Union organizers on trial as racketeers

Related UFCW-Smithfield Foods stories: here
More RICO stories: here

'Corporate campaigns' under threat as UFCW is forced to mount RICO defense

A jury will consider Smithfield Foods Inc.'s racketeering and extortion allegations against a union that has orchestrated boycotts and protests in an attempt to organize workers at the world's largest hog slaughterhouse, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne rejected the United Food and Commercial Workers International's motion for a ruling that the union did nothing illegal, leaving the matter on the docket for trial starting Oct. 20. The judge also rejected three of the defenses the union wanted to use in the case, which he said centers on whether the union advocated a sham election and demanded company neutrality in a scheme to gain representation without the support of a majority of the workers at Smithfield's plant in Tar Heel, N.C.

However, Payne had difficulty grasping the company's theory of how the union's campaign violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, which originally was designed to fight organized crime. He asked Smithfield attorneys for additional briefs on that issue.

In its lawsuit, Smithfield claims the union used economic threats - including product boycotts, e-mail campaigns and interference in the company's contractual relationships - in an attempt to force the company to unionize the Tar Heel plant, which employs about 5,000 workers.

"It was an effort to get something from Smithfield that they couldn't get otherwise," said company attorney Gregory Robertson. "That's the essence of extortion."

Attorneys for the union and several affiliated organizations and individuals named as defendants argued that using economic pressure to achieve a lawful purpose is not extortion.

One major issue is whether the union proposed a sham election - one in which ballots are cast but not counted, and the union is declared the winner. Smithfield claims that's what the union wanted, but the union says the idea was never taken seriously or pursued after being mentioned by a union representative who had no real negotiating power.

The company also says the union's demand that Smithfield give up its right to speak out against unionization, and its threat to continue its hardball tactics until it achieved its goal, amounted to extortion. The union says it's not extortion if the objective - in this case, neutrality in a union election - is lawful.

Payne granted Smithfield's motions to prohibit the union from using the First Amendment as a defense. He also ruled the union cannot fight claims that it interfered with company contracts by arguing that its allegations that Smithfield mistreated employees were true. Among the contracts at issue was one in which celebrity chef Paula Deen was to use Smithfield products in a segment of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

The judge also said the union cannot argue that its alleged misdeeds sprang from wrongdoing by the company - the so-called "unclean hands" doctrine. Earlier this year, Smithfield reached a settlement to pay $1.1 million in back wages, plus interest, to workers it fired during past union-organizing elections. A federal appeals court ruled in 2006 that the company improperly influenced elections in 1993 and 1997.

Lawyers for the union also said in court Tuesday that a consultant for Smithfield employed a person to infiltrate union rallies and meetings and report back to the company. Smithfield attorneys did not directly address that allegation in court, but Robertson said later that the man neither worked for Smithfield nor supplied any information.

While Payne ruled that the First Amendment, the truth and the "unclean hands" doctrine cannot be used as an absolute defense, he left open the possibility that those issues could bear on the evidence at trial.


Barack goes to court to protect voter-fraud

Related stories: "MM: GOP numb to community organizing fraud" • "Barack's hopes rest on ACORN" • More ACORN stories: here

Are state elections officials in the tank?

The Obama campaign filed a lawsuit Sept. 16 to block an apparent Republican Party effort in Michigan to use home foreclosure lists to exclude registered voters in the Detroit area from casting ballots this November.

At the same time, 14 Senate Democrats, including Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking him to prevent the use of foreclosure list to disfranchise registered voters.

According to media reports, the Obama campaign filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Detroit asking for an injunction against the Macomb County Republican Party, the Michigan Republican Party and the Republican National Committee. The injunction would block the Republicans from using a list of home foreclosures obtained through a McCain campaign donor to exclude registered voters who may be on the list.

Macomb County, northeast of Detroit, includes key working class communities.

Last week, Macomb County Republican Party Chair James Carabelli told a local news web site, the Michigan Messenger, that Republican activists would use lists obtained from foreclosure specialist firm Trott & Trott to identify voters whom they would accuse of not being residents of the addresses listed on their voter ID and state ID cards.

The firm's founder, David A. Trott, has raised between $100,000 and $250,000 for the McCain campaign, reported the Michigan Messenger.

While Michigan Republicans are denying the Messenger report now, other reports indicated that Ohio Republicans planned to use similar tactics in that state. In Franklin, Ohio, for example, Doug Preisse, the local Republican Party boss, told a Columbus newspaper that his political machine plans to use foreclosure lists to exclude registered voters there.

Responding to these and other reports, Ohio’s Sen. Sherrod Brown said, "Just when you think you've seen it all, somebody sets a new low."

"Ohioans have faced enough slimy tactics used to discourage voting," Brown added, referring to vote-suppression schemes used by Republicans in that battleground state in 2004 and previously. "The Justice Department must work harder to prevent these shameful and illegal efforts. When someone loses their home, they should not lose their vote as well."

Michigan Democrats told the media that it is difficult to believe Republican denials about the current charges given the fact that they used similar tactics to exclude, challenge or intimidate registered voters in the past.

The Michigan Messenger report noted that the Republican tactics were focused on Detroit, where the vast majority of home foreclosures came against African American homeowners, who largely support Democratic candidates and Barack Obama for president. The tactic could represent a violation of civil rights and voting rights laws.

