Thursday, July 24, 2008


This fine individualo has challenged me and is going to some length to show that Rathke is gone and things are changing. I want to give him the chance to state his case. Below is the letter and following is my response.

Anonymous said...
While I'm not clear on why you keep posting about all the negative stuff when the organization is clearly trying to move away from the Rathke era, I respect your desire to try to push ACORN to live up to its values.
But I do want to point out one factual error in your headlines. Wade Rathke is not currently employed by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. He _is_ still the Chief Organizer of an entity called ACORN International, but that organization is separately incorporated. This is important because under the terms of that incorporation the original ACORN, the one he "resigned" from, has only one seat on its Board of Directors. The others are filled by ACORN International members from the various countries where AI operates: Canada, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, India. While the US representative would love to fire Wade, the other Board members have a different perspective and are reluctant to move in that direction.
I think from the outside this looks like splitting hairs from the outside but from a legal stand point, the US ACORN members simply can't fire Wade from his job at AI.
However, because of the fact that from the outside it looks like Wade "resigned" but then got a promotion, there is a large faction of senior staff and a large faction of US ACORN leaders who want him gone from that position as well. That and the fact that they want him disassociated with anything called ACORN or a part of the ACORN family of organizations because of the scandal and his attempts to purge the organization of anyone who disagreed with him.
I believe that a set of negotiations around his AI situation are on-going, but I don't know the timetable for them or what demands are really on the table.
I'm hoping that at some point you might cover some of the positive changes that are coming about as a result of the current transition, rather than posting news stories from two years ago, but I'm not really expecting it.
But it would be useful to understand what a positive vision for the transformation of the organization would be from a radical perspective rather than a rehashing of past failings.
Well, a boy can always dream, right? 8-)

July 24, 2008 5:11 PM
My responseJohn Brownz Said :
To start off and for the record I busted my ass for ACORN, Hit every goal I was told to hit, my former employees hang out with me all the time and we still have a community of justice between us. I see the members I worked with on a regular basis. They are no longer members.
Well actually i spent a big chunk of my life doing lots of positive things to advance the social justice movement and ACORN. I would love to pass on positive changes. I have nothing but respect for Bertha Lewis and I have nothing but respect and love for the field of community organizing. I've devoted my life to it. ACORN just about burned me out forever. Trust me if I wanted to post some negative things about ACORN I could. This an effort to avoid that.So, in response to your statement:

International ACORN is not part of ACORN?
You know and I know it is. Just as the AISJ is seperate from ACORN but it is an intrinsic part of ACORN's funding and structure.

Where did the start up capital come from?I know where it came from.

They do not report at Head Organzer and Management meetings?

Don't they come the end year meetings?

Why is that if they are a seperate Organization?

Now this is a website I just went and what do you call this?

Now on this website I found this?International OfficesACORN International is building community organizations of low-income families, and partnering with grassroots organizations outside of the United States. ACORN International aims to strengthen democratic movements for social change, as well as build connections between community-based organizations across borders and cultures.

ACORN International has offices in Argentina, Canada, Peru, and Mexico, and facilitates the India FDI Watch Campaign. We are establishing direct membership chapters in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Kenya, and Nigeria and are exploring partnerships with established membership-based organizations in Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea.
> ACORN Argentina > ACORN Peru > ACORN Dominican Republic > ACORN Canada > ACORN Mexico
Now what is that. I searched the site and found that.
Now when I go to this site, the offices link? I find this on this site the US offices, the national, and the international! I don't know if you know it or not but that is pissing alot of people off. Especially since this is linked as well:
So Sorry, we aint buyin it. Also why am I able to reach Wade's Chief Organizer page form the ACORN page?
Either he is gone or not. If ACORN is a out control freight train that has already left the station. Then USA ACORN will sue them for all resources drained from our members and will demand they change their name!
What I hear you saying is that Wade's dream of a Walmart of Organizing is coming true on our sweat and dimes. Whether the members like it or not.
Meanwhile people out here who continue to organize with no help from ACORN because we BELIEVE IN COMMUNITY ORGNANIZING are really getting tired of the daggers and razors in our backs.
I am doing this because members who were busting their asses and meeting all goals had their office yanked out from under them because there weren't any hot elections coming up. That isn't organizing, Wade thinks it is, IT IS NOT!
Wade and ACORN organize where they are preaching to the choir. They aren't in the places where the real fight is. We can build a new organization in this country that respects the individual culture of organizing of each region. ACORN has stomped all over everyone in this country's toes and they shouldn't have stepped on mine. Because I delivered way more than my paycheck and because I am in till the end and I don't give a F&&CK!I will devote the rest of my life to building true organizing, while ACORN farms you guys out as the outsourced migrant workers of whatever flavor of the day they are contracting. I have seen some awfully questionable farming out of ACORN workers and I have the paperwork from it. I haven't broke with everything I have because I would really like to see ACORN take up the cause of:

Well we will fill in these blanks soon

Ever see Brave Heart? (Stupid ass movie)

This is the scene where idiot Mel says': I've to peck a fight" rides out tells the English to "ride back to England apologizing to every home along the way for hundreds of years of oppression BUTT before they leave they must bend over and kiss their own A$$e$.

