Veterans for PeacePRESENT: Dan Ellis, Bruce Gagnon, Clarence Smith, Jack Bussell, Waylon Holbrook, Pete Cavanaugh, Michael Uhl, Kristina Wolff, Peggy Akers, Tim Blanchette, Robin Spencer, Tom Sturtevant, Richard Clement, Rita Clement, Susan Connery, Stan Lofchie, and Doug Rawlings Guests: Danny Muller and Peter Hassapelis
William Ladd Chapter 001
Minutes from Business Meeting
July 24, 2008
Meg Perry Center
The meeting began at 7:00 pm.
Danny Muller gave us a brief summary of the Meg Perry Center’s offerings and the Maine Peace Action group’s recent actions. Danny pointed out the center’s lending library and the various outreach activities that are initiated through the center. He mentioned that the center is looking forward to adopting a “coop” model, with various groups using the space. He then focused on his main reason for being at the meeting: promoting the Ban the Cluster Bombs campaign. According to Danny, Maine is the first state in the nation to have all senators and representatives on board to ban cluster bombs. He envisions a national campaign that is modeled after Maine’s, using veterans’ input to convince senators and representatives to sign on to HR 1755 or S 594. He asked for our individual support and our chapter’s support (perhaps focusing on General Dynamics in Saco for political action). He finally discussed the counter-recruitment organizing guide that will be available on the Maine P&J website (everything on the site is “copyleft,” i.e. available for citizens to use). If anyone is interested in working on the Cluster Bombs campaign, please contact Danny at the Meg Perry Center in Portland.
The June 2008 Minutes were accepted as presented on-line (Rawlings motion; Wolff second).
Treasurer’s Report: Tim reported an operating fund balance as of July 21st of $6442.61. Expenses for the past month totaled $5039 (including donations from the chapter to various causes [No More Victims project and Maine Fair Trade], payment for website work, assistance for members to attend the national convention, payment to USM for the PTSD Symposium, and the MOGFA ad for the coming Common Ground Fair). Income totaled $2300 (membership dues, donations, and symposium registrations). The legal defense fund is holding at $1730 with no activity this past month, and the 2010 convention account is holding at $2000 with no activity this past month.
Tim then discussed his recent hassles with the IRS on our behalf. This was the first year that non-profits had to fill out a 990 form if they took in over $25,000. We took in $25,900. Tim did the paper work (with H & R Block assistance) and filed the report in December. Unfortunately, the national VFP organization has changed our fiscal year, so the 990 was filed late, and we are being charged a $1700 penalty by the IRS. Tim is trying to get a “release” from this penalty. To add to the confusion, there are apparently two EIN numbers associated with our chapter – one is the national number and the other is the individual chapter number. So Tim is also working on clearing up that confusion as well. Dud acknowledged (and we concurred) that Tim is doing yeoman’s work on this accounting snarl for us.
Membership Report: Dan Ellis reported that we have 180 members to date (with a couple of July renewals and one new member signing up). 131 of these members are fully paid up. Dan sends out membership renewal letters on a monthly basis via snail mail, based on when the particular member signed up, to remind us all when to pay our dues.
MaineShare: Tom reported that MaineShare is holding a bike ride on August 19th from the Augusta Arboretum to Gardiner and back (about 15 miles). This replaces the annual Hike and Bike traditionally held in Freeport. We will be celebrating MaineShare’s 25th anniversary next year. If you want to support Tom’s efforts for MaineShare on the 19th of August, please send a check to Tom (16 Beale Street, Winthrop, ME 04364) and make the check out to MaineShare. Tom also pointed out that we, VFP Maine, as a member of MaineShare have an obligation to contribute work hours to the organization. Every time we provide the MaineShare logo at our events (or on our publications and website), we receive two “work credit hours.”
2010 Convention Update: Jack Bussell led a contingent of VFP members (the Convention Committee – Jack, Dud, Michael, Kristina, Dan, and Doug – Bob Lezer was not able to make the trip) to the Eastland Hotel and the UNE campus in Biddeford this afternoon (July 24th) to determine suitability of the sites for the national convention. Although both sites had its merits, we were mostly concerned about the difficulty of traveling from the Portland Airport to the UNE site. We decided that the Eastland Hotel would be the site for the convention. A contract needs to be worked out with a back-up hotel lined up for possible overflow. Dan Ellis pointed out the committee’s thoughts about the Eastland: although we were initially concerned about the room prices (about $150 per room per night, we noted that double occupancy would make many rooms affordable at $75 per member), we agreed that the hotel’s central location in Portland, its “posh” environment (after all, we are celebrating the organization’s 25th anniversary), and the layout of the rooms for convention purposes all lend themselves to making this locale the obvious site for our convention. Now we need to begin work on the nitty-gritty: lining up speakers, setting up off-site activities (a lobster bake on Peaks Island?), finalizing the contract with the Eastland Hotel, etc. Michael, Kristina, and Dud will talk to convention leaders at this year’s national convention in Minnesota next month to get a sense of what needs to be done. Dud thanked Jack for leading us so far in this endeavor. The van we rented for today’s excursion cost us $150.00.
