Courts OK early Ohio voter-fraud

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Barack's voter-fraud group ACORN is under investigation in 12 states

In the state that may again determine the presidency, voters started casting ballots Tuesday as Barack Obama struggles to thwart a John McCain victory in Ohio four years after it tipped the election to President Bush.

Both candidates visit often while spending millions of dollars flooding TV and radio with advertisements, mailboxes with literature and even voicemail with automated phone calls to get supporters to the polls, particularly during the one-week window in which people can register and vote in one swoop.

Related video:

Early participation appeared light; officials in the state's largest counties that are home to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Dayton each reported several hundred ballots cast by afternoon. Many of those who voted cited convenience.

"I wanted to avoid the traffic and the people," said Charlene Glass, 49, of Cleveland Heights. A first-time voter, she backed Obama and expressed her enthusiasm for a black candidate. In Dayton, Terri Bell, 49, chose McCain because of his experience and his military service. "I have a lot on my plate. I wanted to do this early," she said.

At stake: 20 electoral votes — perhaps, the presidency itself.

Most recent state polls show a dead heat; others give McCain an edge. National surveys show Obama slightly ahead if not more. The disparity underscores the difficulty Obama is having in closing the deal in this pivotal state. He's a first-term senator from Chicago with a liberal voting record and would be the country's first black president.

In all, 270 electoral votes are needed for victory.

Ohio is crucial to McCain's electoral strategy. Bush narrowly won the state, and a loss for McCain here would be very difficult to make up with victories elsewhere given that the political landscape favors Democrats and several other key states are tilting toward Obama.

Obama, however, now leads McCain in enough other states Bush won in 2004 that he could lose Ohio and still reach the 18 electoral votes he would need if he carries all the states Democrat John Kerry did in 2004. Still, winning Ohio itself could do the trick.

Every factor is at play in Ohio. Thus, every question will be tested.

Among them: Can Republican McCain overcome his links to the deeply unpopular Bush and a weakened state party and prevail in a state that suffered large losses of manufacturing jobs and large numbers of Iraq war deaths? Can Democrat Obama overcome voter concerns about his voting record and race among the many blue-collar workers in this culturally conservative, deeply divided state?

Obama got shellacked here by Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary: She carried 83 of 88 counties as white, working-class voters flocked to her economic populist message. Therefore, Obama is copying Gov. Ted Strickland and Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrats who went into Republican areas and boosted turnout to narrow GOP margins.

"Democrats too often have forgotten about places like this," said former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus, an Obama supporter who recently met with some two dozen rural voters in London in western Ohio. "They have forgotten about small-town America, rural America, agricultural America and taken it for granted that we're going to vote the other way."

Linda Ward, a nurse from western Ohio, has tried to persuade others to take a critical look at McCain but hasn't had much luck. "Not my neighbors, not my friends. This area is a very conservative one," she said.

Voters like Diane Ferguson, a nursing home director in southeast Ohio, typify Obama's troubles. She says she likes Obama but isn't sure she can vote for him. She's troubled by his early resistance to wearing a flag pin, his race and a resume that looks thin to her.

"It's a hard decision," she said. "I don't know if we're ready for that one."

Aware of such skepticism, Obama's campaign is using its financial and organizational muscle to boost turnout among his core supporters — blacks and the youth. His campaign long planned for this early voting period and organized car pools from college campuses to early voting sites across the state.

Independent groups seeking to increase poor and minority participation also transported voters from places like homeless shelters, halfway houses and soup kitchens.

"We've had mediocre response," Matt Stone, an organizer of the group Vote from Home, said. "We hope the effort will snowball over seven days as people talk about it."

Outside the Franklin County Veterans Memorial in Columbus, Republican lawyers apparently concerned about voter fraud snapped photographs of vehicle license plates.

On Monday, the state Supreme Court and two federal judges upheld the ruling by Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that allows new voters to register and cast an absentee ballot on the same day from Tuesday through Oct. 6. Republicans argued that Ohio law requires voters to be registered for 30 days before they cast an absentee ballot.

The Ohio GOP asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Tuesday either to stop same-day voting or require elections official to separate those ballots so the registrations can be verified. But Brunner already has instructed election officials to segregate those ballots and verify the registrations before counting them. A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court denied the request later in the day.


ACORN dirty laundry to be aired in court

Wade Rathke stories: here
Related: "ACORN embezzlement case delayed for Barack"
• "ACORN crime covered-up by Drummond Pike"
More ACORN stories: hereWade Rathke stories: here

Shameful story reflects poorly on Barack Obama, so media blackout is expected

Since Hurricane Katrina, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has fought to make sure that displaced New Orleanians can vote, return home, tell their stories and have a place to live.

Now ACORN, the venerable 38-year-old social justice organization, faces the fight of its life over an embezzlement scandal and leadership crisis that hits Orleans Parish Civil District Court today at 9 a.m.

In late May, the group's board was shocked to learn that the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke had stolen nearly $1 million from the organization and its affiliates eight years ago.

"It was like a bomb. Things just went bonkers," said Bertha Lewis, director of the group's New York office, who has taken over Rathke's duties on an interim basis. "Nothing like that had ever happened before."

The news has attracted national scrutiny of ACORN, which was founded in Arkansas in 1970 and maintains a strong political presence in New York, New Orleans and Washington. In fact, early versions of the Wall Street bailout under consideration by Congress called for the routing of some profits from the sale of troubled assets to activist groups like ACORN. That provision emerged as an early sticking point in the plan's passage, in part because of the current scandal.

The imbroglio dates to 1999 and 2000, when the nonprofit was calling for local increases in the minimum wage and trying to unionize hospitality workers in New Orleans. Dale Rathke, the founder's brother, was serving as comptroller through a related organization called Citizens Consulting Inc., and Lewis said he abused his authority by using the group's credit cards to buy things that were unrelated to its work.

A co-worker alerted Wade Rathke, who consulted with a few of ACORN's national leaders. When the group's longtime accountants at the New Orleans firm Duplantier, Hrapmann Hogan & Maher conducted an audit and found that $948,507 had been stolen, the Rathke family set up a formal repayment schedule. Dale Rathke was removed as comptroller at CCI, but he stayed on as a consultant at ACORN.

