ACORN News September 17, 2003

colist at colist at
Fri Sep 19 19:46:49 CDT 2003

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

September 17, 2003

1. Seattle Turns In Signatures To Redistrict
2. Chicago Wins Library And Home Repair Program
3. Acorn Demands Full Funding For No Child Left Behind
4. Acorn Actions Continue Against Wells Fargo
5. Minneapolis Residents Unite To Stop Violence
6. St. Louis Fights Closing Of Public Schools
7. Chicago Launches Pilot Program Aimed At Teacher Retention
8. Indianapolis Members Get Results
9. Irving Families Win Safer Street For Disabled Children
10. Acorn Protests Bush In Midwest
11. Disabled Jersey City Residents Win Rightful Place N Section 8 
Waiting List 
12. Contra Costa Spearheads Anti-Sprawl Campaign 13. Florida 
Minimum Wage Campaign Heats Up 
14. Third National Acorn Living Wage Campaign
Conference Upcoming

Take Action: Demand Full Funding For No Child Left Behind

ACORN, with allies, turned in a final total of 39,600 signatures to 
place an initiative on the ballot that would create nine single-
member city council districts in place of the current at-large 
system.  The City Council has passed a resolution - after a protest 
by ACORN demanding it - that will place the initiative on the ballot 
if at least 25,814 signatures are deemed valid by the County. The 
goals of this campaign include: · Accountability - With district 
representation, every neighborhood will have a voice and every 
citizen will have an advocate at the table who has no one to pass 
the buck to. · Neighborhood Equity - Seattle taxpayer money 
invested in non-voter approved councilmanic city bond debt has 
skyrocketed.  Currently 95% of this debt services downtown 
projects. · Affordability - In the past four election cycles only one 
incumbent has lost.  Many excellent and well-qualified candidates, 
who otherwise might run, are put off by the specter of having to 
raise $200,000 to run city-wide. For more information, contact 
Jenny Lawson at waacorn at or 206-723-5845.  

The new West Englewood library opened on August 23 to the 
cheers of many ACORN members and Alderman Ted Thomas who 
together had fought for it since Thomas, a former president of 
Chicago ACORN, was elected Alderman of the 15th ward four 
years ago. Also in Chicago, the City Council recently passed a 
$300,000 home repair program that ACORN had campaigned for 
for more than two years. CSX railroad pays funds into a community 
fund every year because hundreds of trucks roll through local 
neighborhoods on their way to the railyard. ACORN demanded that 
the funds go to home repair, especially for homes near the rail lines 
and truck yard.  This campaign included a mass blocking of trucks 
two years ago that grabbed CSX's attention. For more information 
contact Madeline Talbott at ilacorn at or 312-939-7488.  

BEHIND - In recent weeks, ACORN members in 22 cities have 
held rallies outside schools to protest Bush's failure to fund Title I 
schools at the level promised in his No Child Left Behind Act of 
2001 (NCLB).  At seven of these events, Democratic Congress 
Members and Senators have rallied with ACORN to demand the 
funding that was promised.  At most of the events, members of 
teacher's unions have taken part.  NCLB committed Congress to 
providing $18.5 billion for Title I schools (schools in low-income 
communities), but Republicans in Congress, with the President's 
support provided only $11.4 billion in FY 2003 and the House has 
passed an appropriations bill providing only $12.35 billion for FY 
2004.  These rallies have included Little Rock, Ark., with 
Representatives Mike Ross and Elijah Cummings, San Francisco 
with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, San Diego with Rep. Bob 
Filner, Indianapolis with Rep. Julia Carson, Prince George's County 
MD with Rep. Albert Wynn, Providence RI with Senator Jack Reed 
and Mayor David Cicilline, and Fort Worth with Rep. Martin Frost. 
For more information, contact Rachel Burrows at 
rburrows at or 202-547-2500.  

120 ACORN members and victims of Wells Fargo's predatory 
loans from Minnesota, Indianapolis, Columbus, Detroit, Kansas 
City, and St. Louis gathered in Chicago on August 22, where they 
shared their stories with representatives of the State Attorney 
General's office before picketing at a Wells Fargo office for over an 
hour. · 200 ACORN members, including victims of Wells Fargo 
predatory loans, took over the lobby of a Lower Manhattan office 
building containing a Wells Fargo office on September 16 to 
demand the company reform its abusive lending practices.  
ACORN members from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, 
Pennsylvania, and New York joined together for the protest, with a 
rally beforehand in Battery Park. · Meanwhile, ACORN members 
continue to help each other deal with the consequences of Wells' 
abusive loans.  On September 4, Miami ACORN members took 
action to save member Jackalyn Strachan from foreclosure.  Ms. 
Strachan, an African American single mother of four who works as 
a security guard, had owned her home for twelve years before 
Wells Fargo tried to foreclose this month.  After falling behind on 
her mortgage payments, she was approved to refinance with 
another bank to avoid foreclosure, but Wells continued to foreclose 
anyway.  To save Ms. Strachan's home, Miami ACORN members 
protested at an upscale Miami Beach Wells Fargo office - and they 
got results.  A meeting with local managers is set this week to try 
and resolve the problem. · On August 29 ACORN filed public 
comments with the federal Office of the Comptroller of the 
Currency opposing Wells Fargo's request to consolidate its banking 
charters into a single national bank charter.  ACORN's comments 
outlined Wells Fargo's abusive lending patterns as evidenced in 
descriptions of predatory loans made by Wells Fargo all around the 
country.  The letter strongly urged that Wells Fargo be required to 
implement wide-ranging reforms to its lending practices and 
resolve problems with abusive loans already made before the OCC 
approved the charter request. For more information, contact Lisa 
Donner at acorncampaign at or 718-246-7900.  

