Veterans for Peace
William Ladd Chapter 001
Minutes from Business Meeting
April 30, 2009
Augusta City Center
Augusta, Maine

PRESENT: Herb Hoffman, Clarence Smith, Kristina Wolff (presiding in Dud’s absence), Michael Uhl, Dan Ellis, Tom Sturtevant, Victor Skorapa, Bob Lezer, Rob Pfeiffer, and Doug Rawlings

The meeting began at 7:00 pm.

Dan Ellis began the meeting with a reading of the Kendall Merriam poem “Out, out, out of Afghanistan.”

The minutes from the business meeting of March 26, 2009 were accepted as written (Pfeiffer motion, Lezer second).

TREASURER’S REPORT: Tim was absent for this meeting but sent a treasurer’s statement to us. Current balance as of April 29, 2009 for our operating funds is $5372.67. Expenses for the month include $1,000 (annual stipend for the chapter’s webmaster), $115 for annual payment of our web server (GearHost), $170 in donations given by chapter, $155 for printing of symposium brochure, and $100 spent in petty cash – total expenses of $1,540.38. Income for the month included $330 in donations to the chapter, $75.00 in dues raised, and $100 donation from the Foreside Community Church to help pay for scholarships to the PTSD Symposium – total income of $505.00.

A discussion ensued about the recent conversations with Attorney John Branson, the national office, and a few of us about our chapter’s 501c3 status and its implications. Specifically, some of us were still concerned about insurance for the chapter. When should we as a chapter seek out an insurance policy for an event and when should we just depend upon the national’s insurance policy? Bob Lezer reiterated his concern about our chapter’s relationship to the national — are we truly discrete? He remarked that this conversation about our role as a chapter and the national’s influence on us should be continued to be discussed. Michael Uhl commented that there are many factions within the national organization but that the discussions at the national level are not overwhelmingly acrimonious. Bob suggested that we invite John Branson to our meeting in Portland to answer questions.

At this juncture, Doug made the motion that Branson be considered for honorary membership in our chapter (much like Seth Brenner) because of all the work that he has done pro bono on our behalf, for his articulate and consistent public stands for values and principles that our organization stands for, and in recognition of his contributions to the peace community in Maine. Rob Pfeiffer seconded the motion. Bob Lezer will take on the sponsorship of John Branson for honorary membership (he will contact John about our proposal to see if he might accept it and then will present a case for Branson’s membership at our next meeting in Belfast).

MEMBERSHIP REPORT: Dan Ellis reported that the chapter currently has 179 members (149 veterans and 30 associate members). 118 members are paid up in their dues.

PTSD SYMPOSIUM: Michael reported that he saw brochures at Togus the other day and was hopeful that we might get more of a turnout from there. The major problem to be resolved at this point involved transporting Judith Herman to and from the symposium. Kristina Wolff agreed to pick up Herman in Boston on Friday afternoon and Smitty agreed to drive her back on Saturday evening after the symposium closed. We agreed to reimburse the drivers for transportation and food costs. We still need someone to pick up Judith at her hotel the morning of the symposium – Doug will ask Peggy if she wants to do that.

We discussed the possibility of having tables in the foyer: there will be a separate VFP table that Bob Lezer will set up for us; there will be a separate table with Rob Shetterly’s material on it for sale (probably postcards, posters, and books; there will be a table for Judith Herman’s books and for Penny Coleman’s material; Bob lezer mentioned that a contact he has made has requested a table for the Veterans’ Administration to share what they are doing about PTSD (he’ll make that contact); and Rob Pfeiffer mentioned that Barbara Claudell from the Maine National Guard is interested in a table for families of returning veterans (he’ll contact her). We agreed to charge $50.00 for a table at the foyer and that Dud should contact potential tablers and inform them of this fee. Note: any workshop presenter who wishes to have a table will not be charged a fee. Rob Pfeiffer said that the following workshop presenters have volunteered to provide workshops: Dr. Keith Cook, Susan Reed, and Karen Searles.

There was some discussion of Judith’s fee – it is $1,000. That is the only presenter’s expense for the symposium (other than transportation costs).

Kristina Wolff agreed to put symposium day packets together as she did last year.