Other were quick to point out that the "lose your home, lose your vote" tactic also targets registered Latinos, whites and others caught up in the mortgage crisis and credit crunch that has swept the country.

In their letter to Attorney General Mukasey, the 14 senators wrote that questioning voter status based on foreclosure status would represent a new variant of voter "caging," a vote-suppression tactic to challenge whether voters are living at their registered addresses. The letter charged that even rumors of this type of vote "caging" can discourage turnout and suppress the vote.

Home foreclosure is a lengthy process that does not always result in the homeowner's eviction from the home. Using a list of addresses and foreclosure filings to challenge the residence of voters would therefore sweep up large numbers of properly registered voters, turning them away from the polls or forcing them to cast provisional ballots, the senators' letter stated.


Union bigs terrified by worker-choice scheme

Related stories: "Colorado worker-choice scheme exposed" • "The 28 labor-states"
More worker-choice stories: here

Flood of out-of-state union dues pollutes Centennial State

A Colorado labor union raised more than $3.2 million in the last two weeks for a campaign to support two ballot proposals regulating safe business practices and to oppose a “right-to-work” measure supported by pro-business interests. Nearly all of the money has been committed to purchase media advertisements across the state in what appears to be an unprecedented pull-out-all-the-stops campaign by the union.

Coloradans for Middle Class Relief, a political committee backed by the Denver-based United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7, boasts an astounding haul to support its state ballot questions: Amendment 56, which would require certain employers to provide health insurance to their employees, and Amendment 57, which would provide workers injured on the job with stronger legal rights.

“That $3 million is in addition to the $1.5 million we spent already on a media buy,” said Manny Gonzales, a spokesperson for the UFCW local. “I can’t say with any certainty whether we’ve spent this much on a past campaign. It’s a sizable amount now. It’s easily one of the largest media buys for a state campaign in Colorado this election cycle.”

A recent contract report from cable company Comcast shows that the UFCW’s political committee has agreed to spend a net total of $671,558 to buy a whopping 6,022 television spots that began running in late August in the Denver, Grand Junction and Colorado Springs cable markets and will continue through Election Day. The 30-second ads will be seen in heavy rotation on CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, ESPN, and a wide variety of sports and entertainment channels.

And that’s just one cable provider among several in the state.

Gonzales wouldn’t disclose what exact ads the union has in mind to broadcast, but he did confirm that the UFCW will use the ad space for spots against a measure that it opposes: Amendment 47, a “right-to-work” proposal that seeks to restrict the way labor unions in the state organize.

Both Amendments 56 and 57 are considered to be counter-measures supported by labor in response to Amendment 47. The union is also planning ad spots supporting 56 and 57, according to Gonzales.

Said Kelley Harp, spokesperson for A Better Colorado, a political committee supporting the “right-to-work” measure: “Our campaign will be on the air to educate voters on the positive merits of Amendment 47.”

“We also anticipate that we will have to counter the misinformation put out by the opponents of Amendment 47,” Harp said, noting that he thought it was “unfortunate” that so much money was being spent against legislation for “worker freedom.”

But one man’s misinformation is another man’s truth to power.

“In really tough economic times, what’s really going to stand out is what’s going to help individuals not businesses,” said Dominic Del Papa, a Denver political strategist with Ikon Public Affairs. “This whole situation is unprecedented — to have so many measures that offer so much change on both sides.”

Colorado has become a testing ground for ballot measures that seek to make significant change in the political and policy landscape of the nation, according to Del Papa.

That point will be fully evident on Nov. 4 when voters face both the country’s longest ballot and one that includes radical state constitutional amendments with national aspirations, like the “right-to-work” measure and moves to eliminate Affirmative Action and bestow legal rights on fertilized eggs.

While voters may be encouraged to bring a sandwich to the polls in order to trudge through 18 ballot measures and a baker’s dozen or more of federal, state and local races, Del Papa underscores that there’s quite a bit at stake beyond Election Day.

The battle being waged on the ballot is no less a proxy war for Colorado’s economic future, he explains. It will affect the tone of relationships between labor and business after the election. It will impact public officials who line up on either side of the issues or those who choose to sit on the fence. And just two months after voters head to the polls, the Colorado state legislature goes back into session and Gov. Bill Ritter will mark the mid-point of his first term. Will it be business as usual under the dome or will the political casualties of an inflamed ballot war spill over into the realm of the usually mundane legislative sausage-making?

“Neither side wants to see this combativeness but they want to prevail on their issues,” said Del Papa.

And those battle have already come with high costs.

UFCW has contributed a total of $4.8 million to the Coloradans for Middle Class Relief committee since June while Amendment 47 supporters have raised $1.1 million since January. Both committees report having $100,000 cash on hand as of Sept. 15.

Neither of the groups’ ads are available to preview on the Web or via YouTube.


Forced Choice means 'Intimidation'

Members dues used to kill worker-choice

More worker-choice stories: hereunion-dues stories: here

Union bigs fight to preserve labor-state's forced-dues scheme

While one labor union in Colorado has already spent $4.6 million on an advertising blitz supporting and opposing certain state ballot measures, yet another coalition of unions is also focusing hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars on media purchases.

Protect Colorado’s Future, a campaign committee financially backed by labor groups like the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union, has been focusing on buying ad spots in the Denver and Colorado Springs areas since July targeting Amendment 47, a “right-to-work” measure that seeks to restrict the way unions organize in the state.

