ACORN News March 4, 2004

colist at colist at
Sat Mar 6 12:59:37 CST 2004

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

From:           	"Camellia Phillips" <acornnews at>

ACORN News: March 4, 2004In This Issue:

            Voter Registration Update: 148,000 Voters Registered 

            1. Los Angeles Moves City to Act Against Polluter 

            2. Baltimore Fights State Takeover of City Schools 

            3. Minnesota Wins Governor's Support of Foreclosure
            Rescue Scam Bill 

            4. San Francisco Minimum Wage Takes Effect 

            5. Chicago Pushes for Energy Assistance Program  

            6. DC Demands Utilities Assistance Funds from

            7. St. Louis Wins Representation on New Metro Transit
            Advisory Committee; Mayor Joins ACORN to Promote EITC

            8. Contra Costa Cleans Up Neighborhood, Fights School

            9. Providence Kicks off Campaign for Better Schools 

            10. East Harlem Rallies for State Minimum Wage

            ACORN News March 4, 2004

            Voter Registration Update: 148,000 Voters Registered

            Nearing the 150,000 mark, as of March 1, ACORN has
            registered 148,933 voters since July 2003! In order
            to reach our ambitious goals for registering voters,
            ACORN has been working with Project Vote to hold
            intensive skills training sessions for our voter
            registration project directors. These trainings have
            helped build our staff capacity to register large
            numbers of low-income and minority voters and to
            expand our voter work to include: registering
            voting-age high school students, reaching and
            registering eligible ex-felons, and working with
            local churches to register voters through faith-based

            Register to vote online through ACORN's voter
            registration campaign at:

            Los Angeles Moves City to Act Against Polluter 

                  February 20 press conference to announce
                  actions being taken by the City of Los Angeles
                  and others against a chrome plating plant. 

            After months of pressure from ACORN members, on
            February 20 City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, City
            Councilwoman Jan Perry, and State Assembly Speaker
            Fabian Nunez joined Los Angeles ACORN members in a
            press conference to announce steps the city is taking
            to stop the polluting practices of Palace Plating, a
            chrome plating factory. Located across the street
            from the 28th Street Elementary School, Palace
            Plating has been polluting the neighborhood, which is
            a primarily low-income Latino community, for years.
            At the press conference, the City Attorney, who
            characterized the situation as a clear issue of
            environmental justice, announced that he is filing 10
            charges against Palace Plating for illegally
            disposing of chromium, zinc, and other hazardous
            metals in the ground. Councilwoman Perry announced a
            citywide initiative to investigate polluters in
            similar situations in Los Angeles, and Assembly
            Speaker Fabian Nunez is authoring a bill to crack
            down on chrome-plating factories throughout the
            state. While excited about the progress represented
            by these actions, ACORN members remain committed to
            continuing to organize for closure of the factory.
            For more information, contact Peter Kuhns at
            caacornlaro at or 213-747-4211x 212.

            Baltimore Fights State Takeover of City Schools

            On March 3, over 100 ACORN and other community
            members protested at the Department of Education
            office in downtown Baltimore in opposition to the
            State's planned takeover of Baltimore City schools.
            Police arrested a number of ACORN protesters at the
            action, as well as an observer from the National
            Lawyers Guild. After years of mismanagement, the
            Baltimore City school system is currently $78 million
            in debt, and facing major slashes in school services
            and personnel. In response, Governor Robert Ehrlich
            has offered the city school system a $48 million loan
            contingent upon the creation of a new board which
            will oversee the school system. Made up of 4-5
            members appointed by the Mayor and Governor, and who
            would not necessarily be city residents, the board
            would not have any community or union input, but
            would have the power to do anything from cutting
            teachers pay to laying off personnel to closing
            schools - all in the name of "cost-cutting." ACORN
            and allies including AFSCME, City Union of Baltimore,
            and Community and Labor United for Baltimore are
            fighting this plan and demanding community and labor
            participation in decisions regarding the future of
            Baltimore schools. For more information, contact
            Mitch Klein at mdacorn at or 410-735-3360.

