ACORN News November 19, 2002

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Thu Nov 21 20:14:43 CST 2002

[ed:  this is one of the regular ACORN news updates.]

From:  David Swanson <acornnews at>

November 19, 2002

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1. Chicago Raises Living Wage
2. Baltimore Reshapes City Council
3. Oakland Passes Just-Cause
4. Household Is Bought By HSBC
5. New York Passes Living Wage
6. Florida Requires Smaller Classes
7. ACORN Turns Out Hundreds of Thousands to Vote
8. PG ACORN Sues Predatory Lender
9. Boston Janitors Win Demands
10. Bronx Demands Qualified Teachers
11. DC Demands Affordable Housing
12. ACORN Dominican Council Formed
13. Slow Down for Kids Day a Success
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Ban Predatory Lending

1. CHICAGO RAISES LIVING WAGE - Chicago ACORN and SEIU Local 880 have
successfully urged the City to increase the level of its living wage to
$9.05 per hour (a $1.45 per hour increase) and indexed it to automatically
increase with the cost of living.  Day laborers, parking attendants,
cashiers, custodians, health care workers, security guards, and home care
workers will benefit from a $3,000 per year raise.  The increase goes into
effect in January, with the first increase in July.  Chicago ACORN released
three reports, available online, documenting the success of the previous
living wage law, showing that it had produced none of the negative effects
predicted by the opposition, and showing that it needed to be increased.
The campaign will shift now to DuPage County, where ACORN will support the
suburban janitors contract fight next summer, and to the state, where the
new Governor has pledged to raise the state minimum wage.  For more
information, link to or contact Madeline
Talbott at ilacorn at or 312-939-7488.

2. BALTIMORE RESHAPES CITY COUNCIL - Baltimore ACORN members and allies in
CLUB (Community and Labor United for Baltimore) placed an initiative on the
ballot and passed it with 65 percent of the vote, replacing six large
three-member city council districts with fourteen small single-member
districts, making Baltimore the last major city in the country to abandon
multi-member districts.  ACORN members worked to make it happen because the
City Council had been unresponsive to their needs.  The population of each
City Council district will now be reduced from 108,000 to 46,500.  Under the
old system, all three people representing a given district tended to live in
the wealthiest part of it and would each refer matters to the other two.
Under the new system, a City Council member will have to live in an area of
46,500 people and be uniquely accountable to those people.  Campaigning for
election in these new smaller districts will cost less money, opening up the
possibility of candidates who are not wealthy or beholden to the wealthy.
Baltimore ACORN members registered 10,603 new voters in low-income
neighborhoods in October, held a rally on October 30 with 250 people, mailed
and phoned thousands of voters, put up over 5,000 signs, and held a 24-hour
vigil at City Hall.  In the last week the opposition spent approximately
$100,000 on radio ads, mail, signs, and poll coverage.  CLUB includes ACORN,
AFSCME, the League of Women Voters, the City Union of Baltimore, the
Baltimore Teachers Union, Baltimore Fire Officers, and the Baltimore Green
Party.  For more information, link to or contact Mitch Klein at
mdacorn at or 410-752-2228.

PHOTO: ACORN member Jocelyn Baker prepared signs to promote Question P, the
initiative that reshaped Baltimore's City Council.

3. OAKLAND PASSES JUST-CAUSE - Oakland voters passed an initiative creating
a just-cause requirement for evictions.  The margin at last count was 1,300
votes, with 50.7 percent in favor.  In June, Oakland ACORN members and over
20 allied organizations in the Just Cause Oakland coalition delivered over
36,000 signatures to the City Clerk to put this ordinance on the ballot.
ACORN members and allies worked to turn out the vote in Oakland.

In other California election news, voters passed a $2.1 billion housing
bond, the largest in California history.  ACORN members worked statewide
right up until November 5 to turn out voters in support of this bond, which
passed with 57 percent of the vote.  ACORN and allies also promoted a
statewide vote for same-day voter registration, which failed - for now.  In
the City of Sacramento, ACORN members succeeded in defeating Measure T, a
proposed utility tax cut that would have slashed city services.  In LA,
ACORN members helped defeat secession of the Valley, and passed Measure B.
This ballot proposal, which creates a new tax to support trauma centers,
required a two-thirds vote and was widely expected to fail.  ACORN members
and SEIU Local 660 held rallies and turned out voters in a successful
campaign to pass it.  For more information, link to or contact Doug Bloch at
caacornoaro at or 510-436-5690.

4. HOUSEHOLD IS BOUGHT BY HSBC - Household International, parent company of
Household Finance Corporation and Beneficial Corporation, has announced that
it will be purchased by British banking giant HSBC.  ACORN has campaigned
against Household's predatory lending for two-and-a-half years, forcing
numerous reforms and a settlement with state attorneys general for $484
million.  ACORN's campaign contributed to the deterioration of Household's
financial position, which led to its decision to put the company on the
block.  ACORN is hopeful that HSBC will take steps to make additional
reforms at Household, along with providing the resources to make whole the
many Household victims who are still in desperate financial straits.  For
more information, link to or contact Chris Saffert at
csaffert at or 718-246-7900.

