ranking Member

Staff Report
U.S. House of Representatives
111th Congress
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
July 23, 2009

“The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has repeatedly
and deliberately engaged in systemic fraud. Both structurally and operationally, ACORN
hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal
conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a
partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American electorate.

Emerging accounts of widespread deceit and corruption raise the need for a criminal
investigation of ACORN. By intentionally blurring the legal distinctions between 361
tax-exempt and non-exempt entities, ACORN diverts taxpayer and tax-exempt monies
into partisan political activities. Since 1994, more than $53 million in federal funds have
been pumped into ACORN, and under the Obama administration, ACORN stands to
receive a whopping $8.5 billion in available stimulus funds.

Operationally, ACORN is a shell game played in 120 cities, 43 states and the District of
Columbia through a complex structure designed to conceal illegal activities, to use
taxpayer and tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract
investigators. Structurally, ACORN is a chess game in which senior management is
shielded from accountability by multiple layers of volunteers and compensated
employees who serve as pawns to take the fall for every bad act.”

The report that follows presents evidence obtained from former ACORN insiders that completes the picture of a criminal enterprise.

  1. First, ACORN has evaded taxes, obstructed justice, engaged in self dealing, and aided and abetted a cover-up of embezzlement by Dale Rathke, the brother of
    ACORN founder Wade Rathke.
  2. Second, ACORN has committed investment fraud, deprived the public of its right to
    honest services, and engaged in a racketeering enterprise affecting interstate
    commerce.
  3. Third, ACORN has committed a conspiracy to defraud the United States by using
    taxpayer funds for partisan political activities.
  4. Fourth, ACORN has submitted false filings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
    and the Department of Labor, in addition to violating the Fair Labor Standards Act
    (FLSA).
  5. Fifth, ACORN falsified and concealed facts concerning an illegal transaction
    between related parties in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security
    Act of 1974 (ERISA).

Download the full report here.


June 29, 2009

Random Progressive Presentations on Things Green

Cap & Trade, Climate & Energy, Green Jobs & More

I’ve been working on a series of pieces that discuss and analyze the sometimes more radical motives behind the aggressive push on climate change and clean energy. My work will take a look at the comprehensive collaborative strategy behind the “green agenda”. How elite philanthropic organizations and individual donors have developed plans over the last five years for instituting social justice through the use of environmental policies and legislation – forging partnerships with labor unions, in conjunction with community organizations like ACORN, to mobilize citizen influence on the platform of “green jobs” as a tool in redistributing wealth, polarizing socio-economic classes, and severely limiting the power and influence of corporate entities under our current capitalist system (all their phrases, not mine). If the green agenda were solely about developing clean energy and giving us more independence as a country, I would fully support it.  But some of the leading organizations driving the policy development and lobbying the hardest have ulterior motives. The green agenda for them isn’t really just about the government trying to develop a new revenue stream by increasing taxes. For them, this is about destroying Capitalism in favor of Socialism (again, their terms, not mine).

I do also recognize that some labor and trade unions, as well as some private citizens, have a legitimate and sincere interest in this agenda for the right reasons. I don’t mean to lump everyone into the same bucket. I only mean to call out those who tend to abuse policies for those that literally defy the capitalist economic system our nation’s founders envisioned as part of the formula for freedom.

Anyway, while I continue working on my writing and research on the full series of pieces, I wanted to point people in the meantime to just a few examples of these presentations. All are publicly available online with a little digging…all focus on the real agenda for the unions, activist groups and community organizers in working to help force this change.

People need to open their eyes wider than they already are, and read some of these documents, and get your arms around the gravity of these strategies. Think about how what started out as potentially legitimate policies are turning into more radical changes right under our noses. The mainstream media will only dig as far as “higher taxes, loss of jobs”…they don’t look into the real reasons that are mentioned by these very organizations.

Here are just a few for right now.

Progressive Presentations on Green Jobs / Green Economy / Eco-Apartheid / Eco-Equity:

As a supplement in understanding the strategies shaping the policies, and the policies shaping the tactics, and the tactics shaping the programs, below are some of those old presentations that I’d downloaded on the Green Jobs / Green Economy initiatives.  Some go as far back as several years, others are more recent.  When you review presentations and papers collectively, as a whole, the picture begins to become clearer.  You can see how groups like the Apollo Alliance and the Center for American Progress have worked with leaders like Van Jones to use “Green Economy / Green Jobs” as the core component for central change in ALL policy areas:  Health Care, Jobs & Wages, Immigration Policy, Card Check, Wealth Redistribution.  Aside from what’s posted here, some other research out there reveals activities that are entirely legitimate efforts, while others seem to hint at potential ulterior motives. Also get familiar with the common themes and terms used throughout many of the presentations in today’s climate:

  • Eco-Apartheid
  • Eco-Assets
  • Eco-Equity
  • Environmental Justice

The Apollo Alliance: Unifying Activists on the Left

This Foundation Watch report of the Capital Research Center by Phil Kerpen and published by Matthew Vadum offers a detailed history of the alliance and its former and current leaders and partners.  It thoroughly describes some of the early ideology and leadership splits, as well as the funding behind the organization, including its primary founding philanthropy organization, the Tides Center.  Extremely thorough and informative report.

Apollo Alliance Connections chart
(from Americans for Prosperity/Capital Research Center…this chart should make all the connections crystal clear…LOL)

The Apollo Alliance, 10 Point Plan (pdf)

Apollo Alliance Members

Labor Unions: AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO IUC, AFL-CIO BCTD, AFSCME, ATU, BCTWGM, GCIU, IUE-CWA, IAM, IBEW, IBT, LIUNA, PACE, SEIU, SMWIA, TWU, UAW, UFCW, UMWA, UNITE HERE, USWA

Environmental Groups: CERES, Greenpeace USA, NWF, NRDC, Powershift, Rainforest Action Network, Republicans for Environmental Protection, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, League of Conservation Voters, others

The Green Collar Economy: In Search of Eco-Equity, Van Jones

  • A Green New Deal platform
  • Discusses the Clean Energy Corps, newly established under Americorps on 4/23/2009, which will be a successor to the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration of the 1930s New Deal. Civilians commit to service for pay to combat global warming and advocate for eco-equity, etc.

Van Jones on Jobs, Jails, and Environmental Justice; David Kupper, March 2008

Global Change, Eco-Apartheid and Population Health, 11/7/2007

  • Slide 29 focuses on the well-being of Americans (or lack of it) and says that “Eco-footprints are correlated with lifestyle”, meaning that the more you use from the earth, the more unhealthy (and obese) you likely are, which is expensive for everyone and displaces the less wealthy.
  • Slide 32 offers a chart that focuses on “Wasted Wealth: Diminishing returns from health care expenditures”
  • Slide 33 asks the question, “Can the already wealthy be persuaded to live on smaller footprints so the poor may live at all?”

Ending Eco-Apartheid: Bridging the Green Divide, Verde Consulting Group, Sacramento, CA, August 2008

Focuses on:

  • Correcting the issue of imbalance between “the ecological haves and have-nots”
  • Redistribution of “Eco-assets”; ensuring that communities of color are provided the same assets that affluent areas enjoy
  • “Park-starved communities” – implies that communities of color may be deprived of “clean air” while affluent areas have access to park land and conservation areas, bike paths, etc.
  • “Toxic Assets” – implies facilities of higher toxic release may intentionally be placed in communities f color

Environmental Justice for All, Co-op America, includes article from Van Jones, 2007

“Communities of color have long been targeted for toxic facilities, including dumps and incinerators. Not only are they fighting back, but they’re also creating sustainable alternatives.”

The Future is Green! What are green jobs? Why are they important? SC Employment Security Commission, 11/3/2008

Other General Progressive Presentations:

Labor and the People vs. the Ultra-Right, a Gigantic Battle in 2008

(converted to PDF from http://www.cpusa.org/filemanager/download/82/battle_2008.ppt)

A presentation prepared in 2006 and used in 2007 throughout the sessions of primary labor unions, “Battle 2008″ focuses on the need to increase labor union membership and to join their forces to advance progressive causes.  This one spreads outrageous charges like these:

  • “The right-wing will stop at nothing to maintain power. They will continue to obstruct and steal elections.”
  • “For nearly three decades, since Ronald Reagan was President, the ultra-right has dominated the political scene. They enabled a rampage by big business and trans-nationals to destroy unions and dismantle public services.”
  • “The ultra-right hopes voters will simply blame the Democrats and forget who is responsible for starting the war, looting the economy and fanning the flames of racism.”

And the presentation further states that “Sweeping the ultra-right out will usher in a new political era. Organizing can win real gains to rebuild America, change foreign policy, and achieve ‘no war & no warming‘.”

And while just about every major labor union includes stats and quotes from this very presentation, its source doesn’t seem to bother any of them.  The source?  The Communist Party USA. Yes, really.

SEIU: The New California Dream – a 21st Century Agenda

From the SEIU Local 1000 website, this 2007 presentation sets out their path to take control of power in the state by leveraging the strength of the unions to change California’s social and economic landscape and  “to improve the lives of all Californians and to increase California’s competitiveness in a global economy.”  As we know from reading this and SEIU’s other documents, they aggressively push anti-corporate, anti-capitalist agendas.  In a nation where the very fabric of our society is founded upon capitalist principles (balanced by the intervention of government in cases of abuse, fraud and immorality)  it should come as no surprise that a socialist-leaning agenda only begets more poverty.

Two short years after presenting its plan to “more fairly redistribute the wealth in the nation’s 6th largest economy”, the SEIU now reaps the benefits of their plan in the comfort of a now entirely BANKRUPT state. Proof that free-markets are meant to drive the economy, not the anti-American policies of an overly aggressive labor movement.  Other states should be paying closer attention to what really caused California’s financial crisis.

Creating Community Leadership on Climate and Energy

Alerts:

Climate change solutions, carefully crafted can ‘narrow the gap between rich and poor’”.  Also indicates that climate change solutions can be forced into implementation by intentionally taking steps “that disproportionately benefit the already well-off and isolate people from one another in a setting of fear and competition.

Slide 42: “Pass Laws to Limit Corporate Rights & Influence”…Political Transformation – discusses forcing economic and social equality, as well as “increasing citizen participation & influence through Voter Registration, Vote Protection & Paper Ballots, Campaign Finance Reform – votes rather than money and Proportional Representation” (CENSUS!).

Slide 55: “Maximizes the gain for low-income communities and communities of color. Minimizes the pain for the most vulnerable. Creates green-collar jobs. Limits carbon emissions at a level that nature (not big business) dictates, and Makes polluters pay for their bad technology choices.”

Moving Progressive Policy in the States

Just read the whole thing…nothing specific to point out, it’s really just all of it in its entirety.

Climate Leadership Workshop

From various slides:

  • Green Jobs movement – Communities of color transforming the political landscape, community colleges breaking new ground — GCC
  • Steelworkers Union leading, with SEIU, Teamsters and other unions joining
  • slide 16 is especially interesting, as it notes “taxpayer subsidies ahead” and “redistribution of wealth”

Pittsburgh Green Innovators program

  • Funded by Heinz Endowments, subsidized by proposed government funds through agencies like DOE, EPA, DOT, Energy & Commerce…
  • slide 12, covers integral unions, including SEIU
  • slide 23, covers potential funding sources
  • Helps you understand why any politician representing coal mining areas would have voted FOR cap & trade

June 23, 2009

Et tu, Google? Is the Real State Sponsored Media Just Under Our Fingertips?

Well folks, if you weren’t sure if we are heading toward state-sponsored media, I think this pretty much sums it up for us. We saw hints leading up to this, but finally it becomes blatantly obvious. Now we’ve got Google pitching the Obama administration’s policies (and the First Lady’s) right there on its Home page. It was posted in precise coordination with the timing of the White House’s distribution of its email announcement on the “United We Serve” campaign, which supports the recent policies passed into law regarding community service.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

We all know that Google has become a partner of the federal government.  Sure, they’ve been involved in previous administrations in some way, usually as a political donor. But this administration has been far different. So this should come as no surprise to most of us. But the question this poses is this: 
Can Google really be considered a non-partisan source at this point?