Lewis said the 51-member board did not know about the apparent theft until an ACORN financial supporter heard about it this spring and raised questions about whether its contributions had been misappropriated.

National board members were furious at the disclosure, and they have asked for a full airing of how the money was stolen and why it was kept secret from group for so long.

Dale Rathke resigned in early June. Wade Rathke also resigned from his position as chief organizer but remains with an affiliated group, New Orleans-based ACORN International, which does human rights work overseas.

The Rathke family repaid about $214,000 starting in 2001 through a loan taken out by CCI, and a California donor, Drummond Pike, recently stepped in and repaid the remaining debt.

A phone call to Dale Rathke's home on Wednesday was not returned. Wade Rathke was traveling in Indonesia with his new international duties. He has not been accused of mishandling money, but board members have questioned his handling of the matter.

Wade Rathke told board members in June that he did not try to cover up his brother's misdeeds. He asserted that he and other managers thought the repayment plan represented the best course of action because it would keep the incident out of the press, where it could provide fodder for political opponents at a time when ACORN had much work to accomplish, according to minutes of the meeting, which were available at Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Rathke's wife, Beth Butler, executive director of ACORN New Orleans, disputed the account of some board members that the family kept the embezzlement hush-hush. She said ACORN's national executive committee and regional leaders knew what was going on, and its national executives took steps make sure CCI modernized its accounting controls.

But the group's management continues to fracture over the issue.

In August, two members of an ACORN interim management committee -- Washington, D.C., board member Marcel Reid and Minnesota board member Karen Inman -- filed suit in New Orleans seeking access to financial records and to remove Rathke from all ACORN-affiliated groups. They said a June 20 board resolution directed Rathke to step aside from any activities having to do with ACORN.

Rathke's wife said his new employer, ACORN International, is a separate group with separate offices.

"It is an issue with a certain group of people," she said. "Wade continues his work."

Lewis, of the New York office, said Reid and Inman did not have the authority to bring the suit, and she expects it to be dismissed. James Gray II, an attorney for Reid and Inman, did not respond to requests for an interview. Judge Michael G. Bagneris will consider restraining order and dismissal requests today.

The management fights have flared as ACORN has come into its prime in New Orleans. While its campaign in the 1990s to unionize hospitality workers was unsuccessful and the Supreme Court overturned its 2002 living-wage referendum in New Orleans, the group rose to the challenges posed by Katrina.

The nonprofit chartered buses to bring people back to the city to vote in the 2006 mayoral election, and it has continued to re-register more than 10,000 people who dropped off the voting rolls after Katrina. When long lines formed for emergency food stamps after Hurricane Gustav, ACORN took advantage of the opportunity to register people to vote.

ACORN volunteers clad in their trademark red shirts have gutted 6,000 houses in the New Orleans area and now are rebuilding 200 homes. The group made sure the water in the Lower 9th Ward was certified as drinkable after Katrina so people could get trailers hooked up in their front yards and start working on their houses. It continues to provide income tax help for the nettlesome financial issues raised by the storm, and the group's longtime lead paint abatement efforts have stepped up with the rebuilding.

ACORN organizers such as Vanessa Gueringer and Tanya Harris -- Harris appeared in Spike Lee's documentary "When the Levees Broke," -- have become prominent voices for the needs of lower-income residents in the recovery. In the coming weeks, ACORN plans to keep tabs on whether rebuilding dollars are being spent equitably around the city.

Bill Quigley, a Loyola law professor who often advocates for the poor, said it's tragic to see the city's premier social justice organization facing internal challenges at a time when it is performing such vital work.

"They've taken a real leadership role," Quigley said. "Social justice organizing is very, very difficult work to do in the best of times. It (the scandal) could have adverse consequences for the organization and, because it is so active in the city, for all of us in New Orleans."

Lewis said no financial supporters have dropped out so far. Some have their funding on hold to see what comes of the board's investigations and reform efforts. ACORN did receive an important vote of confidence from the foundation that originally raised red flags about the issues this spring. That group, the Needmor Fund of Toledo, Ohio, has released the hold on its funding, Lewis said.

Lewis said ACORN is trying to use the incident as an opportunity to overhaul its operations and make sure it's on solid footing in the future. While one corporate law firm analyzes ACORN's legal exposure from the events of eight years ago, another is helping to chart a new organizational structure. A new accounting firm is scrutinizing its books and making sure it has proper accounting controls in place. ACORN also is setting up new rules on nepotism.

"We're moving ahead; we're changing systems," Lewis said. "The whole point is, this is an opportunity for us, after 38 years, to look at ourselves. This is the opportunity where you can make the sort of structural and institutional changes that you can make. We have got to be transparent, we have got to be open. We are too big an organization not to be on top of everything."


ACORN lowdown

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

ACORN mafia still demands 'affordable housing'

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Brazen union-backed group exhibits no shame for role in financial crisis

The vote fraud factory known as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is apparently supporting Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s crazy push for $5 billion in so-called affordable housing.

As the nation stares into the economic abyss precisely because of housing-related tomfoolery, Villaraigosa’s plan calls for $1 billion in government to be spent as part of the $5 billion housing project.

The mayor essentially admitted that his plan is insane. “I know that budgets are tight . . . credit is almost nonexistent,” said the apparently psychotic Villaraigosa. “But we’re going to reject the cynics . . . and build a brighter future for those kids who are in the corner over there.”

Maybe Villaraigosa’s been using some of the same crack cocaine that ACORN has used to pay its operatives in its various voter registration drives.

And this isn’t the first time Villaraigosa has procured ACORN’s rent-a-mob services.

According to an LA Weekly report, ACORN received nearly $73,000 from an education-related pressure group founded by the mayor. The money went for campaign consulting services, travel and “meetings and appearances.”

- Matthew Vadum is Editor of Organization Trends and Foundation Watch, two monthly newsletters published by Capital Research Center, a Washington D.C.-based think tank that focuses on the politics of philanthropy.


