Archive for the ‘ACORN’ Category

This is a reprint of one of my old posts from June 3, 2009.  It has more relevance today, thanks to the exposure that the new documentary film “Battle for Brooklyn” is finally bringing to this horrible tale of eminent domain abuse, after all the years that so many in that community toiled to tell it.

=========================================================================

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.   To understand how deep the personal impacts would be, you need to understand the area and the development plan.

(more…)

Advertisements

Last week, I was enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee while perusing my local New Jersey newspapers online.  That moment of serenity promptly evaporated when I was jolted by a headline that read, “Stop the Vitriol of the Right? A Lesson From the ACORN Tragedy.”

What?  This wasn’t the Huffington Post or Media Matters, it was my local NJ online news site.  After reading it, I initially dismissed the post, shrugging it off as an asinine tirade by the author, John Atlas, who also lives here in NJ and is a very active supporter of ACORN and hostile to any views that aren’t on the far left.  While I almost expected the lecture about promoting civility in the wake of the Tucson tragedy, it was the ugliness of his rant against the right and the stretch he made to connect it all to ACORN that befuddled me.  Nearly a week later, that post was still on my mind.

Then came the left’s latest meme against free speech, and this bizarre charade of hoisting Frances Fox Piven as their newest martyr.  Ah, now it made sense.

To start with, Atlas’ post was certainly interestingly timed. Just last month, he was making the rounds promoting his new book, “Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America’s Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group.” In this interview below, he ends by saying,

“We need organizations that are going to give voice to the poor so that our democratic system works better, and that is the biggest tragedy. And to the extent that Breitbart and his gang undermine that effort, I think that’s a disaster.”

(Part 1 of the video is here.  Take notice of who’s conducting the interview, by the way.  That would be IndictBreitbart.org, the campaign run by Velvet Revolution. We wrote about them and their co-founders, one of whom is a convicted domestic terrorist.  The irony speaks for itself.)

Then of course, there is Tucson.

(more…)

[original post 9/9/2010]

It’s no secret that Democrats and organized labor have long shared a love affair that’s lasted for decades and burns even stronger under the Obama administration.  As more and more legislation has been enacted over the years in the interest of protecting workers, including state and federal safety and environmental regulations, voluntary union membership in the private sector has decreased.  Yet, public sector unions have grown under big government policies.  And they continue to grow.

Creating union jobs has become far less of a worker protection issue and far more a political tool for vote pandering.  With 12% of the overall workforce, labor union leaders invest their members’ dues in Democrats and rally their members to turnout at the polls and check off the box for those candidates.  Democrats in turn reward the unions with bigger government – more public sector jobs, more government projects, more schools and other facilities…more spending means more union dues.  And more union dues means more money to spend on political campaigns.  And so the cycle goes.  All too often, big government is a reflection of special interest paybacks, not of well-intended policy.

But for the other 88% of us equally hard working Americans who, primarily by our own choice, are NOT union members, where does that leave us?  Usually, with more taxes and without much of a voice.  And nowhere near as much voting power as Big Labor has amassed over all these years.

But all that is about to change, thanks to The Concord Project.  Finally, a tool for liberty-loving Americans that’s sure to bring out the community organizer in all of us.  And give the average voter a fighting chance against powerful unions and overbearing lefty groups during election season.

(more…)

[original post 6/6/2010]

A new hard-hitting documentary entitled, “The Lottery,” from director Madeleine Sackler premieres tomorrow, for one night only, in theaters across the country.  The focus of the film is the battle for the future of our nation’s children over education.

“In a country where 58% of African-American 4th graders are functionally illiterate, The Lottery uncovers the failures of the traditional public school system and reveals that hundreds of thousands of parents attempt to flee the system every year. The Lottery follows four of these families from Harlem and the Bronx who have entered their children in a charter school lottery. Out of thousands of hopefuls, only a small minority will win the chance of a better future.”

And at the core of that battle is a network of special interests; a coalition of community groups, labor unions, and politicians, all working together to hold onto power and control, while losing sight of the children; the future of our country.

