VETERANS FOR PEACE MEETING MINUTES
26 JANUARY 2006

This meeting was held in Portland with 23 members participating. The meeting was facilitated by Doug Rawlings. Meeting began at 7:11 pm.

All present introduced themselves. Doug encouraged everyone to participate.

As a 501(3) we are not and will not endorse political candidates. We may however discuss issues and candidates’ positions on those issues.

Doug announced that he has CD’s of the Stan Goff lecture at U-Maine Farmington.

Liberty News TV is looking for sponsors for local public access TV.

Review of December events.

  • 15 December—Occupied Senator Snowe’s office in Bangor. One hundred people at press conference. Nineteen people were arrested.


  • BIW advent vigils ended in December. Six to fourteen people attended each of the vigils.
January events:
  • 11 January 2006—Senator Snowe’s and Senator Collins’ offices in Portland were occupied for reading of the names. Seventy-five people participated in total. The goal is to have Senators Snowe and Collins hold town meetings about Iraq.
The Portland and Boston Phoenix newspapers have covered the reading of the names and frequent visitors program as conducted in Maine suggesting that this is a model that could be followed in the rest of the country.

Perry O’Brien requested information about the frequent visitor program and is planning an action at one of Hillary Clinton’s senatorial offices in New York.

A group in Massachusetts is talking about actions at Senator Kennedy’s and Senator Kerry’s offices as well.

December minutes approved.

Step on gas—important to focus withdrawal of troops in Iraq to home—not just over horizon—stop funding now. We need to be careful about recommendations like Rep Murtha’s: they’re a good start for conversation but not necessarily the solution that we’re seeking.

Upcoming:

  • Michaud town hall meeting Sunday in Belfast. 1-3 PM at Hutchinson Center.


  • Monday 6 February—O’Natural’s in Portland—10% of sales go to VFP.


  • Sat. 11 February—BIW launching of 51st Aegis Destroyer—9:30—11:00 a.m.


  • 22 February—Maine Greens sponsoring John Eider speaking about uncovering the whole truth about the war. VFP agreed to co-sponsor the informational session for community members.


  • Cost of War display is currently at the Freeport Library and the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick and will remain in each location until the end of January. A Cost of War display will be set up at the Portland Library for the month of February. Members are urged to contact their local libraries about hosting the Cost of War display.
Treasurer’s report:
  • The Maine Share distribution is in. We currently have $6,308 in the treasury. This puts us in good shape for the PTSD event in March.


  • The VFP contribution to Maine Share may go to $1000 annually from the current $500. It was suggested that Hildie Lipson come to speak about Maine Share at our next meeting. Agreed. VFP Maine receives about $6300 per year from Maine Share. It was noted that VFP was a founding group of Maine Share in the 1980’s.
Kate Harris of Greater Brunswick Peace Works requested a $100 donation to co-sponsor independent journalist Brian Conley’s presentation “In Their Own Words: Iraqi Perspectives on the Occupation” (which includes a video presentation) from 1-3pm at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. Approved.

Jack Bussell said that the Portland school board has rescinded their earlier statement allowing VFP presence, offering peaceful career opportunities in the local high schools when military recruiters are present. Jack responded with a letter on 25 January pointing out two legal cases pertaining to access to public schools. The cases are the Sercey cases from Atlanta, Georgia in 1987 and 1989. The membership agreed that if the Portland school district chose not to change their position, we will contact Maine Civil Liberties Union for assistance.

Legislator Bill Farrington has sponsored a bill in the legislature LD 1876 that opt out be placed on all emergency data cards. Tom Sturtevant and Jack Bussell testified before the committee. Membership urged to contact their representatives in support of LD1876.

There was discussion about some of the recruiters’ techniques including lying to potential recruits and giving medical advice (I.E. some young men were told to stop taking certain medication that would make them ineligible for military service. Doug stated this is another example of how VFP members could act as witnesses in the recruiting process of prospective recruits. Doug is going to draft a letter to editors on VFP letterhead about this situation.

Membership dues summary: Our September 2005 membership letter netted 80 members and $1110 in dues as well as $1250 in donations.

Bruce Gagnon reported that VFP has purchased 60 spots during Jan/Feb/ March on Air America—870 AM on your radio dial. The radio spots call for Senators Snowe and Collins to hold town meetings. The cost to VFP is $500.

The group Citizen Soldier has worked for years to provide legal assistance for veterans. They’ve sent around their annual request for funding assistance. Maine VFP Chapter 001 agreed to give them $100.00.

27 December: VFP sent a check for $250 to the Katahdin Center in Portland, Maine in the memory of Meg Perry, who died providing relief for Katrina victims. Meg was a member of the Free Space in Portland and worked alongside VFP members. Donation was used for protective equipment for volunteers in Louisiana.

There was a brief discussion about at what monetary level the board of directors could approve expenditures without approval from a membership meeting. It was agreed that the limit would be $250.

Winter of our Discontent campaign—3/15-3/19—activists will descend upon Washington DC and be present outside the White House with many fasting. Local actions are encouraged during this time frame. We will discuss this more on 23 February.

It was noted that the State of the Union address is coming up and asked if we wanted to do an organized protest. It was decided that each would do what they wished as individuals.

The PTSD conference: Tim, Michael, Don, John & Doug have been working on this. Scheduled for Sat. 25 March at the Senator Inn in Augusta from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Will cost about $5000. It was agreed that VFP would set aside about $2000 for this conference. It was stressed that the conference should be affordable for veterans and their families with a higher cost for professionals who may also receive CEU’s. A sliding scale was recommended. Lunch would be included. It was stressed that this should not be a politicized event. There was discussion of marketing. It was suggested that the National Association of Social Workers Maine Chapter be contacted. Note: As of this date (Feb 6th), much work has been done to get this conference going. Watch your VFP list-serve for more information.

VFP agreed to sponsor the Aserala dinner in support of Sudanese refugees on the 4th of March. VFP agreed unanimously to purchase a table for 8 VFP members to attend at a cost of $150.

VFP agreed to donate $50 to sponsor a conference at U-Maine Farmington 18 March entitled Sustainable Maine. This conference is initiated by Peace Action Maine. More information will be posted on our website and through our list-serve.

Michael Uhl spoke about the VFP sponsored march in March—a walk from Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans marking the start of the Iraq war. This will combine the issues of New Orleans and Iraq together. Anyone interested in participating contact Michael. The route is along the old Freedom Ride Route and is coordinated with various working local groups and communities. Will cover 135 miles in over 6 days. Participating are Iraq Veterans Against the War, VFP and the AFLCIO. It was noted that AFLCIO voted an anti-war resolution at their latest convention.

Dan reported on the Maine VFP web site. Asked if there were problems. Open to suggestions about content, design etc. Give him a call.

Stan suggested we have a contest for young people to design a web-site or a page on the web-site.

Tom displayed a VFP banner he made. He will make more. Very well done.

Arthur spoke about the article, “Preemptive War vs. Sanity” by Winkler, an article about Israel and Iran’s nuclear capability. It is thought that US would support Israel technologically with satellites, refueling, and counter-insurgency teams if Israel decides to attack Iran.

Next meeting 23 February in Augusta.


Adjourned 9:03 pm.



Address:
Maine Veterans For Peace
Chapter 001
13 Soper Road
Chesterville, Me 04938


e-mail:
rawlings@maine.edu


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