PHOTO: On June 30, 2002, ACORN members protested predatory lending at the
home of S. Jay Stewart, Board Member of Household International.

5. NEW YORK PASSES LIVING WAGE - On October 30, New York City Council passed
a living wage law promoted by ACORN that - if signed by the Mayor -- will
establish a living wage for more workers than any other such law in the
country, giving about 50,000 health care workers a much needed raise.
However, the Speaker shortly before passage of the bill removed a provision
that would have created a living wage for several thousand non-unionized
cafeteria, mailroom, security, and janitorial staff -- many of them making
less than $8 per hour without health benefits.  In other news, the City
Council is expected to vote today to override a mayoral veto of an
ACORN-backed law banning the city from doing business with predatory
lenders.  For more information, link to or contact Bertha Lewis
at nyacornbkro at or 718-246-7900.

6. FLORIDA REQUIRES SMALLER CLASSES - Florida voters passes a referendum
requiring smaller class sizes in public schools.  St. Petersburg ACORN and
SEIU promoted this effort and ran the largest call center in the state
urging voters to pass this demand for better education, despite the fierce
opposition of the Governor, who won reelection.  The new requirements, to be
phased in by 2008, limit class sizes for kindergarten through fourth grade
to 18 students, fifth to eighth grade to 22, and ninth to twelfth grade to
25.  For more information, contact Josh Myles at flacorntaro at or

cities around the country engaged in non-partisan Get-Out-the-Vote work this
election season, registering 205,354 new voters and contacting over 800,000
occasional voters and new registrants, all in low-income neighborhoods.
ACORN members and organizers went door to door getting commitments to vote,
doing get-out-the-vote reminder door knocking, and making calls and pulling
out voters on Election Day.  Preliminary analysis of the results shows that
turnout increased well over 5 percent above 1998 in ACORN's targeted
precincts.  ACORN distributed 100,000 door hangers, 8,000 lawn signs, 3,500
window signs, and 70,000 postcards as part of this effort.  ACORN also
mailed postcards to over 130,000 households in these targeted precincts and
called 75,000 voters twice in the last four days.  Most importantly, ACORN
knocked on doors and had real conversations with families about what they
wanted to see changed, including policies related to home ownership, higher
wages, health care for their kids, high electricity bills, and overcrowded
schools.  Low-income people talking to other low-income people brought out
hundreds of thousands to the polls.  In ACORN's 12 targeted precincts in
Providence, R.I., turnout was 42 percent higher than in 1998 and 20 percent
higher on than in precincts with similar demographics that ACORN didn't
work, efforts that likely contributed to David Cicilline's election as
mayor, Juan Pichardo's election as the first Latino state senator in Rhode
Island, and Miguel Luna's election as the first person of color to represent
Ward 9 on the Providence City Council.  In Minneapolis turnout in ACORN's
precincts increased 24 percent over 1998.  In Boston over all, voter
turnout, as compared to the average of turnout for the last two
gubernatorial elections, was up only 14 percent.  But in the 11 precincts
where ACORN worked most heavily, turnout increased 42 percent.  Houston
ACORN registered 16,728 new voters and held a Youth Civic Participation
Conference with 800 high school and college students.  For more information,
link to or contact Joanne Wright at
vrnat at or 718-246-7900.

PHOTO: Vijay Bangari works on Get Out The Vote campaign for Boston ACORN,
encouraging Olivia Hoskins to vote in the November 5, 2002, election.

8. PG ACORN SUES PREDATORY LENDER - On November 7, Prince George's County,
Md., along with Washington, D.C., ACORN filed a class action lawsuit
against, and demonstrated in the front yard of Forest Heights Town Council
Member Paula Renee Noble, owner of the notorious predatory lender, EZ Home
Mortgage.  The suit charges Noble with stealing equity from hundreds of area
homeowners.  ACORN members plastered Noble's neighborhood with posters
reading "Warning: Loan Shark in the Neighborhood" and detailing her role in
driving families toward foreclosure.  For more information, contact Jessica
Lehman at mdacornpgro at or 301-641-2173.

9. BOSTON JANITORS WIN DEMANDS - On Oct.23, 2002, Boston area janitors ended
a 24-day strike and won a contract providing substantial wage increases (to
$13.15 per hour from $9/95 and $10.20) and the extension of health care to
1,000 part-time janitors.  Nine ACORN members, including National ACORN
President Maude Hurd, were arrested for blocking traffic at major Boston
intersections as part of large rallies supporting the over 2,000 SEIU Local
254 janitors who were on strike from 93 buildings. For more information,
link to or contact Lisa Clauson
at maacorn at or 617-436-7100.

