Veterans for Peace, Chapter
PRESENT: Bob Lezer, Kristina Wolff, Tim Blanchette,
Dan Ellis, Tom Sturtevant, Doug Rawlings, Art Whitman, Art Whitman’s
son, Bruce Gagnon, Rita Clement, Richard Clement, Peggy Akers, John
Wirtz, Victor Skorapa, Smitty Smith, Jim Nesbitt, and Naomi Nesbitt
April 26, 2007 Business Meeting
The meeting began at 7:00pm.
- The Secretary’s Report from the March 29, 2007 meeting was accepted
(Whitman moved, Rawlings seconded) after this amendment: Peggy Akers
was not mentioned as a new Board member. Minutes have been changed to
correct that omission.
- The Treasurer’s Report: Tim Blanchette, our new treasurer, reported
that the transition from Art’s operation to his is going smoothly and
rapidly. $8,000 was transferred to TD Bank North in Falmouth from the
Auburn account. Expenditures of late include $50 to the Working Village
(Rosalie Tyler-Paul request) and $250 pending to USM to reserve the
space for our upcoming PTSD Symposium. Receipts from the Calendar pre-order
sales are not in our account yet. We’re showing a balance of $7,740
to date. The treasurer’s report was accepted (Gagnon moved, Wolff seconded)
- The PTSD Symposium: We decided to switch the venue from the Portland
Library to the Abromson Center at USM to allow for better hours, to
open up more space for expected attendance and to better accommodate
the demand for lunch. Application letters have been sent via e-mail
to a number of different list-serves; sponsor requests have been sent
out to a number of sponsors from last year’s symposium; a brochure is
in design stage (Dan and Doug put together a first draft – Peggy, Kristina,
and John are working on revising the brochure in anticipation of printing
up 500 copies early next week); posters are under consideration; John
Wirtz will design and distribute press releases to all major media outlets;
it was recommended that op ed pieces be written over the next month
to keep the symposium in the papers (Bruce suggested that we approach
Bill Nemetz from the Portland Press Herald to run a feature on the event);
Kristina recommended that we also approach journalists and social workers
who have been impacted by working in war zones; Doug estimates that
symposium could cost us around $10,000 (last year’s cost us $6,000 but
we raised $8000 to more than cover expenses). It is absolutely crucial
that all members get the word out about this symposium – from putting
out brochures to posting flyers to calling friends to circulating information
via list -serves. It looks like the USM Sociology Department may co-sponsor
the event, which would substantially cut down on costs for reserving
the space. For more information about the symposium, go to our website
- The Calendar Project: Dan Ellis presented the final version of the
calendar that he’ll be taking to the printers. All present agreed that
it is a fantastic accomplishment and Dan and Kristina are to be thanked
for their work. Since a gracious donor agreed to provide $1,000 as seed
money and almost $750 has been raised so far in pre-order sales, we
agreed to go forward with printing 750 copies of the calendar (at a
cost of $4,028 ) – moved by Gagnon, seconded by Akers. We’re confident
that sales will more than recoup our expenses – again, members are encouraged
to buy the calendars ($15 each), encourage friends to do the same, and
help us get copies out to your local bookstores. Tom Sturtevant will
get us the names of state high school teachers that we can send free
copies to. We formally thanked Dan and Kristina for their work and especially
thanked Rob Shetterly for his graciousness in allowing us to use his
portraits. Victor suggested that we advertise the calendars in various
periodicals (UU Journal for example). Please note that we still have
the pre-order possibility open to all comers: order a copy of the calendar
now, and we’ll send it to you with no charge for postage (offer available
through July 1st) – see our website for more details. Kristina is handling
all sales of the calendars and is sending out postcards as thank you
notes. She is also keeping records on an excel spreadsheet to keep the
records straight. Jim suggested that we emphasize the fact that in a
world seemingly devoid of heroes that we have here a collection of real
heroes. Victor came up with the brilliant suggestion that we send the
calendars to people whose portraits are used or their families or there
estates. Finally, Doug has applied for two grants to cover the costs
of the calendar (one from RESIST and one from the A.J. Muste Foundation).
- Arlington East: After much discussion about the work involved to create
1,000 crosses and have them ready and up by mid-July, we agreed, on
Bruce’s suggestion, that we postpone the project until this fall or,
perhaps, next spring. John Wirtz has done much work in getting the proper
paperwork taken care of for the Portland site (on the Promenade overlooking
Rte 295) and is to be commended for keeping a positive relationship
with the city during the process. Bob Lezer had worked up a specs sheet
for putting together 1,000 crosses (cost about $850 not including labor)
out of ¾” plywood. It’s a doable job, we agreed, but a bit too daunting
for this summer given our other projects. We discussed the possibility
of obtaining the 800 crosses from the Albany Chapter for us during the
August 25th demonstration in Kennebunkport – they have been carried
by people in previous SOA marches. Bob suggested getting a van and going
to get them in August. John will speak to Ted Musgrave, the Portland
City employee, about our change in plans. We have to give the city a
30 day notice before we go forward with the project.
- GI Rights Hotline: Doug has spoken at length with the person in Cambridge,
MA responsible for training volunteers in our region. He was very enthusiastic
about having Maine involved in the hotline since the current hotline
volunteers have been inundated with requests over the past few years.