Google is perhaps the largest aggregate of news and media sources in the nation. It’s also the largest broker of advertising sales. Add to that its near monopoly of popular technology, with products like YouTube, Google Maps, Google Earth, Picasa, and of course its well-known search engine platform. That makes for one really, really powerful outlet. Can this country afford for Google to be this involved in both the News media and Social media connection to this White House? How much longer until it becomes its own state-sponsored media outlet for America?

It’s not so far fetched. Recent events show us how powerful YouTube has been in the role of government relations as we watch these events in Iran unfold on YouTube. Perhaps Obama is less outspoken because he is doing his speaking in a more subtle way, through YouTube. We know that the White House and the State Department, as well as security officials, have been in discussion with Google, along with Twitter, to gain their cooperation in this escalating international crisis.

But let’s look at the lead-up, if you will.

First there were the Presidential debates on YouTube in 2008.  Just encouraging America to keep up with the times? Perhaps.

Then, there were nearly $800,000 in political contributions to the Obama campaign from Google. Not including any of the ancillary PACs through which the company also contributed – that’s just the direct Google bucks.   Add to that over $3,720,000 in lobbying cash combined from 2008 and 2009 YTD. ($7300,000 by way of The Podesta Group in 08 and 09…for those of you following our ACORN-John Podesta money trail postings…).

And as Obama won his Presidential victory, Google celebrated with a huge post-inauguration party in Washington D.C., filled with lavish games and entertainment and attended by a variety of hot-shot celebrities.  Soon after, Obama appointed Google CEO Eric Schmidt to his Economic Advisory Board and also to his Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.  This was after Schmidt turned down Obama’s first offer to serve as Technology Czar.

In February, the administration appointed Google product manager and Election Team co-founder, Katie Jacobs Stanton as Director of Citizen Participation. Stanton’s influence was immediately evident, as the White House began using Google Moderator, a product Stanton worked on, as its tool for submitting audience participant questions during its town hall meetings after successfully exxperimenting with it during the election.

Add to all of this that the White House now conducts its weekly video addresses exclusively on YouTube.  And Congress launched multiple YouTube channels. It doesn’t seem like coincidence that rather than choosing C-SPAN, which has already been providing such a public service, or another non-commercial video service, this administration has exclusively chosen to operate its public outreach through YouTube – a very commercial service. This comes at a time when Google is trying to develop its political advertising business into a year-round operation, and when the Democratic Party is committed to campaigning year-round through its Organizing for America arm (which evidently also uses Google/YouTube products).

Then in May Google posted links on its hme page to the Obama Time Capsule project. Hardly anything less than a super-glorified free advertisement for the sale of the book on Amazon, and its creators, Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt, and their outfit Against All Odds Productions. Google played a significant role by supplying the technology that “helped users share their thoughts and photographs with a broad audience”.

Many dismiss such ideas as conspiracy theories, or simply anti-Obama views. I can tell you that Google has been a favorite of mine ever since its inception – I’ve used their products loyally as one who works in the new media industry. But step back for a moment and just think about the power of a commercial force like Google. Look at the impact its had on the events of the Iran election through YouTube alone.  And look at the influence from Google in the President’s advisory boards.

Now remind yourself that Google is the #1 rated online source of news for Americans.

Do you think that a private, commercial business should be as involved in the federal public sector as it is, when taking into consideration what the company sells?  News, advertising and technology. All I ask is that we look at that and consider it.  Forget ABC, CBC, NBC – it’s not so far fetched that Google is fast becoming the nation’s state-sponsored media. And that combination trumps all the television media put together.


June 17,2009

Whose Agenda is it, REALLY?

Have you ever noticed that President Obama and the left leaners in Congress seem to push components of the agenda like a broken record?  Or does it sometimes seem like something’s out of place?  Do you find yourself asking “Why are they being so aggressive on this policy? Why won’t they be flexible at all?”

Well, we all know how powerful certain organizations and labor unions are in politics. I mean, that’s not new news.  But I sat down and looked at the published agendas of some of the lefty darlings who frequently brag about their strong roles in getting Barack Obama elected.  These have been their agendas since BEFORE the presidential election.

When you compare them side by side, and then think about the issues and policies this administration and his Democratic Congress are pushing so aggressively, it just seems clear as day this way.  So let’s be honest here, whose agenda is it, really?  Sure, we know this president shares the same views as these groups, as do many of the far left Congress members. But do you think there might be more debate, more flexibility under other circumstances? Who’s really calling the shots in this country? And is there a “REAL” Middle Class anymore? I’m beginning to think the voices of the average American workers – those who* aren’t* in unions – are gone.  We’ve got to start showing Washington that we are the bigger majority, folks.  Stop the apathy, and get out there.

Download a print-friendly version of the chart below in Word

Change to Win
Coalition of unions totaling
6 million members
.
AFL-CIO
Coalition of unions totaling
11 million members.
Working for Us &
They Work for Us
(PAC & Non-profit group comprised of unions & others)
Government should create a health care system with guaranteed coverage and benefits for allProtect workers rights.Freedom to Join Together in Unions; provide living wage & benefits, and stop right-wing attacks on unionsPass immigration policy that protects undocumented workers, providing workplace protections, including the right to join together into unionsPreserve & strengthen Social Security; Ensure a Guaranteed Income & Pension Plansfor allBe sure to read their comprehensive series of reports and surveys from their American Dream Project. Filled with all kinds of “Hopey and Changey” stuff. Health Care for all.Retirement SecurityFreedom to Join a UnionAn Economy That Works For AllEducation: No More Charter Schools and Vouchers, increase public school teachersCivil, Human & Women’s Rights

Immigration protection for undocumented workers.

Access to affordable health carePromote a living wage for all workersFighting for domestic jobs – keep jobs here instead of shipping them overseasProtecting retirement security, including social security, pensions, and personal savings accountsSound corporate governanceRead related article

See who’s behind these groups:
hint, Daily Kos is one.

SEIUUnion consisting of 2 million members SEIU’s Anna Burger  also runs the Working Familiesagenda: ACORN400,000 members in 110 cities and 40 states.
Affordable, quality health care for all.The freedom for all workers to form a union without employer interference.Pass the Employee Free Choice Act Now.An economy that rewards all workers, not just a few at the top. Pass an economic recovery plan…Provide a significant investment in green jobsas a pathway to a strong middle class and a sustainable futureProvide quality services in our communities with fair, reliable funding. Social Justice for All program.

Citizenship for hard-working, taxpaying immigrants.

Build a permanent pro-worker political majority that can win and sustain “a more just and humane society

Public transportation is the country’s lifeblood. But without new funding, maintaining an affordable, reliable mass transit system for the millions who depend on it is impossible.

Pass economic stimulus plan that includes balanced tax relief for working people and investments in jobs, education, healthcare, roads and bridges Pass SCHIP so more children have the healthcare they needStrengthen the voice of Americans to fight discrimination with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay ActPass a budget that puts a real down-payment toward guaranteeing the quality, affordable healthcare Americans deserveProvide a significant investment in green jobsas a pathway to a strong middle class and a sustainable futureFill Cabinet positions with nominees that working families can count onto stand up and fight for themProvide a pathway to legal status for young people who were brought to the U.S. as undocumented immigrant children

Give workers a choice, free from intimidation and harassment, to bargain for job security, better wages and health care

Keep an open dialogue with labor, business, community, faith and constituent leaders with top White House officials

Health Care for allLiving WagePaid Sick Days for All American WorkersAffordable HousingBetter SchoolsFair Tax FeesStop Foreclosures

Immigration

Stop Predatory Lending

Reform Utility Practices

Voter Engagement

Here’s another good example.  This is a document from Change to Win that outlines their agenda. It was published in June of 2006.  It reads like it’s January 20, 2009.  Even funnier, some of the exact wording can be found in the Stimulus Bill…a 2009 bill.  Coincidence?  Hardly.

Click to download the PDF

Click to download the PDF

Current Organizing Campaigns:

Below is a list, certainly not all inclusive, of many of the campaigns on which the unions are spending YOUR hard earned tax dollars. Oh, they’ll say member dues are paying for it. But we know otherwise.

Click to view SEIU Money & Influence

Click to view SEIU Money & Influence

Collaborative Campaign (Multiple Coalitions, Unions & Organizer Groups)

Health Care for America Now (HCAN)
From the HCAN website:   “Health Care for America Now (HCAN) is a national grassroots campaign of more than 1,000 organizations in 46 states representing 30 million people dedicated to winning quality, affordable health care we all can count on in 2009. Our organization and principles are supported by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and more than 190 Members of Congress.

We are building a national movement to win comprehensive health care reform by helping mobilize people in their communities to lobby their U.S. Senators and Representatives in Congress to stand up to the insurance companies and other special interest groups to achieve quality, affordable health care in 2009.”

HCAN Steering Committee:

ACORN, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, Americans United for Change, Campaign for America’s Future, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Campaign for Community Change, Children’s Defense Fund Action Council, Communications Workers of America, International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), MoveOn.org, NAACP, National Council of La Raza, National Education Association, National Women’s Law Center, SEIU, UFCW, USAction, Women’s Voices, Women’s Vote and Working America.

Complete list of more than 1,000 member organizations

Change to Win Campaigns

  • Walmart Workers For Change: Organizes workers in Wal-Mart stores.
  • Warehouse Workers United: Demanding their share of the prosperity. Also claiming warehouses are a net drain on our communities, increasing air pollution and congestion and contributing little to our tax base – demanding environmental justice..
  • Cure CVS: Claims CVS fails to provide equal access – not enough stores in areas of color. Calling on CVS to unlock condom cases in stores in minority and low-income communities. Also claims CVS overcharges for its products, especially in low-income and minority neighbrhoods..
  • Put Pharmacy First: Fighting for working conditions of retail pharmacists.
  • Alarmed About CVS Caremark: Protesting CVS and Caremark merger; fighting for better wages from the combined company.
  • Hotel Workers Rising: Boycotting hotels that don’t hire union workers, and those that pay union workers minimum wage.
  • Ports Protection: Working with The Teamsters unions, demanding permanent jobs and higher pay for truckers that deliver goods into and out of nation’s ports. Boycotts at security borders.
  • Uniform Justice: Demanding higher pay and job security for workers at uniform and laundry companies. Protecting immigrant workers from being fired and/or deported.

SEIU Campaigns:

  • Fire Ken Lewis: A coalition of unions join in fighting to get Ken Lewis ousted from Bank of America for lobbying against the Free Chice Act/Card Check bill, and demanding affordable health care benefits for all BoA workers.
  • Stop the Swiftboating of Health Care: Tell TV Networks: Prevent the Swift-Boating of Health Care; boycott Conservatives for Patients Rights. Boycott and complain to TV networks who are scaring Americans away from Health Care reform. (See the anti-Sean Hannity video)
  • American Rights at Work:  an “Employee Free Choice Act” supporting campaign. NOTE: This campaign has the ‘audacity’ to rip apart “Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW)” for a “misleading” name.  Wait, this is coming from the unions fighting for a cause that takes away a worker’s right to a secret ballot and calls it the “Employee Free Choice Act”?  And then, they slam CDW for trying to protect average American workers from being bullied and harassed by aggressive union organizers. More importantly “Coalition for a Democratic Workplace” is fighting to protect our Constitutional rights to freedom and liberty.
  • Take Back the Economy: The unions’ campaign to End Corporate Excess.
  • Fight the War on Greed: (SEIU with Brave New Films)  “Take Back the Economy” was to Vote Ken Lewis out as chair of Bank of America. Now that he’s been ousted, see who’s next on the chopping block to fight the war against greedy corporate workers.
  • Send a message to Gov. Schwarzenegger: No cuts for public workers. Demand Congress withhold stimulus cash if the Governor cuts union jobs.

ACORN Campaigns


June 3, 2009

ACORN Part III: From Rathke in New Orleans to Ratner in New York

UPDATE as of 11/25/2009:  Appeals Court Rules in favor of Bruce Ratner ||  PDFDownload this full post in print-friendly PDF

A Quick Tour of the Atlantic Yards Project

Once United, Now Divided

Do Scare Tactics Play a Role?

