By on November 30, 2009


The left-wing activist group known as ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is behind a nationwide effort to hinder motorists with speed bumps, speed traps and other forms of “traffic calming.” According to a strategy memo obtained by Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.Com, the group took up smaller community issues such as traffic as a “quick hit campaign” to harass local government until it conceded to the group’s demands.

“Remember, most anything is possible, because it’s all a function of power,” the memo explained.

Because of the relatively low cost of speed bumps, cities generally gave in quickly.

“If we’re organizing to address speeding on one block, or basically want to treat this as a quick hit, then we can demand speed bumps for a block,” the memo explained. “Typically, we will have already beaten the crap out of the city on speeding for a while, so they will have set up a mechanism by which blocks can get speed bumps, based upon an annual allocation of funds per council district.”

The traffic demands were structured in a way that would provide concrete evidence of the group’s effectiveness to the public, allowing ACORN to boost its credibility in a neighborhood — and its dues-paying membership. Typical tactics used included handing out multilingual flyers and staging noisy protests in neighborhoods.

“Who are we? ACORN!” Greg Mastel shouted through a bullhorn at a 2006 protest in Omaha, Nebraska. “What do we want? Slower streets!”

Similar staged events helped ACORN member Veronica Dunn-Jones open a new branch office for the group in West Las Vegas, Nevada in 2004. Dunn-Jones harnessed the speed bump issue to gain media attention that helped her expand significantly.

In addition to speed bumps, the ACORN memo discusses adding unnecessary stop signs, compelling police to set up radar speed traps in neighborhoods and creating other “traffic calming” programs. The memo also explained how the group could use the same issue to harass private businesses.

“If you’re tired of beating up on the city for speedbumps… targeting auto dealers would make a lot of sense here,” the memo stated.

A copy of the memo obtained by BigGovernment.Com is available in a 25k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Basic Issue Development for Organizers (ACORN, 4/20/2003)


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40 Comments on “ACORN Behind Push For Speed Traps...”

  • avatar

    Good job! I wish they’d push for speed bumps in my neighborhood. Thanks for posting this, I’ll donate some money to ACORN.

  • avatar

    I’m anti-speedbump.  It doesn’t address the problem.
    1) The speedbumps @ my parents bumps are harsh on my STi (the edges are very close to vertical, UNLIKE the picture accompanying the article) at even 2-4mph.  The speed limit is 25.  Why can’t I go 25?
    2) If I take a motorcycle I can go over them at OVER 25+mph anyhow.  If you have a dual sport you can go over most speed bumps at 40+.
    Summary:  It slows me down to BELOW the speed limit in my car, and I can zip over them at > 25mph on my motorcycle no problem.  They don’t really accomplish anything except annoying me when I’m on 4 wheels.

  • avatar

    There is no way in hell I would alow them to put speed bumps on my street. I would take them out myself if it came to it.

  • avatar

    Some of their goals are noble: reduced crime, better education, etc.  Speeding is indeed a menace in some areas.
    But their tactics are about power and intimidation.  I’m glad Congress has defunded them.

    • 0 avatar

      Congress never funded them in the first place.  They are a privately funded non-profit.  (Like most non-profits of this sort, sometimes they have government backed programs.  But that is a small minority of their work.)

    • 0 avatar


      ABC News begs to differ:  “The federal government has given more than $50 million to ACORN since 1994, much of it in the form of HUD grants”

      Not exactly Fox News…

    • 0 avatar

      Congress only pretended to defund ACORN, in order to defuse the public outcry. They continue to receive millions from HUD even now. ACORN will need to murder thousands before they get defunded. And maybe not even then.

  • avatar
    Dave Skinner

    Seems to me the title of this article should be “ACORN uses Speed bumps to Build Credibility”. Based on the quotes in the article, ACORN doesn’t consider “traffic calming” an organizational goal or common good. Instead, ACORN’s uses its ability to get traffic calming devices installed to prove that ACORN is a player with the local government.


  • avatar

    Is this Newsmax or Fox News all of a sudden?  Try to not let your right wing politics show.  Mentioning ACORN as a bogeyman is like calling the Democratic Party the “Democrat Party”.  Stop it.

    • 0 avatar

      Put down the ACORN carrying card for a momemt, Geotpf.   Is anything about this story false?  If speed traps is the thing that does ACORN in after voter fraud, blackmailing local companies, and covering up child prostitution, well, it was going to fall anyway. 

    • 0 avatar

      It’s important to note that ACORN is trying to help communities that are often forgotten by municipalities when it comes to traffic improvements. Maybe speed bumps are annoying, but if you live on a street where people regularly speed by your playing kids, they’re important, and most expensive neighborhoods in my city already have them.
      I can’t speak to voter fraud, though I suspect it’s one of those zombie lies, the kind that sound true because they’ve been repeated so often. There might be some bad voter registration cards that ACORN didn’t catch before submitting, but I have yet to hear about any actual fraudulent votes. Those are two separate things.
      That prostitution thing. That was ugly.

    • 0 avatar

      The story is about speed bumps, which affect driving and are controversial, and this is a car-related site. And ACORN is the group promoting their installation. Seems like a legitimate story to me, and would still be one even if the Young Republicans were the group pushing for the installation of speed bumps.

