Veterans for PeacePRESENT: Dud Hendrick, Kristina Wolff, Tim Blanchette, Doug Rawlings, Dan Ellis, Victor Skorapa, Bruce Gagnon, Tom Sturtevant, Rita Clement, Clarence Smith, Herb Hoffman, Jack Bussell, Richard Clement, Bob Lezer, Michael Uhl, and Rob Pfeiffer
William Ladd Chapter 001
Minutes from Business Meeting
March 26, 2009
Augusta City Center
The meeting began at 7:00pm.
Dud began the meeting with what he hopes will become standard fare – someone reading a passage from a text that has been especially meaningful to him or her. Dud began by reading from Jay Janson’s op ed piece entitled “Suffering PTSD for Having Killed Them in Their Country.”
The minutes from the business meeting of January24, 2009 were accepted as written (Bussell motion, Lezer second).
TREASURER’S REPORT: Current balance for our operating funds is $6408.05. Our Legal Defense fund stands at $1730 and our 2010 Convention Account stands at $4500. All accounts total: $12,638.05. Expenses for the month were small: $146.60 ($33 for postage; $88 for the web site’s calendar wiz [annual fee]; and $25 to the Secretary of State). Income was a bit better: $565.00 ($360 in membership fees and $205 in donations). Tim reported that since our economic activity for the last fiscal year fell under $25,000 we did not have to file a 990 like we filed the previous year. So this year’s tax report is in and accepted. Jack moved and Smitty seconded that the treasurer’s report be accepted. Tom asked that a budget be sent to MaineShare.
Dud pointed out that we haven’t yet received the bill for the Chewonki January retreat, so he will pursue that and get it paid off earlier this year.
Tim updated us on the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the Chapter Name. Apparently, when we changed our name to the William Ladd chapter, the national’s name “automatically” changed as well. That caused the folks in St. Louis to grumble. Tim and John Branson, an attorney who has graciously volunteered to help us out pro bono, have been working with the national to get this straightened out. Unfortunately, in the process we may have lost our incorporation status. Now confusion stepped in: what happens if we’re not incorporated? Can we stay with MaineShare? Who knows if we are incorporated or not? Can John Branson help us out? As the discussion continued, many of us recognized the urgency of the moment since we may have inadvertently jeopardized our 501c3 status. Dud finally suggested that he, Bruce, Tim and Jack ought to straighten this out via a conference call, while we recommend that Michael contact Ken Mayer, the national treasurer, to get their perspective on this. This ended the finance report.
MEMBERSHIP REPORT: The chapter currently has 181 members (150 veterans and 31 associate members). 115 members are paid up in their dues.
Herb Hoffman mentioned that as he campaigned throughout the year that he readily acknowledged his membership in VFP. This was almost uniformly (pun intended) positively regarded.
Tom asked if he could hang a MaineShare banner at the April 3rd town hall meeting. We all agreed that that would be a good idea.
Bob Lezer brought our attention to the BIW petition drive he’s involved in to convince BIW to build windmills for placement in the Gulf of Maine. On Saturday, April 11th, he’ll be at Shaw’s in Brunswick seeking signatures. He handed out petitions for the rest of us to distribute in our areas. He reported that there has been lots of interest in this project, with some at BIW advocating for it as well.
PTSD SYMPOSIUM: Michael reported that we should put the planning and creation of the brochure on a deadline and that we need to divide up the tasks for the symposium immediately. We need to set up our fee structure and begin work on publicity. Michael is very impressed with the work of our keynote speaker, Dr. Judith Herman, and announced that pre-registrations are already coming in for the symposium. Doug volunteered to contact Don Harden about two issues – possible state funding for the symposium and obtaining his list of contacts. Finally, we agreed that this work should be taken care of by the PTSD Symposium committee (Michael, Dud, Doug, Kristina, Rob, and Dan). Doug will set up a committee list serve to get things going on the project.
Rob Pfeiffer reported that his daughter had contacted singer songwriter Nancy Griffith about possibly giving a concert on June 5th, the Friday evening prior to the symposium. Rob found that the Abramson Center at USM was available for the concert. After much discussion about possible costs (she usually charges $8,000 to $10,000 for her concerts) and possible risks, we agreed to have Rob contact Griffith and propose a $2,000 guaranteed take, with an increased amount after expenses have been met by us (in other words, we are looking to break even with this – more of a “friend raiser” than a fundraiser). If she agrees to these terms, then we would work with Sarah Pfeiffer on marketing and a committee from our chapter (Rob, Dan, and Doug et al). Motion: Bruce moved that we give permission to Rob Pfeiffer to contact Nancy Griffith under the terms outlined above. Herb seconded it. One member opposed, one abstained, and fourteen voted yes.
