ACORN Sprouting Fresh Branches

As the remnants of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now regroup in order to bring chaos to the 2012 election cycle, ACORN’s renamed New York chapter is teeming with activity.

The successor organization, called New York Communities for Change (NYCC), operates out of the same office on Nevins Street in Brooklyn that is home to ACORN and its partisan arm, the socialist Working Families Party of New York.

Longtime ACORN leader Jon Kest is executive director of NYCC.  Kest is the brother of Steve Kest, former executive director of ACORN, who has joined fellow radical community organizer Van Jones as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that functions as a public relations firm for the Obama administration.

The “new” ACORN group has already held a glittering fund-raiser featuring “Sex in the City” actress Cynthia Nixon and U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (D.-N.Y.), both longtime ACORN supporters.

NYCC, which reportedly shares board members with New York ACORN, is already waging war against Walmart, which is hoping to open a store in Brooklyn.  ACORN has always had a special, visceral contempt for Walmart because it is not unionized and hasn’t given money to the in-your-face protest group to make it go away.  NYCC describes Walmart as “frightening” and accuses it of “wage violations, gender discrimination, and paying staff poverty-level wages,” all of which are smears that the labor movement routinely employs against the company.

NYCC has joined with its sister union SEIU and rapacious trial lawyers to demand that PCBs, which are used to make caulking and adhesives, be removed immediately from New York City schools.  It is unclear whether the PCBs actually pose a threat to anyone, but whether people are in danger has never been a concern of ACORN, which extracted $1 billion from Sherwin-Williams in 2006 over the lead content of its paint.

NYCC is “not willing to risk long-term, low-level exposure to PCBs one day longer,” parent-activist Regina Castro said last September.  It’s classic ACORN:  Induce public hysteria and then swoop in to shake down the corporations it has targeted for fast cash.

NYCC has also been advocating for an open-ended amnesty for illegal immigrants, more government spending on so-called affordable housing and so-called green jobs, and against school choice.

NYCC has taken in around $300,000 from labor unions, more than $200,000 of which came from the United Federation of Teachers.  The group expects UFT to fork over about $474,000 this year and $652,000 in 2012.

That ACORN was transforming itself and planning to resurface under a new name was reported in these pages 10 months ago.  The group filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Election Day to minimize media coverage of the legal proceeding.

ACORN historian and radical housing activist John Atlas, author of Seeds of Change: The Story of America’s Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group, openly acknowledges that the various renamed ACORN chapters around the country will refederate soon.

“The emerging community organizations will retain ACORN’s commitment to building national power and are beginning discussions toward a process to federate at some later date, presumably after the 2010 elections or in 2011,” Atlas wrote last year.  ACORN leaders are working on “voter-engagement activities.”  They intend “to engage the surge voters of 2008 and turn them into permanent voters in 2010 and beyond.”

ACORN’s fraud-plagued Project Vote affiliate, which used to employ President Obama, continues to operate.  It ran a nationwide voter registration and get-out-the-vote drive during the 2010 election cycle.  The 2010 effort was run by Amy Adele Busefink, a senior ACORN executive who was convicted in a voter-fraud conspiracy in Nevada in early January.  Busefink received a two-year suspended prison sentence.  ACORN itself is scheduled to go on trial in Las Vegas on April 25 for its involvement in the same conspiracy.

ACORN’s housing bubble generator, ACORN Housing, changed its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America a year ago in an effort to escape the stigma associated with its parent company.