April 26, 2007 Business Meeting
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
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 (www.vfpmaine.org).
- 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 our calendars!
- 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