Rob Pfeiffer passed out his “Veterans Helping Veterans” brochures to announce that he is now “open for business.” He and three practioners will present a workshop on “Therapeutic Opportunities for Veterans Who Want to Heal” at the next symposium. They will focus on options to traditional treatments: group and individual counseling; EMDR and EFT; various types of bodywork including acupuncture, Jin Shin Jyutsu, massage, and more. Rob’s services will be available to veterans and their loved ones on a sliding fee scale, with some treatments being offered free.
Michael passed out pre-brochure announcements about the PTSD symposium that he has circulated at various PTSD workshops he has attended. We’ll distribute this information at our table on April 3rd at the Portland Town Hall Meeting as well as other places around the state. Members are encouraged to get the word out.
2010 CONVENTION: Jack reported that he has been busy lining up possible speakers as well as musicians. Some speakers to consider: Seymour Hersch, James Carroll, Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, Barbara Ehrenreich. Discussion ensued about the national’s role in all of this. We agreed that Michael will contact the national to discuss the protocol for setting up the agenda; Jack will continue working on the agenda with the 2010 Committee, designing our “wishlist” for speakers and musicians. Doug will contact Jerry Genesio to firm up his commitment to the convention. Jack has lined up Amtrack to offer special rates for convention attendees traveling from Boston to Portland (he’s even seeing if they’ll re-name the train “the Peace Train” for this event). Jack will attend this year’s convention in Baltimore to speak about our 2010 plans.
WEBSITE AND NEW BROCHURES: Dan told us that our server company (GEARHOST) provides us with a daily accounting of website “hits.” Recently, our website received 85 contacts during the last week (the most accessed page was our Afghanistan page (19 hits), followed by our ever-popular minutes page (12 hits). Dud remarked that this is a good indicator of the enthusiasm our website can generate and urged members to send Dan calendar dates; Rob suggested that his brochure and project should be highlighted on the website as well; Bruce will send along the on-line petition for the BIW conversion project; Herb reminded us that it’s a good tool for recruiting members as well (there is a membership form on-line); Richard suggested that we put a box on the site and on other forms that asks people how they found out about VFP.
Dan then passed out the new brochure, seeking more comments on content and form. We agreed that it’s much improved. He’ll send it out via the list-serve for a final round of comments before putting the brochure out to the printers. All suggested comments must be in to Dan before April 1st.
Doug moved (and Jack seconded) that Dan Ellis be given an annual retainer of $1,000 for his work on the website and the brochures. Discussion: Dud reminded us that Dan is a professional designer who does work for VFP “on the side.” The least we could do is pay him a token amount as an indication of our appreciation. Kristina recommended that we make the annual payment date April 1st of each year. Motion passed unanimously.
BRING THE GUARD HOME PROJECT: Tom Sturtevant reported that all of his good efforts resulted in naught for this current legislative term. He is undaunted, however, and will continue to press for this project in the next legislative session. We need to have at least one of our representatives enter the bill into committee for consideration. To that end, Tom asked us to contact our local representatives; to write op ed pieces in the fall; and to have the legislation ready and to the legislature in late November and early December. Tom will continue working on this issue.
NO BASES CONFERENCE: Bruce announced that over 200 people attended the conference, from 12 different countries. He thinks it was a good event with much possibility for follow-up. Dud praised both Bruce and Michael for their good work at the conference. Michael emphasized that Barney Frank’s proposal to cut the military budget by 25% is worth pursuing in this light (even though Maine’s representatives pretty much discounted the proposal). Our movement here to reallocate funds from the military to social programs would work nicely alongside Frank’s proposal. Unfortunately, Michael got the impression from Pingree and Michaud that the military budget is “sacrosanct.” That means we in Maine have to keep up our efforts to educate the public on the need to close down both foreign bases and domestic bases.
TOWN HALL MEETING APRIL 3RD PORTLAND: Bruce reminded us again to get the word out about the April 3rd Town Hall Meeting at the Abramson Center this coming Friday (April 3rd). This is an opportunity for Maine citizens to learn about the connections between the economy, healthcare, and militarism. He reminded us that cutting the military budget and re-directing funds to social services is a proposal that everyone at this meeting should hear again and again. VFP will have a table at the meeting (members wishing to help Tom Sturtevant staff the table should be at the Abramson Center at 5:00pm). Doors will open at 5:30pm and the meeting will begin at 6:30pm. VFP members are encouraged to attend and let their voices be heard.
