Going Negative: Barack calls in union 527s

Politics-as-usual alienates voters from union-backed Dem

Marc Ambinder has the latest reversal from the Chicago distributor of New Politics. Barack Obama has spent the past two years railing against the influence of 527 groups in election cycles, and has insisted that he will not tolerate their presence on his behalf in the general-election campaign. Just like his pledge not to bail out of the public-financing system and his promise not to raise soft money from lobbyists, though, it appears this commitment has expired, thanks to his sinking fortunes:
There’s been a spurt of 527 activity on behalf of Sen. John McCain, but Barack Obama campaign has suddenly gone silent on the subject.

That’s because, after of year of telling donors not to contribute to 527 groups, of encouraging strategists not to form them and of suggesting that outside messaging efforts would not be welcome in Obama’s Democratic Party, Obama’s strategists have changed their approach.

An Obama adviser privy to the campaign’s internal thinking on the matter says that,with less than two months before the election and with the realization that Republicans have achieved financial parity with Democrats, they hope that Democratic allies — what another campaign aide termed “the cavalry” — with come to Obama’s aid.
Obama’s campaign points to Republican-supporting 527s as their excuse. Ambinder lists the collected efforts, which have raised all of $15 million — a rather paltry sum, and much of it focused on regional efforts. Two-thirds of it come from Vets for Freedom, which will defend the Bush administration on Iraq and Afghanistan.

In comparison, the SEIU and AFL-CIO have already raised tens of millions of dollars for GOTV efforts. Those funds can easily get moved into advertising campaigns, although Obama probably had counted on those GOTV efforts rather than funding his own. With the AFL-CIO alone banking $53 million already, though, robbing Peter to pay Paul probably won’t result in much of a shortage for either.

Of course, this also shows how hypocritical Obama’s entire sanctimony about “politics as usual” was in the first place. People with principles stick to them even when it makes life tough. Hypocrites mouth platitudes but dump the pretty speeches for political expediency at the first sign of trouble.


ACORN's Wade Rathke: Disgraced organizer

More ACORN stories: hereWade Rathke stories: here

Lawsuit adds turmoil for union-backed voter-fraud group

In the wake of an embezzlement scandal that rocked the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or Acorn, two of its board members are seeking a court order to force it to hand over financial documents.

They also are seeking to sever what they describe as continuing ties between Acorn and its founder, Wade Rathke, who resigned after it became public this summer that his brother had embezzled almost $1 million from the organization eight years ago. They contend that Mr. Rathke continues to direct the staff and expenditures.

“Acorn will suffer irreparable harm if the defendants are not restrained from contact with employees, expending and receiving, destroying or prohibiting the review of accounting and other data necessary to fulfill the fiduciary responsibility of the interim management committee,” the board members, Marcel Reid and Karen Inman, stated in the petition. Both serve on a committee established to lead Acorn.

The suit cites their concerns that money is being spent improperly and that important documents are being destroyed. It was filed on behalf of the entire 51-member board, but Acorn executives and some board members say Ms. Reid and Ms. Inman had no authority to file the suit or to claim to represent the board.

Acorn contends that Ms. Reid and Ms. Inman are trying to engineer a takeover, and on Tuesday, it demanded that the petition be withdrawn.

“We found ourselves after the fact having filed a lawsuit against ourselves,” said the Rev. Gloria Swieringa, a board member who leads the Maryland affiliate. “It was not authorized nor did we know anything about it until this firestorm over it erupted.”

The suit is a sign of the turmoil that has rocked Acorn since the embezzlement by Dale Rathke, Wade Rathke’s brother, was revealed to the board in June.

The embezzlement, which Acorn said involved $948,607.50, was discovered in 2000 but concealed by senior executives until a whistle-blower told a foundation leader about it in May.

Wade Rathke was forced to step down as chief organizer, the top executive position. He then became chief organizer of Acorn International, which shares offices in Acorn’s headquarters in New Orleans. The Rathke family pledged to repay Acorn.

“Even though his relationship with Acorn has been terminated,” the petition says of Wade Rathke, “he continues to meet with staff members regarding this” — the embezzlement — “and other governance issues which impeded the ability of the interim management committee to perform its function.”

Bertha Lewis, who was appointed interim chief organizer when Mr. Rathke stepped down, said the lawsuit was unnecessary. But Ms. Lewis echoed concerns about Mr. Rathke’s continued involvement, saying Acorn had asked him to leave its offices.

“Mr. Rathke stubbornly refuses to do that, so he sort of haunts that office, tries to talk to folks doing their work,” she said.

Mr. Rathke said he had no role in managing Acorn. “I was with the organization for 38 years, and there are many people I hired and supervised, and I have great relationships with them,” he said. “I haven’t been involved in supervising them. Are they saying that simply because I breathe, I exist, they have a problem?”