10. BRONX DEMANDS QUALIFIED TEACHERS -- On October 30, Bronx ACORN and the
Community Collaborative to Improve District 9 Schools held a rally in the
South Bronx with over 350 parents to demand qualified teachers, qualified
principals, and a real partnership with the community.  The rally was
attended by a senior advisor to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, the District
9 Superintendent, the UFT's President of Elementary Schools, and State
Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene, as well as representatives from Borough
President Adolfo Carrion and Congressman Jose Serrano.  Everyone present
pledged their support for the school improvement platform and committed to
implementing it by Fall 2003.  For more information, contact Heather Appel
at nyacornbrx at or 718-292-0070.

11. DC DEMANDS AFFORDABLE HOUSING - On November 12, DC ACORN held a public
forum with 200 residents to discuss new luxury development in Capitol Hill
and its effect on property taxes and rents for long-time residents, many of
whom are being pushed out by these costs.  ACORN members have met with a
number of developers and demanded that they set aside 30 percent of their
developments for households making no more than $30,000 per year.  The
developers have said no, and ACORN is now planning demonstrations at their
offices, beginning on November 21, as well as working with City Council
Members to create legislation requiring set asides for affordable housing.
For more information, contact Will Ward at dcacorn at or

PHOTO: ACORN member Katie Smith spoke at November 12 forum.

PHOTO: A DC ACORN member tells it like it is in the Deanwood neighborhood.
ACORN won from Council Member Kevin Chavous's office a commitment to clean
up 11 overgrown and trash-covered lots by Thanksgiving.

12. ACORN DOMINICAN COUNCIL FORMED - On November 10, ten Dominican ACORN
leaders from Brooklyn and the Bronx met with ACORN staff to initiate the
formation of the ACORN Dominican Council.  Two of these leaders recently
visited the Dominican Republic along with ACORN Chief Organizer Wade Rathke.
The Council aims to build power for Dominicans in the United States and to
build bridges to and support social change in the Dominican Republic.
Council leaders plan to travel to other U.S. cities to organize Dominicans.
Maria Polanco, National Vice President of ACORN, is among the leaders of
ADC.  For more information, contact Heather Appel at nyacornbrx at or

13. SLOW DOWN FOR KIDS DAY A SUCCESS - ACORN chapters in nine major cities
recently worked to improve traffic safety in their neighborhoods through a
Slow Down for Kids Day.  Dallas teamed with police and the public works
department to hold events in seven locations and plan improvements to signs
and signals.  Portland held a rally calling attention to an intersection in
need of a turn lane, a spot where children and elderly pedestrians have been
hit.  In Newark, a child had been hit and injured outside one of the
schools, so the parents spoke at an event and asked the police, who were
present, to see that a stop sign was installed.  St. Petersburg won speed
bumps in neighborhoods where children play.  Fort Worth won a traffic study
on one street for stop signs, and speed humps on two others scheduled for
December construction.  For more information, contact Brennan Griffin at
txacornfwro at or 817-626-0251.

to have a majority in both houses of Congress, predatory lenders are likely
to push for a law banning state and local restrictions on abusive lending
practices.  Many states and localities have put carefully crafted laws in
place or are currently working on them.  All such laws would be thrown out.
Tell your Congress Members that they don't work for the loan sharks and must
not prevent states and localities from protecting their citizens.  Tell
Congress, instead, to learn from local efforts and restrict predatory
lending.  Predatory lenders -- including many mortgage companies and other
financial institutions -- prey on communities with a variety of aggressive
and deceptive practices.  These lenders charge borrowers interest rates well
above what the borrowers' credit records indicate they should receive and
load the loans down with a number of hidden fees.  Urge your Congress
Members to support and co-sponsor S. 2438 / HR 1051, which would take needed
steps to address the growing problem of predatory lending.  To easily
contact your Congress Members and the President in support of
ACORN's positions, link to

PHOTO: Genevieve Stewart, left, an active ACORN member for over 12 years was
reelected to Little Rock's City Board.

DONATE TO ACORN -- Membership dues and chapter-based fundraising programs
pay for 75 percent of ACORN's budget. But ACORN also needs financial support
from non-member allies, people who do not live in neighborhoods with ACORN
chapters but who support the work ACORN is doing. For more information, link
to or contact Steve Kest at natexdirect at or
(718) 246-7900.


ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the
nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income
families, with over 120,000 member families organized into 600 neighborhood
chapters in 45 cities across the country. Since 1970 ACORN has taken action
and won victories on issues of concern to our members. Our priorities
include: better housing for first time homebuyers and tenants, living wages
for low-wage workers, more investment in our communities from banks and
governments, and better public schools. We achieve these goals by building
community organizations that have the power to win changes -- through direct
action, negotiation, legislation, and voter participation.

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David Swanson, communications coordinator
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
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acornnews at

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