2009 PTSD Symposium: Michael Uhl updated us on the next PTSD Symposium’s status. Doug contacted Dr. Judith Herman, and she has agreed to be our keynote speaker on June 6, 2009. He’ll firm that up with her shortly. We (the planning committee) met up with Tim Blanchette this afternoon to view a possible new site for the symposium (the Maine medical Center). Our only objection to the space (very nice auditorium and very good adjoining classrooms for workshops) was the lack of space for “milling about” between sessions. The USM Abromson Center space is much more accommodating for that. Of course the Maine Medical Center is potentially a free space as opposed to the $1,000 it costs us to use the Abramson Center. The expense difference would be greatly mitigated with Herman’s presence (she’ll draw a crowd of health professionals and, therefore, our registration income) and with better and more expanded pre-conference marketing. Michael has enlisted the help of Don Harden to get to the Adult Mental Health professionals. The committee will begin work on the format of the conference and will decide soon on the space (the Luther Bonney Auditorium is also under consideration). Since reservations for events like these are usually done well in advance.
National Convention 2008: Dud and Michael will be presenting a workshop on the “No Bases Movement.” They will be asking the national to make a commitment for a national conference to be held next February in Washington, DC. Dud and Michael will be working with Bruce to coordinate the concerns for economic conversion of military installations to more peaceful production with the base closing movement. Bruce emphasized the importance of our work in the mid-coast Maine region with economic conversion (in particular, BIW). All three see the work here in Maine as a potential model for a national effort. In fact, Dud would like us to consider this action as a “signature project” for VFP. Dud then referenced his latest trip to London, England in support of the Diego Garcia islanders as an example of the work that could be done. In preparation for the national VFP convention, Dud, Bruce, and Michael (with Dan’s assistance) have put together a six-panel brochure highlighting some case studies and our chapter’s conversion model. They requested financial assistance to help get the brochures ready for the convention in August. Doug moved and Smitty seconded a donation of $100 toward printing 500 black and white copies of the brochure for the convention. Approved.
Common Ground Fair 2008: Tom asked for some assistance at the Fair (September 18th through 20th). A sheet was passed around for sign-up. Anyone interested in participating at the fair should contact Tom Sturtevant. We discussed a possible theme for the table: “No Bases”? Kristina has a copy of a new book on Rachel Corrie to be raffled off; “Conversion”? “Full Disclosure”? We agreed that material for all of these issues should be provided. Kristina agreed to make charts about conversion and Dud agreed to gather material about the “No Bases” issue. Richard pointed out that Bob Lezer is the contact person for the fair, and he has material for the table. Doug pointed out that buttons and bumper stickers should be purchased soon since they’re popular at the fair (and help us defray the costs). Bob Lezer should order more material; Stan can get material run off for 5 cents a page, so he should be contacted.
Guest Participation: Peter Hassapelis asked to speak to our “weak” membership situation. He rebuked us for not getting more Maine veterans involved in VFP and encouraged us to contact local VFW and American Legion halls. He informed us that we weren’t very well organized and then left.
WERU Fair: The fair will take place this coming weekend (26th and 27th). Dud will be there along with Richard and Bob.
Brunswick Peace Fair: Saturday, August 2nd. Dan, Richard, Tom, Robin, Stan, and Bob will be there to staff the table. Bob and Richard will bring the usual VFP material. Doug will mail material from the PTSD Symposium to Stan for duplication.
Blue Angels and BIW “Christening” Discussion: Should we do both (The Angels arrive on the 6th of September and the christening takes place on the 18th of October). After some discussion, we agreed to do both. Bruce’s committee will begin planning for the events. Jack moved that the chapter devote $500 to prepare for both events. Stan seconded. Approved.
Maine VFP calendar: We decided not to produce a Rob Shetterly calendar for 2009 but will plan on producing one for 2010 in conjunction with our hosting of the national convention.
Gerry Oleson’s Resolution: Gerry wants the national to make a grammatical correction in the mission statement. Although we agree that Gerry is right and we do see the necessity of making the change, we decided not to go forward with the proposal of introducing a resolution to this effect. We thought that this matter does not warrant the time in such a forum (although we will work to just have the national officers make the change).
Possible Donation of Land to Maine VFP: Dud asked us to consider the possible donation of 40 acres of land in Brooksville to our chapter. Rae Asbury has kindly offered the land as a possible retreat for veterans. There are all kinds of possibilities to consider with this offer (including insurance considerations and legal title), so we asked Dud to continue pursuing the matter. Perhaps we could hold a “mini-retreat” at the site this fall to get a better idea of the offer’s possibility. We thanked Ms Asbury for her generosity and Dud for his work on this project.
Iran Attack: If the United States government goes forward with an attack on Iran (or an armed embargo), then members of the chapter are committed to demonstrations in Portland (and possible civil disobedience) within 24 hours of the action.
Kristina Wolff is presenting a paper next weekend at the national Sociologists’ Convention on the Junior ROTC program. More will be forthcoming.
Waylon Holbrook asked us to consider a project that would involve disabled Afghan and Iraq War veterans. The project would involve conservation work in Maine (similar to the CCC work of the 30”s). Michael informed us that Jay Alexander, a VFP member in Florida, has been working on a similar project and encouraged Waylon to get in touch with him. We recommended that Waylon write up a proposal to be circulated through our VFP list-serve. His idea was met with enthusiasm – it’s a good one that could be explored further. In fact, Tom came up with a brilliant idea: why not go with this idea and Rae Asbury’s proposal? Anyways, stay tuned.
Duid Hendrick closed the meeting with a request for funds to help Peace Action Maine in our appreciation of their efforts and our thanks for using their space. Peggy moved that we donate $200 to the Meg Perry Center; Kristina seconded. Approved.
The meeting closed at 9:07 pm.
NEXT MEETING: SEPTEMBER 25, 7:00PM, AT THE CURTIS LIBRARY IN BRUNSWICK, MAINE