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September 29, 2009

Nothing to Do With Frederick

Roy Meachum

One of my friends named John is a staunch Republican to the point where we rarely talk about politics. Just days after the city’s primary elections the News-Post published allegations and rumors that attempted to link Democratic mayoral candidate Jason Judd with ACORN; my friend’s disgust was so strong that he threatened to cross party line and vote for Mr. Judd.


“What the hell does that have to do with Frederick?” John demanded.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was recently in the news because a radical group caught ACORN employees agreeing to provide housing for a pair, posing as a pimp and his prostitute. When the story came out, the employees were promptly fired for violating the association policy. Still the yelling din barged along, helped by allegations the founder’s brother made off with big bucks; the founder has now been relegated to the sidelines.


Conservative Republicans have serious problems with ACORN primarily because its mission statement includes registering minority voters. In the recent flap over U.S. attorneys, more than several lost their jobs because of their seeming failure to prosecute fraud in voter registrations. In their defense, the ousted attorneys countercharged their investigations produced no grounds for taking ACORN and other community activists to court. Going into last year’s presidential race, some 1.3 million inner cities residents were able for the first time to vote. That’s great news for democracy but not for politicians who want to keep minority voters from participating in the process.


Now counting 500,000 members, ACORN started as a kitchen coffee klatch that met to find a way of paying for boys and girls lunches. The original goal was followed by Vietnam veterans’ rights, hospital emergency rooms and to reform the fees charged by banks. The organization has been responsible for curbing predatory lending practices in a half-dozen states and a number of cities. That’s a matter of record.


But you’d be hard pressed to find stories, even in major newspapers and on television, about these worthy accomplishments; instead we see the scandals, frequently kicked up by ACORN’s enemies in the political and financial fields. After all, in nearly 40 years the association has gone quietly about the business of helping lower and middle income families. That approach does not invite headlines.


As someone professionally required to take notice of such organizations, ACORN was running below my radar until the latest Frederick brouhaha broke. Even then, I felt no need to write. When right-wing local GOP activists launched their latest attempts to stink up Jason Judd’s campaign – that brought on this column.


To repeat my GOP friend John: “What does that have to do with Frederick?”


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