Category Archive : Campaigns + Projects

Press Release: Southern Rural Electricity Co-Op Boards Remain Overwhelmingly White

Lack of Diversity Silences Voices 

NEW ORLEANS — Eighty-one years after U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal provided federal loans and grants for establishing rural membership cooperatives to connect the “last mile” and bring electricity to almost all of rural America, 800 rural co-ops deliver electricity to some forty-two million Americans. Unlike other electric providers, residential customers use 57% of cooperatives’ power.

Rural electric cooperatives in many areas are often a significant economic presence and employers with assets and sales throughout the South of billions of dollars annually. 

The membership (customer-owners) is supposed to be democratically represented on co-op boards. However, “Electric Cooperative Board Diversity is a Failure in the South,” concludes that co-op boards are overwhelmingly white and male despite demographics in service areas, even when those areas have significant Black or Hispanic populations.

The report follows “The Crisis in Rural Electric Cooperatives in The South,”  an investigation of rural co-op boards in 12 southern states conducted by Labor Neighbor Research & Training Center and ACORN International five years ago in 2016.  This report measures what progress was made or, in this case, not made in that period.  In many cases, the report found that co-op boards made an effort on their public communications to hide the lack of diversity in their governance.   Wade Rathke, Chief Organizer of ACORN, noted that “Rural electric cooperatives are touted as one of the great icons of New Deal democracy, but it appears now that they have become entrenched ‘old boy clubs’ in too much of the South, out of synch with their communities, the members, and the urgent climate issues of our time.”

“There is too much evidence of democracy lost, and discrimination found. Transparency is rare, and too many rules and procedures maintain a status quo that seems more frozen in the fifties before the civil rights and women’s rights’ movements,” investigators concluded in 2016.

The new report finds that the population is 56% white in the 12-state region. Meanwhile, whites make up 93.1% of the boards of these states’ electricity co-ops. Co-op governance has been an issue in recent years in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas.

Rural Co-op Boards lacking diversity and transparency seem to engage in a pattern of discrimination that leaves Blacks and other people of color without an opportunity to provide input on potential changes to energy sources, board elections, or employment and procurement matters. Many also remain uninformed about how the relationship between electric cooperatives and members works.

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Contact:

C.C. Campbell-Rock

504-930-9577

media@chieforganizer.org

David Thompson

407-484-8387

research@chieforganizer.org

Voter Purge Project in Vice

Vice News talked with founder of the Ohio Voter Project and author of the Voter Purge Project’s data cleaning and analysis methodology Steve Tingley-Hock about our work to track wrongful data purges across the country.

“When I ran the initial queries, that was my first indication that there was a serious problem here,” Steve says of the initial Ohio records that showed about 40,000 voters were set to be wrongfully purged. Steve, along with the VPP, now collects and analyzes data for 16 states.

Watch the full video below, and read more about what we are doing with this data in our report.

Voter Purge Project

On October 1, the Voter Purge Project released “Unnecessary Disenfranchisement: Voter Purges Across the Country.” The report details our work to monitor, report on, and organize against wrongful voter purging.

Read the full report for background on the project, our methods, and what we are doing to ensure eligible voters are informed of their voter status as November’s elections draw near.

Nonprofit Hospitals Accountability Project Releases Report

After extensive research into nonprofit hospitals the Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, the Nonprofit Accountability Project has released our findings and recommendations in a paper, “Charity for Whom?

Our research indicates that the non-profit tax exemption system enables hospitals to be non-profit in name only, thereby reaping the benefits of tax exemption without sharing these gains with low income families. We argue this is due to the vagueness of relevant laws and leniency of the IRS. 

This paper is the product of cooperation between Local 100 United Labor Unions, the Labor Neighbor Research & Training Center (LNRTC), and ACORN International, plus our tireless team of volunteers.

Voter Purge Project Update: VPP Featured in WIRED Magazine

WIRED Magazine recently featured the Voter Purge Project, a project of ACORN International in partnership with the Ohio Voter Project and Labor Neighbor, in its September 2020 issue. One IT Guy’s Spreadsheet-Fueled Race to Restore Voting Rights details the work of Voter Purge Project to protect eligible voters against disenfranchisement by monitoring, reporting on, and organizing against wrongful voter purging.

Read the full story here.

Learn more about Voter Purge Project here.

Impacts of the Covid-19 Crisis on ACORN Members Around the World

Global social protection in times of global crisis

We low-income families are living in the popular areas of Douala, Toronto, Mumbai, Paris, Lima, Manchester, Tunis, New Orleans and Edinburg are victims of the health crisis. We lost our job, we lost much of our income. Yet we still have to pay our rent, our electricity bills and buy something to feed our families. As the lockdown comes to an end, we are tens of millions of people to find ourselves in rent debt in France, the UK, the United States or Canada. This is how we are reduced to misery and hunger.

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This Hyderabad singer has started a music revolution in Mumbai’s Dharavi slums. Here’s how

Written by Seema Rajpal June 23rd, 2020 from Edex Live

Hyderabad-based Gomathi Iyer is doing some unforgettable covers on Instagram and before the lockdown, was helping girls in one of the largest slums in the world, Dharavi in Mumbai learn to sing.

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How Asia’s biggest slum contained the coronavirus

Soutik Biswas June 23rd, 2020 from BBC News

In one of the world’s most congested shanty towns, social distancing is not a luxury people can afford. And density is a friend of the coronavirus.

Imagine more than 500,000 people spread over 2.5 grubby sq km, less than a square mile. That’s a population larger than Manchester living in an area smaller than Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

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PM SVANidhi: Will it be a non-starter?

by Dharmendra Kumar — June 24, 2020 from Counter Currents

It is said that COVID does not differentiate. Yet, people on the margin have been differently impacted by COVID. Street vendors are one such vulnerable group. With lockdown, streets wore a deserted look. Street livelihood vanished all of a sudden. Street vendors, generally outlawed and operating with meagre capital and various kinds of livelihood insecurities and restrictive and punitive regulatory authorities found it hard to survive through the lockdown.

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Distribution of Food Rations in Dharavi


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