The inner workings of such a web are little known or understood to most, even to some of those close to the system.  To understand how powerful this network is, first you need to be extremely observant.  And then, you need to go right to the source.  Within no time, many of the issues that stand in the way of reforming our public education system become as clear as the most perfect of ocean waters on a sunny day.

(more…)

[original post 5/13/2010]

The financial reform bill is finally in its home stretch in the Senate, but Americans have yet to fully engage on the issue.  In fact, in recent weeks as I’ve worked with various grassroots leaders across the country to discuss the bill, its impacts on our economy and on us as American citizens, I must admit, it’s probably the first time I’ve ever found myself frustrated at the progress of activism.

It’s a complex issue, and let’s face it, not exactly an exciting one either.  But that’s precisely what the left is counting on.  So, whenever I find myself feeling frustrated that others might not share my same level of fervor on the issue, I remind myself of its complexity and lackluster appeal.  And then, I proceed directly to the source – the bill itself.

I hone in on a few key points in three categories that resonate with most activists I know:  Big Labor, Big Government, and Big Brother.  Put those together in the context of Big Banks, and they spell out big disaster.

As the left goes on demonizing Wall Street and big bankers on one hand, Democratic lawmakers on the other hand are busy making sweetheart backroom deals with them up on Capitol Hill, promoting their legislation to the public as “consumer protection.”  But really, such measures are nothing more than payback to the likes of three-way mortgage entitlement partnership stronghold of the Bank of America, Center for Responsible Lending and Fannie Mae.

Meanwhile Democrats and Obama allies like Organizing for America are also using the issue as a shameless fund-raising opportunity.

ObamaAd

The banks actually SUPPORT this bill – so don’t let that “Main Street Not Wall Street” message fool you, no matter which side of this issue you’re on.

(more…)

[original post 2/13/2010]

In the wake of yesterday’s terrible tragedy outside of Vancouver at the Whistler Sliding Center, where Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili sadly lost his life, safety is on the minds of many.  Only hours before the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the 21-year old lost control of his sled at 88mph and was catapulted over the track wall into a steel support column.  All throughout the week, coaches, commentators, and even other Olympians have questioned the safety of the track, as nearly a dozen other athletes have also crashed during practice runs, including a Romanian women’s slider who was knocked unconscious and defending Olympic luge champion Armin Zoeggeler of Italy.

The President of the World Luge Federation said the track is too fast and thinks it is a planning mistake, while Australian luger Hannah Campbell-Pegg questioned whether athletes were being treated as “crash test dummies“.  The shocking footage of the accident was replayed all throughout the day and evening yesterday, leaving horrified viewers focused on discussion about the safety of the track.

But in all of this shock, horror and sadness over the tragic death of an athlete in his prime and the dangers of the track on which he lost his young life, what has the SEIU focused on?

Food safety. (Translated =  unionizing)

seiu-PR021210

Reports of the horrible accident in Vancouver began surfacing in the press as early as 12:30 pm EST  Friday.  Yet, the SEIU still felt their unionization Food Safety concerns were so paramount that they went ahead and issued a press release anyway, after 5:00 pm EST:

PRESS RELEASE:  Healthcare Union Raises Concerns Over Safety Of Food to be Served to Olympic Athletes at Vancouver Olympics

“Sodexo is providing catering services for athletes during this key moment in their sporting careers, and we’re concerned about the food they will be providing,” charged the SEIU in Friday’s press release.

It’s not as though the SEIU could not have known about the tragedy  – the story had been broadcast all over the news for at least five hours before SEIU pushed out its attack.  If they didn’t know, then they’re even more disconnected from reality than we thought they were.

(more…)

[original post 1/27/2010]

We saw their fury throughout 2009:  “Capitalism is Dead”, “Kill the Corporation”, “Bust Up Big Banks”, “Greed Kills”, “Bank of America, Bad for America”.  The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) led an all-out assault on Wall Street – and on capitalism and corporations – coining words and phrases that have since become common staples in the vocabulary of the bank-bashing craze.  That fury hit a fever pitch last March when word of the AIG bonuses went public.  It was the SEIU out in front of the protests, at AIG offices, and bussing protestors to the homes of AIG executives.