The Tables Are Turned

Let’s Examine the Evidence

Commentary

References, Records, Legal Docs

acorn-ratnerAmidst the coverage of ACORN for allegations of voter registration fraud, the Rathke embezzlement scandal, the ACORN-8 civil lawsuit and Justice Department complaint, controversy over Project Vote and alleged misuse of the Obama donors list, and most recently ACORN’s role in the upcoming Census in 2010, there lies a lesser told tale of controversy, conflict and allegation. Correction: it’s a feverishly told tale, at least in New York, but one largely ignored, perhaps because the very checks and balances that are supposed to be in place to expose allegations of impropriety apparently fall by the wayside when the media itself becomes part of the story (allegedly…).

This is a long, complex story that has many twists and turns, and many angles (angles that, quite frankly, I’d consider more important than the one I’m going to cover here). This is a compartmentalized version of a broader story, and will focus primarily on its relevance to ACORN.

On December 10, 2003, one of the most ambitious real estate development projects in the history of Brooklyn was announced, a project that would later unfold into layers of conflict and speculated corruption, and be considered by many to be “the most controversial project ever in New York.”

The Atlantic Yards project, an endeavor of high-profile real estate developer Bruce Ratner and his Forest City Ratner companies, is a 22-acre mixed-use commercial and residential development project that cuts through the neighborhoods of Prospect Heights and Park Slope in Brooklyn, NY.

A Quick Tour of the Atlantic Yards Project

The project’s footprint is massive in nature, especially given the size and makeup of the area in which it will be located, which covers an area of a few

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

blocks. To be built above the Vanderbilt Rail Yards and pervading the residential blocks of Pacific and Dean Streets where they intersect with Flatbush and Vanderbilt Avenues, 17 buildings, some as high as 600 feet, will consume the neighborhood. Atlantic Yards will consist of:

  • Barclay’s Center, an 850,000 square foot sports and entertainment arena to house the Brooklyn Nets and other performance venues
  • 336,000 square feet of office space
  • a 180-room boutique hotel
  • 247,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space for local businesses
  • more than 6,400 units of residential condominiums, 50% of which will be designated as affordable housing pursuant a Community Benefits Agreement that was negotiated between Ratner and ACORN et al

While some of the area slated for development consists of unused rail yards and some abandoned historic buildings, such as the Ward Bread Bakery building and the Long Island Railroad Stables building, a portion of the area also consists of private residences, many of them historic brownstones and low-rise buildings that have been renovated or restored by their owners over the years to turn the area into a thriving, diversified community. Many have longed for the rail yards to be developed, including residents; however, they’ve long expected any development would remain in keeping with the general feel of the community.

The tricky thing here is that the development site straddles an area that intersects between a lower-income neighborhood that is made up of predominantly minority residents, and a moderate income neighborhood that is predominantly white (some younger, more recent transplants, some from generations of Italian, Jewish, and German immigrants). Over the years, as transplants have settled in the Prospect Heights neighborhood and begun renovating and restoring many of the brownstone and low-rise properties and opening up small businesses, residents of the adjacent neighborhood of Park Slope have complained that the gentrification of Prospect Heights has increased both the median income and the housing prices for the area, making housing less affordable to the lower income residents of Park Slope and other nearby communities. Further, those concerned about accessible housing for low-income residents have feared the situation would worsen as a result of the Atlantic Yards project, given the addition of so much luxury housing and commercial development to the area. Minority community organizations had speculated that thousands of minority and immigrant populations will be displaced.

Once United, Now Divided

Sufficed to say, the Atlantic Yards project has been met with opposition from many groups since its announcement, each of them making some of the following arguments.

  • Residents will suffer the obvious impact to their own homes – their surroundings will be overwhelmed by enormous towers and huge increases in traffic, people, noise and pollution; many will even lose their homes altogether to demolition. Those who do remain are concerned about having open public spaces and open streets ideal for proper community building.
  • Local businesses (and residents) want to preserve small, local retail and fear the new retail space will far exceed their level of affordability and will cater instead to corporate and chain businesses.
  • Environmentalists want the plan to reuse some existing buildings and work them into the overall aesthetic of the existing neighborhood; they also want the design substantially reduced to better manage gridlock and pollution, as well as make use of sustainability models.
  • Historic Preservation groups want to keep the existing brownstones in tact, and want to preserve the historic buildings in the area and the nature of the surrounding architecture and landscape.
  • Transportation agencies are concerned about the lack of planning to divert congestion, and manage parking issues and mass transit inefficiencies.
  • Community Advocates insist that the project will cause the neighborhood to undergo an accelerated gentrification process and make the area unaffordable to the average Brooklyn resident.
  • The public in general, at least those familiar with the area, have opposed the lack of public input in planning and decision making, which has largely been made behind closed doors and without any non-partisan entity to represent the interests of the public.

As opposition groups formed, controversy began to grow over the media coverage of the Atlantic Yards project. As a joint partner of Forest City Ratner, there had already been rampant criticism of the New York Times in 2001 for its business relationship with Forest City Ratner and their use of eminent domain to build the new New York Times headquarters building in Times Square, which opened in 2007. Charges of impropriety and conflict of interest eventually ran through various city agencies, the Empire State Development Corporation, Forest City Ratner as well as the New York Times itself, given that all had a vested interest in good media coverage and quelling opposition. An obvious concern therefore with the Atlantic Yards project, both of Brooklyn residents and other media outlets, was whether the New York Times, once considered to be *the* authoritative source of area coverage, could possibly report objectively this time around. With the media desperately needed to serve its role as one of the necessary checks and balances in this case, residents especially became skeptical and eventually fearful of the Times coverage. They recognized early on that building and maintaining support for the Atlantic Yards project would be key for Ratner and for the New York Times. And, here we were, just off the heels of the New York Times-Ratner Times Square building project, repeating the same scenario again.

As controversy grew, the nature of the New York Times’ coverage – or lack thereof – was frequently called to task. Any coverage that the paper did provide on the Atlantic Yards project was viewed as overwhelmingly supportive, and often seemed even to lean toward supporters of the project. Local papers in the heart of those communities, such as The Brooklyn Paper, covered the story with a view from the inside, often times exposing woeful inadequacies of the Times coverage. The IFC Media Project, even featured a segment alleging that one of that paper’s reporters, Deborah Kolben, was even fired by her prior employer, The Daily News, at the request of Bruce Ratner himself, apparently because Ratner found her coverage to be less than complimentary.

There were additional reports that the New York Times was not presenting a balanced view of the story; some even suggested that the publication was working with Ratner to purposely pit the communities against each other, making race and socio-economic status the characteristics that determined the project’s supporters versus the opposers.  When affordable housing was added to the project’s plans through the efforts of ACORN, the gamefield shifted – opposers were portrayed as “greedy white people” who didn’t care about the housing and jobs that the project would bring to the community, a mantra echoed from all the way up to Mayor Bloomberg, Governors Spitzer and Paterson, Chuck Schumer, and the rest of the state’s Congressional representatives.

In addition, there were claims that the Times coverage was notably absent about several key issues that included allegations against ACORN and BUILD, groups that participated in the controversial Community Benefits Agreement, which includes stipulations that are questionable to say the least (more on that later).  What had started out as a willing effort amongst the affected communities to work together to present an alternative proposal that would preserve the personality and diversity of their communities, while protecting existing homes, and creating new affordable housing and jobs, had evidently been manipulated into a race war and a class war of sorts.

Do Scare Tactics Play a Role?

In retrospect, one of the earliest opposers of Bruce Ratner was actually Bertha Lewis, of the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN). Years earlier, when Forest City Ratner had opened its Atlantic Center in Brooklyn, only blocks from the current Atlantic Yards project, Lewis staunchly opposed Ratner by organizing picketers, even storming his office. She demanded that the businesses located in the retail space of Ratner’s building pay their workers better wages, a fight she eventually won. And as new development has progressed in Brooklyn neighborhoods over the years, Lewis and ACORN have consistently muscled the developers into meeting ACORN’s demands for affordable housing and other benefits for their communities, seemingly as payback for the developers’ driving up the median income and housing prices. And as a close working partner of unions such as SEIU, IBEW and AFL-CIO, ACORN frequently guns for all new development projects to create union jobs during construction and to maintain union workers once the projects are completed.  They are known for using signature tactics against even the most reasonable of opposition, tactics that focus on manufacturing racial and socio-economic undertones when none initially exist; sometimes a few unknowingly take the bait and fall prey to the trap, more frequently, the aggression that accompanies their rhetoric simply intimidates the others into abandoning their cause altogether.

ACORN's stance before receiving Ratner cash

ACORN's stance before receiving Ratner cash

And, as the Atlantic Yards project progressed, this was precisely the case again with ACORN. When local residents living in the homes that are in the direct path of Atlantic Yards demolition banded together to create groups like “Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn” to try and oppose the massive development project and avoid an eminent domain land grab case, Bertha Lewis was initially helpful, according to reports, offering advice on how to “gum them up”, referring to slowing down the project by way of obstructing the process. Initally, ACORN opposed the Atlantic Yards project. However, as talks between ACORN and Ratner occurred in parallel, behind closed doors, it apparently did not take long for ACORN to seemingly change their tune and to start attacking opposers with divisive, confrontational rhetoric.

“It is because of race and class that whenever you have a small group of white liberals running and screaming about something, people think it’s important. They don’t have to worry about affordable housing. They don’t give a damn about people of color. All they care about is preserving their little Prospect Heights community,” Bertha Lewis said in statements to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 06/09/05

Despite the fact that the members of “Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn” (DDDB) were supportive of developing the community, simply on a much more understated scale, and that they fully embraced the notion of creating jobs and ensuring that designated affordable housing would be available to low and moderate income families, ACORN continued to drive a wedge between themselves and any opposers.

The Tables Are Turned

As weeks and months passed, the confrontations and the rhetoric seemed to keep heating up. More and more groups like ACORN and BUILD began to band together in fierce support for Ratner and the Atlantic Yards project. Meanwhile members of opposition groups like DDDB grew increasingly uncomfortable, and speculated that Ratner and other supporters, including some media, were intentionally creating a racially charged situation in order to intimidate project opponents into defeat. Words got really ugly on both sides, but even a prominent city council member (and former Black Panther) who was in favor of moving the project to his own district admittedly noted that there was manipulation going on and people abusing and hiding behind “the race card” in order to advance their own selfish agenda for their organization rather than work as a group of communities together.

By about May of 2005, when a Memorandum of Understanding was drawn and signed between Bruce Ratner and Bertha Lewis, the rhetoric between ACORN and DDDB and other Atlantic Yards opposition was reaching new heights. The entire focus of all development negotiations with any of the “public” groups had been quickly shifted to the benefits of affordable housing and “thousands of jobs” the project would bring to a community supposedly suffering economically. The project itself had grown significantly in scope and in budget. This was in stark contrast to what the residents of Prospect Heights and members of DDDB had been discussing with ACORN and other project advocates. To even the most unfamiliar outsider to the story, it seemed clear that public negotiations had been all but hijacked. With the focus of the Atlantic Yards project now placed squarely upon offering affordable housing, creating union jobs, paying a living wage to project workers and building tenant employees, and generating stimulus for a socio-economic depressed area and disadvantaged class of citizens, this changed the politics of the project from one of a private investor to one in which the state had a legal public interest in seeing completed. After hearing Bertha Lewis present her version of the plan and quoting some overly positive – and questionable – statistics, members of the other parties grew even more concerned and began challenging Lewis.

“In order to get the affordable housing, we’ve lost our sense of community and ability to have input into the public process,” said Candace Carponter, of DDDB at a joint panel discussion between the parties titled Affordable Housing and the Atlantic Yards Development. Carponter went on to explain that with the current plan as Lewis presented it, it would cost at least three times as much to build this as other organizations could do it, it would use eminent domain, and at least $1.5 to $2 billion to build the project. “This is a low-rise neighborhood.” Carponter said. “Most of the buildings are five or six stories. It’s Brownstone Brooklyn at its organic best.”

“The affordable housing, the promise of jobs are being used as a Trojan horse for a massive land grab,” Carponter continued. “It is not necessary to build an arena to build affordable housing.”