The suit put the extent of Dale Rathke’s embezzlement at “an amount that may exceed one million dollars,” more than the amount disclosed this summer.

James Austin Gray II, the lawyer who filed the petition, said the board had passed two resolutions in the summer authorizing the management committee to hire legal counsel. “The board is just trying to do its fiduciary duty,” Mr. Gray said.

Ms. Reid declined to comment, and Ms. Inman did not respond to messages on her mobile phone.

Coya Mobley, a board member representing Ohio, said that she recalled those resolutions and that in her mind, they gave Ms. Inman and Ms. Reid authority to file the petition for the board.

Acorn executives and some board members, however, said the resolutions did not give permission for a lawsuit. Over the last couple of weeks, Ms. Lewis has worked to get board members to withdraw the petition through a process under Acorn’s bylaws that allows polling by phone. She said 35 members had submitted written forms ordering the petition’s withdrawal, while 12 elected to continue seeking court intervention. Three members could not be reached, and one refused to cast a vote.

“I want answers,” said Ms. Mobley, who first opposed the suit but then voted to continue it. “Why are they still negotiating with Wade Rathke? Why are the people on staff who knew about this embezzlement still on the staff?”

Ms. Lewis said that she understood that some board members were impatient but that the committee and board were working as fast as they could.

“I think the people who filed this petition probably had very good intentions,” she said, “and I lay this at the feet of a lawyer who acted precipitously.”


Student rips Landrieu over EFCA

Related stories : "Mary Landrieu, Louisiana DINO" • "Dem takes heat for backing 'no vote' unionism"
More EFCA stories: here

No-vote unionism spells Dem trouble with voters

Democracy is founded upon the principle of rule by the people; however, the people must be allowed to freely choose to vote. The so-called Employee Free Choice Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., destroys this basic ideal as its name acts as a false pretense to the legislation itself.

Rather than having a free choice, employees must make a decision to unionize on the spot in an open and public vote, replacing the private government-sponsored voting method which ensures confidentiality and actually allows for a free choice by employees.

It is oxymoronic that Sen. Landrieu is one of the co-sponsors of a bill titled with the words “free choice” when in fact that legislation calls for “forced choice.”

Having a union representative conduct a vote with a simple check of a card acts as a severe intimidation factor that is not present behind the protective curtains of a voting booth. It is time for Sen. Landrieu to pull back her own curtain of deception and reveal the true effect of her legislation: the destruction of free choice and will of the people.

- Ashley Lopez, college student, Baton Rouge


Prominent SEIU big behind bars

More SEIU stories: here

No comment from Andy Stern

Authorities on Tuesday arrested the president of a state workers union local on suspicion of possessing child pornography and violating his probation as a sex offender. Jaime E. Feliciano, 49, works at the state Insurance Department as a research program specialist, according to public records.

Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran said authorities recently received a tip from police in Reno that Feliciano had inappropriate contact with a juvenile there.

Curran said the tip was turned over to the high-tech crime task force, which is led by the Sheriff's Department.

Task force members carried out a compliance check Tuesday at Feliciano's South Natomas home on Rancho Roble Way, where they found thousands of pornographic images of children on his computer, Curran said.

"If a child had any unsupervised contact with him, we would like to know about it," Curran said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department at (916) 874-5115.

According to the Web site of SEIU Local 1000 District Labor Council 784, Feliciano heads the organization.

The union represents employees at various state agencies including the Department of Insurance, Department of General Services, the California Highway Patrol and Department of Social Services.

According to court records, Feliciano was convicted in 1993 of a lewd or lascivious act with a child under the age of 14 years, which is a felony.


IAM-Boeing strikers welcome 'time off'

Related IAM-Boeing stories: hereVideo: "IAM bigs prep Boeing clash"
• "IAM striker: I didn't think Boeing was serious"
• "Others pay price for IAM strike v. Boeing"

Striking Boeing Workers Admit That They Just Wanted A Vacation

If you're looking for a redux of Harlan County U.S.A. in Everett, Washington at the Boeing strike, you're out of luck. The machinists who walked out to protect their jobs from getting outsourced see this work stoppage as a vacation, says Reuters.


* Around-the-clock picket lines outside the main Seattle-area factories were sparsely attended over the weekend and on Monday.

* Some workers will tell you this is a great opportunity to do work on their houses or even to go hunting in the forests of Washington state.

* "We don't take this lightly, but some people vote to strike just to get some time off. It's hunting season," said Richard McCabe, 38, a wing-line mechanic in Renton, who added that the overtime work is taking its toll on the rank-and-file.

* "I voted 'no' just to get a vacation. You work a lot of hours and you just get tired," said assembly-line mechanic Brian Gross, 46, referring to Wednesday's vote on whether to accept Boeing's "best and final" offer.