Training would involve an intensive weekend (the trainers would come
to Maine) followed by 14 weekly training sessions. Realistically speaking,
we’re looking at a six month training period before “going live.” We
would need at least 6 people committed to the project to pull it off.
Doug suggested that we use a cell phone as our contact number and have
a rotating contact list to handle calls. Financial commitment for the
project is low – probably about $100 in supplies (not counting the phone)
and money to cover the costs of the training sessions. The good news
is that an elaborate and well-informed network of veteran volunteers,
doctors, and lawyers is available for help. Again, the voice of reason
was raised, and we agreed that this is too much of a project to undertake
this summer, but we’d like to continue pursuing the option if enough
members are interested.
- August 25th Kennebunkport Event: Bruce and Doug have been in constant
contact with Jamilla, the event organizer. She has managed to get commitments
from Cindy Sheehan, Dennis Kucinich, Joan Baez, Ann Wright, and a host
of VFP chapter members from around New England. This looks like it’s
going to be a big deal (watch our website for more details). Bruce is
in charge of the march and will be looking for a team of peacekeepers
from our VFP chapters. He envisions veterans leading the march to the
compound. Stay tuned for further developments.
- May 19th demonstration at BIW against another Aegis launching (the
USS Stennis) from 9:30am to 1:30pm. We should be there dressed in black
There’s a possibility that a Canadian film crew will be there. We need
to make our presence known. Keep an eye on our website for more information.
- May 20th: African Heritage Center at Bonney Hall on USM campus: we
agreed to pay $25 to have an information table available staffed by
Bob Lezer and Victor Skorapa and anyone else who wants to help out.
Call Bob for more information.
- May 28th: Memorial Day Parade in Brunswick. We still have not received
word from the parade organizers about our application. Assume that we’ll
be in it. We will use Richard’s crosses as our parade float along with
the large banner about the costs of war. We agreed to provide Richard
with $100 for expenses (Rawlings moved, Akers seconded).
- August 15th – August 19th: VFP National Convention in St. Louis. All
members are urged to attend if possible. See our website for more information.
We agreed to pay for all of Bob’s expenses to attend the convention
(Gagnon moved, Wolff seconded). This would be a great place to sell
- September 15th and 16th: Demonstration against the Blue Angels at
the Brunswick Naval Base. As we did last time, Bruce will take on organizing
the march and Mary Beth Sullivan will organize the vigil. We will use
the same theme as last time: “Real Angels Don’t Drop Bombs.” Jim Nesbitt
raised some questions about targeting Navy pilots during the demonstration;
we agreed that militarism, not the pilots, is the real object of our
disdain. A committee has formed to prepare for the demonstration: Bruce,
Tom, Doug, Bob, and Jim.
- September 21st to 23rd: Common Ground Fair. We have reserved a double-table
space as we did last year. Bob will be there the entire time of the
fair. Other members are encouraged to come and help staff the tables.
We did not agree on a theme for our table, but will consider it at our
next meeting. It was suggested that we devote an entire table to sales:
the calendar, Rob’s postcards, the ASDDICTED TO WAR book, etc.
- Impeachment Movement: Bruce read a statement from Dud about the progress
of the movement. So far over 9,000 signatures have been gathered although
there will be a need to glean out duplicates, so they’re looking to
gather 12,000 total. If you haven’t signed on, contact Dud. The Maine
Lawyers for Democracy have endorsed the petition. There’ll be major
events in Bangor and Portland this weekend to gather even more signatures.
Maine VFP’s ex-treasurer Art Whitman has been handling the finances
of the campaign.
- Bruce Gagnon discussed his interpretation of the recent Democratic
Party maneuverings through Tom Andrews and his Win Without War group.
Bruce sees it as a way to undercut more serious anti-war groups like
VFP and our local actions. Bruce thinks that the latest Dem bill to
call for withdrawals really provides Bush cover to continue the war
and the Dems over as well, to keep the war going up to the 2008 elections.
- Bob Lezer handed out the new VFP letterhead and provided members with
cards of the new officers and their e-mail addresses. Art suggested
that we start calling ourselves the Captain William Ladd Chapter and
to have that name on the letterhead. Tom suggested that we put a statement
on the letterhead that we’re using recycled paper.
- Bob suggested that we begin a Legal Defense Fund to help out members
who, through actions on behalf of VFP or in the cause of peace as VFP
members, have incurred some legal expenses. Art moved that we set up
a committee to develop protocols to be followed and to develop a means
to maintain and administer the fund (Wolff seconded). Art, Bob, and
Doug will serve on the committee. We’ll also ask Seth Bernier for assistance.
We agreed that the guidelines and protocol should be completed quickly
and that we begin solicitation of funds from members as soon as possible.
- We discussed bringing in an external auditor to help with the transition
of officers. Tim and Art suggested that an internal audit would suffice.
We’ll continue discussing the issue at a later meeting, but we were
all satisfied with that decision.
- Art announced that he still has VFP merchandise for sale.
- Art recommended that we give Hersch Sternlieb a VFP hat in recognition
of his generous support of our chapter.
- Much thanks to Bruce, Mary Beth, and Karen for the use of their home
for our meeting.
NEXT MEETING: MAY 24TH IN AUGUSTA
Maine Veterans For Peace
8 Apple Ridge Road
Freeport, Maine 04032-6523