(Source: Atlantic Yards Report)

Throughout the discussion, the records indicate that words became quite heated, and there was a lot of back and forth challenging occurring between Bertha Lewis/ACORN and the other parties, who were supposed to be there to try and determine compromises and potential alternatives together. As more people challenged Lewis about the fact that she’d already independently signed a MOU with Ratner, which legally binds ACORN to publicly support the project, it became evident that the project would be moving forward, with its larger scale and revised focus firmly rooted without the rest of the public’s input.

One of the panelists, a non-partisan law professor, tried to bring the discussion back to the heart of the matter. “I’m going to put to one side the obvious questions that this raises, which is: ‘Why isn’t the government speaking for the community?’ What’s wrong with our processes?”

As members of DDDB responded with their concerns over the now evident issue of an abusive land-grab planned under the pretense of eminent domain, the discussion turned again to the ACORN agenda, as Bertha Lewis insisted that the real issue is “about black and brown people in Central Brooklyn.”

ACORN's stance today

ACORN's stance today

Only one month later, the Community Benefits Agreement surfaced. This is a legally binding agreement between Ratner and several organizations, supposedly representing the interests of the public and making negotiated concessions amongst those parties.

PDF
Download the CBA

Those parties represented in the CBA?

  • All Faith Council of Brooklyn
  • ACORN
  • Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD)
  • Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA)
  • Downtown Brooklyn Educational Consortium (DBEC)
  • First Atlantic Terminal Housing Committee (FATHC)
  • NY State Association of Minority Contractors (NYSAMC)
  • Public Housing Communities (PHC)

You’ll notice that a key party is conspicuously missing from the CBA – DDDB, the very group from which many members actually live in homes that are in the direct path of the Atlantic Yards project.  Several of the other parties listed in the CBA, most notably BUILD and ACORN, are alleged to have been recruited by the developer, given funds to operate in their designated roles for the AY project, and in some cases even given a salary by the developer (as is noted in the written contracts and agreements published by FCR). It would appear that there was hardly anything public about the input collected and the agreement drafted.  Once the project turned into a “public housing, union jobs” project, it was turned into a land grab case under eminent domain, also making it eligible for state and federal funds.

While other community members tried to understand the latest turn of events and an apparent shutout from the public decision making process, some interesting documents turned up that brought some light to the issue, and helped solidify the beliefs of many that these were actually “paid supporters” against whom they were fighting.

Let’s Examine the Evidence

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

First was a document between Bruce Ratner’s Sr. Vice President, David Berliner, and Bertha Lewis/ACORN, signed on August 19, 2008. It is a written agreement for Forest City Ratner to provide a loan plus a grant to ACORN, totaling $1.5 Million.

So, the first question is:

What happened around August of 2008 that prompted the need for some cash for ACORN, that was negotiated so quietly? Other monetary negotiations for ACORN’s Atlantic Yards related activities were documented elsewhere, and made public. But not this. Why? I cannot answer that, so I’ll simply list some current events at that time – you can connect the dots:

  • June 9, 2008: Strom’s NY Times story breaks, publicizing the Rathke $1 Million embezzlement scandal (which had been under wraps since it occurred in 2000). Further stories collaborated with Anita MonCrief follow from Strom. Until of course the stories get too close to ACORN and to the Ratner deal.
  • August 2008: Marcel Reid, Karen Inman and the rest of the ACORN-8 (current and former ACORN members) file suit against ACORN to demand full financial disclosure
  • August 22, 2008: “U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign paid more than $800,000 to an offshoot of the liberal Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now for services the Democrat’s campaign says it mistakenly misrepresented in federal reports.”
    Pittsburgh Tribune
  • October 8, 2008: Miller and Grant vs. ACORN and Project Vote/Voting for America, Voter Registration Fraud lawsuit filed with Ohio Court of Common Pleas

Secondly, why did Bertha Lewis quietly negotiate her own Memo of Understanding with Ratner in such an underhanded manner? More importantly, why would Lewis commit herself to the strong language in the agreement, which states the following:

Download the full PDF

Download the full PDF

While the community groups that were supposed to be publicly negotiating together, in the interest of the neighborhood as a whole, were still conducting meetings and discussions, Bertha Lewis cuts a side deal with Bruce Ratner to ensure the ACORN housing proposal flies, no matter what the end solution is. She wants 50% of the residential units to be affordable housing. At a community planning meeting with the groups she’s supposed to be having open discussions with, she deflects challenges regarding this clause. Many residents speculate the agreement may be nothing more than a payoff.

Lewis ends the session, ““We don’t know what the state is going to allow Bruce Ratner to do,” she said. “Whatever the state allows him [Ratner] to do, the deal is 50/50…You guys are so fucking disrespectful. You would not ask Extell [an alternate proposal for consideration] this. Don’t talk to me, talk to the state.”

Lastly, there’s the publicly glorified “Community Benefits Agreement”, hailed as a great example of diplomacy and compromise in the community. Like the MOU that Bertha Lewis negotiated with Ratner on ACORN’s behalf, the CBA focused more on removing any obstacles to the AY project, by accommodating the specific needs of a select few organizations with an agenda. And it contained the same clause as noted above in the MOU – this time for all 8 of the participating organizations. If the allegations are true, that’s sure a lot of “rent-a-mob” employees.

PDFDownload the Community Benefits Agreement

Probably most controversial throughout the later history of the project however, has been the use (or abuse) of eminent domain (and this is part of the bigger story I’d encourage readers to explore). In order to achieve the full scope of the project, Ratner and the city invoked the use of eminent domain to seize 68 privately held properties from residents wishing to remain in their homes. To many, this appeared to be a clear abuse of the law. After filing suit against Ratner, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki, residents and a local business owner alleged “the Project itself was conceived by Ratner, and is being driven by his needs, motives, and vision, not those of the public at large,” challenging the constitutional use of eminent domain in this case. Plaintiffs also claimed that Bloomberg and Pataki have backed the proposal and guarded it from review by community boards or the City Council, keeping the public from providing input or offering alternatives. At state senate hearings, the Ratner camp was spotted handing out hard hats, vests and whistles to “union members” who then marched outside and into the building in support of the project. It’s been a frequent sight, and one blogger called it “manufactured chaos”.  Funny thing, it is such a well known tactic seen regularly at rallies where ACORN and SEIU are the hired rent-a-mobs.

As ACORN supported Democratic candidates in local, state and federal elected positions, both financially and by way of sheer people support at events, some under its ACORN name, some under the “Working Families Party” name (also see Lewis, Co-Chair), and others through any of the many ACORN affiliates (i.e. CCI), support from government officials for the Atlantic Yards project grew stronger and stronger.

Meanwhile, IRS filings for Ratner’s other big (hired) support group BUILD indicated that its entire $5 Million budget from 2005 and 2006 was solely funded by Ratner (see “IRS documents show BUILD relies on Ratner–but the Times ignores the Daily News’s scoop” under References below). When residents alerted the NY Times, once again, the paper simply made no mention of it.

And in the End…

Long story short, after back and forth lawsuits, the project may finally be moving ahead, sort of. A panel of four New York appellate judges ruled May 16th, 2009 that Forest City Ratner’s use of eminent domain to take private property to build a new home for the Nets does not violate the state Constitution.

Read a Daily News article on this decision

So, six years later, while once thriving businesses and family residences now lie in ruins, demolished in anticipation of the new development, the Atlantic Yards project is expected to resume once again, legal battles supposedly having  been cleared away…for now.  Meanwhile, ACORN has continued its undying, unconditional support of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project even though there is barely any talk of affordable housing any more, let alone actual construction of any.

Download the full PDF

Download the full PDF

But that hasn’t stopped Ratner or ACORN from lobbying for federal stimulus funds to subsidize the Atlantic Yards monstrosity.  And guess what? They’ve been getting them, at least by way of qualifying for breaks on bonds – and they’re still trying, with some help from folks like Chuck Schumer and Al D’Amato and his Park Strategies outfit.

And the New York Times? They remain conspicuously subdued – even absent – in their coverage, unless it’s positive news, of course.  And forget any reporting on the ACORN front. As a joint partner with 48% shared ownership of several Forest City Ratner projects including their own building, they wouldn’t risk losing the largest supporter, most powerful muscle machine, most successful fundraiser and most influential federal-grant-funneling partner they’ve got in ACORN.

Commentary

I’ll conclude by offering my own commentary, and by posing a few questions for the reader to consider.

Let me preface this by stating that I fully support the principle of a non-profit organization that solicits funding for programs to aid disadvantaged citizens in any way, so long as it is private funding. My own upbringing was that of a disadvantaged citizen, the child of a single mother, living barely above the federal poverty level in a declining railroad community. But our founding fathers were very clear about their beliefs that private citizens and private businesses are the best resources to aid the general public, not the government. And I have found this to be true. The funds and resources allocated by the private sector for such purposes are far more efficiently managed, and the potential for corruption is significantly reduced, especially since the element of political campaign contributions and the exchanging of favors is removed. My community and empathetic citizens and private organizations aided me and my family far better than the government could.

Given this background, I fundamentally disagree with the approach that organizations like ACORN take in trying to better the lives of minorities and the disadvantaged. The model of government regulation and entitlement programs has long been proven to hold back such groups, and often contributes to the financial stagnation of impoverished neighborhoods and decay in job growth. If my tax-payer dollars are going to be allocated somewhere, I would prefer the money goes to reputable, private organizations with a proven model of success behind which I can proudly stand.

Secondly, the standard tactics consistently employed by ACORN specifically are something that I just find to be reprehensible. I would never support anyone or any organization that employs bullying, confrontational or intentionally divisive tactics to selfishly further its own causes. That is the ACORN that I’ve seen in action at events I’ve attended and communities in which I’ve lived. And since I would never financially support such behavior willingly, it infuriates me that I am forced to support this behavior unwillingly, as a tax-payer. What is most unfortunate is that this image is what discredits any of the good intentions that ACORN may have had, or the honorable activities they may have conducted at any time. And I know that there are still some good people in ACORN, and some good people who’d left, who somehow still believe the ACORN name can be repaired.

The reality is that this is an organization that has already admitted to embezzling $1 million, admitted to never having notified the authorities or their donors (a whistleblower had to do it for them), and has several current lawsuits against it (and despite their claims, the lawsuits do name ACORN, the group, as a defendant). Yet, this is an organization that receives millions of dollars in federal funding every year – money that comes from American taxpayers, many of whom I would venture to guess strongly and fundamentally disagree with their principles and their methods. This is an organization with the power to organize millions of union members to support any cause it desires, the power to influence the decisions of our nation’s lawmakers, the power to force private businesses to change their practices, even the power to force our nation onto government health care. This is an organization that has publicly denounced capitalism and free markets, the very principles upon which our nation and its Constitution are founded.

I vehemently disagree with every one of the principles by which this organization operates. And yet, my government forces me to compromise my own values and to subsidize the very behavior that I despise, with my hard-earned tax dollars. Still worse, I watch my tax dollars go right back into the pockets of the very politicians I just voted against. Donated to them by ACORN.

Have we no more honest lawmakers anymore that are strong enough to stand up to this? Where is our representation, where are our voices? At a time when Americans are struggling to hold onto every dollar they make, why are our tax dollars being permitted to go to politicians by way of ACORN? And with an admitted embezzlement and a variety of lawsuits and allegations against them, why do they qualify for any federal funding? They receive plenty of private funding from groups like the Tides Foundation

I end by posing a few rhetorical questions:

  • If an organization receives tax-payer funding of any kind, should that organization be allowed to donate to political campaigns or political causes?
  • Should a non-profit organization that receives federal funding be permitted to enter into a legally binding agreement that requires that organization to publicly support a project – a project that has significant political implications? Should they be permitted to accept any sort of funds (donation, loan, salary, etc.) from that business?
  • The media has a duty to serve the public with honesty and integrity in their crucial role in a system of checks and balances that were established by our founding fathers to keep politics and power in check. Where is the line drawn for the media when it comes to its business investments, partnerships, and associations? Can the public trust that a news outlet will remain objective if it has a vested interest in other business matters?

References, Records, Legal Docs


Financial Records & Legal Docs:

References/Links:

ACORN makes much of its political donations through other 527s organizations, such as America Votes, in addition to joining forces with labor unions and other organizations that can make political donations under less restrictions than theirs (labor unions are supposed to be very rigid in campaign finance limitations; however, given the billions spent by unions annually in politics, it would appear that most have found ways to donate quite freely).