Voters attempt to legalize worker-choice

More worker-choice stories: here

Forced-labor unionism may yield to controversial worker-choice scheme

One of the major players in Colorado’s business-versus-labor ballot issues is Amendment 47, or the Right to Work Amendment. If passed, the amendment would prohibit unions from requiring employees to join and pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Violators would be subject to a misdemeanor penalty.

Under current law, people cannot be forced to join a union as a condition of employment, but they can be required to pay fees as part of the collective bargaining process.

If Amendment 47 passes, it would abolish the Colorado Labor Peace Act of 1943.

Brian Willms, chief executive officer of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, said it would be better to stick with the current act.

“I think everybody would have benefited if we kept things with the Labor Peace,” Willms said. “We’ve done very well with that. However, if there’s going to be a change, (supporting Amendment 47) is going to be the direction that is going to be the best.”

The main reason that the chamber and the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance are supporting Amendment 47 is because, “no one should be required to make payments as a condition of employment,” Willms said.

The organization backing this amendment is For A Better Colorado.

While opponents are calling it anti-union, For A Better Colorado spokesman Kelley Harp said it isn’t anti-union, because it still allows employees to organize.

“It’s really a freedom issue, not an anti-union issue,” Harp said.

Sandra Hagen Solin, Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance issues manager, agrees. “(Amendment) 47 doesn’t restrict the ability to form unions, it merely states, as a condition of employment, you don’t have to join a union.”

Protect Colorado’s Future, a progressive organization leading the charge against Right to Work, said the measure would “let government interfere, instead of allowing employees and employers to negotiate what’s best for them in the workplace,” according to its Web site.

One of the chief objections to the amendment is it would allow people to benefit from union collective bargaining without having to pay dues.

Laurie Shearer, president of Thompson Educators Association, calls it the Right to Work for Less amendment.

“It interferes with contracts that have been written between unions and employers,” Shearer said.

The bill could damage the union’s collective voice, according to Manny Gonzales, spokesman for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7 based in Wheat Ridge.

“We are at a time where big corporations are exploiting workers,” Gonzales said. “In a perfect world, that wouldn’t happen. People organize in a labor union, they collectively bargain for freedoms and basic rights. Amendment 47 would basically make it impossible to have that collective voice.”

Harp said that making unions strike-proof was not a motivation of the campaign.

Because workers won’t have to automatically pay dues, it will force the unions to “become more effective” and work harder to represent their constituents, Harp said.


Colorado unionists deceive voters

More EFCA stories: hereMore worker-choice stories: here

Pro-union Denver Post enforces one-sided campaign against worker-choice

When it comes to public relations, Colorado's labor unions and local Democratic leaders like Mark Udall have been abiding by a single tenet: It is not what is true that counts, but what is perceived to be true.

This is why Udall can nonsensically claim he supports the "secret ballot" while backing legislation that will take that right away from working Coloradans. And this is why labor leaders have spent the last few years pumping the public full of flawed statistics and bad information regarding union organizing.

As a result, what the public perceives to be true about unions and what is actually fact are two very different things indeed.

Since its peak in the 1950s, union membership in the private sector has dropped steadily. Rather than acknowledge the decline for what it is, labor leaders scapegoat small-business owners, claiming that they intimidate employees during unionization elections and prevent more unions from entering the workplace.

To justify the claim, they cite flawed statistics from union-affiliated researchers who (no surprise) poll union organizers, suggesting that 25 percent of employers illegally fire one or more employees in the organizing process.

However, data from the National Labor Relations Board do not back up this claim at all. In actuality, the number is under 3 percent. The importance of this drastically exaggerated statistic cannot be overstated. This "25 percent" figure is cited as the single biggest reason to pass a wildly deceptive piece of legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act, which union leaders absurdly claim would end their imaginary intimidation. Udall and local labor leaders have recently cited phony intimidation claims to defend their support of the bill.

But the fact is, if intimidation is the issue, the shoe is on the other foot. The EFCA would effectively eliminate voting privacy for employees who are deciding whether or not to unionize, in favor of a public, card-gathering process called "card check."

This method leaves participants open to harassment and intimidation by the union, not to mention the room it creates for false signatures and fraudulent voting outcomes.

And, in an ironic twist, while unions are demanding a "card check" vote to get into a union, they require a private ballot election to decertify the union — thus making it easier to get into a union and harder to get out.

The great irony here is that by radically inflating claims about the number of employees intimidated by businesses during organizing elections, Big Labor is able to garner congressional support for its new "election" method, which would allow it to intimidate employees.

In reality, union leaders are willing to do anything to keep membership dues from dropping, including playing fast and loose with the facts. Apparently, desperate times call for desperate anti-democratic legislation.

If Mark Udall really had the best interests of employees in mind, he would stand up to his union backers and say "no" to the un-democratic, un-American Employee "Free Choice" Act.

- State Rep. Amy Stephens represents Northern El Paso County and is the House Minority caucus chairman.


Goldberg: 20% off the top for ACORN

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

News bigs enforce an accountability double-standard

You know the old joke about Winston Churchill seated next to a woman at a posh dinner party? Churchill says “Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?” The socialite responds: My goodness, Mr. Churchill. . . . Well, I suppose I would.” Adjusted for inflation were talking tens of millions of dollars after all. Then Churchill replies, “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?”

Lady: “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!” Churchill: “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.”

It’s a joke worth keeping in mind when looking at the two political parties, particularly for those who think there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between them.

The House GOP has come under a lot of criticism for its failure to deliver on its end of the bipartisan bailout deal, including from yours truly. Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership has come in for some moderate pro forma criticism for failing to do what was necessary to see the legislation passed.

It is a funny — though not ha-ha funny — double standard: When the GOP ran the show, it was always held responsible for every “bad” outcome. Now that the GOP is in the minority, it’s still held responsible for every “bad” outcome. I suppose it’s a similar standard that somehow allows the Democrats in charge of overseeing the financial sector to whine that there hasn’t been enough oversight without even the slightest sting of embarrassment.

