Posts Tagged ‘ACORN’

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.

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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.

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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.

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[original post 11/2/2010]

It looks like Matt Damon’s been overdosing on Kool-Aid again. He’s apparently doing the bidding now for the ACORN spawn, Working Families Party. Watch as he asks you for his birthday present.


I’m about to celebrate a very important birthday myself, Matt. On November 13th, I turn 41 ! I know, I can’t believe it either.

If there’s something you want to give me for my birthday that’s going to really cheer me up, please tell the recently departing Working Families Party co-chair Bertha Lewis to stop referring to constitutional conservatism as “McCarthyism”. And while you’re at it, could you please ask your friend, President Obama not to call American citizens “enemies” simply for not belonging to his political party?

I think maybe it’s time to step away from Soroswood and start paying attention to the real world.

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Perhaps we need to remind folks about the Working Families Party.

Originally founded by ACORN, the United Auto Workers (UAW), and the Communication Workers of America (CWA), the Working Families Party serves as a coalition of organizers and activists for what it claims are social and economic justice causes. In states where it is legally permitted, WFP also sponsors candidates via what’s called “fusion voting“. Instead of splitting the vote with a third-party, fusion voting allows groups to endorse a candidate under a different banner.

So, in reality, WFP enables their coalition’s endorsed candidates to get listed on the ballot – twice. I’m sure that’s not intentionally misleading for voters at all (eye roll). (more…)

[original post 10/21/2010]

On July 17th, 2010, 45 year old Byron Williams was stopped by California Highway Patrol officers on Interstate 580 in Oakland, California for driving erratically.  A violent shootout ensued, and twelve minutes later, it was over.  Police had unknowingly averted an even more heinous crime before it could occur.  The police affidavit filed the next day stated that Williams’ intention was “to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at The Tides Foundation and the ACLU.”

The left-wing media immediately pounced on the story, eager to exploit the mention of the Tides Foundation, a frequent topic of Glenn Beck’s program on the FOX News Channel.  Since Beck’s arrival to FOX, he has focused in on the organization for its central role in pushing far-left policies and funding left-wing propaganda outlets like Media Matters.  The liberal media watchdog site has been covering the story recently.

In fact, Media Matters, which has received more than $2 million from the Tides Foundation over the last five years, has relentlessly harassed conservative personalities and organizations, especially Glenn Beck, often in what appears to be a coordinated fashion – and to the point of complete monotony.  Just search “Byron Williams” on their website – for the last week alone, Media Matters has made over thirty posts associating Beck with the Byron Williams incident, seemingly implying that Beck and FOX News are directly responsible for Williams’ actions.

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That’s why it came as little surprise Friday when the Tides Foundation released this scathing letter to all of FOX News’ advertisers, signed by CEO Drummond Pike.  It reads in part:

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[original post 6/13/2010]

And so we begin to hear some feedback from the liberal side, including direct comments from one prominent member of the “Cry Wolf” project.  On the Inside Higher Ed website Friday, founder and editor Scott Jaschik addresses Big Journalism’s Academia-Gate series in his post, “Who Is Crying Wolf?”

Some prominent liberal academics are soliciting short essays from faculty members and graduate students to document a pattern in American history of major social advances being opposed by conservatives who “cry wolf” about the impact of proposed reforms. The campaign — known as the “Cry Wolf Project” — hasn’t been officially announced. But conservative bloggers obtained some of the solicitations of essays and published them this week, along with considerable criticism.

A series of posts on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism Web site have called the program “Academia-Gate” and suggested that the effort is inappropriately political. The creators of Cry Wolf, meanwhile, say that what they are doing is awfully similar to the ways that right-leaning scholars have used academic work to advance their causes over the years.

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Jaschik acquaints readers with the members of the “Cry Wolf” project coordinators and the details of the request for proposals.  He then goes on to cite from a couple of BigJournalism’s posts in the series:

One post on Big Journalism noted that those involved in the project are sympathetic to organized labor, and that many influential academics are serving on the advisory board. “This is what our higher education system has become – a publicly funded amplifier of progressive ideology,” says the post by Patrick Courrielche. “If this Cry Wolf program were just limited to a few faculty members at a limited number of universities, it would be of little concern. But the project reaches into some of the most prestigious public and private schools of higher learning in the U.S., including MIT, Yale, Harvard, USC, Columbia, Rutgers, UC Santa Barbara, University of Pennsylvania, and President Obama’s alma mater — Occidental College.”

Liberty Chick, the blogger who started calling Cry Wolf “Academia-Gate,” described her concerns this way: “What’s far more dangerous is that the ideological academic, in his capacity as a professor, actually possesses the power to control. The power to influence students’ minds, to mold the students’ way of thinking to embrace their own power-hungry desires and believe in it as ’social justice’ — this is a frightening weapon. Via union solidarity, this weapon is shared with the mobilizers, the janitors and cafeteria workers who agitate the students with various demands against the university after ideologically minded professors have indoctrinated them to hear every grievance as a call for ’social justice.’

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[original post 6/10/2010]

A fixed fight: The Influence of Labor Unions in Academe. Part One is here.

In the academic world, employees are very often public employees. This means that they are also very often union employees. At all levels. This includes everyone from janitors, to dormitory housekeepers, cafeteria workers, clerical staff, and computer techs, to even the graduate assistants and professors. While the salary gap between a cafeteria worker and a senior professor may be huge, the solidarity of the unions is a powerful magnet that creates an unbreakable bond amongst them.