  • avatar

    Do you want safer streets?  Then lobby to have your zoning changed to allow *narrower* streets.  People will go the speed they are comfortable with.  If your street has ‘friction’ on it – parked cars, narrow lanes, curved sections – then people will go slower naturally.  Even trees overhanging the road slow people down.
    Speed bumps have the curious effect of lowering the average speed slightly, but increasing the maximum speed for those who deem themselves ‘in a hurry’.  They also have the negative effect of drastically increasing fire response (the suspension on a fire truck is a lot more sensitive to a 4″ bump than your minivan).
    There are plenty of other ways to calm traffic.  Speed bumps are one of the worst.  Unfortunately, they’re cheap, and everyone knows about them.  It doesn’t surprise me that a group like ACORN, which  holds so many goals I might agree with but advocates methods I consider completely wrong-headed, would also advocate for speed bumps.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Puthuff

      What’s your data on speed tables with depressions formed to match the track width of fire trucks?

    • 0 avatar

      Well, I don’t have any data about putting longitudinal depressions in to match track widths, but I’d imagine that it’s a problematic idea.  Fire trucks don’t have such a significant difference in track width from other road vehicles (nor for that matter, a standard track width) that you could make a keying that would be only usable by the fire department, but still make everyone else go over the hump / table / bump.  There’d have to be enough variance that it would pretty much allow any vehicle to use the cutouts.
      It’s an interesting idea, but it would also help reduce one of the advantages of speed bumps / tables / humps in the first place: ease of installation and lifespan.

  • avatar

    If this memo is not phony, I’m disgusted. I should be sympathetic towards ACORN, but it sounds to me as if they are using speed bumps and other stuff as quick ways to show that they have muscle. The memo also makes them sound as if they want to cause trouble, rather than help people. And some of the other advice in the memo reinforces my opinion on that, including their pushing a “model curriculum” that emphasizes rote (rote kills kids’ curiosity fast!) and the bilingual education (great way to hold immigrants back, by making it so they don’t have to learn English, even though kids pick up new languages very quickly and easily–I know because I did that during a year in France, and watched classmates who came to France not speaking the language do the same).

  • avatar

    I should add that I have a vague personal connection to ACORN: one of my late parents’ dear friends was the mother of one of ACORN’s state political directors, and I knew the mother, although I never met her children.

  • avatar
    Mark out West

    It’s a secret plot by ACORN to get you johns to slow waaaaaayyyy down to properly eye their underaged streetwalk.., er, I mean independent contractors. 

  • avatar

    Generally, from what I’ve seen, speed bumps aren’t going to slow down the worst offenders, who could care less about a few nasty bumps. They just inconvenience everyone else.

  • avatar

    Wouldn’t that be traffic jamming instead of traffic calming???
    Sure, I’d like the idiot family down the street to quit using our 25 mph neighborhood street as a racetrack. Don’t think I want to ruin my suspension driving over those plastic bumps multiple times per day to slow them down.

  • avatar

    “According to a strategy memo obtained by Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.Com,”
    lolwhut. I’m sorry, but going to Breitbart to get information on a left-leaning group is like going to Focus on the Family to get an opinion on Harvey Milk. You’ve gotta be kidding me.

    • 0 avatar

      You have to go to Breitbart.  There does not appear to be anything factually false or misleading about the article, so what’s the big deal?

      Besides, do you really expect to read about this in the MSM?  No way, they weren’t going to report on the ACORN corruption until it blew up in their faces.  Then they had to…but even then, they really played it down.

      This is why old-line newspapers and television networks are laying people off.  They’re not serving us and we know it.  We go where we must to get our information.

      Rather than watch a 35 minute “puff” piece, I can get my 17 minutes of 11 o’clock news in about 10 minutes now on the web.  And I can get it in greater depth, too.  But only if I avoid the MSM sites.

  • avatar

    Everyone should take a minute to read the actual memo which is linked to at the bottom of the article above. The memo is much less menacing than the article makes it appear. The article contains significant spin that is not supported by the memo. Primarily, the memo contains nothing to suggest that traffic calming is simply a mechanism for strengthening ACORN. That interpretation (not even interpretation, really, just spin) is not fair and not supportable by the memo in question.

  • avatar

    If you read the memo, seems to me the ends don’t justify the means

  • avatar

    I’m in the camp that believes that ACORN started as a great idea, but quickly became what it is today – corrupt, bloated and a betrayal of what it’s intention was.
    Having said that, the PDF is from 2003.  This is 6.5 years old.  Any evidence of this crap going on now?

  • avatar

    +1 jkross, I thought the same thing myself. Are you so determined to find something negative to say about ACORN that you dig up some random memo from 2003? The harder you listen, the more you’re going to hear bad news.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    The least annoying way to go over a speed bump on my motorcycle … is to wheelie over it at 100+ km/h …
    Locally, there have been a lot of extra and unnecessary 4-way stops added at rural intersections with nearly no traffic. Perfect … an excuse to stoppie up to the stop sign and wheelie away from it. I wonder if the local residents who dreamed up this scheme thought about the extra noise from vehicles accelerating away from the stop, plus the extra fuel used, plus the extra brakes worn, etc. Roundabouts would have been a better solution. Make everyone slow down, but don’t force anyone to stop.

