ACORN News and national convention

colist at colist at
Sun Jul 11 17:58:46 CDT 2004

From:           	"Camellia Phillips" <acornnews at>

ACORN News: ACORN National Convention Report: Count on Us, 
on Victory!Convention Highlights

            .  Count on Us, Count on Victory! 

            .  ACORN Marches on Wells Fargo, Files Lawsuit 

            .  ACORN Announces Agreement with H&R Block 

            .  "Invest in Schools, Invest in Kids" Campaign Moves

            .  ACORN Members March on L.A. Hospital to Demand
            Charity Care Plan 

            .  ACORN Members Hit the Streets to Register Voters 

            ACORN National Convention: Count on Us, Count on

                  2,000 ACORN members march against predatory
                  lending as part of ACORN's 15th National
                  Convention, celebrating 34 years of organizing.

            Over 2,000 ACORN members from across the country
            converged in the city of Los Angeles for ACORN's 15th
            National Convention from June 26-28. Marking 34 years
            of organizing, the convention theme "Count on Us,
            Count on Victory" celebrated ACORN's local and
            national campaign victories in recent years - and
            looked to the future of current campaigns like
            fighting predatory lending, winning quality education
            in our schools, highlighting the need for translation
            services and care for the uninsured in our hospitals,
            and increasing civic participation in our

                  ACORN members cheer as their state delegation
                  is announced. 

            The convention brought together ACORN members from 60
            cities and 25 states to share their local victories,
            network about organizing strategies, hear from
            speakers including ACORN leaders and other
            politicians, activists, and academics, and advance
            campaign priorities that affect ACORN families
            nationwide. For more information on ACORN's
            convention, link to Highlights of
            the convention include: 

            ACORN Marches on Wells Fargo, Files Lawsuit

                  ACORN National President Maude Hurd announces
                  ACORN's lawsuit against Wells Fargo in front of
                  the company's Los Angeles offices.

            On Monday, June 28, ACORN filed a national lawsuit
            against Wells Fargo in San Francisco County Superior
            Court. The suit charges the company with a broad
            range of unfair and deceptive lending practices,
            including misleading borrowers about the real terms
            and conditions of their loans, "bait and switch"
            sales tactics, and routinely failing to inform
            borrowers with good credit that they can qualify for
            credit at significantly better rates and fees than
            those charged them by Wells. ACORN members in
            California and across the country have been fighting
            to expose and end predatory lending practices by
            Wells Fargo Financial for more than a year. 

                  ACORN members march to the downtown Los Angeles
                  offices of Wells Fargo to deliver a lawsuit
                  filed against the company in California.

            On the day the lawsuit was filed, more than 2,000
            ACORN members marched from City Hall through the
            streets of Los Angeles to the Wells Building downtown
            to personally deliver the suit to Wells. After
            listening to testimony from ACORN leaders and
            borrowers injured by Wells' loans, ACORN National
            President Maude Hurd announced that: "ACORN will not
            allow Wells Fargo to continue to swindle and steal
            from our communities. We will fight until their
            abusive loan practices end and the Wells stagecoach
            is no longer delivering misery to homeowners."
            Worried about the ACORN presence, Wells had actually
            shut down their offices for the day. 

            The California suit follows a class action suit filed
            against Wells by ACORN in Illinois two weeks ago,
            charging the company with collecting fees on high
            rate loans in excess of what is permitted by state
            law. In addition to private legal action, state
            regulators have begun to scrutinize Wells' lending.
            The Maryland Human Relations Commission has opened an
            investigation of the company in connection with
            concerns about racial discrimination, and the
            Louisiana Attorney Generals office has issued a Civil
            Investigatory Demand in connection with abusive loan
            practices in that state.

            ACORN Announces Agreement with H&R Block 

            On June 28, ACORN leaders and representatives from
            H&R Block announced a three-year partnership to help
            low and moderate income families claim the Earned
            Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other important tax
            credits. In 2002, nearly 4.3 million low-income,
            EITC-eligible households failed to claim the tax
            credit - resulting in billions of lost dollars for
            the lowest income families. Block and ACORN also
            agreed to work together in a variety of ways to help
            low income tax payers get clear information about tax
            services and hold on to more of their returns. ACORN
            National President Maude Hurd commended H&R Block for
            showing that it can lead the tax preparation
            industry. The agreement is an important step in
            ACORN's ongoing campaign to increase EITC dollars
            going to the families who have earned them, both by
            shrinking the number of families who miss out on the
            credit, and stemming the loss of dollars to tax
            Refund Anticipation Loans or RALs and other high cost
            bank products.  

            ACORN members have participated in hundreds of
            demonstrations around the country, and are now taking
            on Jackson Hewitt around their RAL practices.  Only
            days after the company went public, ACORN ally NY
            State Comptroller Alan Hevesi sent the company a
            letter expressing concerns about the financial impact
            of their RALs.