Unions are fond of bashing capitalism with seething rhetoric, decrying the economic system as irredeemably corrupted by greed and racism and classism. But the ideology they themselves embrace is itself driven by the same ugly characteristics they profess to detest. Except in their case, power is the motivating force, the passion that drives them.

The burning desire for the power to control your life is the tie that binds the union service worker to the academic intellectual. It is this common fabric that connects the union janitor more closely to the ideological academic intellectual than to his working-class counterparts beyond campus.

What’s far more dangerous is that the ideological academic, in his capacity as a professor, actually possesses the power to control. The power to influence students’ minds, to mold the students’ way of thinking to embrace their own power-hungry desires and believe in it as “social justice” – this is a frightening weapon. Via union solidarity, this weapon is shared with the mobilizers, the janitors and cafeteria workers who agitate the students with various demands against the university after ideologically minded professors have indoctrinated them to hear every grievance as a call for “social justice.”

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[original post 6/9/2010]

Yesterday’s story on the “Cry Wolf” project has exposed a dangerous pretense that has been prevalent, yet well disguised, for some time in our institutions of higher learning. It’s an important post.  A small committee of professors and academic professionals, normally held in high regard, have blatantly betrayed the trust of the public and quite possibly smeared the reputations of all colleges and universities nationwide.  By soliciting “paid activists” to create research papers that are intentionally designed to silence opposing viewpoints, they have undermined the political system and manipulated the governmental policy making process.  And in the meantime, they’ve also implicated all of academia in the manufacturing of their propaganda.

It is an abuse of their power, and an abuse of the institutions they represent.  It is appalling and repellent.  Perhaps even against their employers’ rules or the industry’s ethical code. Consider it an ominous warning — this will have a dire impact on our political and economic system in the future, if we remain apathetic in the face of such a rhetorical and intellectual assault.

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In fact, both the rhetoric and the intentions demonstrated in Peter Dreier’s email are a classic example of much of what is wrong with today’s educational institutions: hypocrisy, bias, recklessness, and a blatant disregard for differing beliefs and viewpoints.

As Americans, we place an enormous amount of pride in the quality of our nation’s system of higher education.  In our country, colleges and universities have long been the bastions of research, the sources to which we turn for information that is expertly developed; for data that is honestly mined, analyzed, reviewed and responsibly published by noted researchers so that individuals, business people and policy makers can make well-informed decisions.

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[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.

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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.

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[original post 4/22/2010]

As you know, we’ve been writing for some time about The Center for Community Self-Help and its financing affiliates Self-Help Credit Union, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, and Self-Help Ventures Fund.  As of late, the organization has been under increased scrutiny for its questionable lobbying activities, its former leader and soon to be CFPA Czar Eric Stein, and  its $15 million donation from disgraced hedge fund billionaire John Paulson.

According to the Self Help website, the organizations “provide financing, technical support, consumer financial services, and advocacy for those left out of the economic mainstream.”  Within that complex web of entities under the Self-Help umbrella exists about forty or so real estate development projects.  I thought it might be a productive exercise to start looking into some of Self-Help’s individual properties.

So, I started with Barr Building, LLC, a Self-Help investment registered under its affiliate Self Help Ventures Fund.  The property is located at 910 17th Street NW, Washington, DC.

And wouldn’t you know, it happens to be home to one of our most frequent subjects:

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

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This seemed especially curious, because it was only recently I’d discovered that SEIU, together with the AARP, is also the proud funder and agitator for one of the Center for Responsible Lending’s other advocacy projects – its state-specific lobbying websites targeted at regulating short-term loans in an effort to insulate its own predatory practices from any private industry competition.  For example, take a look at this site, from Arizonans for Responsible Lending.  It’s chock filled with all of the usual SEIU corporate campaign elements:  the menacing title and domain name, the array of photos depicting abused consumers who simply could not have known any better, the manufactured headlines, and of course – the staple of their strategy – the studies and the research (all funded and conducted by their own organization allies).

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[original post 4/16/2010]

The activity surrounding the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) in the financial reform legislation is really picking up these days.  But many Americans would never know it.  It seems Democrats may have learned something from the experience of the health care bill after all.  In their efforts to avert a repeat disaster of losing control of the message, they appear to be taking every step necessary to ensure that the public engages as little as possible in this debate.eric-stein2But I assure you, this is a debate that the American public should engage in, pronto.

Because behind the scenes, certain lobbyists are quietly but aggressively scurrying about, pushing hard for the passage of the CFPA in a power grab by the Executive Branch that would dwarf the Health Care Reform bill and the Patriot Act.  And with the passage of the proposed CFPA, one man in particular with a history tied to some of the deepest tentacles in the financial crisis – and to the Community Reinvestment Act changes of 1995 – would gain the power to selectively manipulate the entire landscape of the financial, small business and housing markets.

Last week, we reintroduced you to an early trigger in the financial crisis, with good reason. In “Death by Senator: As Financial Reform Looms, We Revisit IndyMac,” we revisited the role that Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) very public letter played in the fall of one financial institution.  As I ended that piece, I teased that there was more to the story that would soon follow.

So, let’s pick up from June 30, 2008.

Merely days after the now infamous Schumer letter triggered a run on the bank that would total over $1.3 billion, this lengthy and scathing report was released to the public:

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