The committee has reported spending at least $457,000 on ads, mostly on Comcast cable channels, according to records filed with the secretary of state’s office.

A media buy snapshot from a Comcast cable company contract report for the committee reveals 2,335 spots reserved at a total cost of $421,620 for ads running though Thursday. No future advertising time has been requested from Comcast, though it’s evident the committee plans to run more ads.


SEIU acts against embezzler scapegoats

Related stories - SEIU: hereAndy Stern: hereTyrone Freeman: here

Andy Stern refuses to take responsibility for proteges

Tyrone Freeman has been removed from the union's payroll after an internal report alleges improper spending practices similar to those revealed by The Times. The Service Employees International Union has accused the head of its largest California local of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars in an alleged corruption scheme that included payments to firms owned by his relatives and expenditures on his Hawaiian wedding and a Beverly Hills cigar club.

Tyrone Freeman has been removed from the payroll of the Los Angeles-based local and faces formal dismissal pending an internal hearing, a union spokeswoman said. Freeman went on paid leave last month, following disclosures by The Times about the local's spending practices.

* Union boss under fire: A Times Special Report
* Internal SEIU report (PDF)

Freeman's top aide, Matthew Maldonado, and three other staffers were fired Wednesday in connection with the union inquiry, according to the SEIU official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and asked for anonymity. Attempts to reach Maldonado for comment were unsuccessful.

Two other prominent SEIU leaders have gone on paid leave because of the scandal, including the president of the union's California council, Annelle Grajeda, who is also an executive vice president of the national organization.

The official who asked not to be identified said the SEIU has turned over to federal criminal authorities the findings of a union audit of Freeman's local, the United Long-Term Care Workers, which represents 160,000 low-wage caregivers. U.S. Labor Department investigators and FBI agents have been interviewing potential witnesses, according to people close to the probe

"The allegations underlying the charges against Tyrone Freeman are deeply disturbing, and we are going to proceed with a full and fair hearing process," SEIU President Andy Stern said in a statement Wednesday.

An appointee and protege of Stern, Freeman has denied any wrongdoing. His attorney said in a statement Wednesday that Freeman is "deeply disappointed with the union's actions. . . ."

"Instead of conducting a full and fair investigation, the union acted to scapegoat Mr. Freeman and to protect its own image," the statement said. "We are confident that the facts will show that Mr. Freeman acted in good faith to advance the interests of the union's members."

Most of the union's findings mirror The Times' disclosures. But an SEIU report contains new allegations that Freeman spent dues-payers' funds on his 2006 wedding and a Santa Barbara resort, and improperly drew payments from an affiliated local and a housing corporation.

The nine-page report, from union trustee John Ronches to SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger, spells out seven charges accusing Freeman of violating the union's corruption statutes.

The report followed an internal review led by former state Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp. The union found that Freeman had directed more than $650,000 to a home-based video firm owned by his wife, Pilar Planells.

The document says Planells performed part-time work making promotional videos, and the payments could not be justified. Her firm received about $450,000 in previously undisclosed payments this year, and contends the local still owes it $75,500, the report says. It adds that more than $391,000 was for videos designed for leased-access cable stations, but none has aired.

Freeman also directed the union to separately pay Planells' medical insurance so that his policy would continue to cover his ex-wife, according to the report.

Freeman is accused of concealing Planells' ownership of the video firm from the local's executive board and other officials. The Times has reported that Freeman did not file any Labor Department forms that require disclosure of such payments, until after the paper raised questions about them.

The union's report alleges that Freeman engaged in self-dealing and financial malpractice by using a worker-training charity to pay his mother-in-law's day-care business nearly $100,000 a year, as The Times had disclosed. The day-care services were provided to Freeman and other union staffers, rather than to the workers the charity is designed to help, the SEIU alleges.

The payments to Carmen Planells were not warranted by the small number of children she cared for at her home, according to the report. It says Freeman ignored warnings by his accountants that the arrangement with the day-care firm could violate Internal Revenue Service rules on reporting taxable benefits.

Freeman is further accused in the document of improperly directing an affiliated local -- the 30,000-member California United Homecare Workers -- and a housing firm he controlled to pay him about $2,500 a month each.

The Long-Term Care Housing Corp., established as a nonprofit but never received tax-exempt status, gave Freeman an additional lump sum of $14,500, the report says.

The housing corporation also paid $2,500 a month to lease the home of Freeman's former chief of staff, Rickman Jackson, the report says. Jackson, now president of SEIU's largest Michigan local, went on leave after The Times disclosed his ownership of the property, which the corporation listed as its address.

The SEIU report alleges that Freeman's dealings with the housing firm and worker-training charity amounted to a "misuse of the funds of these nonprofit corporations by his disregard for the specific nonprofit missions for which they were created."

Freeman is also accused of billing the union for $8,100 in hotel, restaurant, bar, rental car and massage charges incurred during his wedding. Most of the money was for rooms at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club on Oahu, the report says. It says that Freeman claimed the expenses were for his participation in a management program at the University of Hawaii, but no record of his attendance could be found.

The report also says Freeman failed to provide documentation justifying expenses for a second trip to Hawaii and for charges at the Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara.

The SEIU findings reflected a Times disclosure that Freeman spent nearly $10,000 last year at the Grand Havana Room, the Beverly Hills cigar lounge. The report says Freeman spent $3,500 more at the club. He reimbursed the union for $9,800 of the expenses after The Times inquired about them, the report said.

