Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA
Talbot, we learn, was so impressed by Obama’s organizing skills that she invited him to help train her own staff.
And what exactly was Talbot’s work with Acorn? Talbot turns out to have been a key leader of that attempt by Acorn to storm the Chicago City Council (during a living-wage debate). While Sol Stern mentions this story in passing, the details are worth a look: On July 31, 1997, six people were arrested as 200 Acorn protesters tried to storm the Chicago City Council session. According to the Chicago Daily Herald, Acorn demonstrators pushed over the metal detector and table used to screen visitors, backed police against the doors to the council chamber, and blocked late-arriving aldermen and city staff from entering the session.
Reading the Herald article, you might think Acorn’s demonstrators had simply lost patience after being denied entry to the gallery at a packed meeting. Yet the full story points in a different direction. This was not an overreaction by frustrated followers who couldn’t get into a meeting (there were plenty of protestors already in the gallery), but almost certainly a deliberate bit of what radicals call “direct action,” orchestrated by Acorn’s Madeleine Talbot. As Talbot was led away handcuffed, charged with mob action and disorderly conduct, she explicitly justified her actions in storming the meeting. This was the woman who first drew Obama into his alliance with Acorn, and whose staff Obama helped train. http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDZiMjkwMDczZWI5ODdjOWYxZTIzZGIyNzEyMjE0ODI=&w=MQ==
As Carl Horowitz of the National Legal and Policy Center notes:
“In July 1997 … roughly 200 ACORN protestors stormed a session of the Chicago City Council (which was discussing “living wage” issues at that time), pushing over the metal detector and table used to screen visitors, backing police against doors, and blocking entrance to the room by late-arriving alderman and staff; six persons were arrested in the fracas.”
On another occasion, ACORN dispatched four busloads of protesters to the site of Baltimore mayor Martin O’Malley’s home, where they screamed profanities at the mayor and his family. Additional ACORN members, meanwhile, piled mounds of garbage in front of Baltimore’s City Hall to protest the alleged paucity of services in the area’s poor neighborhoods. “We’re up in their face,” an ACORN representative said proudly.
In 1995 ACORN protested what it characterized as the Republican-led Congress’ proposed “spending cuts” on welfare programs. (In actuality, no cuts were being proposed; the Republicans were calling for an increase in welfare spending, but it was a smaller increase than ACORN wanted.) The New York Post describes the scene of this ACORN demonstration:
“House Speaker Newt Gingrich was scheduled to address a meeting of county commissioners at the Washington Hilton. But, first, some 500 protesters from [ACORN] poured into the ballroom from both the kitchen and the main entrance. Hotel staffers who tried to block them were quickly overwhelmed by demonstrators chanting, ‘Nuke Newt!’ and ‘We want Newt!’ Jamming the aisles, carrying bullhorns and taunting the assembled county commissioners, demonstrators swiftly took over the head table and commandeered the microphone, sending two members of Congress scurrying. The demonstrators' target, Gingrich, hadn't yet arrived -- and his speech was cancelled. When the cancellation was announced, ACORN's foot soldiers cheered.”
Such tactics are by no means a thing of the past for ACORN. As recently as June 2009, an angry mob of at least 150 ACORN protesters nearly knocked New York state Sen. James Alesi, a Republican, down to the floor and also spat in the face of his chief of staff. The protesters were reportedly upset that two Democratic senators had decided to caucus with Republicans — a move that, when finalized by the state Senate, would hand Republicans control of that body.
As noted above, housing activism is a major priority for ACORN, which has formed housing collectives in a host of targeted areas. These collectives pressure local authorities to place them (the collectives) in charge of renovating and managing abandoned or dilapidated properties for poor tenants. In turn, the local authorities provide money for renovation -- much of which ends up in ACORN bank accounts. The tenants are compelled to "earn" their new homes by investing "sweat equity"; i.e., working without pay on renovating the properties. ACORN or its designated "housing collective" retains title to the land on which these buildings stand. If the tenants decide to move out, they are required to sell their property back to ACORN, at cost, no matter what the market value of the property. http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=6968
Just as ACORN was heavily involved in voter-registration fraud, so was it a key player in the chain of events and policies that led to the housing and banking crash of 2008. That crisis had its roots in the 1977 passage of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a federal law that outlawed “redlining” (the refusal of banks to lend money to borrowers located in areas known for their high default rates on loans). The CRA required banks to extend credit to undercapitalized, high-risk borrowers in low-income, mostly-minority areas. The Act also established extensive government oversight to monitor how well banks were complying with its mandates.
Under CRA guidelines, any bank wishing to expand or to merge with another financial institution would be required to first demonstrate that it had complied with all CRA rules. Final approval for expansions or mergers could be stalled, or derailed entirely, if "community groups" like ACORN were to accuse a bank -- however frivolously or unjustly -- of having violated the mandates of CRA.
