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Letters 09-10-2008 

BEYOND THE PALIN

Gov. Sarah Palin: Like many other community organizers at various agencies across the city, county, state and nation, I work very hard for the underprivileged and impoverished people in my community. I work long hours in the Cleveland area in order to educate and involve the community toward ending poverty in this wonderful nation that I love, because, as I'm sure you would agree, the community itself can provide more help at a grassroots level than a government agency ever could. I often come home late and am too exhausted to do little more than cook dinner for myself and fall asleep in my studio apartment. I do not get overtime pay, but I always proudly work longer than the 40-hour work week I am paid for.

I get paid very little (less than a quarter of the $125,000 a governor of Alaska earns) to stand up for families facing legal and financial abuse from unscrupulous landlords, homeless people facing harassment from petty police and public officials, and children forgotten and neglected by a swamped and overly bureaucratic system. At the end of the day, powerful enemies throwing obstacles in my path outnumber friends struggling in the same battle I have been waging for years. Like you, I am not here to make friends but to serve my community and my country. What I do is hard, thankless work, and I do it because I know what I'm doing is good and right.

Therefore, I have to ask, what did I do to you that would make you ridicule and belittle my work, my passion and my career to an audience of millions across the nation? In your speech at to the 2008 Republican National Convention, you said that community organizers have no "actual responsibilities." You mocked my efforts, as well as the efforts of thousands across this nation who put their country first, ahead of even themselves, when you said, "This world of threats and danger, it's not just a community and it doesn't just need an organizer." You smiled as your audience laughed at everything I have dedicated my entire life to. I help people the entire country has given up on to fight the odds and climb out of poverty and stand on their own two feet. You laugh at that. I help people with disabilities and nowhere else to turn to find community resources that will empower them to find stable, affordable and livable housing. You laugh at that.

I go into schools and speak to children about homelessness, what it is and what its causes are. The children always ask what they can do to help, and I show them how, even at such a young age, they can serve their country and make an impact in the world. You laugh at that.

I have spent months fighting for just one client. She is a single mother living alone with her two children in a house missing windows and needing repairs. Every month, her landlord refuses to pay the water bill, and the water company threatens to shut off service. Every month, on a schedule I could set my watch to, I must jump through the exact same hoops, argue the exact same arguments and deal with the exact same obstacles in order to get the landlord to uphold his end of the lease and keep the pipes running in my client's home. You laugh at that.

I stood before the body of Anthony Waters, a homeless man beaten to death on the streets of Cleveland, and bowed my head in prayer. I tell his story to whomever I meet wherever I go so people won't forget his struggles and will realize the urgency of help needed now on our city's streets. You laugh at that.

You have insulted me and many others fighting the same fight in order to better serve our country. I am deeply offended and I don't understand what I have done to draw your ire. I am serving my country just like you. I am giving back to the great citizens of this nation just like you. Why are you attacking me? What have I done?

Joshua Kanary

Community organizer, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless

Cleveland We should all be honored to be in a position to witness one of the most historic races of our time; the first black presidential candidate and the youngest female vice presidential candidate. That being said, is it me or does the campaign trail suddenly resemble a scene from a B-movie? You know - the one where the plot is so obvious that you just want to turn it off? On paper, Sarah Palin is not even an "interesting" candidate, let alone a viable one. I understand the strategy: McCain is old, Palin is young; McCain is seen as static in his positions, Palin has dynamic views on energy conservation and budget policies; McCain needs someone conservative enough to hit his mark, Palin is a staunch "right-to-life" advocate (with a pregnant teen at home and a tear-jerking story of her own pregnancy); McCain needs the female vote, Palin is a woman.

One thing she isn't is Hillary Clinton, or even Sue Collins or Kay Bailey-Hutchinson. She has zero foreign policy experience, two years of lawmaking and budget experience and is a supporter of Obama's energy plan. Don't insult Hillary - or women, for that matter - by dressing up a ham sandwich and calling it steak. She's unique and rare, yes. But I for one like my politicians medium well, thank you.

Palin is the rabbit that was pulled out of the Republican Party's hat, but the rabbit has turned out to be a hamster. The only thing left to witness is whether or not the American public is bright enough to know the difference between a rabbit and a hamster. If history repeats itself, Obama may have a run for his money, but one thing's for sure, it's about to get interesting.

Wendy D. Anthony

Fairlawn

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