After a series of recent shootings in the Jordan neighborhood in 
North Minneapolis, ACORN members united to put an end to the 
violence through demanding increased police presence in the 
community. ACORN members organized two neighborhood 
meetings on the issue, and in response City Councilmember Don 
Samuels worked to secure additional police patrols in the area. 
Members are now working with Samuels to organize a community 
forum on neighborhood safety in November to present residents' 
public safety concerns and solutions to policymakers, as well as to 
organize "public safety tours" of the neighborhood for other 
councilmembers so that they can understand the conditions faced 
by local residents. For more information contact Becky Gomer at 
mnacorn at or 651-642-9639.  

Louis ACORN is working with the American Federation of Teachers 
Local 420 to fight the closing of 16 schools - 15 of which are 
located in North St. Louis, a predominantly African American and 
low-income area. The decision to close the schools was made at a 
special school board meeting in July where 200 ACORN members 
and community members turned out to oppose the closings. The 
school board argued that the schools needed to be closed in 
response to a $90 million budget crisis in the city. As the largest 
school district in the state, St. Louis would receive a significant 
chunk of the $247 million in funding provided to Missouri through 
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) if the legislation were fully funded. To 
protest the school closings and demand full NCLB funding, ACORN 
and Local 420 are planning a press conference and demonstration 
at one of the recently closed schools. For more information contact 
Ken McKoy at moacorn at or 314-531-7023.  

TEACHER RETENTION - As part of their campaign to recruit and 
retain quality teachers in local public schools, Chicago ACORN 
members from the North Lawndale neighborhood on August 15 
accompanied 22 new teachers on home visits to parents of 
students from the grades they will be teaching.  Parents were 
welcoming and teachers excited, and children and neighbors came 
out in droves to see what was going on. This pilot program was part 
of a campaign that has also included the release of a report on 
hard-to-staff schools and efforts to train and hire teachers locally 
(known as "Grow Your Own").  For more information contact 
Madeline Talbott at ilacorn at or 312-939-7488.  

months organizing in the city, Indianapolis ACORN members have 
won clean up and improvements from the city in their 
neighborhood. In response to years of flooding on their street 
because of a lack of storm sewers, on July 10 ACORN members 
protested at the Ben Davis Water Conservancy, which is in charge 
of the city's sewage system, to demand storm sewers for the 
neighborhood. ACORN members won a meeting with the 
Conservancy Board and with the Wayne Township Administrator, 
Neva Hagedorn. Within two weeks of meeting with Hagedorn the 
city took concrete steps to clean up the neighborhood, including 
boarding up abandoned homes on the street, sending out mosquito 
trucks, and cleaning up debris in storm ditches. ACORN members 
are now negotiating with Hagedorn to have the neighborhood 
placed on the list of neighborhoods to receive storm sewers. Also in 
Indianapolis, on August 27 ACORN member Pam Green spoke on 
a panel at the Town Hall Meeting on Homeownership and 
Foreclosure in Indiana sponsored by Congresswoman Julia Carson. 
Ms. Green spoke to the 200 plus person crowd about problems her 
neighborhood is facing regarding rising foreclosures. For more 
information please contact Kate Van Winkle at inacorn at 
or 317-635-6277.  

CHILDREN  - Last week, Irving ACORN leader Kim Gerald 
received an unexpected call - from the Mayor of Irving, Texas, Joe 
Putnam, who asked Ms. Gerald how the city could help make her 
street safer. The phone call came as a result of organizing by 
ACORN members on East 15th Street seeking respite from 
speeding cars and drag racing on the street. There are four 
disabled children living on East 15th Street: a 13 year old boy who 
has had his right leg amputated, a 16 year old girl who is mentally 
challenged, and two young boys who are ADHD. On Sunday, 
August 30, ACORN members and their children held an action and 
blocked traffic on the street. The story ran on all of the television 
stations and newspapers in the area, and the following Monday the 
mayor called Ms. Gerald. As a result, speeding on the street is now 
being monitored, city vehicles which had caused problems are 
taking alternate routes, police patrols have increased, and the city 
is investigating closing off the street's entry to a large park to 
prevent drag racing and speeding. For more information, contact 
Kimberly Olsen at txacorndaro at or 214-823-4580.  

