Behind the Scenes

ACORN Ideas and Issues Personal Writings

Philadelphia On Sunday at Temple University the ACORN Executive Board and key leaders from states in the Northeast spent hours developing questions for the ACORN Presidential Candidate Forum to be held on Monday afternoon in a church right off campus. Practice makes perfect, and the ACORN leaders wanted to be ready on every score as they prepared to meet Senator Hillary Clinton, former Senator John Edwards, and Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

There will be 7 questions that run the gamut of ACORN’s interests in low- and moderate-income communities around the country.

1. Maximum Eligible Participation: getting all qualified and eligible citizens for any federal program to fully participate in the program.

2. Protecting Our Assets: stopping predatory lending and moving forward on better financial services.

3. Citizenship: helping immigrants become citizens.

4. Rebuilding American Cities: the call for a Marshall plan and a community impact assessment for all neighborhoods confronting developers with public support.

5. Improving Income, Wages, and Working Conditions: show us the money!

6. Katrina and Rebuilding New Orleans: this is more than a symbol to ACORN, it’s personal!

7. Protecting the Right to Vote: we have had enough of voter suppression and want a fully entitled citizenship.

Each member has a one-page scorecard and a small stub of a pencil prepared for them, so that they can rank each candidate and his or her response and keep a running straw poll of their thinking to input to fellow members not attending and the leadership across the country. The scoring is tough and runs from “excellent” to “failed.” We are tired and won’t take it no more!

Perhaps as hard as the questions will be for the candidates was the process of question development. There are so many issues that engage ACORN and its members that slimming and prioritizing them into these 7 was a struggle and the leadership debated long into the afternoon trying to sort them out.

Soon the buses will be coming in and the event will go from preparation to full court press, so let the fun begin and let’s see if we can get the issues of low- and moderate-income families to the forefront of the national debate.

Board Preparations