SACO DEFENSE ACTION: Jack and Smitty reported that there were nine people at the protest. They both think it was a good demonstration that should be repeated on a regular basis. If we’re going to continue targeting BIW, we should also consider the Saco Defense Plant as well (a General Dynamics operation). We should make this an on-going VFP action.
FUNDRAISING: Dud wants us to continue the work begun at the retreat to initiate various fundraising activities. He mentioned that honorary member Rob Shetterly has volunteered his house for a fundraising house party; Michael has contacted the film director John Sayles as a possible “luminary” to feature at a party. Rob Pfeiffer has contacted a couple of local metalworkers who would be willing to design and produce brass grave markers. They just need a mold to cast. Other ideas for fundraising are welcome (just send them to Doug Rawlings at email@example.com).
POSITION STATEMENTS: Dud reminded us that at the retreat we agreed to assign a cadre amongst us to write up topical and quick press releases when world events dictate a response from us (the latest Israeli attack on the Gaza, for example). We agreed that we need a committee that will quickly confer about a proper response, draft one, and get it out to the press on a timely basis. Dud asked the chapter to give such a committee its blessing. The committee would consist of Dud, Herb, Jack, Doug, and Bruce. Kristina moved (Michael second) that a committee from our chapter be empowered to issue press releases on the chapter’s behalf. The motion passed unanimously.
OTHER BUSINESS: Dud reported that he and Bruce presented a workshop at the Bangor Peace and Justice event entitled “The Age of Obama.” Jack moved (Bob Lezer second) that the chapter donate $50.00 in support of the P&J Center’s work. Motion passed unanimously.
Dud asked if we would support a visit to Maine of James Yee, the chaplain at QUANTANAMO who represented the rights of various detainees. We agreed to support his visit.
Doug asked if we’d be willing to support a visit in this fall of Father Roy Bourgeois, the foremost critic of the School of the Americas. VFP member Bill Slavick is arranging for Father Bourgeois to visit Maine this coming September. He’d probably be visiting a number of college campuses. Doug asked for support in principle (with a monetary amount to be considered later). We agreed to do so. Note: in a conversation subsequent to the meeting, Bill Slavick indicated that perhaps a $300 to $500 commitment would go a long way toward providing Father Bourgeois the support he needs.
We agreed that we would continue with our presence in the Brunswick memorial Day parade and the Portland Veterans’ Day Parade. Jack will continue to keep us informed of these events.
We agreed to buy a quarter page ad in the annual Peace Action Maine newsletter for $120.00. Bruce moved (Kristina second) that $120 be provided for an ad that reads: CREATE JOBS IN MAINE/CONVERT BIW AND SACO DEFENSE/VETERANS FOR PEACE with our website address and e-mail address attached. Motion passed unanimously.
VFP Chapter 3 will be at the Hope Festival again this April. Richard and Rita Clement will be there representing our chapter.
Herb Hoffman distributed a statement endorsing HR 676 that would include wording to benefit veterans (it’s a proposal for a single-payer health care plan). Herb’s amendment would specifically state that coverage for veterans would begin immediately with the implementation of the Act. The final statement in Herb’s proposal reads: “I urge that Veterans for Peace endorse H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act with the recommendation that veterans be covered beginning with the Act’s implementation.” Herb moved that we accept this wording (Smitty second). The motion passed unanimously. Kristina suggested that the act and Herb’s recommendation be placed on our website. We agreed. Tom mentioned that there will be a state-wide rally on May 30th to support this Act.
Richard and Rita Clement were in Washington, DC at the March, representing VFP.
Dud reminded us of IVAW member (and VFP member) Perry O’Brien’s new book AFTER GANDHI (see his website annesibley.com)
Doug mentioned that VFP member Herb Hoffman incurred substantial legal costs while working on Maine citizens’ behalf as he battled the state and the Democratic Party during the last election cycle. Doug believes that Herb’s fight for our rights (and his subsequent legal costs) fall under the purview of our chapter, not as a political candidate but as a fellow citizen and VFP member. Therefore, Doug moved that we take $500 from our chapter’s legal defense fund to help Herb defray his costs. Bruce second. Motion passed unanimously.
VFP members Bruce Gagnon, Mary Beth Sullivan, and Tom Sturtevant will be in Korea on April 13th speaking out against our nation’s “occupation” of their country. As a Korean War veteran, Tom Sturtevant will be a featured speaker at the convention.
The meeting adjourned at 9:17pm.
NEXT MEETING: APRIL 30TH IN AUGUSTA.