The union official who requested anonymity said the internal inquiry is continuing, and more allegations could be brought against Freeman. The report did not address a number of other expenditures disclosed by The Times.

- Paul Pringle


Labor Party free-fall may snag Barack

Related stories - 2008 election: herecollectivism: here

Collectivist, union-backed Labor Party faces a wipe-out in United Kingdom

Gordon Brown's woes deepened last night after a poll put the Tories a staggering 28 points ahead of Labour. The Ipsos/Mori poll put Conservative support at 52 per cent - their highest level in 20 years. If repeated at the next general election, it would mean a virtual Labour wipe-out.

The poll put Labour support at only 24 per cent, while backing for the Lib Dems remained unchanged at 12 per cent.

The results pile further pressure on the PM as Labour delegates prepare to gather in Manchester for their annual conference.

The poll also found 76 per cent of voters are dissatisfied with the way the Government are running the country, with 69 per cent unhappy with Brown's performance.

Meanwhile, a Scots MP last night denied he was set to quit as a ministerial aide.

Falkirk West MP Eric Joyce, parliamentary private secretary to business secretary John Hutton, said he was focusing on helping Labour win Glenrothes.

But appearing on television yesterday, Joyce gave only lukewarm support to Gordon Brown.

Asked if he backed the PM to turn around Labour's fortunes, he said: "At this stage, as we go into conference, it's essential that we are unified and see what Gordon has to say on Monday."

Joyce's comments followed the resignation of Scotland Office minister David Cairns after he voiced his own concerns about Labour's leadership.

Around a dozen Labour MPs have also called for leadership nomination forms in an attempt to trigger a contest.

Adding to the sense of gloom in Downing Street, it also emerged last night that Cabinet minister James Purnell had branded the attempts to silence the Labour rebels as "ridiculous".

The work and pensions secretary said: "It would be ridiculous to pretend you can't complain when you're worried.

"I'm not going to condemn people or question motives. But I don't agree with what they did."

Scots secretary Des Browne yesterday warned the Prime Minister's critics that there was no one else able to take his place.

He said: "There is no one in the political landscape of this country who is better qualified to lead us through these difficult times."


Could RICO stop ACORN?

More ACORN stories: hereDale Rathke stories: here

Union-backed 'community organizers' threaten 2008 election with bogus voter registrations

Well, if it's getting closer to election day, then several things are due to start happening: the weather will get cooler, the foliage will start to change colors, and more and more people from ACORN will be caught faking voter registrations.

We could have our first frost any day here in New Hampshire, the leaves are already starting to turn (and fall off), and -- just in time -- ACORN is piling up the fraudulent voter registrations.

Michelle Malkin seems to share my loathing of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now!, and seems to have a hot-line on their travails. ("More fraud from ACORN? Quick, Chief O'Hara, to the Malk-Signal!") So, just what have these Community Organizers been up to lately?

Well, for starters, they've been working like the dickens in New Mexico -- where over 1,100 bogus registrations have been flagged.

They're also playing their little games in Detroit, in Cleveland, in Philadelphia, and in Milwaukee, just to name a few cities.

ACORN also thought it was just dandy to pay people with criminal histories of forgery and identity theft to staff voter registration tables in New Mexico.

I could go on and on and on, but that ought to be sufficient for now.

So, what's the big deal, anyway?

The big deal is that our entire system of government is built on free, honest, and fair elections. More importantly than the elections being free and honest and fair, though, is the PERCEPTION that they are. Like so many things, this is based on the public's faith more than anything else.

When ACORN registers bogus voters, than at the very least they are screwing around with our system of governance in many ways. For example, a lot of places use voter registration listings for jury pools. That causes headaches for our court system.

But at the worst, they are disenfranchising plenty of honest Americans.

Our system is based on the principle of "one person, one vote." Those are adjusted and weighted somewhat in certain elections, such as the electoral college system for the presidency, but overall the principle is the same: each eligible voter is entitled to exactly one vote.

When ACORN gets a bogus registration through the system, then they are opening a window for someone to cast more than one vote. This, in effect, cancels the vote of one or more people who voted in the opposite way from the ACORN cheater. So they have been deprived of their vote without even realizing it.

Here's another way it can happen: suppose an ACORN person goes to the polls and casts a ballot in someone else's name. If that person later shows up, then they will either be denied their vote or given a "provisional" ballot, which will be accepted after their identity has been verified. But even in that case, the original, fraudulent ballot will go through -- and at the very least, nullify that original ballot.

The other day, a bunch of people got their panties in a wad by citing this story. In Michigan, the state Republican party is planning on assembling a list of foreclosures and using that at the polls to challenge voters. This move is giving the Obama campaign conniptions, and they're suing to stop the practice.

The theory behind the GOP's move is simple: by law, one votes in the area where you live. When a foreclosure takes place, you no longer live at that address. If you are voting by claiming a residence where it is provable you no longer live, then you are not entitled to vote in that district.

Now, some folks who get evicted might find a new home in the same district, and still be eligible to vote. Some others will not have taken the time to update their voter registration (understandable; their priorities are otherwhere at times like that) and might just go ahead and vote where they're still registered -- which is not legal.