On that point, you know what I haven’t seen in all of the coverage of the bailout-blow-up? I haven’t seen a single interview with a Democrat who voted against this deal. I’ve seen interviews of Republicans who’ve voted for it. I’ve seen interviews of Republicans who voted against it. And, of course, I’ve seen interviews with the Democratic leadership in which they blamed the Republicans who voted against it but not the 94 Dems who voted against it.

Now I certainly haven’t watched every bit of news coverage nor have I read every story about the failed bailout vote, so I’m sure I’m missing some counter-examples. But I think the discrepancy of coverage is real. The press is eager to hear from these free market zealots, these Herbert Hoover* mini-mes, who would put their bizarre ideological concerns ahead of the country’s interests. Never mind that these alleged zealots actually believe what they are doing is in fact in the long term interests of the country. The press always knows that when conservatives refuse to compromise it’s because they are dogmatic ideologues, brainwashed acolytes in the cult of Milton Friedman and Adam Smith.

But why didn’t those Democrats vote for the bailout that their own leadership contends is vital for the financial health of the country?

That’s a question that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention.

Part of the explanation stems from the combined incompetence and partisanship of Nancy Pelosi who let many of her closest allies in the Congress — including five committee chairs who owe their positions to Pelosi — vote no. (Karl Rove’s lecture on this point is extremely instructive.). Pelosi let 16 Democrats in tight races vote against the bill in order to save their seats. If that standard is good for the majority party, I would like to hear Nancy Pelosi explain why it’s unacceptable for the minority party. As Jim Geraghty says, “She’s the speaker, she controls the chamber. You can’t say, ‘vote for this bill, it is necessary’ and ‘we will target any Republican who votes for this bill’ at the same moment. Of course, you can actually say it, because that’s what the Democrats have been saying. You just can’t say it with any integrity.

But I’m interested in the Democratic equivalent of the Republican ideologues. A majority of the hyper-leftwing Congressional Black Caucus — the self-anointed “conscience of the Congress” — voted against the bailout, even though they come from some of the safest districts in America. A majority of the Hispanic caucus voted no, too. Half of the Congressional Progressive Caucus voted against the bailout.

Have you heard anyone denounce these people as “left-wing ideologues”? I haven’t.

What would have brought these people around? Renowned intellectual Jesse Jackson Jr. says that he voted against the bill in effect because it didn’t cost enough. If it was more of Christmas tree of left-wing New Deal policies he’d be in favor of a bailout. Indeed, you can be sure that most of these Democrats would have voted for the legislation if the old 20-percent-off-the-top for La Raza and ACORN provisions were still in there. Read the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s letter to Nancy Pelosi. The short version: We’ll vote for it — if it nationalizes America’s financial system.

Now, the interesting thing here is how different the motives are here, and how they run counter to the liberal conventional wisdom and the prevailing media narrative. The Mike Pence “ideologues” opposed this bill on principle even though we’re always told by the Thomas Frank crowd that those laissez-faire Republicans are merely the willing pawns of America’s financial ruling class. Their principles are mere window dressing for grasping, evil capitalists. But the financial ruling class supports this bill. They’re begging for it in fact. These right-wing ideologues believe there must be a cheaper and better way to protect the American taxpayer that preserves economic liberty.

Now look at the ideologues of the Democratic party. This crowd voted against the bailout because the government simply didn’t meet their price. If the bailout proposal came with a $100 million no-strings-attached earmark for every congressional district, does anyone doubt that Jesse Jackson Jr. would hail this “heroic” legislation? Does anyone doubt that Mike Pence would still have voted against it?

In short, we’ve already established what kind of party the Democrats are, now we’re just haggling about their price.

- Jonah Goldberg


Florida remains vulnerable to voter fraud

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

ACORN criticizes attempt at accountability

Gov. Charlie Crist has a message for any new voter worried about running afoul of Florida's new and controversial ''no-match'' law: Open your mail.

Under the new law, voters who registered after Sept. 8 -- but whose names don't match the state's Social Security or driver's license databases -- are notified by mail to fix the problem or face casting a provisional ballot on Election Day.

''If you're responsible enough to vote, you ought to be responsible enough to open your mail and pay your bills and do the kind of things that good citizens do,'' Crist said Tuesday amid protests from voter groups.

Crist said he was confident the new law was fair and should remain in effect -- rebuffing the demands from a handful of get-out-the-vote groups who held statewide press conferences urging him to suspend the law, which was unsuccessfully challenged in court.

Opponents of the no-match law say it needlessly erects hurdles for new voters. A working person might misplace mail with the no-match notice, they say, or have trouble making sure the provisional ballot counts Election Day if the problem isn't smoothed out.

For a provisional ballot to count, a no-match voter would have to cast that ballot at their precinct and then make sure elections officials receive a copy of their driver's license or Social Security card by the Thursday after Election Day. As of Monday, about 5,324 no-match registrants statewide had yet to respond to county mailers to clear up their issue.

Since Sept. 8, 131,540 people have registered to vote. Of those, 20,355 showed up as a no-match during a computer database query. But state officials manually checked names, addresses and signatures and determined that 13,042 registrants showed up as a no-match due to data-entry typos or misprints. Counties verified nearly 2,000 more.

But in a state where the 2000 presidential race was decided by 537 votes, new voters like Francisco Orellana said they're concerned that the no-match law could have an outsized effect.

''A lot of us are a bit intimidated,'' said Orellana, a 19-year-old Miami Dade College student. ``We want our voice to be heard on the different issues.''

Orellana registered after Sept. 8 and didn't run afoul of the new law. But he and others at a Miami-Dade County Hall press conference fretted that minority voters and immigrants -- especially those with tough-to-spell last names -- could encounter needless trouble.

The press conference was organized by several organizations, including the Southwest Voters Registration Project, the Association for Community Reform Now (ACORN), the Florida Immigrant Coalition and the Service Employees International Union. They're planning to bombard Tallahassee with petitions calling for the law's suspension.

ACORN's Florida director, Brian Kettenring, said there's a fine line between making sure voters are informed of the new law but not scared from polls.

''We can't let voter suppression take place,'' he said, ``but we can't allow our work to stop suppression have an unintended consequence.''

