Tag Archives: acorn housing

Sick Days, Taxes, and Street Theater at Moonstone

Talking Citizen Wealth & more at Moonstone in Philly

Philadelphia     What used to be a dead zone not far from Center City in Philadelphia was hopping on a Friday night with people all over the streets as I was dropped off in a mad rush from the airport as Jasmine Rivera, the regional organizer for ACTION United, drove off to find a place for the car.  We had a good crowd at Robin’s Books and Moonstone Arts Center thanks to Craig Robbins of ACTION United and his team, old and new leaders, old and new organizers, and friends and bystanders.

Once again it didn’t take long after describing the books for the ACORN post-mortem to begin, and these topics were covered in depth, but some of the more interesting questions involved the potential for community-labor coalitions, where I heartily agreed though answered that I thought the jury was out on whether or not these were real partnerships or simply transactional alliances where the community components were very much junior partners.  In Pittsburgh and Philadelphia one gets the feeling with both One Pittsburgh and Fight for a Fair Philadelphia that these are the labor equivalent of grass-tips organizations, which is ironic since the capacity for real partnerships seems remarkable in both places.  Something worth more investigation, I think.  Visiting with some of the organizers afterwards they regaled me with tales of the Fight for a Fair Economy street theater in front of Wells Fargo, which produced good humor, but I had trouble following the point or where it was producing any pressure or building much, so I need to find out more.

It was great to hear the progress being made on the campaign in Philadelphia to win sick days for workers in the city.  Last year ACTION United had led efforts to win sick days through the Council to be vetoed by Mayor Nutter.  This year they are gearing up to win a larger majority that could resist the veto.  The basic proposal seems to be 5 sick days for establishments with 5 or more workers.

Critically on the “citizen wealth” and “self-sufficiency” agenda, it was delirious to hear that ACTION United has now taken the first steps to move its tax preparation service to a fee-for-service basis.  Even at the introductory level of $30 per return, they have already brought in over $10,000 demonstrating the potential in this area is significant.

More disappointingly, I ran into Bruce Dorpalen, who had been with ACORN for many years and a key player in our housing programs and chief architect of the amazing housing counseling program we had run which allowed hundreds of thousands of families to obtain housing.  He confirmed rumors that they had shut their doors, unable to right-size the operation to the funding resources available.

Nonetheless, exciting things are in store in Philadelphia.  Seeing old and new leaders still wrapping their arms around the organization and trying to chart the path to the future, gives great hope.

More of the Moonstone Crowd



Paul Revere and Darrell Issa: Two if By See!

Paul-Revere-723638 New Orleans This is a gentle reminder to my friends among the Tea-people.  History is a funny thing, comrades, in case you missed this part of high school, it’s based on facts, rather than opinions and in fact you need to base your opinions on facts.

I am reminded of this in looking at the daily screeds among the right wing, professional blogging class.  This is no chattering class, but more of a shouting mass that has to somehow push some kind of garbage out by the curb of the internet highway, sometimes several times per day.  A popular theme over the last week involving yours truly has been to comment on my warning to all that would listen that Congressman Darrell Issa’s elevation to the head of the House Investigations’ Committee would be bad news for anyone who still believes in freedom of association and freedom of speech.

Although it looks like I might qualify as a soothsayer by the right’s lights, since Issa immediately ran his mouth off about wanting to investigate ACORN as high on his list in order to “keep anything like” such an organization ever being organized again, which seemed more to me like a preemptive strike against all things progressive rather than a real “investigation” of any sort.  I wasn’t alone for long either since an editorial in the Times laid out the same concern and a handicapper in last Sunday’s op-ed page on the Times placed an ACORN investigation, particularly of the ACORN Housing Corporation and its programs over the years, to “show” in 3rd place on the most likely list.

All of which brings me back to the lesson in history or legend of the great Paul Revere’s ride warning “that the British were coming” after the real Tea Party in Boston Harbor.  As every school child knows, as Revere rode at night through Concord and Lexington spreading the warning, the watchwords were “One if by land, and two if by sea,” giving the lantern signals for preparation to citizens throughout the land.

Revere’s ride was a warning, not a retreat in fear.  Look it up.

Continue reading