Here's a simple remedy, one that doesn't need any great effort: when you go to the polls to vote, bring with you two items: an ID and a proof of residence. For me, that's simple: I already have my driver's license with me, and I simply tuck my most recent Comcast or electric bill in my wallet. If I'm challenged, then I'm all set to prove that I'm who I say I am and I live where I say I live.

Challenges, folks, are GOOD things. They are a simple Quality Control measure -- and as anyone who has ever done any kind of production work (even fast food) can tell you, quality checks are a necessity. They don't necessarily prevent problems, but they do help identify them quickly to minimize the complications.

Personally, I'd like to see 100% quality control at elections. I'd like to see every single voter have their ID checked when they vote, to prove that they are who they say they are and to protect them from having their vote stolen or nullified.

But back to the scumbags at ACORN. At some point, they have to reach the "tipping point" when all these instances of voter frauds are no longer excusable as accidental and the work of rogue individuals. There has to be a point when the sheer number of these incidents reaches the point when folks say "these aren't flukes, these are patterns" and hold the organization responsible for the crimes committed in its name, by its agents.

Luckily, we have a law already on the books for just such occasions. It's called RICO -- the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Under that law, if an organization is tied to at least two violations of certain laws, then RICO can be applied against the organization as a whole.

Fraud is one of those crimes. And it includes identity theft.

Embezzlement is also one of those crimes. Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, stole about $1 million from the group. This was kept quiet -- ACORN's board was not even told about it, let alone law enforcement officials -- and the Rathke family agreed to pay the money back in exchange for secrecy. Dale wasn't even fired -- he was still on the payroll months after the agreement was reached, and only left after the story broke.

To me, the case for a RICO investigation and prosecution against ACORN is clear. Their defenders will, no doubt, cite all the good they group has allegedly done, but even giving them full credit for all they claim (something I do NOT do), that poses the question: just what is the exchange rate for good deeds versus felonies, anyway? Do we allow people to "buy" their way out of crimes by some sort of karmic balancing?

If that's the case, then I want in, too. There's this rather attractive woman I know who I'd like to get to know better, if you know what I mean -- but she might not be interested. I'm a six-gallon blood donor, so I've got that going for me. How many more good deeds will I have to perform before I can just have my way with her, regardless of her wishes?

Yes, that's a facetious argument. It's hyperbole. But I first thought of it back during the pedophile priest scandal, when I wondered why so many people tried to excuse the rape of children by priests -- and the wholesale covering up by the Catholic Church of the whole mess -- by citing all the good works done by the Church. The defense pissed me off then, and it pisses me off even more today.

ACORN's best hope, as far as I can tell, is if a certain old friend of theirs -- who's remained faithful to them for well over a decade -- wins election in November.

That's not a great thing to put much faith in, though. That old friend has a rather awkward habit of jettisoning people and organizations that end up embarrassing him.

Regardless of November's results, though, ACORN's history of crimes needs to be exposed -- preferably in a court of law. This is precisely the sort of corruption that must be stomped out, and stomped out hard.


Get Unions Out Of The Classroom

Chicago Teamsters to take dues hit

Related story: "The 28 labor-states" • More union-dues stories: here

Why union bigs want to force disinterested workers in to labor unions

Teamsters Local 706 (including the former Local 7 of the Chicago Web Pressman's Union) confirmed that Dow Jones & Co. informally informed members of a decision (reported here previously) to close its Chicago-area printing plant, probably by year's end.

A Dow Jones spokesman declined to comment about closure of the plant in Naperville, Ill., or outsourcing of its printing to a third party in the area. Copies of the Journal have been printed at the Naperville plant since the 1970s.

While "they did not give an official [written] notice," said Local 706 Vice President John Giannone, "they had a general meeting with all the production people" last Wednesday, telling them the Naperville plant will close by year's end.

Giannone said it remains unknown where Dow Jones plans to print the Journal. The three possible sites believed under consideration are the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times (whose press operators are Local 706 members).

"We're going to do all we can to get them to change their mind," Giannone remarked.

Earlier this summer, Dow Jones outsourced printing of the Journal from its Denver plant to the Denver Newspaper Agency, the business agent of The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News.


ACORN's flood of fraudulent voter registrations

More ACORN stories: here

NM's county has at least 6,000 suspect voter registration cards

The Bernalillo County clerk has notified prosecutors that some 1,100 possibly fraudulent voter registration cards have been turned in to her office.

Some cards in New Mexico's most populous county have the same name as a voter who's already registered, but carry a different birth date or Social Security number; some list someone else's Social Security number; some have addresses that don't exist, Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Wednesday.

In one case, a series of about nine cards appears to have been taken directly from the phone book, she said. "Those are sort of the big red flags," Toulouse Oliver said.

The questioned cards came in over a period of time.

"Every once in a while, a card will pop up that we suspect might be possibly fraudulent and we sequester those," Toulouse Oliver said. "In anticipation of the upcoming election, we gathered those together and started to notify law enforcement."

Problem registrations don't make it to the voter rolls, Toulouse Oliver said. The clerk's office doesn't enter information into the system when it's unable to reach a voter to resolve questions.

"We do have a process in our office that is able to catch a lot of this stuff. Between our process and working together with law enforcement, I think these potentially fraudulent cards are not making it into the system and I think that is a good thing," she said.

Toulouse Oliver said she notified the district attorney, the state attorney general and the U.S. attorney because the election code is not specific about which should take the lead. False voter registration is a fourth-degree felony.

