by Max Brantley
Arkansas ACORN announced today that it was forming an independent organization -- the Arkansas Community Organization -- independent of the national organization, to make it easier to continue its work on behalf of low-income people and neighborhoods.
The recent right-wing smear isn't ACORN's only problem. Revelations about a coverup of misspent money by a relative of ACORN founder Wade Rathke didn't help the organization either. Nonetheless, it has done important work in Arkansas at the grassroots level (yes, including helping people get legitimate tax refunds). I hope their effort to survive is a success.
Little Rock, AR – Today members of Arkansas ACORN announced the formation of a new organization that will be independent from national ACORN. The new organization is an Arkansas based corporation called Arkansas Community Organizations (ACO) and will be a not for profit organization with much of the same mission as ACORN. Members made the decision to form the new organization in November in response to the difficulties faced by the national organization and as a way to safeguard the important work being done by the Arkansas chapter. Members say that ACO will continue Arkansas ACORN’s mission of empowering low- to moderate-income people while developing a stronger and more accountable system of financial management and governance.
“I have been an ACORN member since the early 1990s. I am very proud of the work we have done in Arkansas. We fought for and won ward elections in Little Rock, helped win an increase in the minimum wage and pass living wage policies, helped pass a state law addressing predatory home equity loans and just last year helped 1,191 people file their taxes and receive more than $1.5 million in refunds,” said Donna Massey, board member pf Arkansas Community Organizations.
“Despite the good work that ACORN has done nationally, the challenges faced by the national organization threaten the good work we are doing here in Arkansas. That’s why the Arkansas leadership made a decision to form Arkansas Community Organizations and to sever our ties with national ACORN,” said Ms. Massey.
“A strong voice for low-income and working people is needed in these tough times. Too many Arkansans are without access to affordable health coverage. Too many Arkansans are out of work, and when they are able to find a job, the wages are too low to support their household,” said Ms. Massey.
“We have too much to do, and we can’t wait for the national organization to solve its problems. While we were delighted by the recent court rulings overturning the unconstitutional ‘defund ACORN’ legislation, the Congressional Research Service report and the missteps of James O’Keefe in Louisiana, it will be a long time before national ACORN can overcome the challenges it is facing” continued Ms. Massey.
“We have received a lot of support from people in the state who are not ACORN members and who do not live in the neighborhoods where ACORN has worked. Some of these people have agreed to work with us as we form and build the new organization,” added Ms. Massey.
“We have a great deal of work ahead of us. I am excited and look forward to building a strong organization here in Arkansas that can win changes to improve the standard of living and provide more opportunities for low-income and working families,” said Ms. Massey.