Are ACORN, Barack election cheaters?

Related story: "Barack paid ACORN unit at least $850K"
More ACORN stories: here

Everything that is wrong with politics

Barack is a cheater, conservative commentators are alleging. That's what Michele Malkin says at the website V Dare in her article "Why Obama's Community Organizer Days are a Joke," and, Christopher Ruddy in his article on Newsmax.com, "Obama's Secret Strategy."

Obama is linked to ACORN or Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now. This is an organization committed to its "Not This Time" slogan, which refers to Al Gore's loss in the 2000 election. It has also been accused of voter fraud.

All this has occurred while Obama was a "community organizer." Joining the ACORN effort is Al Sharpton. According to the New York Times, Barack Obama's direct influence at charitable foundations helped direct millions of dollars into funds for ACORN, which, in turn, helped get him elected in Illinois.

As Malkin points out in her article, and make no mistake about it, no one is casting aspersions on community organizers who give all they have to help people in need and also to help them achieve what mainstream society is.

What Malkin is attacking is an organization like ACORN. This is a radical far-left group who organize the homeless and ex-cons. They also are known for bullying which they call "direct action."

I live in Illinois. When Obama hit the scene, no one was more excited than I that our state took to its heart an up-and-coming black politician. However, since he has been running for national election, I have yet to hear direct answers; I have seen a candidate who uses the "race card," and I have seen a political campaign that will sink to any level to get him elected.

I now think Barack Obama represents everything wrong with politics.

I wonder if Obama is elected if that would remain a method of societal influence.

Is ACORN dangerous or just a neighborhood flare? You decide if they warrant a new look at Obama or not.

As Malkin finishes in her report, she says a top Milwaukee official is announcing the criminal investigations of 37 ACORN employees. Further, Larry Sandler of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that 10 additional voter registration workers are facing criminal charges.


Texas elections officials on alert

Union-backed voter-fraud group threatens Lone Star State

If you've already registered to vote in the November election, you're in good company. Voter registration has just about hit a record, and we're still a month away from the deadline. The Texas Secretary of State's Office says a little more than 13 million people have registered to vote. That's just shy of a record 13.1 million who signed up in 2004.

In Harris County non partisan groups are helping fuel the last minute surge. The Houston chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, has signed up 32,000 people to vote.

Everyday, ACORN employees canvass neighborhoods, looking for eligible voters who aren't yet registered. They visit apartment complexes, gas stations, and hospitals. Joye Adams says most people are thankful to see ACORN.

"I've been wanting to do that (register to vote)," Adams often hears potential voters said. "I'm glad I saw you.'"

A record number of cards are expected to be processed in Harris County ahead of the November election. Voter Registrar, Paul Bettencourt, says most people are getting up to date on their address.

The number of registered voters in the state's largest county is up about 70,000 from the March primary. Harris County is just 43,000 voters shy of crushing the record set back in 2004 of 1.942 million voters.

Bettencourt estimates the maximum number of registered voters in the county will be two million once the deadline passes. He says the near record numbers early on are due to population growth combined with the excitement of a historical presidential election.

"By the fact so many people sign up in a state that's not a battleground, tells you there's a good amount of interest," Bettencourt said.

It's hard to tell which candidate will benefit from the newly registered voters. ACORN doesn't track whether they're signing up more Republicans or Democrats. They just want as many people as possible at the polls on Nov. 4.

The county clerk predicts 60 to 65 percent of registered voters will cast a ballot on Nov. 4.


SEIU serves up mini-strike in Colorado

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Typical labor-state bargaining tactic

Janitors staged a one-day strike at Park Meadows Mall in suburban Denver on Tuesday, claiming the cleaning contractor they work for has made it difficult for them to join a union. The Service Employees International Union said five workers were picketing outside the mall parking lot at midday, and 17 had signed a petition backing the strike.

The SEIU said union supporters have been put under surveillance and workers have been told not to talk to union representatives.

Officials of the Illinois-based cleaning contractor, The Millard Group, said they were not aware of any such complaints being filed against the company.

"Those would not be practices that we would condone," said Gery Kwiatowksi, executive vice president of The Millard Group.

Kwiatowksi said he was aware of only two janitors being on strike.

SEIU said the strike is one of 20 demonstrations planned at malls nationwide owned by Chicago-based General Growth Properties.


Teamsters-WM strike update: Trash piles up

More Waste Management stories: here
Related stories: "Striking Teamsters slapped with ULP" • "Striking Teamsters upset by replacements"

Residents Feel Effect Of Teamsters Strike

Bruce Milne is proud of his 15-acre farm in the town of Erin (WI). The land is dotted with tall trees, green pastures, even a man-made pond. But thanks to the ongoing Waste Management strike Milne also found himself spending weeks looking at a growing pile of manure.