District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said her office is reviewing the clerk's letter and probably will ask a law enforcement agency to investigate. She also said she will contact the attorney general's office and U.S. attorney's office to coordinate efforts.

Toulouse Oliver said she has not done any analysis on who turned in suspect cards.

In 2004, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, ACORN, came under scrutiny for paying workers to sign up voters and offering bonuses for turning in more than 24 registrations a day.

Before the 2004 presidential race, then-Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera—now secretary of state—said her office found 3,000 registration cards with problems that invalidated them. Those included faulty addresses, no addresses, bad signatures or no Social Security numbers. The Postal Service returned 400 cards as undeliverable.

San Juan County Clerk Fran Hanhardt of Aztec said Wednesday every clerk gets questionable registrations, and that much of the problem comes from outside groups that register voters. Paying for each registration card leads to some workers "being creative on how they submit registration forms for payment," she said.

"We try to make sure that's not happening, that someone's not registering their dogs," she said.

Suspicions might be raised, for example, by a number of cards being turned in all at once with handwriting that can be compared, Hanhardt said.

"So you set those aside and give them a second, third and fourth look," then turn anything suspicious over to law enforcement, she said.

The northwestern New Mexico county has seen a "minimal amount" of suspect registrations this election, Hanhardt said.

She praised the Bernalillo County clerk's office for diligence.

"Hurray for them for catching it. We are processing hundreds of new voter registrations a day so I have to imagine they are getting thousands," Hanhardt said.

The Bernalillo County clerk's office has received about 100,000 voter registration cards since January.

Toulouse Oliver's office goes through a process before adding each card to the voter rolls. Workers first see if a voter already is in the system, checking by name, address, Social Security number and birth date.

"That's how we were able to flag a lot of this," Toulouse Oliver said.

Workers attempt to contact voters if there's a question, checking whether they filled out a new card or trying to fill the gaps on incomplete registration cards.

"On occasion, a voter will say, 'No, I didn't fill out a card,'" Toulouse Oliver said.

Her office still has 12,000 registrations to be processed—6,000 have not been handled, and 6,000 others are incomplete or have potential problems such as incorrect addresses, Toulouse Oliver said.

Some of those cards might eventually end up on the questioned pile, "but we have to go through the process first before we can establish that they are potentially fraudulent," she said.

The law doesn't require the clerk's office to contact a voter about a questioned registration card. "If it's incomplete, we can stamp 'rejected' and send it back," Toulouse Oliver said. But, she said, clerks try to resolve issues so legitimate voters can participate.

The last day to register for the Nov. 4 general election is Oct. 7.

Hanhardt questioned why any voter would hand over personal information to a third party to register when it's easy to register with a clerk. She urged voters to be cautious who they give their birth date, Social Security number and address to.

"I would never, ever give that information to someone I don't know. If it's someone you know, go ahead, but if it's somebody you've never seen before, why would you do that?" she said.

Her office has taken out newspaper ads, telling newly registered voters to call the clerk if they haven't received their voter card in two weeks.

Clerks work hard to head off problems in advance, Hanhardt said.

"If people show up on Election Day and they think elections just happen, then every clerk has done their jobs well," she said.


Union-backed fraud in Land of Enchantment

More ACORN stories: here

Ruling keeps pressure on ACORN

New Mexico judge denies ACORN and affiliated groups motion for preliminary injunction with regards to third party rules on voter registration EJ will post the decision shortly.

Recently, we posted ACORN’s affiinity to hire rapist, thieves and drug dealers in New Mexico.

Ironically, earlier this morning, Albuquerque Journal reported that more than 1,000 new voter registration cards received by the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office in advance of the November general election might be frauds, the county clerk said Tuesday.
In addition, “We do have a series of cards identified that appear to be (names) taken straight out of the phone book,Toulouse Oliver said.
Toulouse Oliver said the number of potential frauds could grow: The Clerk’s Office still has a backlog of about 6,000 registrations it needs to enter into the voter registration system. She said she did not know how many cards in the current stack of questionable registrations were submitted by ACORN, though she said that group this year has done the majority of so-called third-party registrations - those that aren’t turned in by the voters themselves but are submitted by groups organized to enlist new registrants.


Low-wage care givers ripped off by SEIU bigs

Related stories - SEIU: hereAndy Stern: hereTyrone Freeman: here

Union members' dues were embezzled by Andy Stern's protege

The head of a major local has been accused by the Service Employees International Union of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars in a corruption scheme, according to an internal union audit.

The audit of the SEIU's largest California local—United Long-Term Care Workers—contains new allegations that its president, Tyrone Freeman, spent union funds on a wedding in Hawaii and paid himself stipends through a housing corporation and another local.

The audit's findings were reported in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

Freeman went on paid leave last month following criticism about the local's spending practices. The union represents 160,000 low-wage caregivers.

Freeman has previously denied any wrongdoing. A message left for his attorney Wednesday by the Times was not immediately returned, and The Associated Press could not reach an attorney for comment early Thursday.

In the review led by former state Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp, the union found Freeman directed payments of more than $650,000 to a home-based video firm owned by his wife, Pilar Planells.

The report says the payments could not be justified because Planells only worked part-time to produce promotional videos.

Freeman is also accused of directing an affiliated local—the 30,000-member California United Homecare Workers—and a housing firm to pay him about $2,500 a month each.