Crist said he had little power to suspend a law that he signed, and that he nevertheless had ''enormous confidence'' in the elections system.

Asked if he were 100 percent sure, Crist responded: ``I'm not 100 percent sure of anything, nor would I ever make that kind of assertion.''


Felons paid to register Wisconsin voters

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

ACORN's voter-fraud perps have plenty of experience

At least seven felons convicted of crimes including cocaine possession and robbery were recruited by a liberal group to register voters in Milwaukee, raising fears they may have committed voter fraud.

All seven were designated as special registration deputies, which allows them to solicit and keep voter registration applications before turning them in to local election officials. "We have a lot of folks with felony records and, frankly, they need jobs," said Carolyn Castore, political director in Wisconsin for the group that hired them.

That group is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which describes itself as the nation's largest grass-roots community organization of low- and moderate-income people.

Republican Party spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said it was troubling that convicted felons were hired to register voters.

"Obviously, it doesn't smell right," she said. "It is simply irresponsible to allow people who have shown a strong lack of judgment in the past to have such an important role in our democratic process."

It's unclear whether state law prohibits convicted felons from holding such a position.

The law says anyone who can vote can be a special registration deputy, and felons can vote as long as they are no longer on probation or parole. But the attorney for the Government Accountability Board, which runs elections, issued an April 3 memo saying the board's staff believed convicted felons couldn't serve in the role.

Any convicted felon who served as a special registration deputy could face charges, said Assistant Milwaukee County District Attorney Bruce Landgraf. The district attorney's office is reviewing 49 cases submitted by city election officials where election law may have been violated. One person paid by the Community Voters Project was charged Monday with voter fraud.

The Milwaukee Election Commission interpreted the law to mean convicted felons could serve as special registration deputies if they were no longer on probation or parole, said the city's election administrator, Sue Edman. She said she never saw the GAB legal opinion until provided it Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Edman said she will change the commission's procedures to require applicants to attest that they are not convicted felons. Previously, they only had to say they weren't felons on probation or parole.

The commission does not do background checks on the more than 1,200 special registration deputies working in the county, Edman said.

ACORN interpreted the law the same way as Milwaukee election officials. Nowhere in materials provided by state election officials did it say that felons were barred from registering voters, Castore said.

Castore said she knew some of the group's workers had felony convictions, but since she didn't know of any still on probation or parole, she didn't think there was a problem.

The Wisconsin Republican Party provided the AP with records showing that names and addresses of ACORN workers corresponded with convicted felons in the state's online court database.

The Milwaukee Election Commission verified that all seven people were registered as special deputies. Of those, Department of Correction records showed only two were still on probation or parole.

Along with the seven felons, court records show one special registration deputy has a pending felony charge for heroin possession and another is facing a misdemeanor prostitution charge. A third was convicted of misdemeanor prostitution.

Republican leaders, who have pushed unsuccessfully to require voters to present IDs at the polls, say voter fraud has marred elections in Wisconsin since at least 2000.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed a lawsuit last month demanding state election workers verify thousands of voters' registrations before the Nov. 4 election to comply with federal law.

Democrats say Republicans are trying to disenfranchise voters. They argue that Republicans have been purposefully mailing voter registration cards to Democrats with the wrong address on the return label to create confusion and disenfranchise voters.

Republicans say the mistakes are unintentional.


ACORN earmarks FUBAR

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Solution eludes ACORN-addled Congress

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Dogged consumer defender: Genuine solution would disinclude corrupt interest groups like ACORN

James Terry, Chief Public Advocate for the Consumers Rights League (CRL), released the following statement today opposing the bail out and expressed optimism that negotiators can find a genuine solution to the economic crisis.

James Terry, Chief Public Advocate, Consumers Rights League (CRL):
"There is no doubt that this economic crisis requires action. But is Paulson's plan the solution? There has been significant discussion about theprocess for implementing the bailout. Negotiators even managed to work in a degree or two of oversight. But at the end of it all, this bailout has been proposed by the Administration and accepted by Congressional leaders as the only possible solution. If not for the House's rejection of this bill, there would have been no serious consideration ever given to any of the several other possible solutions offered by members from both sides of the aisle.

"Worse yet, there has been no effort to address and reform the root causes of this crisis. Imagine for a moment that the bailout bill voted down on Monday had actually passed and been signed into law. On Tuesday morning,nothing about the regulatory scheme that got us into this mess would have changed. The Community Reinvestment Act would have still required banks togive loans to subprime consumers. Fannie and Freddie, now operated by and backed by money from the US Treasury would still have been required by law tobuy those loans, which will make even other lenders not subject to CRA requirements comfortable continuing to generate and off load these loans. So, if Monday's bill had become law and been successful at "unclogging" our system, we still would not have been taking steps towards recovery. We would merely have begun a new progression towards the next bailout.

"There seems to be a broad agreement among most consumers that something needs to be done. But the American public has rightfully expressed outrage at the notion of using taxpayer money to bail out high-flying Wall Street types and at the attempt to use this crisis as an opportunity to funnel money to corrupt special interest groups like ACORN.

"Consumers have also instinctively and with great cause had strong reservations about the size and single-minded approach to the bailout. For all the talk of what will happen if we don't pass a mega bailout package, there has been precious little discussion about the potential negative economic effects of passing this bill.

"The artificial manipulation of our economy on such a massive scale isbound to have a myriad of consequences well beyond simply "unclogging" thecredit pipelines. The idea that Congress might actually be making things worse merits at least passing consideration before we rush to the ATM. American consumers and are ready to come together and judiciously find a genuine solution to the current financial crisis. It's those consumers who have always made our economy strong. And they have done so, not because of, but in spite of the wisdom of Washington DC."
About The Consumers Rights League:

The Consumers Rights League is a non-profit, non-partisan educationalorganization dedicated to protecting consumer choice and access to themarketplace. Through investigative analysis, CRL produces quality researchthat thoroughly documents the real-world choices and challenges consumers faceand reports on the benefits enjoyed by an overwhelming majority of consumers.Learn more about CRL's mission at www.consumersrightsleague.org.