AIG_Rally_AndyStern_March19

The months that followed saw more of the same.  In April, SEIU hailed the ousting of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner.  That same week, it stepped up its battleplan with the Mother of all Corporate Campaigns against Ken Lewis, Bank of America CEO and Chairman – complete with videos, rolling billboards, smear sites, petition drives, letter campaigns, media blitzes and more, while it placed equal attention on Bank of America, forcing the company to respond with a $40 million image boosting campaign of television and print ads.

(more…)

[original post 1/2/2010]

The current state of the economy has placed a large burden on private business, especially on small businesses and the self-employed. Subscribing to a Keynesian tenet of financing debt and increasing government spending to boost output, lawmakers are repeatedly giving themselves cover for splurging.  After the first bailouts came the massive $787 billion stimulus bill, an urgent remedy that Congress and the White House insisted was all about “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.”

And as spending has increased, so has the size of the public employment sector. Meanwhile, the private sector will soon be close to earning a coveted placement on the endangered species list.

private-VS-public1

As the union leaders’ plundering of the private sector has continued, this doesn’t mean that they have abandoned unionizing private sector workers altogether.  In fact, while the number of private sector jobs overall is down, the number of unionized private sector jobs is trending upward, right alongside the public sector growth.

(more…)

[original post 12/4/2009]

As President Obama concludes his first jobs summit, almost a year into his presidency, the nature of the guest list hints at a deliberate initiative that’s been underway for over 15 years – and it’s not one of the obvious presumptions that most would make.  Notice that of the list of leaders invited, the majority are labor union leaders, leaders of businesses with government contracts, or leaders of businesses that operate on partial public funding.  There is a common element across most of the businesses represented:  in one capacity or another, even if they are private sector businesses, most on the list benefit from some form of public money.

There is a legal precedent over 15 years old that is the pervasive push behind such a premise, one that was the product of ACORN and labor union coalitions.  And judging by Change to Win / SEIU’s Anna Burger’s plan for today’s jobs summit, it’s evident that this precedent is in play as we speak.

aburger

It’s no coincidence that in the wake of America’s economic crisis, some lawmakers have been pushing for infusions of public funds into the private sector.  No, we’re not just talking bank and insurance company bailouts. We’re talking about tax credit and incentive programs, health care reform proposals, green jobs programs, energy efficiency initiatives,  and even real estate development companies.  As the conservative accusations of socialism have begun to sink in with progressive leaders -especially with union leaders, who are especially sensitive to being perceived as public spenders – the language has been changing.  Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” doesn’t sound so scary when it’s wrapped in the glove of words like “co-ops” and “public-private partnerships” and “national service”, which are now quickly being mainstreamed into the rhetoric.

(more…)

[original post 11/17/2009]

Throughout the debate over health care reform, there has been a great deal of discussion over the role of special interests in influencing the votes of lawmakers. Liberal democrats, progressive think tanks and mainstream media have repeatedly accused anyone who opposes government run health care of standing with special interests instead of with needy Americans, painting them as greedy and selfish. And now that a bill has passed in the House and is on its way to the Senate, big government proponents of a ‘public option’ are already attacking their fellow Democrats’ own bill, insisting that it may as well have been written by special interests.

Funny they should mention that. Because, just like the stimulus bill, it was written by special interests.

laborPACdonations1b

While it’s true that Republicans certainly receive their fair share of donations from the health industry, the surprising truth is that Democrats actually receive more.  Because there’s one giant special interest sector that everyone seems to be leaving out:  Big Labor.  And in the monarchy of labor these days,  there is one queen that’s at the top of the money chain, and that’s the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the top billing union in its parent coalition, Change to Win. Especially when it comes to the issue of health care.

Let’s start first by breaking down the numbers.

(more…)