            "Invest in Schools, Invest in Kids" Campaign Moves

            Throughout the three-day convention ACORN members
            participated in a series of education forums and
            events to expand ACORN's "Invest in Schools, Invest
            in Kids" campaign which is demanding a massive
            increase in funding for public education and
            organizing to ensure that all our children receive a
            quality education. Events included: 

                  Rob Reiner, with California ACORN leaders,
                  addresses ACORN members at a forum on education

            .  An evening-long ACORN Education Forum, featuring
            addresses from ACORN allies like Wendy Puriefoy,
            President of the Public Education Network, and
            workshops on a wide range of critically important
            education issues with experts and leaders of
            education reform organizations.  Workshop topics
            included: preparing high quality teachers; retaining
            good teachers; developing small schools and
            redesigning schools for learning; preventing dropouts
            and engaging students for success; school finance
            campaigns; and how to work collaboratively with
            teachers unions. 

            .  Speeches by Lily Eskelsen, Secretary-Treasurer of
            the National Education Association and Nat LaCour,
            Executive Vice President of the American Federation
            of Teachers. Both teachers union leaders stressed the
            importance of working jointly with ACORN to improve
            local schools, to win pro-education policies and
            budgets, and to demand that the current
            administration stop starving public education of the
            funding it needs. 

            .  A presentation by director and actor Rob Reiner,
            who spoke to ACORN members about the importance of
            Early Childhood Education, and described the work
            that he is doing with California ACORN to win
            expanded early childhood education programs and more
            state funding for public schools. 

            .  ACORN leaders participated in a strategy session
            for ACORN's "Invest in Schools, Invest in Kids"
            campaign, which is mobilizing parents, community
            members, and teachers in cities across the country to
            demand that the Bush administration fully fund its
            education budget.

            ACORN Members March on L.A. Hospital to Demand
            Charity Care Plan

                  1,600 ACORN members march to St. Vincent
                  Medical Center to call attention to need for
                  accessible healthcare for the entire community.

            On June 27, over 1,600 ACORN members rallied at the
            St. Vincent Medical Center, part of the Daughters of
            Charity Health System, in downtown Los Angeles, to
            protest the hospital's inaccessible charity care
            services. Non-profit hospitals like St. Vincent's are
            required due to their tax status to provide community
            benefits including charity or free care - but
            according to the State of California's Office of
            Statewide Health Planning and Development, the amount
            of money that St. Vincent's spends for charity care
            is significantly less than other hospitals in the
            county, leaving uninsured patients with limited
            access to the services they need. At the same time,
            even in the heart of Southern California, St.
            Vincent's does little to meet the needs of the
            region's large non-English speaking community.
            Currently, even the hospital's main phone line
            provides a voice mail system and instructions that
            are only in English. 

            In response, ACORN members marched to the hospital
            and held a vigil in the front entry to demand
            adequate services for the entire community. ACORN
            leaders gave sermons in Spanish and English as ACORN
            members gathered to say a prayer for the hospital
            that had forgotten the meaning of charity. A
            delegation of ACORN leaders also went to the CEO's
            office to present him with a letter listing demands
            which would help St. Vincent's better serve the
            community's needs. 

            ACORN Members Hit the Streets to Register Voters

                  LisaGay Hamilton, right, presents Columbus,
                  Ohio, ACORN leader Deborah Morgan with a voter
                  registration award. 

            A crucial focus of ACORN's current work is the
            opportunity to have every voice heard in the upcoming
            presidential election. Since July 2003, ACORN and
            Project Vote, have registered more than 465,000
            voters across the country - substantial progress
            towards reaching Project Vote's goal of registering
            1.1 million voters this election cycle. To mark this
            progress, at the convention 400 ACORN members
            participated in a day of voter registration -
            traveling to African American and Latino
            neighborhoods in Los Angeles to register voters and
            encourage civic participation. 

            In addition, at a banquet for ACORN members and
            allies held on the UCLA campus on Sunday, June 27,
            Juan Marcos Vilar, Director of America's Families
            United, and actress and activist LisaGay Hamilton
            presented awards to ACORN leaders from chapters in 21
            states that have registered tens of thousands of
            voters each. The top states were Ohio with 87,007
            registrations, Florida with 67,894 registrations, and
            Pennsylvania with 55,922 registrations. 

            At the same banquet, presidential candidate John
            Kerry addressed ACORN members via video, commending
            the strength and influence ACORN's grassroots
            membership has built, and vowing to join ACORN in our
            efforts to fight predatory lending, secure adequate
            education funding, and raise the minimum wage. 

            For more photos, information, and articles about
            ACORN's National Convention, link to

                  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 65 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.

            Check out ACORN's website at 

            To subscribe to ACORN's Email list go to

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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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