Barack tied to ACORN fraud

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Blogger breaks code of silence on ACORN

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

Obama omerta silences media coverage of Barack's ties to union backed voter-fraud group ACORN

Lou Dobbs, a liberal? Hardly. But CNN's resident immigrant-basher is agreeing with left-wingers on one point regarding the $700 billion bailout plan for the U.S. economy.

"Nothing in that bill deals with the foreclosure crisis, if you can imagine that," Dobbs blustered to CNN's Kiran Chetry this morning. "That's arrogance. That's stupidity. That is your leadership in Washington, D.C."

Another "favor" that Lou Dobbs has done for liberals, a.k.a. progressives, is to bring publicity to a group known as ACORN, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

ACORN is not a new nut on the block. Since 1970, ACORN has helped to build grassroots community organizations that focus on economic and social justice. The approach often is direct action, with marching and picketing and demonstrations that Americans will recognize from the old civil rights movement. Issues range from a higher minimum wage to improved education, and one of the main ones is described as "predatory lending."

Predatory lending? Americans following the news during the economic bailout talks have heard much about Wall Street and the parallel Main Street, but predatory lending rarely is mentioned, not even by Lou Dobbs. So what exactly is predatory lending? Wikipedia suggests as follows: "The practice of a lender deceptively convincing borrowers to agree to unfair and abusive loan terms, or systematically violating those terms in ways that make it difficult for the borrower to defend against."

End result: Foreclosures, and then financial crisis.

The sequence, perhaps even Lou Dobbs could agree, goes as follows:

(1) From early in the 20th century all the way into the 1980s, people with disadvantages (ethnic minorities, general low income) often faced closed doors for home loans. This was called redlining.

(2) Groups such as ACORN fought against redlining. Lenders gradually became more open and fair, but then some unscrupulous lenders discovered that profits could be made by being unfair.


The most fraudlent election in U.S. history

Community organizers run rings around GOP

I found this in my local newspaper's classifieds today:
MoveOn.org and Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. are hiring staff to register young voters and help elect Obama.

P/T, F/T, Leadership and post-elections positions available. Raleigh: 919-835-XXXX, Durham/Chapel Hill: 919-961-XXXX.
When I checked the online job search through my paper I found similar ads are being run in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Asheville. The Charlotte positions pay $8.00/hr. Obama's "grassroots" campaigns sure are organized well, aren't they?

There is already a lot of questionable voter activity going on in Ohio. From Michelle Malkin:
The guy promoting the free taxi program to register the homeless in Ohio exults: "It's a perfect opportunity for them to come in, register at a temporary address like a homeless shelter or a YMCA or something like that. They can register at that address because they don't know where they're going to be tomorrow or next week."

Another woman describes trolling bus stops and picking up prospects: "I asked 'em if they're registered to vote and if they weren't, I said 'Get in the car, I'm bringing you!'"

A homeless thug now registered to vote comments: "They picked me up. They seen me walkin' around. So day said, 'You wanna vote?' I said, 'Yeah, I'll vote.' (laughs) Day said, 'We'll take you anywhere you want.' I said, 'Dat's cool'...If day say 'sign the ballot,' just give 'em and do exactly what they want you to do.' I mean, hey, dis is America, you know?" (laughs).

Who does this new voter support?

"Barack! I mean, I want him to do his thang. You know, do his thug thizzle. You know. That's how I like it to be. You know. (laughs)."

Organizers hoped to sign up 1,000 like him by the end of the day yesterday -- and more all week.
Obama's campaign has paid ACORN over $800,000 this year to "get out the vote." For those who only get their news from the MSM, ACORN has a long history of voter fraud in various parts of the country. Obama supporters are teaching kids songs of worship and praise to Obama. The Obama campaign is collecting donations from many obviously phony contributors. Obama operatives are going to extraordinary lengths to silence his opponents on talk radio. Missouri sheriffs and prosecutors formed an "Obama Truth Squad" and threaten anyone who says anything false about Obama with libel suits. Those in the news media have reporters digging through garbage in Alaska and Arizona for dirt on Palin and McCain, but show an incredible lack of curiosity when it comes to Obama's list of contributors or his close connections to a domestic terrorist, or his sugar daddy real estate partner Tony Rezko, or his ACORN ties, or his Fannie/Freddie fat cat campaign advisors, or his jackboot thugs, or his "lost years" or anything else that could possibly derail the rightful ascention of their guy, The ONE.

MoveOn, the Astroturf Roots, ACORN, sheriffs and prosecutors for Obama, the Obama goon squad, and the majority of the news media are all doing their part to elect Obama-Biden. If you support McCain-Palin, what have you done today?


AFL-CIO operative blasts press over Barack

Barack Obama stories: hereMore AFL-CIO stories: here

Top Obama Labor Supporter Warns Race Remains Volatile, Says Voters Lack Clear Sense Of Obama

In an unusually candid interview, a top official for the largest union backing Obama said that internal union polling shows that the race remains much more volatile and fluid in key battleground states than public polling suggests. He warned that low-information swing-state voters are saying they still don't have a firm enough grasp on Obama's life-story, character and record for the Illinois Senator to close the deal with them.

The comments by the official, AFL-CIO deputy political director Mike Podhorzer, are surprisingly frank and seemed intended as a reality check at a time when polls show the momentum has clearly swung in Obama's favor.

"This election remains extremely volatile in the battlegrounds," Podhorzer told us. "The public polls are giving a false sense of precision about where the race is. That's a story that's not really being told."

Strikingly, Podhorzer said that his union's internal polls -- which push voters hard on the question of whether people are really firmly committed to their pick -- show that as many as "15 to 20 percent" of battleground state voters remain "persuadable," as he put it, despite what public polls say about the level of undecided voters.

"There are more voters than you'd expect who are just starting to pay attention to the election," he said. "And there's a lot of room for people to go back and forth."

Podhorzer stressed that he is impressed by Obama's gains and is convinced Obama is on track to win right now. But he said that the union's interaction with battleground-state voters, combined with extensive internal polling, indicate that this dynamic is anything but fixed and that there's much more fluidity than is generally acknowledged.