Ok that was dumb.Just tried to find an example someone from your culture would understand.

Ok the bottom line is ACORN is sucking up all the air in the bell and starving alot of great efforts for social change along the way. It is got to stop.

If I wanted to get nasty I could merge about 20 (actually 3 times more if I call a few people for their ACORN EMAIL lists and well? Then I could start merging about three thousand interorganizational contacts from Belgrade to Baton Rouge and then we can have some real fun! Bubba. WHy haven't I?/We/You? Because we actually care about seeing something salvaged here. You screwed with the wrong bunch of hombres.
You don't think some people are smart enough to have a butt load of phone numbers they could start robocalling?Right now!Lose the Whimp,Fire the management team that rubber stamped Wade saving his litlle brother's butt This means EVERY BODY!!!Maude has got to go! Implement new policies to insure low income leadership of color rise to the top in ACORN
Work your butts off to bring back some of the people who left in the past few years out of disgust who are committed to community organizing and I will take down every site and put up a very positive one about ACORN's new commitment to empowering the people from the communities we organize to become the captqains of this ship.


Anonymous said...

Okay, wait. I think I wasn't clear about what my point in replying was.

The only thing I was quibbling about was the legal definition of ACORN International.

I completely respect your position on ACORN and how you were treated and what you've been doing since.

I just wanted to note that the act of getting rid of Wade from ACORN International is a process that, legally, needs to flow from the structure of ACORN International.

Yes, there are several organizations that make up what people call the ACORN Family of organizations, affiliated through what is called the COUNCIL (which is another stupid acronym) which is the legal structure that binds folks together and allows for things like the pension and health plans to be capitalized and shared across the organizations.

I mean, look, SEIU Local 880 and ACORN Housing Corporation both come to YEYB too, but they are clearly separately incorporated organizations with their own Boards and staff. While the branding may be confusing on this issue, ACORN International also has a separate incorporation and Board and staff.

(I personally think the outrage here is that senior staff and leaders allowed for a situation where Wade had so much organizational power and was essentially able to pull off something like this - being fired from one ACORN, but being the Chief Org of another.)

So when ACORN websites show ACORN International, it is natural because they are part of the Family. But just like Wade was fired by the ACORN Board of Directors and not, say, the ACORN Housing Board of Directors, the legal structure of ACORN International does not allow for the ACORN Board of Directors to fire him from that post.

US ACORN members can either try to organize the votes on the AI Board to fire Wade or they can pull out of the organization and stage a fight over the name and trademark.

Or they can try to negotiate another Wade resignation.

Personally, I don't know where that fight is going.

That's all I really wanted to clarify.

And while I noted that it would be great to have some constructive criticism of what the changes are, as opposed to constant screeds against the organization without acknowledging that sometimes ACORN actually accomplishes something good (and, yes, I'm clear that it just as often creates wreckage), I did that because that kind of input from radicals is generally sorely missing from any discussion of ACORN. Such a discourse would fill a space that currently stands empty.

I'm not trying to bash you for running a bunch of sites that focus on ACORN's problems. I'm asking for some kind of vision that can challenge the new emerging staff and member leaders as they try to take ACORN into its next stage. In addition to keeping a focus on the problems of which you so eloquently and passionately speak.

In the struggle,


0 said...

I completely repsect your position.

Maybe ACORN will invite some of the thinkers back to the table that left.

Who knows?

I am very aware of the legal firewalls Wade has set up to protect every morsel of his empire. Am I wrong that the management team members that went along with his decision to cover up the embezzlement are still there?

I could go through the list but you know who they are.

As a radical, I feel strongly that ACORN needs to look to some of the more reputable GR Orgs out there and go back to the basics. That they invest in organizing.

I feel that they stop promototing green horns who called me on the phone constantly crying that they had no clue what they were doing. I watched people that had 15 people at a big meeting get promoted to HO? A true Executive Director which is really what the local HO is should have several years of waging meaningful campaigns and falling on their butts before being promoted to manage someone else. All of this was an effort to give ACORN steroids so to speak. To make ACORN look bigger than it actaully was.
What do we know about the side effects of steroids are?
Well the side effects of just expanding to be expanding has horrible side effects as well. No expansion should ever happen if we have struggliing and dying efforts literally across the county line.

ACORN organizers are so inept and unsophisticated when they have to interact with real organizers from other orgs. They are the laughing stock. They are looked at the Republican operatives see the Evangelical shock troops of the right. "We use them because they are stupid enough to be used". It will stay that way until ACORN has a true leadership development and advanced training regimine. Right now? Advanced training has been sitting in a room listening to Wade blither on and on about India and anytime he is asked a substantive question the asker is brushed off with some off hand comment. So elitist.
Unfortunately, that attitude is adopted by the other HO's as the way to do things.

I gotta go right now.

I appreciate you taking the time.