In the early 1990s ACORN, thus empowered by the CRA, insisted that banks demonstrate their commitment to minority lending by drastically lowering their standards on down-payments and underwriting, and by making loans even to borrowers -- especially nonwhite minorities -- with bad credit histories. If banks expressed reluctance to do so, ACORN intimidated them into compliance by threatening to sue them, to smear them in the media with negative-publicity campaigns (accusing them of racist and anti-immigrant lending practices), and to block any mergers which the banks might seek in the future. These threats were often accompanied by rowdy crowds of ACORN demonstrators swarming bank offices and lobbies.
In response, terrified bank executives routinely agreed to appoint ACORN as their official “advisor” on CRA compliance, thereby giving the group carte blanche to channel loans to its own hand-picked recipients. One ACORN leader boasted that her organization had become proficient at dragging banks "kicking and screaming" into high-risk loans for low-income people with shady credit histories. By September 1992, ACORN was issuing fact sheets broadcasting its success in having forced lenders to lower their credit standards on behalf of minorities. Ultimately, ACORN proudly claimed “credit for saving the CRA.”
The New York Post explains what happened next:
“As ACORN ran its campaigns against local banks, it quickly hit a roadblock. Banks would tell ACORN they could afford to reduce their credit standards by only a little -- since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federal mortgage giants, refused to buy up those risky loans for sale on the ‘secondary market.’
“That is, the CRA wasn't enough. Unless Fannie and Freddie were willing to relax their credit standards as well, local banks would never make home loans to customers with bad credit histories or with too little money for a down-payment.
“So ACORN's Democratic friends in Congress moved to force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to dispense with normal credit standards. Throughout the early '90s, they imposed ever-increasing subprime-lending quotas on Fannie and Freddie….
“ACORN's intimidation tactics, and its alliance with Democrats in Congress, triumphed. Despite their 1994 takeover of Congress, Republicans' attempts to pare back the CRA were stymied….
“ACORN had come to Congress not only to protect the CRA from GOP [Republican] reforms but also to expand the reach of quota-based lending to Fannie, Freddie and beyond….
“[In June 1995] the Clinton administration announced a comprehensive strategy to push homeownership in America to new heights -- regardless of the compromise in credit standards that the task would require. Fannie and Freddie were assigned massive subprime lending quotas, which would rise to about half of their total business by the end of the decade.”
This strengthening of the CRA’s loan mandates, coupled with the authority that ACORN and other “community organizations” were given to intervene at yearly bank reviews, placed ACORN and likeminded activist groups in a position of great influence. Banks, eager to receive good reports from these groups (in order to avoid having their merger plans blocked or their lending practices challenged by the Justice Department), funneled immense sums of money to ACORN, et al. As the New York Post puts it, “intimidation tactics, public charges of racism and threats to use CRA to block business expansion have enabled ACORN to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and contributions from America's financial institutions.”
One financial-industry consultant explains, with resignation: “The banks know they are being held up, but they are not going to fight over this. They look at it as a cost of doing business.”
According to author and political analyst Michelle Malkin, in 2005 ACORN’s San Diego office “publicly announced a partnership with Citibank to secure home loans for illegal aliens.” Wrote Malkin in September 2009:
“In 2005, Citibank and ACORN Housing Corporation — which received tens of millions of tax dollars under the Bush administration alone — began recruiting Mexican illegal aliens for a lucrative program offering loans with below-market interest rates, down-payment assistance and no mortgage insurance requirements. Instead of the Social Security numbers required of law-abiding citizens, the program allows illegal alien applicants to supply loosely monitored tax identification numbers issued by the IRS.
“The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that ‘undocumented residents’ comprise a vast market representing a potential sum of ‘$44 billion in mortgages.’ Citibank enlarged its portfolio of subprime and other risky loans. ACORN enlarged its membership rolls. The program now operates in Miami; New York City; Jersey City, N.J.; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Bridgeport, Conn.; and at all of ACORN Housing's 12 California offices.
“San Diego ACORN officials advised illegal alien recruits that their bank partners would take applicants who had little or no credit, or even ‘nontraditional records of credit, such as utility payments and documentation of private loan payments.’
“The risk the banks bear is the price they pay to keep ACORN protesters and Hispanic lobbyists from the National Council of La Raza screaming about ‘predatory lending’ off their backs. These professional grievance-mongers have turned the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act — which forced lenders to sacrifice underwriting standards for ‘diversity’ — into lucrative ‘business’ opportunities. Or rather, politically correct blackmail.
“As the Consumer Rights League noted in a 2008 report on the group's successful shakedowns of financial institutions, ‘an agreement with Citibank, a significant ACORN donor and partner, showed that some activists become less active when deals are in place.’”