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ACORN heads back to the streets to protest mortgage practices

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 29, 2009 - Days after its court case with the state of Missouri was settled, ACORN is heading back to the streets.

Local members of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and its allies plan to hold a protest shortly before noon Tuesday outside the St. Louis Federal Reserve, 411 Locust Street. Their targets are several mortgage companies who are not participating in President Barack Obama's voluntary program -- called Making Home Affordable -- aimed at helping eligible homeowners refinance or modify the terms of their home loans.

The St. Louis protest is to be outside the Federal Reserve because none of the mortgage-company targets have offices here.

The St. Louis protest is among 15-20 to held at the same time in other major cities across the country. However, St. Louis is the only Missouri city among them.

The protest singles out four major mortgage companies who aren't participating, including Goldman Sachs.

Glenn Burleigh with St. Louis ACORN said some of the companies are taking federal aid. "They're still in existence because of our tax dollars, yet they're refusing to participate in the mortgage modification program," he said.

Tuesday's protest comes just days after ACORN settled a court case with the state of Missouri, which led to the state paying $450,000 in legal fees to the advocacy group and its allies. That case involved the inavailability of voter registrations at some government social-service agencies. The Missouri Republican Party has condemned the settlement.

In any case, Tuesday's action has nothing to do with voting. And that's what ACORN officials would prefer, particularly in light of past controversies and some convictions over fraudulent registrations collected by some ACORN volunteers.

"Much to our internal chagrin, we've been labeled the 'voting people,'" Burleigh said. For good or ill, Tuesday's action may help change that.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.