'Tell Me More' Stories Updated With Legal Drama

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"Tell Me More" host Michel Martin and Lee Hill, the program's "digital media guy," offer important updates to stories reported on the program, including the latest development in the drama surrounding The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and a major setback for a Philadelphia-area swim club accused of racism this summer after turning away black and Latino students because they would "change the complexion" of the club.


And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, or digital media guy, is here with me, as always. Hi, Lee. What's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, we've decided to switch things up a little bit this week in Backtalk, because there are a number of important updates to our reporting.

Well, for starters, we began the week talking about the big drama surrounding ACORN. That's the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The group came under very heavy scrutiny after some ACORN employees were secretly videotaped giving shady tax advice to a man and woman posing as a pimp and prostitute. That so-called pimp said he intended to operate a brothel staffed with under-aged, illegal Salvadoran immigrants.

MARTIN: Of course, those were actually - the filmmaker and the pretend prostitute were actually two conservative activists, and those encounters were then posted to the Web, where they touched off a firestorm. The biggest blow came last week, when Congress voted to pull the group's federal funding. And here's a clip from ACORN's CEO Bertha Lewis, who talked to us about her reaction to these tapes.

Ms. BERTHA LEWIS (Chief Executive Officer, ACORN): It was shock. It was outrage. It was disgust. I immediately terminated all those people that you saw in those tapes. Whatever they did was stupid, but it was indefensible. But be that as it may, in a way, I want to thank these folks, even though they committed an illegal act, because you can't tape someone without their knowledge in several states.

HILL: But Michel, Ms. Lewis' thankfulness only goes so far. On Wednesday, ACORN filed a lawsuit against James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, who were both behind the videotaping. ACORN says the sting operation, which involved two Baltimore employees, were taped without their consent in violation of Maryland law. The group seeks $1 million in damages and $500,000 for each employee.

MARTIN: And Lee, we have an update on another story we have covered. Back in June, you remember we reported on the Valley Club, a suburban Philadelphia swimming pool that was accused of turning away black and Latino children visiting from the Creative Steps Summer Day Camp because, a director said, and I quote, "They would change the complexion of the club."

Now that didn't sit well with the parents of those who were turned away, of course. It prompted an investigation into the Valley Club's decision. Well, this week, Lee, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission found that there was probable cause to indicate that racial discrimination played a role in the kids being kept from the pool.

The decision clears the way for lawsuits to proceed against the Valley Swim Club if the principals so choose.

HILL: And moving on, Tuesday we talked to TELL ME MORE money coach Alvin Hall about a recent Washington Post story reporting that American banks could take in a jarring $38 billion in overdraft fees this year.

Well, since our chat with Alvin, Michel, J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo, to name a few, have announced plans to change their policies. Both banks will no longer charge for accounts overdrawn $5 or less.

MARTIN: All right, Lee. Thank you for the updates.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And we do want to add there was lots of listener feedback to our stories this week. You can log on to our Web site to read the comments to my latest commentary, among other things. You can always tell us more by calling our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can go online, of course, to npr.org. Click on programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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