Tuesday night the board of ACORN Pennsylvania voted to dissolve the Keystone state chapter of the embattled community-service organization and re-invent itself as Pennsylvania Communities Organizing For Change, according to Craig Robbins, the former Head Organizer for ACORN PA, who will now serve as executive director of the newly formed PCOC.
The board's decision came in the wake of an announcement Monday from ACORN's national leadership that it was ceasing operations and that state chapters would be given the option of closing up shop or re-branding themselves as standalone statewide community-service organizations.
"People are sad that ACORN is dissolving but there was no way to carry on our mission when we were spending most of our time defending ourselves from scurrilous charges," said Robbins, referring to a years-long campaign of right-wing attacks and harassment culminating in the fake-pimp scandal that blew up last fall and resulted in ACORN being stripped of all federal funding.
Many of the details of the transition are still being ironed out, Robbins said, but this much is certain: PCOC will pick up where ACORN PA left off.
"We will be taking on many of the same issues: fighting for good housing and good schools and building power for low and moderate income families," he said.
Also, PCOC has signed a year-long lease for the same North Broad Street office space that currently houses ACORN Philadelphia.
However, PCOC will differ from ACORN in two fundamental ways. First, unlike ACORN's top-down funding and management structures, all of PCOC's management and financial decision-making will be locally controlled. Second, the board of directors will include people from outside the ACORN fold who will bring relevant areas of expertise to the newly formed community-service organization as well as lay the foundation for a professional management structure.
For an in-depth look at the events leading up to the end of ACORN check out PW's October 6, 2009, cover story "Cracking ACORN."
Philly's ACORN office didn't take the bait when a pair of conservative "investigative reporters" came calling with hidden video cameras in tow. Now an organization that works for the poor is under fire. Jonathan Valania takes a look.