Top 50 Federally Focused Organizations, 527s. Click to Enlarge.
Top 50 Federally Focused Organizations, 527s. Click to Enlarge.

America Votes members, including ACORN & SEIU. Click to Enlarge.
America Votes members, including ACORN & SEIU. Click to Enlarge.

Filed under Economy, Bailouts, Socialism, stimulus, obama, Inside the White House, Left Wing Alert, Media Bias, The 912 Project, ACORN, voter registration, shell game, Schumer, protest, Taxes, spending, Unions

Tagged as , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


May 29, 2009

ACORN, Fed Census Bureau Docs Obtained. Be afraid.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, obtained yesterday a collection of documents and emails – 126 pages worth – detailing exactly what level of involvement ACORN will have in the 2010 Census, and what role a “Partner” for the US Census Bureau plays. It was obtained under threat of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. (Yeah, you go Judicial Watch!!!)

PDFDownload the full 126-pg document

After I read through all of the documents, I was left more confused than anything. And probably more disturbed than before.  The majority of the emails between the Census Bureau employees and other internal agencies indicate that most seem to be  less interested in getting to the truth, and far more concerned about

“the need to be able to counter the chorus of critics trying to allege that there is widespread likelihood that census takers could breach the public trust.” (pg 111, Jeri Green, Chief, Census Advisory Committee Office)

Another email, from Kevin Griffis, even seems to imply that there may be some political pressure being placed on Congress members who dare to voice their concerns.  In response to the letter that Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama wrote to President Obama on March 20, 2009, Mr. Griffis advised staffers this:

“Seems like there needs to be some political outreach to Shelby’s office. Who does that? Also, let’s make sure to monitor this paper this weekend.”

(The paper referenced is the Huntsville Times of Alabama, which had published a story referencing Shelby’s letter and his concerns).

And then, there’s this email that seems more concerned with perpetuating the myth that any concerns over ACORN are just manufactured by Rush Limbaugh and the Republicans:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The end result of all this back and forth between staffers and agencies is a single message at which they arrived to provide their employees receiving incoming calls “from angry callers” and for the media (specifically for Fox News, according to their rather biased written gripes, if you asked me).  That set of talking points, addressing who’s eligible and who’s not for Census Partners:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

And then, they refer to the points that are provided with the program materials for Census Partners, indicating what roles a partner may play in the US Census.  Here is ACORN’s application, indicating the role they will play in the Census:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The Census Bureau’s official statement on ACORN’s role in the Census:

“Any charge or claim that a Census Bureau partner could influence or have direct input into census operations is baseless and inaccurate. The sole entity that will be conducting the 2010 Census is the U.S. Census Bureau, along with its hundreds of thousands of dedicated workers. Period.

“Further, the Census Bureau has strict quality assurance prcedures in every operation to prevent the introduction of errors and/or fraudulent information into the national count.

The Census Bureau remains committed to producing an accurate 2010 census count–counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place.”

Well, here are my own personal follow-ups on this:

  1. After reading the documents and seeing the manner in which internal Census Bureau and other agency employees interact with each other in response to a mere Fox News story, I am not encouraged that even the Census employees really understand what the ACORN concerns are all about, nor do they seem to care in the slightest about restoring the confidence of the American people.  It’s easily discernable simply from the tone of their official statement above. Any public figure who ends a statement by spelling out the word “period” is being nothing but defensive. Last I checked, the claims were against ACORN, not them. (However, now I wonder…)
  2. While the Census Bureau repeatedly insists that ACORN will have no ability to influence ANYTHING in the Census, the claim seems a bit disingenuous.  Any partner, according to their own materials, is asked to, among other things “Encourage employees and constituents to complete and mail their questionnaire…send an endorsement to members, chapters or affiliates…volunteer or participate in Census sponsored events.”  By their very nature, these activities put ACORN members and volunteers in contact with those who will be receiving and completing census questionnaires. It gives ACORN the opportunity to speak to those recipients, verbally or in writing. It gives ACORN the opportunity to try and influence the way that recipients should answer their questions. Given that ACORN is publicly running several campaigns to influence the redistricting of several congressional districts in an effort to better influence the outcome of federal funding awards and policy decisions in their favor.
  3. Given that its own employees speak about enforcing “some political outreach” to members of Congress who try to speak out about their concerns with ACORN, I doubt that Congress will make any headway with any investigation of ACORN, whether it’s related to the census or not. So much for the will of The People.
  4. The Census Bureau defines a partner ineligible to participate if it is “a hate group…or if it is a law enforcement, anti-immigration group, or any group that might make people fearful of participating in the census.”

Regarding #4:

First, I’d call ACORN a hate group. Their good intentions have far been overshadowed by the forceful, mob tactics used in programs like “Muscle for the Money” and by the reverse racist rhetoric against any person who is not a minority and questions in any way their fundraising and bookeeping practices.

But more importantly, I will be fearful of participating in the census if any person from ACORN comes to my door, even if only for pre-census counting activities, as the bureau claims.  I do not want ACORN at my door, ever.  Therefore, I will not participate in the census if ACORN is involved.  If that means I’ll need a lawyer, then so be it.  Now, to whom must I write my letter???

Hat Tip: Judicial Watch


May 15, 2009

ACORN Part II: Anna Burger, SEIU and the Change to Win story

UPDATE:  I originally made this post in May 2009.  But with the recent coverage on the APOLLO Alliance this August, I thought I’d also point my readers to this 2007 press release, headlined “Business, Environmental, Labor Leaders Join Senators, Governors At Apollo Alliance Summit – Urge Congress To Invest In Clean Energy Initiatives”.   Read Anna Burger’s statement in that release…then read the post below…and then, be sure to follow it up with my post titled “Whose Agenda Is It, Really?”.  I’ll allow you to connect your own dots.

As I left off with Part I of my last post, “Rathke, ACORN, SEIU, Tides Foundation, Oh My…“, the trail that begins with the Rathkes quickly intersects with groups and individuals like ACORN, SEIU, Drummond Pike, the Tides Foundation, Citizen’s Consulting Inc. (aka Citizens Services Inc.), George Wiley, Democracy Alliance, George Soros, They Work for Us, Change to Win and Anna Burger. (Seriously, look them all up with a map from Muckety.com, or look at the maps I created in my last post)

I want to pick up Part II beginning with Anna Burger.
In February of 2009, Ms. Burger was appointed by President Obama to his Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  Announced on November 26, 2008, the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) is a new panel of non-governmental experts from business, labor, academia and elsewhere that President Obama instituted on February 6, 2009. The board reports regularly to Obama and his economic team on the current economic crisis and develops proposals that are then recommended to President Obama.

Anna Burger is a key member of this Board, also having been active in the Progressive Labor Movement for over 30 years, with leadership roles in organizations such as SEIU (and ACORN), They Work for Us, and Change to Win.  She campaigned heavily for Obama, and invested millions in advertising, campaigning, canvassing and organizing in support of Obama. In fact, through SEIU, she filed almost $28 Million worth of expenses with the FEC (see report below) in support of Obama during the election (and another $3.5 Million in ads against John McCain).  Given that she has aggressively pushed the Economic Recovery Act from her position as economic adviser to Obama, as well as a progressive agenda that includes the same Health Care initiatives as the president’s, I’d say this seems like quite a big conflict of interest. But I’ll address that in more detail later.

FEC-db

Click to open full report in PDF. Support expenses on pg. 6.

changetowin-webAccording to her own “Change to Win” website, Anna Burger

“is both a top ranking officer at SEIU, the nation’s largest and fastest growing union, and the first chair of America’s newest labor federation, Change to Win.

Founded in September 2005 by SEIU and six other major unions representing six million workers, Change to Win is developing joint industry-based organizing campaigns aimed at ensuring that workers, not just CEOs, benefit from today’s global economy.”

Change to Win is a well-known organization with a history in labor union organizing founded upon the the social movement unionism/community unionism models.  They have been active with member groups such as The Teamsters union, SEIU, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, and Unite Here, among others. With over 6 million members, they organize worker uprising events such as the “End Corporate Excess” campaigns, which included the March 19th Take Back the Economy rally, aimed at (their words, not mine) “the greedy CEOs who use taxpayers’ money to feather their own nests and restrict your right to organize”.

The odd parallel to this story is that several of these very same organizations, most notably “Change to Win” and SEIU, are referenced in the current federal complaint against forrmer IL governor Rod Blagojevich. While some of the story has been released in bits and pieces by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and other sources, the ongoing legal investigation calls for the majority of it to be kept under wraps while legal proceedings progress.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that we hear very little on this subject from Anna Burger, Andy Stern, SEIU, Change to Win or any of the Good Ol’ Boys Club from the shining city on the Hill. Further, since so much of Change to Win’s money is funneled into ACORN and many of its hundreds of affiliates, there’s no shortage of places to stash the Stimulus cash that continues to pour into these groups to fund their very progressive agenda, which is an assault on Capitalism and free markets, and often resorts to very intimidating tactics. And many of these are organizations that have been around a long time.

Here’s just a sampling of a report from a query of the Office of Labor Management Standards Public Disclosure database, the system that records payment activity to and from organized unions and union PACs.  It’s interesting to note the various organizations that Change to Win deals with, and the amount of money that goes into and comes out of some specific organizations, such as ACORN and SEIU, among many others.  In 2008 alone, nearly $18 Million changed hands between the triangulation of the federal government, Change to Win, and other organizations. Perhaps it’s all 100% legitimate; I’m simply pointing it out. Whether it’s legit or not, with that much money involved, it creates the opportunity for abuse, which is a concern in and of itself.

PDF
ChangeToWin-2008-pymts

VIEW “THE ACORN MONEY TRAIL” on this page for FINANCIAL RECORDS, REPORTS, COURT FILINGS

Going back to the Blagojevich case, here’s where some of the alleged connections come into play:

The Hill reported on  12/9/2008 :

In a taped phone conversation with Chief of Staff John Harris and an unnamed Washington, D.C.-based adviser on Nov. 7, Blagojevich allegedly plotted out a three-way deal to acquire a job as head of Change to Win, with a desired salary of $250,000 to $300,000 per year. Blagojevich would then have appointed Jarrett–allegedly identified as the president-elect’s favorite for the spot–thereby currying favor with Obama. He would then have spent that favor by arranging for the president-elect to help push Change to Win’s legislative agenda, which includes health care reform, a broad economic stimulus package, and the controversial Employee Free Choice Act.

Jarrett, a close adviser to Obama, was not named in the report but has been identified based on other information the report contained.

According to the Department of Justice’s account of the taped conversation, Harris suggested that Blagojevich could be crowned as head of Change to Win by an unnamed Service Employees International Union (SEIU) official. SEIU is one of the largest unions under the Change to Win umbrella; it is currently headed by Andy Stern, who led the creation of Change to Win. SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger serves as its chair.

Both SEIU and Change to Win have denied such allegations.

See the Chicago Fox News affiliate report on the Blago-SEIU union contract allegations from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (posted by the National Right to Work):

The connection between Blago, SEIU, and “Change to Win” becomes even more evident when reading the affidavit that was filed as part of “United States vs. Rod R. Blagojevich and John Harris”:

Later on November 5, Blagojevich said to Advisor A, “I’ve got this thing and it’s [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there,” the affidavit states.

Two days later, in a three-way call with Harris and Advisor B, a consultant in Washington, Blagojevich and the others allegedly discussed the prospect of a three-way deal for the Senate appointment involving an organization called “Change to Win,” which is affiliated with various unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

On November 10, Blagojevich, his wife, Harris, Governor General Counsel, Advisor B and other Washington-based advisors participated at different times in a two-hour phone call in which they allegedly discussed, among other things, a deal involving the SEIU. Harris said they could work out a deal with the union and the President-elect where SEIU could help the President-elect with Blagojevich’s appointment of Senate Candidate 1, while Blagojevich would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in the future. Also during that call, Blagojevich agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding him.