            Minnesota Wins Governor's Support of Foreclosure
            Rescue Scam Bill 

                  Minnesota ACORN members hold a press conference
                  outside of the Governor's mansion calling on
                  him to fight foreclosure rescue scam

            Minnesota ACORN members have won crucial support and
            urgency for a state bill to prohibit the worst
            foreclosure rescue scam practices. In late February,
            ACORN gave a scoop to the local NBC affiliate, the
            highest-viewed news channel in the state, that the
            Treasurer of Governor Tim Pawlenty's 2002 election
            campaign was involved in a number of foreclosure
            rescue scam operations, three of which had been
            investigated and settled with the state Attorney
            General's office. The day after the story aired,
            ACORN members, including 15 foreclosure rescue scam
            victims, held a press conference at the Governor's
            mansion, calling on Governor Pawlenty to support
            legislation to protect homeowners. In response, the
            Governor has agreed to support the ACORN-backed bill
            currently being considered in the State Senate that
            regulates and bans some of the most egregious abuses
            of foreclosure rescue scam artists. Because bills
            need to be passed by mid-March for this legislative
            session, ACORN members are working aggressively to
            build support for the measure. On March 3, the bill
            passed its first committee in the senate, and
            additional hearings on are now being held on the
            measure where ACORN members and foreclosure rescue
            scam victims will testify. ACORN has been working to
            pass such legislation for months, and earlier in the
            month on February 25, 20 foreclosure rescue scam
            victims and ACORN members lobbied their legislators
            to support the bill. For more information, contact
            Becky Gomer at mnacorn at or 651-642-0003.

            San Francisco Minimum Wage Takes Effect

            On February 23, ACORN members joined community and
            labor leaders, and elected officials on the steps of
            San Francisco City Hall to recognize the
            implementation of Prop L, the San Francisco Minimum
            Wage Ordinance. Passed in November 2003 by 60% of the
            city's voters, starting on February 23, the ordinance
            increased the city's minimum wage to $8.50 per hour -
            giving pay raises to over 50,000 low wage workers!
            Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez joined
            community leaders from ACORN, Chinese Progressive
            Association, POWER, San Francisco Day Laborers, SRO
            Collaborative, and Young Workers United in
            highlighting the San Francisco minimum wage increase
            as a major victory for every low-income resident of
            San Francisco and as an inspiration for economic
            justice activists across the country. In the coming
            months, community and labor groups will be working
            with the City to ensure successful enforcement of the
            law. Building on the success of the San Francisco
            ordinance, ACORN members are already looking to
            expand minimum wage increases to other California
            cities. On February 24, Berkeley City Councilmember
            Kriss Worthington presented a proposal for a higher
            city minimum wage to the Berkeley City Council for
            review by the Commission of Labor. For more
            information, contact John Eller at
            caacornsfro at or 415-725-9869.

            Chicago Pushes for Energy Assistance Program 

            On March 1, ACORN members joined State
            Representatives Charles Morrow and Monique Davis
            outside of a State Gaming Commission Hearing to call
            for the dedication of one percent of all casino
            profits toward energy assistance for low-income
            consumers. This would provide a needed funding stream
            for the proposed Percentage of Income Payment Plan
            that would be created through House Bill 2380, which
            ACORN worked closely with State Rep. Monique Davis to
            write and introduce last year. On March 2, HB2380 was
            finally voted out of the Consumer Protection
            Committee and onto the house floor. The bill calls
            for a program to allow LIHEAP-eligible customers to
            pay 6% of their income towards their utility bills to
            avoid shutoff, no matter how much they may owe. For
            more information, contact Madeline Talbott at
            ilacorn at or 312-939-7488. 

            DC Demands Utilities Assistance Funds from District

                  DC ACORN members protest to pressure the
                  District to allocate funds for utilities

            With Federal LIHEAP dollars for the District of
            Columbia already expended, DC ACORN members are
            demanding that the Mayor allocate funds from the
            District's Emergency and Contingency Reserves, or
            "rainy day" fund, to help low-income families keep
            their heat and electricity turned on. DC ACORN
            estimates that hundreds, if not thousands, of
            District residents may be facing utilities shutoffs
            in the coming months as a result of the high costs of
            heating and especially cold temperatures. On February
            17, DC ACORN members held a press conference to
            deliver a letter to Mayor Anthony Williams asking him
            to help low-income families avoid utilities shutoffs,
            and on February 26, ACORN members protested at the
            Ward 6 Neighborhood Citizen Summit meeting that the
            Mayor was hosting to demand action. In response, the
            Mayor's office agreed to a meeting between ACORN and
            the City Administrator, who is responsible for the
            city's day-to-day functions, on March 5 to discuss
            ACORN's concerns and possible solutions. At the same
            time, DC ACORN also won a commitment from Washington
            Gas to implement a utilities shut-off prevention
            program through ACORN. For the next 8 weeks, a
            Washington Gas representative will come to the ACORN
            office weekly and work personally with individual
            customers to avoid shutoff or have their service
            turned back on. For more information, contact Will
            Ward at dcacorn at or 202-547-9292. 