  • avatar

    Please don’t let a bunch of unelected busybodies force your municipalities to install sleeping police men. The UK is infested with the things and the number of road deaths is actually rising!
    Nobody can argue that it is better if people would drive slowly in built-up areas. However, there are statistics to show that speed bumps kill more people than they save due to ambulances and fire-engines being delayed responding to emergencies. Add this to the damage to tyres and suspension caused by speed bumps which could prevent you stopping or swerving in time if a child should step out in front of you.
    In this day and age, surely we can come up with smarter sequencing of traffic lights so if you go over the posted limit, you get an automatic red light at the next junction and if you are driving at or below the limit, the chances are that you get a green light. Failing that, roundabouts are also quite good.

  • avatar

    A “smoking-gun” memo from two-thousand-FRIGGIN-three?!!   Also a memo that deals with the importance of obtaining proper street lighting, the proper management of vacant lots, increasing police presence in minority/underserved neighborhoods to guard against various forms of unsafe driving, and other issues just as much as the speed bump issue ?!!!   =FAIL.

    Please cut this crap out IMMEDIATELY! I can get all the distorted, biased, and sensationalistic “news” I need from Fox, I don’t need this garbage from TTAC as well.

    Get it together, or do we want to rehash ALL of the epic failures of 2003? (Republicans lying us into the Iraq war, anyone?) Didn’t think so….

  • avatar

    dweezilb – Maybe people should just tell their kids not to play in the street. I get real tired of the “we have to make our streets safe for kids, bikes, power-walkers, puppy’s, crossing turtles” crowd. Roads are for cars.  In my particular State, despite an enormous investment in  side-walks and bike paths, no one bothers to use them. Instead it  they’d rather give me a dirty look as  I drive past them while they push their baby-stroller down the shoulder of a double-nickel  posted road.  Not surprising that ACORN is part of this crowd, it seems as though their organizational goal is to look out for those too stupid to look out for themselves.

  • avatar

    Maybe now that Farrago’s gone, it’s time to reconsider using The Newspaper as a valid source of information?

    • 0 avatar

      The time to reconsider The Newspaper as a source of valid information is when its articles or editorials prove to be factually incorrect. So far, that hasn’t happened yet.

  • avatar

    While I consider Acorn a political menace,  I can sympathize a little –  in many areas the police have abandoned routine traffic enforcement.  Yes, speed bumps are generally stupid and they wreck suspensions.  But on some city residential streets (especially in many northestern union-loving cities), reckless speed and rolling stops have been the norm for so long that the backlash (and support for speed bumps) is understandable.

    What I’d like to know is how do you plow a speed-bump street after a 6″ snowfall?
    Or are speed bumps another excuse for municipalities to not plow their roads?

    • 0 avatar

      The problem is that reckless speed is encouraged by the roadway design, which is often forced by the government zoning regulations.  You don’t need a 30′ roadway in a residential development, but they’re all over the place.  And that’s nice and wide for people to drive down.   Rolling stops are something that are partly taught by the overabundance of stop signs at locations they aren’t warranted.  People learn they aren’t warranted by actual traffic conditions, so they learn to roll through them.
      And your bring up another point about speed bumps: they aren’t friendly to plows.  Some are better than others, and some plows are designed to handle them, but not every plow, and not every installation.

  • avatar

    When you guys post an article on a 6 year old memo off a wingnut site for no apparent reason other than to stir up anger at Acorn and churn for political comments, I am forced to seriously think about removing TTAC from my links….

  • avatar

    Ya know… a police car with a real life cop in it seems to be the best deterrent for speeders ever made yet ACORN doesn’t seem to be clamoring for them. Wonder why? Maybe the fiscal conservatives in the organization *snicker* think that speed bumps would be more affordable for the tax paying public than (can’t finish that sentence. laughing too hard).

  • avatar

    TTAC bemoans politics in comments but relishes it in posts.

  • avatar

    Interesting how people “discover” the memo is from 2003, when it’s clearly labeled as such. And the story includes examples from 2004 and 2006 to show that the memo continued to be implemented.

    Why 2003? Because ACORN dumped a bunch of its material in the trash to avoid investigation. Perhaps you have more recent internal strategy memos from ACORN?

    The item is part of a series of memos that show ACORN’s focus is on membership-building. Frankly, that’s not surprising. Check out some of the other ones (which are not car related) and you’ll see that the story above captured exactly what the group was doing.

  • avatar
    70 Chevelle SS454

    I saw ACORN/SEIU in operation in Philly in 2004. My personal favorite was the large ACORN guy who punched a 19 year old girl in the face while blocking the entrance to her building. (She wasn’t even a campaign worker, just a girl trying to get to a different office in a large building.) Although, sending out “Republicans Against Bush” was classy, as well.

    I have absolutely no problem believing anything anyone says about ACORN. Having seen them in action, I can vouch for the fact that they are nothing but thugs.

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