I may just be your average layperson, but this really does not seem to be entirely on the up and up. I’m not accusing….just sayin’, that’s all.  At the very least, it warrants some public explanation from either Anna Burger from “Change to Win” (and member of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board),  or from President Obama himself. I just don’t feel very good about the fact that since as far back as 2005, possibly even 2003, this ginormous coalition of big, powerful labor unions now in “Change to Win” has been very active in the Chicago machine…and now, many of the very same players are in some of the highest positions in the country, with immediate access to our President, advising the President of the United States on how and where to spend the emergency Stimulus money during a time of economic crisis.

These are all also the very same unions that are hired to rally against private corporations, the same ones that receive funds from Congress for a multitude of programs, like mortgage subsidies, and many will even be involved in conducting the 2010 Census.

After reading and listening to Anna Burger’s remarks in 2008 about her organizations’ agendas, which were again reinforced in the federal complaint where even Blago allegedly promised “to push Change to Win’s legislative agenda, which includes healthcare reform, a broad economic stimulus package, and the controversial Employee Free Choice Act”, it just seems literally impossible that it’s all just a coincidence.

divider

aburger-obama
How would it be coincidence that Obama selected Burger as a key member of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board, despite this ongoing investigation into these allegations?

And more importantly, just look at the key agenda items again:
healthcare reform, a broad economic stimulus package, and the Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check bill).

Sure, she is a legitimate, well-known figure in the labor movement, and has been for a long time.  I’m not necessarily accusing anyone of anything illegal.  But I am pointing out what to me seems an obvious conflict of interest; to me, potentially unethical.

divider

Is it really just coincidence that now, 7 months later, this President has focused aggressively on precisely those key agenda items, among others I’ve not even mentioned yet?

Just listen to this speech given by Ms. Burger in 2008 at the 2008 SEIU Convention, in her roles as Secretary of the SEIU and Chair of Change to Win, prior to the Presidential election. It’s also followed by other videos that outline her agenda for America under the Obama administration.

Anna Burger Talks About SEIU’s support for Barack Obama

Anna Burger Lays Out Service Workers’ Agenda at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO

Big Moment for Labor Movement
Anna Burger on the employee free choice act and other priorities.
http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=7068521

Now I know I may sound as though I’m anti-union.  And maybe to some extent, I am. But I’m only against unions that abuse their powers, that use their cause as a front for something else, that purposely keep their members down and hold them back for their own selfish purposes, and those that use bully tactics to push an agenda that might be TOO progressive – to the point that the agenda might conflict with the very ideals upon which this country was founded. But I do support unions that serve a necessary purpose – those that truly protect workers from harm and provide them with fair wages that never would have been won otherwise. Those that help their members succeed by giving them access to true opportunity in a fair, competitive, free market system where their talents will shine and they will thrive.

As an aside, I myself was once forced to be in a union while I worked for AT&T for several years.  I do know what the environment is like. I did not want to be in a union, but as an employee, we were forced to belong. We were not given any choice.  I never once received any benefit from such membership. Hundreds of dollars were taken from my paycheck annually. In fact, the only thing union membership did was hold back my career terribly – I was actually promoted early on for my very hard work, long hours, dedication, and especially for the special skills I’d developed in Internet strategy. But during the promotion review process, it was deferred by the managers who are responsible for checking such transactions with all union regulations. During that process, it was determined that there were several union members who had more seniority than I did that were eligible for being promoted in my division before me – this was despite the fact that none of those members had any Internet skills whatsoever in a time when the Internet was just entering the corporate scene.  I literally had to wait 18 months for two of those members to be promoted, to completely unrelated positions mind you (one was promoted to an executive secretary, the other to a project manager). Meanwhile, I pretty much did two jobs for those 18 months – my job, and the job of the promotion I was supposed to get, since no one else had the skills to fill it while I waited out my time.  And all around me, layoffs occurred by the hundreds of thousands (think AT&T in the 90′s, trivestiture from Ma Bell…). Believe it or not, I wanted those layoffs – the company needed it – it was overgrown with slackers and it was behind the times. It needed to reinvent itself. The unions only prolonged that, stifling the much needed innovation that was necessary to save that company. The days of wired telephones and long distance phone service would have died in the early 90′s instead of dragging into the 21st century, had it not been for the “protection” of the unions.

But, I digress. Getting back to the point of this research…
Again, maybe all of this is 100% on the up and up. Maybe there isn’t a single fraudulent activity or questionable person involved in any of these relationships.  (I doubt it, but I’m going to offer the complete benefit of the doubt to make my next point).

My immediate concern is with PERCEPTION.  It’s in good judgment to, at every possible opportunity, avoid creating any circumstance that would even create the appearance of anything that could be a conflict of interest. It’s what we expect from our nation’s leadership.

Just the appearance of a conflict of interest makes me, as an American citizen, and a hard-working taxpayer, very uncomfortable. It bothers me that so much of today’s policies are so focused and so driven by hard-core union organizers, with very little diversified feedback from others to counter-balance those views. And many of these (not all) are the very types of unions that are abusive, and corrupt, and that are not exactly in the best interest of their members. Look at the others on the PERBA; the majority are also progressive union organizers too, or are heavily affiliated with such voices.  I’m middle class, a hard worker. I’m one of the very people that union organizers always claim to be fighting for, but as I mentioned earlier, being unionized did nothing for me but pay me less money and hold back my career simply because of seniority (years served) at that company. That is not what I want for my country. But THAT is what is advising our President and our Congress from all angles right now in that shining city on the Hill.

I for one think that President Obama should ask anyone involved with any organization mentioned in the Blago complaint to step down. I don’t care if that means Anna Burger and half of his Economic Recovery Board would have to step down. That’s what’s right for this country right now.

Someone in Congress with the courage to stand up for The REAL Middle Class needs to demand the investigation into ACORN until it cannot be denied any longer. Cracking that one open will shed the light on the “Change to Win” stories, and the Soros connections, and the links to the causes of the economic crisis, and so, so much more. THAT is the Truth Commission we need. There are TRILLIONS of dollars at stake.

Wake up America, this little ACORN story is about so much more than Voter Registration fraud. It’s bigger than just the current or the last administration. This is a story with twists and turns, of epic proportion that we need to make sure STAYS in the news. It must be investigated once and for all.

Be sure to read Part III .

Additional references of interest:

National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, List of Complaints Against SEIU

seiu

Filed under ACORN, Auto, Bailouts, Banks, Budget, Economy, Government Size, Inside the White House, Insurance, obama, Socialism, stimulus

Tagged as , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


May 14, 2009

GE: Master of the Universe or Another Obama Puppetmaster?

With Energy & Health Care being such cornerstone components of the Obama administration’s agenda, it would be logical for one to assume that a company like GE might have some role to play in the game. However, with so many little hidden policies weaving their way all throughout the Stimulus bill that was passed in February, one would also think it highly possible that a company like GE could stand to gain far more than just “a place a the table” or some “skin in the game”.

Why do I mention this? Because lately I feel like GE is around every corner I turn, even when I’m not looking for them. Bear with me here, and I’ll try to explain.

Let’s start by taking a look at Obama’s agenda in these areas, in his exact words:

  • Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
  • Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America.
  • Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
  • Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
  • Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source – Energy Efficiency.
  • Weatherize One Million Homes Annually.
  • Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology.

Not only are there some obvious too-close-for-comfort synergies between the President’s agenda and GE, but there are also these other hidden benefits between GE, the Stimulus bill and the Auto Industry bailouts:

  • Billions in federal Stimulus cash set aside for “lithium-ion batteries, manufactured in the US, for electric vehicles”
  • General Motors (GM) and Chrysler coincidentally were told to partner with GE needed a supplier for, you guessed it, lithium-ion batteries, manufactured in the US, for electric vehicles
  • Several instances in the Stimulus bill address the need for funds to be allocated for more affordable and accessible medical technology, including equipment for better screening and early detection (ie MRI, CT, radiology)
  • Again, coincidentally, GE is focusing its Healthcare unit’s product development efforts on using its flagship platform to produce smaller, more affordable and accessible screening technology that private medical practices and independent physicians can actually purchase
  • Numerous instances, too many to even list here, in the Stimulus bill set aside funds for a variety of programs aimed at driving consumers to purchase energy efficient appliances, light bulbs, and other “green” products (that GE of course manufactures).
    • One such example is a letter I just received from my PRIVATE utility provider just this month, informing me that the government & board of public utilities have partnered to conduct a mandatory “energy assessment” in my home, during which a “counselor” will inspect my home and inform me of any appliances, such as washer, dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, that must be replaced with energy efficient applicances, and of any weatherization, such as roofing insulation and solar panels, that will be recommended – all to reduce the amount of energy that I use, which, according to monitoring by my utility provider has been deemed to be “too high” by the government. Yes, that’s a real letter I got.
    • When I called about the letter, one place I was referred to was the “recommended contractors and suppliers list”. Surprise, surprise – the energy efficient appliances they mention I might need to purchase, are of course GE appliances.

Next, let’s take another step back again and look at the GE conglomerate, and each of its four key divisions:

  • GE Capital
    • GE Healthcare Finance
    • GE Aviation Financial Services
    • GE Railcar Finance
    • GE Commercial Finance
    • GE Energy Financial Services
    • GE Treasury
  • GE Technology Infrastructure
    • GE Healthcare
    • GE Aviation (and the former Smiths Aerospace)
  • GE Energy Infrastructure
    • GE Wind Power
    • Gasification
    • GE Nuclear Power
    • GE Coal Power
    • GE Oil & Natural Gas
    • GE Solar Power
    • GE Hydroelectric Power
  • NBC Universal (entertainment company)
    • NBC
    • Universal Studios & Theme Parks
    • NBC Universal Television Group
    • NBC News & NBC.com
    • USA Network
    • CNBC
    • MSNBC cable TV & MSNBC.com
    • iVillage
    • Bravo TV
    • qubo
    • SendMeRSS & DealMeRSS (RSS-to-email gateways/splogs, out of service without notice since August 2008)
    • Telemundo Television Studios
    • The Weather Channel

Jeffrey Immelt is the current chairman of the board and chief executive officer of all of General Electric; he previously served as President and CEO of GE’s Medical Systems division (now GE Healthcare). 
So in essence, he controls Energy, Healthcare Technology, and most of the Left Wing Media outlets.

In February of 2009, Immelt was selected by President Obama to serve on his Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Is anyone else seeing what to me should be very obvious conflicts of interest here?

If this weren’t enough to concern us, we should be reminded that GE doesn’t exactly have a squeaky clean track record of being a good government partner. In 1990, GE was convicted of defrauding the U.S. Government, specifically the U.S. Department of Defense. In 1992, GE was again convicted on charges of corrupt practices in the sale of jet engines to Israel. And as recent as 2009, there is still ongoing speculation over whether GE continues to do business with Iran, which would be in violation of US sanctions against Iran. GE’s CEO Immelt claims all business between GE and Iran halted in 2005, but some reports continue to speculate there still may be evidence of violation.

Is this who we really want “partnering” with the government and “advising” our President? Really? Come on, America. Wake the hell up already. I’m all for the private sector leading the country’s key initiatives, but this is ridiculous. First, it’s not really private sector anymore when there is this much government collusion.  Secondly, this is not the shining example of private sector most Americans are looking for.

And last but not least, the President and Congress are pushing the H.R. 3401 Bill, “National Infrastructure Bank Act”, which would create a national bank, financed by “private sector” funding, to be used for “infrastructure projects that are in the best interest of the country”, including major renewable, sustainable energy and green initiatives.
If the average American cannot see the obvious connections here and at least question it, and ask themselves to consider the potential for conflicts of interest, then we’ve got an even bigger problem in this country than I’d initially thought.


May 8, 2009

ACORN Part I: Rathke, ACORN, SEIU, the Tides Foundation, Oh My!

This is Part I in a multi-part set of posts. When you’ve finished reading this post, be sure to follow up with Part II: Anna Burger and the Change to Win Story.

A library of all supporting documents, plus other records and reports, can be found at: The ACORN Money Trail (also includes records for SEIU, America Votes, Tides Foundation and more)

First, an Intro to Wade Rathke:

Wade Rathke is the Chief Organizer of ACORN International, Founder and Chief Organizer of ACORN (1970-2008), and Founder and Chief Organizer of Local 100, Service Employees International Union.  He is also a Board Member of the Tides Foundation, a well-known left-supporting organization, also well known to Barack Obama.