            St. Louis Wins Representation on New Metro Transit
            Advisory Committee; Mayor Joins ACORN to Promote EITC

            After two years of organizing to demand more
            community input into the St. Louis region's public
            transit system Metro, ACORN has won two seats on
            Metro's newly created Transportation Advisory
            Committee. Designed to ensure early input for Metro
            customers and advocates into planning and scheduling
            decisions, the committee represents the first time an
            activist organization has been invited to be a part
            of Metro's planning process. Along with ACORN, the
            Coalition for Responsible Transit and SEIU Local 880
            will also serve on the committee. ACORN is also
            demanding community representation on Metro's board
            itself, and in January ACORN members met with
            representatives of the Federal Transit Administration
            (FTA) to discuss the need for community
            representation on the Metro board and the challenges
            faced by Metro customers in lower income and minority
            neighborhoods. Also in St. Louis, on February 24,
            Mayor Francis Slay joined a representative from
            Congressman Lacy Clay's office, and St. Louis ACORN
            board members Rev. Gilbert Cox, Hattie Sadler, Mary
            Hutchinson, and Gwen Cogshell, to promote the
            importance of the EITC for St. Louis' low-income
            families, highlight free tax filing services
            available, and warn taxfilers about RALs. For more
            information, contact Ken McKoy at moacorn at
            or 314-531-7023. 

            Contra Costa Cleans Up Neighborhood, Fights School

            Contra Costa ACORN members in the City of Richmond
            won increased police patrol and street clean up in
            one of the most neglected communities in the San
            Francisco Bay Area. Since last fall, ACORN members in
            Richmond have been organizing for more city services
            and police presence, including conducting a walking
            tour of ACORN neighborhoods with the City Manager and
            a representative from the Richmond Police Dept. In
            February, ACORN members met with County Supervisor
            John Gioia who agreed to endorse Richmond ACORN's
            People's Platform, which includes reducing crime,
            creating safer neighborhoods, increasing affordable
            housing and improving local schools, and to
            immediately move the city to increase sanitation and
            police patrols in the area. In the nearby City of
            Antioch, on February 21, over 100 ACORN and community
            members marched on the Antioch School District's
            office to protest the proposed closure of a
            neighborhood school and to demand that community
            members be given a permanent voice in the
            decision-making process of the local Board of
            Education. Located in downtown Antioch, the school
            being considered for closure enrolls primarily
            low-income students, and is one of the better schools
            serving neighborhood residents. ACORN members plan to
            keep up the pressure on the Board of Education until
            residents' concerns are addressed. For more
            information, contact Anthony Panarese at
            caacornbp at or 925-261-0233.

            Providence Kicks off Campaign for Better Schools

            Providence ACORN members kicked off a campaign to
            improve the city's schools with a protest at a
            February 26 Board of Regents Public Hearing on a
            proposal by the State Commissioner of Schools to
            lengthen the school day. Two dozen children joined
            ACORN members at the meeting to oppose the
            Commissioner's proposal, chanting "What do we want?
            Our Future." The Commissioner's proposal comes amidst
            news that 240 teachers in Providence are scheduled to
            be cut by the end of the year, and that the
            Governor's newly announced budget would slash aid to
            public schools in the state by $8 million. In
            response to the Commissioner's proposal, ACORN leader
            David Fremming told reporters that: "Lengthening the
            school day is like putting an extra plate on the
            table when there isn't any more food." In the coming
            months, Rhode Island ACORN members will continue to
            fight teacher and budget cuts in Rhode Island public
            schools. For more information, contact Aimee Olin at
            riacorn at or 401-780-0500.  

            East Harlem Rallies for State Minimum Wage Increase

            On February 19, over 150 East Harlem residents
            attended a rally in support of raising the state
            minimum wage organized by members of the "$5.15 is
            Not Enough" coalition, including New York ACORN, the
            New York Unemployment Project, the Working Families
            Party, and Jobs with Justice. The proposal to raise
            the state minimum wage to $6.75 by next year and
            $7.10 by 2006 has been passed by the State Assembly
            and is under consideration by the State Senate. At
            the rally, ACORN and other coalition members
            pressured their State Senator Olga Mendez to increase
            her support for the measure. For more information,
            contact Peter Santiago at nyacornman at or

                  DONATE TO ACORN

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            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.

            Check out ACORN's website at 

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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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