Concerns of a volunteer


(First Draft Krewe in front of ACORN office in NOLA–March 2007)

I went to bed troubled last night by something I had read. Amongst thenews that contractors were paid for the work volunteers had done in New Orleans was the information that ACORN would not release the addresses of the homes to which they sent volunteers to work. The press would like that list to cross reference it with the NOAH list. NOAH is the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership, a city run agency which used federal funds to remediate homes for low income and elderly residents. NOLA blogger Karen Gadbois first discovered irregularities in the listed homes and has been central to the story bring told. WWL reporterLee Zurik then investigated and documented the discrepancies including:

  • homes on the list which NOAH had not remediated
  • homes on the list which did not exist
  • homes on the list owned by individuals or businesses not qualified for the program
  • duplicate listings, with the same contractor doing the same work and charging the city the same price twice
  • questionable ties between the executive director of NOAH and some of the contractors hired by NOAH to remediate homes

And now, as theTimes Picayune reported, contractors were paid for work done by volunteers. As you know theFirst Draft Krewe gutted a home in NOLA through ACORN. The house we gutted was not on the NOAH list but I still found myself tossing and turning last night by what I read about ACORN. I was going to write about those concerns today but I seeE at We Could be Famous blog, who along with Gadbois was instrumental in exposing this scandal, has it covered. He highlights what troubled me in the TP article…

Indeed, as the community nonprofit groups prepared in the spring and
summer last year to receive thousands of unskilled volunteers, they
were at a loss for properties.Several,
including ACORN, a Catholic church group and the Episcopal Diocese
program, solicited NOAH officials for some of their addresses, city
officials have said.

E later saysthis

Now that’s fascinating. According to Krupa,
city officials are alleging that volunteer organizations specifically
solicited NOAH officials for lists of properties. This after the NOAH
home remediation program raised eyebrows throughout the volunteer
community for being “silly.”

Now Davis’ organization seemed to
make the same foolish mistake that ACORN and some Catholic charities
made and will also have to go back into the books to provide more
details. Who did they pick up their lists from? Why didn’t they say
anything even when they knew something weird was going on?

But what this really must do is force ACORN and the Archdiocese
to open up and help us figure out how this occurred. I’m sorry but
citing “privacy concerns” of homeowners that may have been fleeced for
their tax dollars or of individual volunteers who may have been
unwitting slaves for the city’s money laundering scheme seems a little
bit inappropriate. These organizations have every interest in
completely examining their role in the NOAH scandal.

What E says…all of it

4 thoughts on “Concerns of a volunteer

  1. As much as I would like to see the list comparison, aid given is confidential. Sorry that I have to side with the Diocese on this one.
    When I volunteered with Red Cross, any lists of folks checking in was confidential unless the person said that you could reveal that they were there. Otherwise, those who were afraid for one reaon or another wouldn’t come to you for help. Likewise, the only way the press could take a photo was with the permission of all who were in the scene.
    Hopefully, something can be worked out so that the NOAH record (which I assume is a public record) can confidentially be checked against the ACORN record.

  2. Maple Street says…”Hopefully, something can be worked out so that the NOAH record (which I assume is a public record) can confidentially be checked against the ACORN record.”
    Yeah that is what I was thinking

  3. I spent a couple of hundred dollars providing the masks and the bunny suits to protect the lungs of my friends who were going to NOLA to do the hard work of gutting.
    I’m happy to have done that because I couldn’t go and help. I would be pissed off if I had found out that my masks were intercepted and sent back to the manufacturer for a cash refund for Big Contractor guy.
    Fraud that takes advantage of people’s impulse to be helpful and generous is especially cruel.

  4. I don’t live in New Orleans, and have never been there. So, I am the typical American news reader. All of this has informed me that New Orleans has an extremely serious problem with criminal politicians. It tells me that the mayor of New Orleans could be likened to a mob boss. It tells me that the New Orleans government is out for personal monetary gains to the exclusion of everything else. And, knowing about the criminality of our current federal government, I see this as a coalition of thieves doing their thing in New Orleans.
    How wrong am I?

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