Podhorzer ascribed the fluidity to two factors: The uncertain and rapidly shifting political landscape created by the financial crisis, and the relatively little time Obama has spent as a politician in the national spotlight.

"Low information voters who haven't been following this don't know very much about Obama, in a way that might be different from other elections," he said. "Voters are saying, `I really don't want another four years of this, but I don't know much about him."

"One of the things we find is that there's no sense of where he came from, what he's achieved, and that he's had to work hard for what he's done," Podhorzer continued. "People have much less of a grasp on Obama's biography than they do of McCain, who has created a persona of POW, survivor, independent, fought honorably for his country."

To be sure, union officials also see the vacuum in voter knowledge as a big opportunity. The union has launched a massive campaign in the swing states to educate voters about what McCain's policies would mean for them in the real world and how Obama is much more in touch with their problems than McCain is. And the polling shows that these voters are very receptive to this argument, Podhorzer says.

"When we lay out McCain's economic policies, like taxing health care benefits and privatizing social security, these voters abandon him readily," he said. "That's not what people assume McCain is about."

But Podhorzer cautioned against complacency. "Obama has definitely pulled ahead of McCain, but there's softness," he said. "With the financial crisis, and with surprises we can't imagine yet, there's a lot of work to do."


U.S. voters to opt for less freedom

More collectivism stories: here

Barack Obama offers version of Establishment we will believe in

These are giddy days for the likes of David Brooks -- The Establishment Lives! screams the headline above his New York Times column. “The country will not turn to free-market supply-siders,” he proclaims.

Conservatives may have failed to thwart the Schumer-Franks-fueled credit excesses of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but that does not mean that the economic wisdom of Friedrich von Hayek and Ronald Reagan are any less valid in these troubled economic times.

For those who need reassurance, there is a splendid new book by conservative strategist Grover Norquist that underlines how critical it is for America to reject the European social-welfare state for a coalition that offers “a long-term political victory of unprecedented dimension.”

Its title: Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government’s Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives.

Norquist sees our country locked in a struggle between two forces: The “Leave Us Alone Coalition" and the “Takings Coalition."

People who make up the former do not want government to give them something -- or take from others for their benefit. The takings coalition (trial lawyers and public employees’ unions and those who choose to be dependent on federal grants) represent a philosophy that it is the role of government to redistribute income for the benefit of the politically powerful. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are prime examples.

Norquist warns that the takings coalition frequently is inflated by nominal Republicans, e.g. contractors and builders and businessmen who exchange political donations for the earmarks that fuel their economic causes. (See why those Congressional Republican earmark artists help account for these troubled times?)

The Norquist book dispels the possibility that trial lawyers (of the Mississippi Dickie Scruggs variety) can ever be allowed inside the leave us alone coalition. He also questions whether traditional country-club Republicans can fit inside the coalition also.

Norquist recognizes that the vast expansion of America’s massive non-profit sector as well as the ever-present influence of “coercive utopians” gives the takings coalition political advantages not to be discounted.

But the leave us alone coalition is not without strength that despite these times gives us with hope of a decisive majority. Writes Norquist:

“The largest demographic change in the past twenty-five years is not the number of Americans whose parents speak Spanish. It is the number of Americans who own stock -- directly, in 401(k)’s, in individual retirement accounts or in mutual funds.

“When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, less than 20% of American households owned stock directly. Today 50% of households own stock and two-thirds of all voters in the past two elections were shareholders.”

The significant decline in the influence of organized labor is another real advantage for the leave us alone coalition. Here Norquist recognizes the oft-forgotten importance of state right-to-work laws as a reason for the advancement of American prosperity. Since 1980, the percentage of Americans living in right-to-work states has increased 60% -- representing people voting with their feet for better lives.

As important as has been Norquist’s organizing weekly gatherings of political activists and movement leaders, first in Washington, and now around the country, his work as president of Americans for Tax Reform represents his most important contribution to the politics of our time. His no-tax-increase pledges have become an often vital weapon to use against the Washington political class.

Tax and entitlement spending reform -- which he defines in full detail in the book -- will be the ultimate harvest of the leave us alone coalition’s contributions to American politics. (Death to the death tax.) Reforms (from tort to health savings accounts to school choice) will not be new to readers.

But the role that mandated transparency stands out as new and deceptively important -- especially since transparency can encourage savings through competitive sourcing. Executive mandates and legislative action can require Internet postings of the details of government contracts significantly revealing in education bureaucracies at the state and local level. Transparency in government contracts will produce the competition that represents one of the best hopes of controlling government spending.

Transparency also will expose those responsible for the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac tragedy.

Norquist’s bottom line: “If we win, America will be freer. America will be richer, more mobile, with new jobs, new industries and new technologies, and without the dead weight of government.

“The limited tasks assigned to government will be done more competently because we will no longer be asking government to do many things it is not equipped to accomplish. We’ll be able to compensate fairly the government workers that a free society needs -- the strongest military in the world, serious police and courts -- without crushing taxpayers.

“If we win, America will dominate the planet through example, not force. We will be the most competitive nation in the world.

“If we win, America wins.”

- Ken Tomlinson is the former editor-in-chief of Reader's Digest.


IAM strike bigs still being paid by Boeing

Related: "IAM strike fund depleted for political uses"
IAM-Boeing stories: hereMore strike stories: here
"Nation gets a preview of Barackonomics" • "Trickle down strike-onomics"

Union dues get squandered on politics

It’s day 26 of the strike, and the union leaders are still receiving a paycheck.

Each morning when I’ve written about the Boeing Machinists, and sometimes when I have not, I get the same voice message on my phone. The same reader calls each time with the same complaint: he’s not getting a paycheck during the strike and thinks that union leaders should give up their pay. And he's not the only Machinist who thinks that way.

I asked Machinists’ spokeswoman Connie Kelliher about this last week. She pointed out that Machinists’ leaders negotiate dozens of contracts, meaning they’re at risk of seeing more than the one strike every three years that most members face. Union officials also are still working full time while the 27,000 Boeing Machinists are out on strike. As frequently as I’ve called Kelliher in the last three weeks, I can tell you that much is true.