Rob Pfeiffer announced that Nanci Griffith couldn’t fit our symposium into her schedule but that she would like to be considered for the 2010 convention. Rob mentioned another Rockland group as possible entertainment for Friday night prior to the symposium, but we decided not to follow up on that (thanks to Rob for working on this) because of time constraints.

2010 CONVENTION: Kristina reported that Jack Bussell has requested $500 to travel to the 2009 Convention in Baltimore (the trip had been approved at a previous meeting). Michael reported that the national board will meet with us in October here in Portland to discuss the 2010 convention. He thought that the Clarion Hotel would be a good meeting place for the planning session.

Doug reported that Jerry Genesio has agreed to speak at the convention. Judy Genesio will also attend but has declined our offer to her as a speaker. Since Jerry and Judy will be in Bridgton that summer, there will be no transportation costs. Note: as many of us know, Judy Genesio was a very important player in the formation of VFP, so we should arrange some acknowledgement of her contribution.

Michael reported that Martin Sheen has tentatively agreed to be at the convention. He is also in the process of contacting the director John Sayles and singer/songwriter/actor/namvet/VFP member Kris Kristofferson to provide entertainment at the banquet.

KOREA CONFERENCE: Tom Sturtevant reported that 50 people were in attendance ( he along with Bruce Gagnon, Mary Beth Sullivan, Tod Ensign were there with many Japanese representatives). Included in the activities were trips to the DMZ, to a base south of Seoul where the U.S. is attempting to expand its facilities. Tom mentioned that Bruce gave a wonderful speech that invoked the spirit of Native Americans, which inspired the audience. Tom gave a speech as well (his usual modesty prevented him from extolling the qualities of that, but we all know it was good). Militarization was the theme of the conference. Tom thought the whole event was very well organized, with the most poignant moment coming when conference participants met with a Korean citizen whose legs were blown off by American landmines and who is seeking some kind of compensation from the American government.

HOPE FESTIVAL: Dan Ellis reported that the festival was held at the University of Maine Sports center this year. There was a good crowd; Chapter 003 tabled for VFP; and Richard and Rita Clement were there as well. Dan thought that our PTSD Symposium brochure was successfully distributed (“it caught people’s eyes”).

FUNDRAISING: Michael Uhl mentioned his “dream scheme”: a house party at Rob Shetterly’s house with John Sayles in attendance (after a film festival held in Ellsworth featuring Sayles’ work). Who knows?

MEMORIAL DAY PARADE IN BRUNSWICK: Doug mentioned that Rob Shetterly has some posters of Howard Zinn, so Rawlings thought that would be kind of neat to have us marching down the street displaying Zinn’s face on these posters. He (Rawlings) was quickly disabused of this notion by his insightful colleagues who pointed out how weird that might look (Michael equated it with a Hare Krishna event). We agreed that that wouldn’t work. Perhaps, then, we could have brochures or broadsheets with Zinn’s picture and an explanation of why Zinn (a WWII veteran and former bomber navigator) is being recognized by VFP on that day (the theme of the parade has something to do with honoring pilots). Perhaps we could follow a banner that somehow features Zinn. Doug will ask Jack if a banner is possible. Since the parade will take place before our next meeting, we need to resolve the issues soon.

OTHER BUSINESS: Kristina mentioned Danny Muller’s appeal for help with Iraqi refugees coming to Portland; she mentioned that Jack is preparing for a possible christening of another war ship at BIW in August; she mentioned that the recent departure of VFP Board member Thomas Brinson has caused Dud to consider holding a summer retreat to discuss VFP’s vision and mission.

Herb Hoffman mentioned that he has been invited to sit on a panel at the 2009 VFP National Convention in the role of a psychologist concerned about depleted uranium “disorder” – he wanted to know if anyone has any information on that that he could use. Please contact him if you do.

Kristina closed the meeting by reading a thank you note from Herb Hoffman acknowledging our chapter’s contribution to his legal fund.

NOTE: Under the capable leadership of Dan Ellis, we labeled and tabbed 287 PTSD Symposium brochures and stamped 150 of those. Dan will stamp the rest and get them in the mail to all chapter members and assorted supporters by early next week. Thanks, Dan!

The meeting adjourned at 8:40 pm.