The report also alleges Freeman billed the union for $8,100 in dining, spa services and hotel rooms at an Oahu Marriott during his 2006 wedding in Hawaii. The union says Freeman falsely claimed that the expenses were for a management program at the University of Hawaii.


AFSCME sues labor-state Dem Governor

Related story: "The 28 labor-states" • More AFSCME stories: here

The union that represents Illinois State Prison workers is suing Governor Rod Blagojevich for his attempts to close the Pontiac Correctional Center.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, also referred to as AFSCME, argues the governor doesn't have the authority to close the down the prison. State workers say the prison is currently accounted for in the current state budget, which the union said was signed into law by Blagojevich.

Meanwhile, the governor said closing the prison would save about 4–million dollars a year. Closing the prison would cut close to 600–jobs.


Barack's friend Ayers consulted Chávez

Related stories - Barack Obama: hereBill Ayers: hereHugo Chávez: here

Collectivists share deep commitment to solidarity

William Ayers was the leader of the 1960-70s Weathermen Underground. This group was responsible for at least 12 bombings. Three of these were the Pentagon, New York City Police Headquarters, and the Capitol building. In a Sept. 11, 2001 New York Times interview, Ayers said “I don't regret setting bombs ... I feel we didn't do enough.”

In April, ABC news asked Obama about his relationship with Ayers. He said “This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago ...” He and his campaign staff won't answer questions about Ayers. In 2006 Ayers gave a speech to Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, and said “We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution” or “La educacion es revolucion!”

From 1987 Obama and Ayers worked together at The Developing Communities Project, at The Woods Fund and at The Annenberg Challenge. Their purpose was to radically reform school education in Chicago. This took place during the time of the Chicago School Wars. From 1995-1999 Obama was Chairman of the Annenberg Challenge. He resigned as chairman in 1999 but remained on the board until it dissolved in 2002. According to the Consortium of Chicago School Research, the Challenge was viewed a failure because “it did not achieve its goal of improvement in student academic achievement and nonacademic outcomes.” Plus, it wasted millions of dollars and public service employees' time. This is Obama's only experience as the leader of an organization.

- Mike Terwilliger, Brooktondale, NY


Asia Tribune defines Barack, pt. 2

Related story: "Asia Tribune defines Barack, pt. 1"

The eyes of the world turn to Barack's America

The most popular saying is that ‘one is judged by the company one keeps’, but let us put this ‘association’ part in a much broader perspective. Right-wing and/or conservative commentators in the United States often reiterate that the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama “has a huge guilty association problem of his own making and that it has been ignored by the electorate.”

The Online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines “guilt by association” as “[a]n association fallacy is an inductive formal fallacy of the type hasty generalization or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association.” A key word in that definition is “irrelevant.”

In this Part Two installment of presenting facts about Senator Obama’s Communist Mentor in his Teen Years, endeavor is not to denounce or be critical of his association with people since his birth to date but to enlighten the readers that there was a greater possibility of his developed beliefs and mind-set in his formative years because of those associations may have had an impact in shaping his thinking and actions during his time in the U.S. Senate and as a candidate for U.S. presidency from a major political party.

This analysis does not project his associations “irrelevant” but endeavors to make those associations and, due to those associations, the mind-set Obama has conditioned “relevant” to define his candidacy for the greater benefit of the Asian Region and millions of Asian expatriates domiciled in the United States. After all, the nations in the Asian Region need to know what is in stock for them if Mr. Obama becomes the next president of the United States on January 20 next year.

Most recently this writer asked a prominent Sri Lankan Buddhist prelate in Sacramento, California Most Venerable Madawala Seelawimala, a professor at the University of California, Davis, if a person was exposed to certain beliefs in his formative years whether those beliefs form part of his character in later years to which the erudite monk replied that not all but most beliefs would influence to stay within the person and facilitate to create a mind-set.

Did Barack Obama’s close association with a communist activist in his formative years affect his thinking as growing adult and later years? The readers may find answers to this in later installments in this series.

In February this year, one of the latest revelations about Senator Obama was published by Cliff Kincaid, an investigative journalist with Accuracy in Media a watchdog group.

Kincaid’s article, “Obama’s Communist Mentor” described the close relationship that Barack Obama developed with Frank Marshall Davis while Obama lived in Hawaii from 1971-1979.

Davis was a member of the Communist Party of the United States and has had given Obama advice on career choices. In Obama’s first book Dreams From My Father, he writes about “Frank and his old Black Power dashiki self.”

Trevor Loudon, a New Zealand-based libertarian activist, researcher and blogger, noted evidence that “Frank” was Frank Marshall Davis in a posting as far back as March of 2007.

Professor Gerald Horne, a contributing editor to the Communist Party journal Political Affairs, described Davis as having influenced Obama’s sense of identity and career moves. According to Horne, Obama retraced the steps of Davis by eventually moving to Chicago.

Davis was a known communist. The 1951 report of the Commission on Subversive Activities to the Legislature of the Territory of Hawaii identified him as a member of the US Communist Party. Further, anti-communist congressional committees, including the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), accused Davis of involvement in several communist-front organizations.