What is the structural connection between ACORN, SEIU and the Tides Foundation?  And what does it have to do with Barack Obama? First, it appears there’s somehow a *real* connection between organizations, if you start just by looking at Rathke’s own website:

waderathke1

And Now, Let’s Begin the Story…

In 2000, Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, allegedly embezzled $1 million dollars from the ACORN organization. In an effort to help Wade Rathke hide his brother’s crime and keep the scandal a secret, Tides Foundation founder and Rathke’s fellow board member, Drummond Pike, is alleged to have funneled nearly $1 million dollars to ACORN through a front/subsidiary that was titled “Citizens Consulting Inc.” (which is also commonly known as Citizens Services Inc.”). Pike later admitted to reporters that he was in fact the secret donor, indicating he did so to try and protect the integrity of the organization.

It is interesting to note here that Citizens Consulting  Inc., (aka Citizens Services Inc. – CSI) will become headlines again during the 2008 Presidential election for Obama and the subject of a Congressional hearing.

acorn-vs-rathkeRead the 118 page package of court documents filed in “ACORN vs. Rathke”, which includes the ensuing battle between Marcel Reid, Karen Inman, two members attempting the protect and preserve the financial records so they could be openly audited, and the other ACORN board members, whose interest lies solely with keeping said financial records closed, which to most would imply a potential cover-up. The complaint deals specifically with the legal request for the books of Citizens Consulting Inc. (CCI) to be made publicly available to assigned auditors, to review an unauthorized payment schedule for Dale Rathke, and an “anonymous” donor payment made to CCI / ACORN for about $800,000 of the remaining embezzlement debt.  Marcel Reid, Karen Inman, and an additional insider, Anita MonCrief (later in this post) continue to fight to this day to try and have these books opened and the organization investigated once and for all, so that perhaps it can start anew someday without the corruption that they believe has poisoned its true mission.

Below are some of the connections that help visually tie some of the money, the power, and the “fronts” together. Larger maps are available by clicking on the images; interactive maps are available from muckety.com.

tides-map

acorn-tides

democracy-alliance-map

Check out the bonus association maps at the end of this post.  This is turning into “Six Degrees of Separation for Socialists”.

**Go to www.muckety.com to create your own interactive association maps.**

The New York Times had then reported that the Tides Foundation has provided more than $400 million dollars since 2000 to various far left outlets, a good portion of that to ACORN affiliates alone.  The Tides funds come partially from federal grants, as well as elite donors like George Soros, Theresa Heinz Kerry, and The New World Foundation.  At that time, Tides stated that Drummond Pike was on a “leave of absence” from their board; but shortly thereafter, they established an office in CA at The Presidio with George Soros’ friends, Democracy Alliance – Drummond Pike, Treasurer and Anna Burger, Vice-Chair. The Tides Foundation had also insisted that none of their money ever went to ACORN.

tides2b

However, those claims of not having ever provided any money to ACORN aren’t exactly true, even if you exclude the Drummond Pike “donation”. Right in plain sight on the Tides Foundation website are some of their prior Grantee lists.  These are grants made up of primarily federal government dollars, some of which are then given to ACORN affiliates. Here is just a sampling of some of the ACORN grants indicated in those very lists from the Tides Foundation:

ACORN-grantees

Fast forward a few years and there had been reports in 2008 that Obama himself had paid a very large sum of money to Citizens Services Inc. during his campaign. It was brought to light when an expenditure of nearly $900,000 by Barack Obama was reported to the Federal Elections Committee (FEC) for “sound & lighting equipment”, but was later officially amended after public attention and scrutiny was called to the expense and Obama had initially indicated it was recorded that way “in error”.

Despite the story having broken the news on a few occasions (originally researched by a blogger, msplaceddemocrat.com), including on Greta Van Susteren at Fox News, and in the Pittsburgh Tribune and The New York Times, it has always seemed to quiet down as quickly as it appeared.

Things seemed to get even odder the more that researchers, bloggers, reporters, and even just general American citizens started to try and make their own sense out of the connections. The twists and turns and number of names involved was just overwhelming and confusing. But one thing always stuck out like a sore thumb. One address:

1024 Elysian Fields Ave

New Orleans, LA

70117-8402

Phone: 504-943-5954

Noticeably, these are some of the other companies registered at the same address; some even sharing the same staff names, all registered under Wade Rathke or some other known ACORN affiliation:

  • A. Corn
  • Acorn Community Labor Organizing Center
  • Acorn Community Land Association‎
  • Acorn Housing Corp Of Illinois
  • Acorn in New Orleans
  • Acorn Institute
  • Acorn National Broadcasting Network
  • ACORN NATIONAL CALL
  • Acorn Tenants Union‎
  • Action Research
  • Affiliated Media Foundation
  • AFFILIATED MEDIA FOUNDATION MOVEMENT
  • American Environmental Justice Project Inc‎
  • American Home Day Care Workers Association
  • AMFM, T
  • Arkansas Institute for Social Justice‎
  • Citizens Consulting Inc.
  • Citizens Services Inc.
  • Dale Rathke
  • Gregory Fitch
  • Institute for Social Justice Inc.
  • JOANNE ACORN
  • Labor Link
  • LEE, MARIE A
  • LITTLE, ROCK NEW
  • Missouri, Tax J
  • PERC Express Reserve
  • Phoenix Organizing and Support Center, Inc.
  • Project Vote
  • PUGH, LITTLE ROC
  • Service Employees Intl Union
  • STREET, F
  • TAX J MISSOURI
  • Voting for America‎
  • Wal-Mart (yes, really…)
  • Wal-Mart Organizing Project
  • WHIPPLE, WILLIAM

ElysianFields1

ElysianFields2

^ Not exactly a HUGE office park type of building that would house dozens of different companies…

acorn3

But by March of 2009 if would finally begin to make a little bit of sense, as hushed chatter of the New York Times burying a big ACORN-Obama story during the election became, well, not so hushed anymore. Much of this is sort of “old news” now, but someone still needs to go back and and tie up the old connections & money trail with the new ones. Stimulus cash is going to many of these ACORN affiliates. And since there are legal investigations underway in several states, like the one that follows here, the cash doesn’t usually go directly to ACORN. In fact, ACORN will repeatedly insist they are getting no cash directly from the Obama administration. And so they wouldn’t be lying, not quite. 

One needs to go back to 2000 and earlier to tie together the money trails of past and present.

Up On Capitol Hill

Then, there was public testimony on the complaint filed by HEATHER S. HEIDELBAUGH, ESQUIRE, who on October 29, 2008, had “represented a candidate, voters and the Republican State Committee of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in a preliminary injunction before the Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania against ACORN and The Secretary of the Commonwealth. The Complaint alleged violations of the Pennsylvania Election code, Fraud and Misrepresentation and Violation of Equal Protection and Due Process.”

View the filed complaint here.

On March 19, 2009, Ms. Heidelbaugh testified on Capitol Hill to members of the House Judiciary sub-committee about the complaint and her concerns regarding ACORN, as well as concerns relating to a potential cover-up by some of the media.

Ms. Heidelbaugh testified that she’d worked with an informant/witness by the name of Ms. Anita Moncrief ,who apparently came forward with pertinent information related to the Obama Presidential campaign and its practices, primarily through its connections to ACORN and some of its subsidiaries. It has been publicly acknowledged by Ms. Heidelbaugh that Ms. Moncrief was fired from ACORN for charging some of her personal moving expenses to her company credit card; Ms. Heidelbaugh and others still found her to be credible and without prejudice.

Ms. Heidelbaugh’s testimony included the following:

“…she [Ms. Moncrief] informed me that she had been a confidential informant for several months to the New York Times Reporter, Stephanie Strom, who had been writing articles about ACORN based on the information that she had provided.[page 81, lines 18-25] [Ms. Strom wrote the following articles about Acorn from July 9, 2008 to October 21, 2008: 1.) ‘Funds Misappropriated at 2 Nonprofit Groups’ July 9, 2008; 2.) ‘Head of Foundation Bailed Out Nonprofit Group After Is Funds Were Embezzled’ August 16, 2008; 3.)’Lawsuit Add to Turmoil for Community Group’ September 9, 2008; 4.) ‘On Obama, ACORN and Voter Registration’ October 10, 2008; 5.) ‘ACORN Working on Deal to Sever Ties with Founder’ October 15, 2008; and 6.) ‘ACORN Report Raises Issues of Legality’ October 21, 2008.] The New York Times articles stopped when Ms. Moncrief, who is a Democrat and a supporter of the President, revealed that the Obama Presidential Campaign had sent its maxed out donor list to Karen Gillette of the Washington, DC ACORN office and asked Gillette and Ms. Moncrief to reach out to the maxed out donors and solicit donations from them for Get Out the Vote efforts to be run by ACORN. Upon learning this information and receiving the list of donors from the Obama Campaign, Ms. Strom reported to Ms. Moncrief that her editors at the New York Times wanted her to kill the story because, and I quote, “it was a game changer”. That’s when Ms. Moncrief telephoned me on October 21, 2008. Ms. Strom never wrote another article about ACORN for the New York Times for the remainder of the period before Election Day, i.e. November 4, 2008.”

Ms. Moncrief further provided written testimony stating that

“There was active cooperation between ACORN’s political wing and Project Vote…[They] basically had the same staff. Nathan Henderson James was the strategic writing and research department…director of ACORN and he was the research director of Project Vote. Zach [Polett] was the executive director of Project Vote and the executive director of ACORN political. All of the organizations and the entities worked together. We shared the same space.” Further, Ms. Moncrief testified: “…there’s no real separation between the organizations for real. So when you have the same people that are working, that are—like, I was getting paid through Project Vote’s checkbook, but I was working on ACORN stuff. I even did PowerPoints during the midterm elections for Jeffrey Robinson where they were like, okay, don’t vote for Albert Win (ph) or vote for this person. And they had doorknob – door hangers that they would go and put on people’s doors, and we turned this into a PowerPoint presentation. So there was never any division between the staff where you would say, okay, this is (2)(3) stuff and this (c)(4) stuff. It was just—I don’t want to say business as usual, but it was a lot of collaboration between the organizations.” [page 89, lines 21-25, page 90 1-25, page 91, lines 1-3].

Ms. Moncrief also continued in written testimony, [page 25, line 10 et seq.]

“…ACORN is a member organization. It has…the national branch. But…the local offices…try to be self sustaining…when I was working in the DC office, I would hear all the time, if we don’t increase our membership, we won’t meet payroll…[The] money in the accounts for the local offices was determined by how many members they had on bank drafts or that they were going out in the community and collecting money from.” ACORN, however, also has many affiliate organizations with whom it associates and for which the legal relationship to is unclear. Ms. Moncrief testified [page 26, line 4] “the number [of affiliates] changes all the time. To the best of my knowledge, it’s got to be at least over 170. The last number I heard was 176, but its constantly changing.” ACORN refers to its affiliates as “the council of organizations.” [page 26, line 10-11]. In addition to the affiliates, there are state ACORN’s and city branches of ACORN. Ms Moncrief testified [page 26, line 17-23]: “Well, often they say ‘state ACORN,’ its more like we’re represented in let’s say Pennsylvania and then they’ll have three or four off-shoot offices, depending on the counties or where there’s the most population.”

‘ACORN and Project Vote targeted particular individuals and entities to solicit donations. [page 58, line 20]. These included: 1.) maxed out presidential donors; 2.) the billionaires club i.e. Herb Sandler, the Rockefellers; and 3.) the millionaires club i.e. Patricia Bowman, the Bowman Foundation, Wellspring, and Sykes. The donor list from the Obama Campaign that was provided to ACORN/Project Vote was admitted into evidence during the Injunction hearing.’

Read the entire official Congressional testimony to get the full testimony; it’s got all the details.

On March 13th, 2009, Anita MonCrief herself authored a very interesting blog post, which discusses her inside experiences with what she perceived to be as blatant manipulation of the system. She discusses issues regarding ACORN’s role in the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and the tactics used by the organization to shake down lenders and other financial institutions.  Also discussed are the organization’s strategic goals to place ACORN at the center of driving major social change in the United States through citizen participation.  Not only are these objectives clearly outlined in documents that Ms. Moncrief has seen herself, but there are a multitude of sources available online in public records and search engines that confirm Ms. Moncrief’s claims.  Presentations given by union organizations like AFL-CIO and SEIU, as well as union activist groups like “Jobs with Justice”, consistently push talking points that promote socializing America by way of organizing unions, low-income and minority groups into big political buying power brokers.

