Wow. That seems like a low blow - a double insult to Sen. Obama and the community he served. So what did he do as a community organizer?
One report puts it this way: In 1985, he moved to Chicago to work with local churches organizing job training and other programs for poor and working-class residents of Altgeld Gardens, a public housing project where 5,300 African-Americans tried to survive amid shuttered steel mills, a nearby landfill, a putrid sewage treatment plant, and a pervasive feeling that the white establishment of Chicago would never give them a fair shake.1
In Sen. Obama's words: In theory, community organizing provides a way to merge various strategies for neighborhood empowerment. Organizing begins with the premise that (1) the problems facing inner-city communities do not result from a lack of effective solutions, but from a lack of power to implement these solutions; (2) that the only way for communities to build long-term power is by organizing people and money around a common vision; and (3) that a viable organization can only be achieved if a broadly based indigenous leadership — and not one or two charismatic leaders — can knit together the diverse interests of their local institutions.
This means bringing together churches, block clubs, parent groups and any other institutions in a given community to pay dues, hire organizers, conduct research, develop leadership, hold rallies and education campaigns, and begin drawing up plans on a whole range of issues — jobs, education, crime, etc. Once such a vehicle is formed, it holds the power to make politicians, agencies and corporations more responsive to community needs. Equally important, it enables people to break their crippling isolation from each other, to reshape their mutual values and expectations and rediscover the possibilities of acting collaboratively — the prerequisites of any successful self-help initiative.2
Obama served as a community organizer from ages 24-27 between 1985-1987. It sounds like he had "actual responsibilities" as a community organizer.
At that time, Palin wasn't mayor as she implied in her speech. She was finishing her undergraduate degree in journalism, getting married and working as a TV sportscaster.
1 Source: Kenneth T. Walsh, On the Streets of Chicago, a Candidate Comes of Age, 8/26/07, http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070826/3obama.htm
2 Source: http://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/2008/04/21/obama-the-community-organizer/, citing After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois (1990).