The Asian Tribune used the title Defining Barack Obama because the American electorate has the right to know who their candidates are and that the main stream media has not helped to define Mr. Obama, who came to national prominence since his ‘keynote address’ at the 2004 Democratic Party Convention which nominated Senator John Kerry, in failing to present hitherto unknown facts to define this candidate in proper perspective. On the other hand, as an Online Daily which values the rapport between the United States and the Asian Region it is to the advantage of the nations in the Asian Region to have a proper understanding of a candidate who is likely to occupy the White House from January 20 for four years or may be for eight.

Frank Marshall Davis, according to Cliff Kincaid, was not a “journalist” in any real sense of the term. He was a propagandist and racial agitator for the Communist Party of the United States.

In his books, Obama admits attending “socialist conferences” and coming into contact with Marxist literature. But he ridiculed the charge of being a “hard-core academic Marxist,” which was made by his 2004 U.S. Senate opponent, Republican Alan Keyes.

Nevertheless, Davis Mandel in his book Obama: From Promise to Power describes Obama as “left-leaning.”

In the summer/fall 2003 issue of African American Review, James A. Miller of George Washington University reviews a book by John Edgar Tidwell, a professor at the University of Kansas, about Frank Marshall Davis’ career, and notes, “In Davis’ case, his political commitments led him to join the American Communist Party during the middle of World War Two even though he never publicly admitted his Party membership.” According to Cliff Kincaid, who first disclosed Barack Obama’s rapport with Davis, Tidwell is an expert on the life and writings of Davis.

The question posed by Kincaid was ‘Is it possible that Obama did not know who Davis was when he wrote his book, Dreams From My Father, first published in 1995?’

The answer lies here:

Professor Gerald Horne, a contributing editor of the Communist Party journal Political Affairs, talked about it during a speech in March 2007 at a reception of the Communist Party USA archives at the Tamiment Library at New York University. The remarks are posted online under the headline, “Rethinking the History and the Future of the Communist Party.”

Horne, a history professor at the University of Houston, noted that Davis, who moved to Honolulu from Kansas in 1948 “at the suggestion of his good friend Paul Robeson,” came into contact with Barack Obama and his family and became young man’s mentor, influencing Obama’s sense of identity and career moves. Robeson, a member of the Communist Party was a well known black poet and actor who fell out of grace with all U.S. administrations and their intelligence agencies.

As Horne described it, Davis “befriended” a “Euro-American family” that had “migrated to Honolulu from Kansas and a young woman from this family eventually had a child with a young student from Kenya East Africa who goes by the name Barack Obama, who retracted the steps of Davis eventually, decamped to Chicago.”

Cliff Kincaid reveals “It was in Chicago that Obama became a ‘community organizer’ and came into contact with more far-left political forces, including Democratic Socialists of America, which maintains close ties to European socialist groups and parties through the Socialist International (SI), and two former members of the Students for Democratic Society (SDS), William Ayers and Carl Davidson.”

The SDS laid siege to college campuses across the United States in the 1960s, mostly in order to protest the Vietnam War, and spawned the terrorist Weather Underground organization. Ayers was a member of the terrorist group and turned himself in to authorities in 1981. He is now a college professor and served with Obama on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, a charitable organization focused on welfare reform and affordable housing. Davidson is now a figure in the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, an offshoot of the CPUSA, and helped organize the 2002 rally where Obama came out against the Iraq War.

Mr. Ayers was a founder of the Weather Underground; he and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn, were indicted in 1970 on conspiracy charges that were dropped in 1974 because of prosecutorial misconduct.

Both hosted Mr. Obama at their Chicago home in 1995 when Mr. Obama was running for office, though that was not considered a vital moment in his political career.

In April, Senator Obama said Mr. Ayers was “not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis” and called “somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old.”

Dr. Kathryn Takara, a professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa confirms Davis is the “Frank” in Obama’s book and describes Davis brought “an acute sense of race relations and class struggle throughout America and the world” and that he openly discussed subjects such as American imperialism, colonialism and exploitation. She described him as a “socialist realist” who attacked the work of the (US) House Un-American Activities Committee.

In a statement issued on 15 July 2008 the Communist Party of USA made this comment:

“A broad multiclass, multiracial movement is converging around Obama’s “Hope, change and unity” campaign because they see in it the thrilling opportunity to end 30 years of ultra-right rule and move our nation forward with a broadly progressive agenda.

“The struggle to defeat the ultra-right and turn our country on a positive path will not end with Obama’s election. But that step will shift the ground for successful struggles going forward.

”One thing is clear. None of the people’s struggles — from peace to universal health care to an economy that puts Main Street before Wall Street — will advance if McCain wins in November.”

The Republican candidate for U.S. president John McCain has been identified as a ‘war monger’ who will give no allowance to terrorism. Republican Party which is based on conservative ideology often put human rights and civil liberties in the back burner when dealing with terrorism. It was McCain’s political party when in majority in the House and Senate suspended Habeas Corpus to help Bush administration deal with ‘enemy combatants’.

In contrast, Democratic Party to which Barack Obama belongs has throughout its political existence considered human rights, individual liberties and strict rule of law as main policy planks of the ideology the party is guided, liberalism. This liberalism has a touch of socialism, equal opportunity and rights of minorities.

Asian Tribune, in presenting this series Defining Barack Obama, endeavors to use these yard sticks to introduce this undefined U.S. presidential candidate to the Asian Region and to the millions of Asian expatriates living in the United States to help them understand what shape an Obama Administration will take vis-à-vis the Asian Region.

Next: Obama’s International Socialist Connections

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