On Monday, district president Tom Wroblewski posted this update to the Machinists’ Web site:

Union leaders also are talking daily with the federal mediator, should negotiations with Boeing resume. And they keep strike operations going, coordinating with BECU on ways to aid strikers, cutting strike checks, visiting the picket lines.

But Machinists members, obviously, aren't getting paid during the strike.

Machinists, what do you think? Should union leaders receive pay during the strike?


Setback for IAM-Boeing strikers

Related: "IAM strike fund depleted for political uses"
IAM-Boeing stories: hereMore strike stories: here
"Nation gets a preview of Barackonomics" • "Trickle down strike-onomics"

Union dues get squandered on politics

Striking Boeing workers lost their medical benefits Wednesday, but they could get it back if they’re willing to pay. "I took my children to doctors before this ended. Got the dental appointments taken care of so, hopefully, we'll be OK through the rest of the strike," said striking worker Elizabeth Troy.

She has two kids, ages five and three. While the union and Boeing says she and others no longer have company paid medical insurance, they do have 60 days to elect to buy it and coverage would be retroactive from Wednesday. But it costs hundreds of dollars a month.

"I don't know how much it is. Don't know whether I can afford it right now," said Troy.

Some machinists are finding they're being asked to pay for things like prescriptions out of their own pockets, but could be reimbursed later.

"If in that 60 day window you have like a sick child and take them to the doctor, they may just want to pay the doctor visit. It may be far cheaper than paying the monthly COBRA bill," said union spokeswoman Connie Kelliher.

The union says after the last three strikes, the settlement has called for those bills to be re-paid.

The health insurance issue is one example of how pressure begins to bear on both sides to come to a settlement. Wednesday marked the 25th day of the strike, three shy of the 28 days workers were on the picket lines three years ago. Both sides are talking to a federal mediator every day but neither side is budging.

Machinists District 751 President Tom Wroblewski carried out a long tradition Wednesday by wearing a strike vest from the painful five month long walkout of 1948. Nobody believes this strike will go that long, but no end is in sight.

"If we're going to start talking again, the company needs to improve that last best and final offer," said Wroblewski

Pressure is building on the company as well. The longer the strike goes on, the longer it's going to take to catch up on building new planes like the 787 Dreamliner, which has already been delayed for other reasons.


SEIU-UHW workers reject Andy Stern

More SEIU stories: hereAndy Stern stories: here

Rank-and-file resist SEIU's intimidation

In my years as an activist member with SEIU United Healthcare Workers - West I have bee­n a part of many struggles for working people. But in the last months we have been in a different kind of fight. We have stood up to the arrogance of Andy Stern, Anna Burger and other SEIU International officers who, in an attempt to flex their muscles and stifle dissent, have chastened many rank-and-file members and our local, United Healthcare Workers - West with the threat of trusteeship. But I will say now, organized union members will never be intimidated by anyone, International Union officers included. We will stand up to anyone.

I saw this stifling of members voices at the SEIU Convention in Puerto Rico from the moment we entered the convention center, when our delegation was harassed and followed. I saw this as the Convention voted to move me and other workers out of my union and into corrupt Local 6434, ignoring our right to decide where we belong. The hundreds in Puerto Rico voted to move us 65,000 from California. But we were not intimidated then.

In response, we came out in force. At our mass demonstration in Manhattan Beach, where we organized 6000 members to protest another sham hearing, I personally went up to Anna Burger and confronted her, telling her that we will not be swayed and demanded that Stern and Burger meet with our membership. We arenít furniture, we canít be moved around on their whims. We werenít surprised when she said no to a meeting. We stood strong in front of them, never scared.

We continued on to Madison, Wisconsin, where a group of us were determined to meet with SEIU International. We continued in our demands for a meeting with Andy Stern, and to our surprise he agreed to meet us for a brief talk. But he said very little to us, claiming that he couldnít say anything without his lawyers. Instead of our elected officers working for us, Andy and Anna wanted the lawyers to do their job, so they could wash their hands when we pressed them with questions. When faced with dozens of informed, angry union members, maybe our International union officers were intimidated by us!

And most recently, I and fifty other UHW members occupied the SEIU International office in Alameda to demand answers from out-of-touch union officials who support taking away our voice. We shouldnít be afraid to confront them -- they work for us!

This is a movement of union members who have one goal: to keep our democratically run union, UHW, where we make decisions. I and others in our union have confronted our bosses and won, through the power of organized union members. We are not afraid to take on any fight, even against SEIU International officials.

- Juan Antonio Molina, UHW Member, San Francisco, CA


Waste Management replaces striking Teamsters

More Teamsters-WM stories: here
More strike stories: hereMore union-dues stories: here

Strike boss laments loss of dues-flow

A top Teamsters official said Wednesday that 38 union members are out of work after Waste Management Inc. replaced them during the strike of trash haulers. Tom Benvenuto, business agent for Local 200 of the Teamsters, said 38 workers are jobless.

"It's a raw deal," Benvenuto said. Striking trash haulers walked off the job Aug. 26 but voted Sunday to accept a new, five-year contract dating back to April 30. An estimated 240 Waste Management workers were affected.

Lynn Morgan, a Waste Management spokeswoman, declined to confirm the number of workers who lost their jobs but did say they were replaced by workers the company hired as permanent replacements.

"While the majority of employees are returning to work this week, unfortunately some will have to wait because their former jobs have been filled by permanent replacement workers," Morgan said in a statement. "Those who have been replaced are still employees and are on a preferential waiting list for available openings."

Benvenuto said the workers were eligible for unemployment compensation.

Tom Millonzi, the union's secretary-treasurer, said the union had no legal recourse to fight for union members now out of work. Under the terms of the contract agreed to by union members, both sides agreed to drop unfair labor practices against each other.

The contract the workers accepted includes wage and benefit increases. Union members also will participate in a new 401(k) plan and will pull out of the Teamsters' financially troubled Central States Pension Fund.

Related Posts with Thumbnails