ACORN members in St. Louis came together with members of 
ProVote, SEIU, and the group Instead of War outside a $2,000 per 
plate Bush fundraiser to protest Bush's failure to keep his promise 
on No Child Left Behind. 400 community members picketed 
outside the plush Renaissance Hotel where the fundraiser was 
held. As outlined earlier in the day at a joint press conference with 
ProVote, ACORN members were demanding that the President 
release the promised $18 billion for No Child Left Behind - $247 
million of which would have come to Missouri. The previous day, 
Bush was in Minneapolis, Minn., for another fundraiser. In response 
to a number of Bush policies, including tax cuts benefiting the 
wealthy, ACORN members held a press event with Senator Mark 
Dayton and allies at the state capitol demanding that Bush address 
the needs of low and moderate income people. For more 
information, contact Rachel Burrows at rburrows at or 

PLACE ON SECTION 8 WAITING LIST  -  Six Jersey City seniors 
and disabled residents organized to win restitution of their original 
spots on the Section 8 waiting list after they were unjustly taken off 
of the list. When a number of disabled and senior residents were 
dropped from the Section 8 waiting list in Jersey City for reasons 
such as moving or being in the hospital and unable to respond to 
mail, they came together with other ACORN members to protest 
the discriminatory treatment. ACORN members marched to the 
Housing Authority office and demonstrated in front of the Brennan 
County Courthouse displaying the Housing Authority's own 
regulations stating that disabled people cannot be dropped from the 
Section 8 waiting list for any reason related to their disability. As a 
result of the action and coverage of the story in the local 
newspaper, Housing Authority Director Maria Mayo agreed to meet 
with ACORN and the disabled residents who had been illegally 
dropped from the list. Since that meeting, all six people have 
received notice that they have been restored to their rightful places 
on the Section 8 waiting list. For more information contact Kate 
Atkins at njacorn at or 201-222-0100.  

- ACORN is leading a broad coalition effort to fight increased 
traffic, congestion, and unplanned growth in Contra Costa County. 
One of the three fastest growing counties in Northern California, 
Contra Costa is located between Sacramento and Oakland. 
Explosive population and retail growth in the county is straining 
infrastructure development - resulting in major traffic, congestion, 
and related health and safety problems. Additional "big box" retail 
development in the county's unincorporated areas--the subject of a 
Wal-Mart-backed referendum next March--will only make traffic 
and congestion problems worse, and threaten the future of smaller 
local businesses. In response, ACORN members throughout the 
county have brought together a diverse coalition including 
community, senior, environmental, labor, and business groups that 
are committed to finding healthy solutions for further development 
in the county. ACORN and other coalition allies are organizing 
housemeetings, community meetings, and other events throughout 
the county. For more information contact Doug Bloch at 
polcal at or 510-436-5690.  

campaign for a minimum wage in Florida is gaining attention 
throughout the state - and the country. To meet the August 2004 
deadline for the 490,000 signatures needed to get the measure on 
the ballot, Florida ACORN is working with JusticeCorps to recruit 
college students throughout the country to spend one week of their 
winter break in Florida training as community activists and 
gathering signatures for the ballot initiative. The campaign is 
working to recruit 300 to 500 college students who would play a 
significant role in building the support necessary to pass the 
minimum wage measure - which would raise the state's minimum 
wage by one dollar to $6.15 per hour. For more information on the 
campaign or to participate in the winter break minimum wage 
activist camp, please link to or, or contact Brian Kettenring at 
flacornho at or 407-254-5912.  

CONFERENCE UPCOMING - From November 14-16, ACORN's 
Living Wage Resource Center will host its third National Living 
Wage Campaign Training Conference in Baltimore, MD.  The 
gathering will be marked by over a dozen skills workshops 
presented by seasoned organizers from both successful and 
ongoing campaigns, as well as plenary sessions investigating 
emerging aspects of the living wage movement. Representatives 
from labor, community, student organizations, and religious 
institutions will participate. Participants are also invited to a 
daylong media training for living wage activists. For more 
information on the conference or to register, please contact Jen 
Kern at natacorncam at or 617-740-9500.  

BEHIND - The No Child Left Behind Act, which Bush signed with 
great fanfare in 2001, committed Congress to providing $18.5 
billion for Title I schools (schools in low-income communities), but 
Republicans in Congress, with the President's support provided 
only $11.4 billion in FY 2003, and the House has passed an 
appropriations bill providing only $12.35 billion for FY 2004.  
Contact the President and Congress to demand full funding now:   

ACORN is accepting applications for the position of 
Communications Coordinator, a position that involves leading 
ACORN's efforts to have its members voices heard through the 
media and to use the media to help win campaigns.  The position is 
based in Washington, D.C.  The successful applicant must have 
excellent written and oral communications skills and familiarity with 
online communications, be able to work quickly on multiple tasks, 
and have a background in communications or in the media.  And 
he or she must care passionately about shifting the balance of 
power toward the low and moderate income Americans who have 
been shut out and disenfranchised.  To apply, send an Email with 
"Communications Coordinator" in the subject line to 
acornnews at Attach a resume, a sample press release or 
article, and a cover letter.  

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 150,000 member families 
organized into 700 neighborhood chapters in 51 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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Camellia Phillips
ACORN - Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
88 3rd Ave, Floor 3
Brooklyn, NY 11217
phone: 718-246-7900 x227
fax: 718-246-7939
acornnews at

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