“By growing the number of people who can join or form unions (over 60 million workers say they would join a union if they could), workers will be able to organize politically in drastically larger numbers…” –Jobs with Justice “People’s Bailout” Organizing ToolKit

ACORN & Project Vote share this address

ACORN & Project Vote share this address at 739 8th St SE, Washington, DC‎

739 8th Street, SE Suite 202, washington dc

739 8th Street, SE Suite 202, washington dc

At union conventions, leaders like Anna Burger and Andy Stern frequently discuss their plans to significantly increase union membership and to work with ACORN and other partners to create a sheer force of political power large enough to influence the political leaders elected to office. They teach members to despise the term “free markets” – a founding principle of this nation’s very fiber and our Constitution. They discuss plans to “squeeze the corporate elite”, to “kill capitalism” and to “turn America back over to its rightful owners: our hard working union employees”. They also mention popular political platforms through which to leverage a chance to change their job market and unionizing opportunities, such as their plan to create green certification programs through which only union workers would get certified, thereby taking over those job opportunities and forcing corporations to either hire certified green union workers, or allow existing employees to unionize so they can become certified.

And ACORN executives are frequently all over the Internet and out in our own communities acknowledging their plans to work with America’s largest donors – the same donors on their “Obama donors list” – to change the face of America as history has known it.

After posting some interesting internal ACORN memos from Zach Polett and other ACORN executives, Anita Moncrief has been accused by Project Vote and ACORN of falsifying such information.  But really, there is so much out there in the realm of public records and diligent research to prove such claims – with or without Ms. Moncrief’s memos.  So I don’t think Project Vote and ACORN can really blame this entirely on her.  You can find the same evidence in transcripts and videos of SEIU conventions, old ACORN end of year reports, and presentations given at annual meetings.

Interestingly, after Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) publicly called for an investigation into ACORN, he quickly backed off after Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), in a snippy tone, said he would do so only “if I ever hear ANY credible allegations”.  Credible allegations? You’re kidding me, right?  What else does this man need? Do we need to truck in some Teamsters union members, who are carrying in their arms some SEIU workers, who live in ACORN homes furnished by their $0 down payment “grant program” courtesy of Congress, that were financed through Fannie Mae?  Oh wait, that’s right, Anna Burger is President Obama’s econmic adviser now. So none of them has to answer to anything, ever again, it would seem.

See the Conyers/Nadler video below.

Bonus Association Maps

burger-rosenthal

This Post continues with:

ACORN Part II: Anna Burger and the Change to Win story.

ACORN Part III: From Rathke in New Orleans to Ratner in New York.

Also view the ACORN MONEY TRAIL on this page for FINANCIAL RECORDS, REPORTS, COURT FILINGS, CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION REPORTS that are supporting documents for these posts.


March 23, 2009

With ongoing updates added to the library of documents

ACORN Money Trail

This page contains some of the various supporting public records and other research documents that are related to the following Posts (and others – see Home pg for all posts):

Campaign Finance Secrets:

How organizations like ACORN & SEIU inconspicuously funnel taxpayer cash through 527s organizations
Source documents for various posts on political money to and from ACORN and SEIU related 527s groups.

Top 50 Federally Focused Organizations, 527s. Click to Enlarge.
Top 50 Federally Focused Organizations, 527s. Click to Enlarge.

America Votes members, including ACORN & SEIU. Click to Enlarge.
America Votes members, including ACORN & SEIU. Click to Enlarge.

The first two reports above are examples of how federally-funded organizations that are supposed to be non-partisan in order to qualify for such funding,  are able to buy political favors and avoid investigation. Most follow the scheme of funneling money instead into a 527s organization, for the purposes of supporting specific political candidates, causes or ballot measures. These examples provided are the Top 50 Federally Focused Organizations, which are tax-exempt 527s organizations.  Note that some orgs you’ll see on the list, if you look into who their members are, receive a great deal of tax-payer funds from the government. It’s as though we give our money to our government, so that it can just come right back to them. Really, it’s no different than money laundering. How can we allow Congress to continue denying the taxpayers an investigation into this behavior? Since many of them are the recipients, how else can we get a Justice Dept. investigation? What it truly warrants is a RICO investigation.

ACORN makes much of its political donations through other 527s organizations, such as America Votes, and the Working Families Party, in addition to joining forces with labor unions, including SEIU, and other organizations that can make political donations under less restrictions than theirs (labor unions are supposed to be very rigid in campaign finance limitations; however, given the billions spent by unions annually in politics, it would appear that most have found ways to donate quite freely).

The Fund for America was established by John Podesta, Anna Burger (SEIU Sec/Treas and current Adviser on Obama’s Economic Recovery Board), and Rob McKay. The Fund for America’s largest donors? George Soros and SEIU.

Emily’s List of course consists of many of the same progressive groups, including America Coming Together, a “sibling” of America Votes.

Of these top 5 heaviest hitters for 527s organizations, only one is Republican: American Solutions Winning the Future which belongs to Newt Gingrich. Obama attacked the GOP during the 2008 election, claiming he had to back out of using public campaign funds because the GOP “would use 527 groups” against him.  It’s almost insulting that Democrats and the President would think the American citizens so stupid as not to be able to perform a little simple campaign finance research to publicize the real story. But then, what else would we expect?

Additional Supporting Documents

The following documents are mentioned in other posts that are part of the ACORN Series, and are listed here in a central location for easy reference. Please read the posts noted at the top of this page to get the full stories behind the documents.

ACORN vs. Wade Rathke, et. al.
Jan. 4, 2004
Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans
State of Louisiana

acorn-vs-rathke

Click to Open Full PDF

spacer Federal Elections Committee
Report: Committees And Candidates Supported/Opposed
Committee Name:  Service Employees International Union, Committee on Political Education (SEIU COPE)
Treasurer: Anna Burger
Total $ Support Barack Obama (see pg. 6): $27,853,102.00
(out of a reported $74,000,000.00 total from SEIU)

FEC-db

Click to open full report in PDF

Justice Dept. Complaint against ACORN
Jan.7, 2009
For allegations of RICO Act, False Statements to Agents of the U.S.Government, Mail Fraud, ERISA Violations, and Conspiracy Against Civil Rights.

Click to Open Full PDF

Click to Open Full PDF


Jennifer Miller, Kimberley Grant vs. ACORN, Project Vote/Voting for America

Oct. 14, 2008
Court of Common Pleas, Ohio
Charges ACORN willfully uses taxpayer funds to support fraudulent political operations.

Click to view Full PDF

Click to view Full PDF

Federal Assistance Reports
from USAspending.gov, OMBwatch system

NOTE: This is not inclusive of all federal assistance that may have been reported. Other categories of federal assistance outside of grants may have been reported to other federal data sources and should be retrieved separately to determine the total of all federal assistance provided to these organizations.

Federal Assistance to: ACORN
Federal Fiscal Year: 2000-2009 Summary*

Click for larger view

Click for larger view

*(NOTE: Data contains a limited number of records that are unrelated to the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now – i.e. “Acorn Montessori School”. These line items should be removed from the Total Dollars amount where applicable)

Federal Assistance to: ACORN
Federal Fiscal Year: 2000-2009 Summary
This version also includes grants

Click to view larger

Click to view larger

Federal Assistance to: ACORN
Federal Fiscal Year: 2009 YTD

Click for larger view

Click for larger view

Federal Assistance to: ACORN
Federal Fiscal Year: 2008

Click for larger view

Click for larger view

Federal Assistance to: ACORN
Federal Fiscal Year: 2007

Click for larger view

Click for larger view

Federal Assistance to: ACORN
Federal Fiscal Year: 2006

Click for larger view

Click for larger view

Federal Assistance to: ACORN
Federal Fiscal Year: 2005

Fed-Assistance-2005

Click for larger view

Federal Assistance to: ACORN
Federal Fiscal Year: 2004

Click for larger view

Click for larger view

Federal Assistance to: SEIU (at ACORN address)
Federal Fiscal Year: 2000-2007*

Click to view larger

Click to view larger

* Data only available up to 2007

Federal Contract Award to: SEIU
Federal Fiscal Year: 2000-2009

Click to view larger

Click to view larger

Funding from Tides Foundation to ACORN (partial list)

Click to view Grantees lists at Tides Foundation

Click to view Grantees lists at Tides Foundation

Funding from Federal Government to Tides Center / Tides Foundation

Click to view larger

Click to view larger

*(NOTE: Data contains a limited number of records that may or may not be unrelated to the Tides Center / Tides Foundation – i.e. “the Tides Motel”. These line items should be removed from the Total Dollars amount where applicable)

Click to view larger

Click to view larger

Acorn’s Power Profile
a presentation prepared by Tom Feeney

Click to open presentation in ppt format

Click to open presentation in ppt format

ACORN’s Hypocritical House of Cards
How One “Community” Group Helped the Housing Crisis Harm Taxpayers
A great report from the Consumer Rights League,
which has done excellent research on ACORN

Click to open PDF

Click to open PDF

Department of Labor
Public Disclosure Search
Payer/Payee Search: Change to Win, Anna Burger

Click to view entire report in PDF

Click to view entire report in PDF

National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund
FOIA Request to Dept. of Labor
To investigate complaints against ACORN,
and SEIU and other unions alleging tactics of intimidation

Click to view full PDF

Click to view full PDF

$1.5 Million “Loan” to ACORN/Bertha Lewis from Forest City Ratner
To most, it really appears as payment for buying ACORN’s support of the Atlantic Yards project. Just sayin…

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

ACORN vs. Cathy Cox et al (Georgia State Elections Board)
Filed 9/11/2008, US District Court, Northern District of GA, Atlanta Division
ACORN alleges Georgia can’t check SS# or other proof of citizenship
(Translation: ACORN demands to register illegal immigrants)

Click to view Full PDF

Click to view Full PDF

Here’s a list of lawsuits (not all-inclusive):
Unless you have a subscription to LexisNexis or other legal research system, you cannot access the full cases from the links I’d usually provide here.  I’d suggest copying the case name, then searching either with that specific court’s website, or on Google. You’ll likely find it.

ACORN as Defendant:

  • Jackson v. ACORN, March 24, 2009, Alabama Northern District Court, Job Discrimination (Race)
  • Miller et al v. Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Inc. a.k.a. ACORN et al, November 13, 2008, Ohio Southern District Court, Diversity/Civil Rights, Amt. Demanded by Plaintiff: $75,000,000.00
  • Toler v. Acorn International, Inc., February 19, 2008, Louisiana Eastern District Court, Civil Rights/05:2302 Federal Whistleblowing Act
  • Nathaniel A. Toler v. Acorn International, Inc., October 30, 2007, California Eastern District Court, Civil Rights/28:1332 Diversity-Employment Discrimination
  • Bryant v. Acorn, October 27, 2006, Michigan Eastern District Court, Civil Rights
  • (PS) King v. Acorn Housing Corp, et al, September 13, 2004, California Eastern District Court, Civil Rights/42:2000 Job Discrimination (Race)
  • MCGILL-GRASSO v. ACORN FERNROCK COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CENTER, December 2, 2008, Pennsylvania Eastern District Court, Other Statutes/Civil Case

ACORN as Plaintiff:

  • Chicago Acorn et al v. United States Department of Housing And Urban Development, The et al, May 23, 2005, Illinois Northern District Court, Civil Rights/42:405 Fair Housing Act
  • Acorn et al v. County Of Nassau et al, May 12, 2005, New York Eastern District Court, Civil Rights/42:405 Fair Housing Act
  • Acorn et al v. City of Seattle et al, March 22, 2005, Washington Western District Court, 42:1983 Civil Rights Act
  • ACORN et al v. Bysiewicz, September 28, 2004, Connecticut District Court, Civil Rights – Voting/42:1983 Civil Rights Act
  • Acorn International, LLC v. Crane, August 25, 2006, Tennessee Western District Court, 28:1332 Diversity-Contract Dispute