Milne hired Waste Management to pick up his Dumpster every week, a Dumpster he fills with manure from his five horses. However, when Teamster union workers went on strike two weeks ago the company missed two pickups and Milne had to pile the waste in his back yard.

Milne said he contacted the company 10 times but never got anywhere. Then, his story appeared in a Milwaukee-area newspaper this morning and that attention seemed to work.

“The driver just said he got a call this morning and was told to come out and pick up our manure,” Milne said.

After a week off reps with the union and Waste Management are back at the bargaining table in Wauwatosa with a federal mediator and the issue continues to be the future of the worker pensions.

While the 240 teamsters walk the picket line, Waste Management is using workers from other parts of the county to pick up the garbage.

Customers like Milne say they don't care about the negotiating, they just want their garbage picked up.

“We find ourselves being held hostage in the attempt of these two sides trying to come up with an agreement,” Milne said.

Milne said he is trying to end his contract with Waste Management and go to another company, something that numerous other customers tell us they have already done.


Rain halts striking teachers picketing

Related story: "The 28 labor-states"

Labor-state kids get a lesson in the fine points of collective bargaining

The second week of the Souderton Area (PA) Education Association's strike has brought some changes to where the district's teachers are walking the picket lines, and Tuesday's showers brought a bit of an interruption, too.

"Today, because of the hazardous weather condition, we had to cancel our picketing; it wasn't able to take place because of the weather," said SAEA president Bill Lukridge on Tuesday.

The soaking rainfall that started around 10 a.m. caused teachers on those picket lines to pack up their strike signs and seek shelter, but only from four strategic sites due to a change in picket policy.

"We are now picketing four major spots: the high school, Franconia Elementary, Indian Valley Middle School, and West Broad Street," Lukridge said, "because they appear to be getting the most traffic, and we want to make the most obvious presence we can."

Last Tuesday when the strike began, teachers picketed at all nine district public schools, and the construction site of the future Souderton Area High School, but not this week.

"We were out there one day, where the new high school is under construction, but we found out that most of the laborers there were non-union and were not going to honor our picket line anyway," said Lukridge.

Teachers are out on the picket lines in three different shifts from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., but if bad weather like Tuesday's rain storms happens, they are free to seek safety.

"There are no rules about the number of days we have to be out there, just as long as we're picketing because we're on strike," Lukridge said.

"Regarding being on the school property, there are some laws we can't violate, but as far as picketing there are no laws that we are aware of," he said.

And if their numbers look a little smaller than that 448-17 strike vote taken two Thursdays ago, that's because teachers are up to other things too.

"Other teachers are performing non-picketing tasks, such as communications. We have a task force committee that has multiple jobs in it, and some of our members who are not out on the strike lines are members of our settlement task force, who are trying to get information out to people," Lukridge said.

Some of those committee members have been helping update the SAEA's Web site,

www.saea.info, which now features a Q&A section, salary and health-care facts, and updates on negotiation progress.

"Let's face it, we're at a disadvantage here. We don't have a public TV channel like the school district has, we don't have the opportunity to mail to everybody in the district, we don't have that database, so what we have to do is try to get that information out in other ways," Lukridge said.

For example, Lukridge said that statistics provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education show that the district collects the sixth-highest tax revenue in Montgomery County, but spends the least per student of the 22 county school districts.

"We can prove our side of the story by the PDE information," Lukridge said. "This is incontrovertible, the numbers that the school district has to supply to the PDE, and we're hoping that people can have that information that will back our position, or their position."

Are they seeing much support from the public? From some, but not from all, he said.

"We have bashers and we have backers, there are people who are supportive and people who aren't," he said.

"Striking is never a pleasant thing, and it's not what we really set out to do, but we think it's necessary to get us past this labor impasse," Lukridge said.


Collectivists gather in Cleveland

Ohio unionists put politics first

Before nearly 700 delegates from across Ohio - the leader of the state’s AFL-CIO made clear that he thinks this year’s presidential election is a watershed moment for the nation. Big labor is solidly behind Barack Obama, and Ohio’s Joe Rugola said having a Democrat in the White House is key to growing Ohio’s manufacturing base again.

JOE RUGOLA: “We will never give up on the idea that America must re-industrialize, and that Ohio has to lead the way in that effort.”

The opening session’s keynote speaker was Governor Ted Strickland - who, while carefully avoiding politics since his trip was at state expense, left a message that resonated with the gathering.

GOVERNOR STRICKLAND: “We must do what we can for ourselves, while hoping and praying for a better day, and a more enlightened leadership.”

Delegates are honoring their long history tuesday night with a reception at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The old AFL and CIO merged fifty years ago.


Dodges query about secret-ballots

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