DECEMBER 16, 2004

Maine VFP Chapter 001 Meeting

Augusta, Maine

Attending:  Doug Rawlings, Peggy Akers, Arthur Whitman, Dan Hamilton, Tom Sturtevant, George Goodwin, Bruce Gagnon, Stan Lofchie, Bob Lezer, Richard & Rita Clement, Richard Bamforth, Rick & Carole Whelan, Dud Hendrick, Suzanne Hedrick, Elizabeth Cuprick, Fay & Jack Buzzell, Perry O’Brien, John Wirtz, Tom Whitney.

President Doug Rawlings called the meeting to order at 7:05 pm. Minutes were accepted from November 18th meeting as distributed.

Treasurer’s report: $6,359.14 in chapter account. Chapter is expecting subsidy from Maineshare in January. Received  $59.37 from Au Natural. Request to have members pay dues in January. There will be a continued effort to sign up new members.

80 people responded to membership letter amounting to over $1000 to chapter. It was suggested that the letter be resent in 6 months. It was also suggested that a president’s report be mailed to the responders every 6 months to keep them abreast of chapter’s activities. It was felt that all that responded receive a Welcoming letter and Arthur stated he always calls individuals who contribute. Carole Whalen and Bob Lizer stated they would split the list and respond with a mailing.

There was a chapter endorsement of the “Counter Terror: Build Justice” campaign. This will involve a month of peace actions from March 19th-April 15th.

Suzanne Hedrick made a presentation on the School of the America’s demonstration in November. There was a contingency from VFP. Security was increased this year despite a totally peaceful atmosphere. 16,000 participants were involved. The action coincided with God Bless Fort Benning Day. There is concern about the role of the Coca Cola Company using death squads in Columbia. There was representation from all over the country and Canada in the demo. Suzanne would like to see more representation from Maine at the demonstration.

February Lobby Day to close the School. Michaud and Allen have signed on and 131 congressmen currently support the closing.

Bob Lezer was nominated to the Board of Directors.

Discussion took place for a retreat to set up strategic plan for the coming year, using a hired professional facilitator. There was discussion about Snowbird Lodge in Harrison Maine ($150 including meals) and the Baptist Center at China Lake ($14 per person). The plan would consist of : 1. Political Action, 2. Education- Outreach to Media, Tabling and Fairs, 3. Recruitment. It was felt that part of the day should be spent goofing off and getting to know one another. It was decided that the retreat should be held on February 21st and be all day. There was an interest in attending by the majority present. Some discussion about it being an overnight. The Snowbird Lodge was decided upon and Tom Whitney is going to look into the possibility of availability.

25 dedicated people were standing for peace at the Bath Iron Works launching on December 13th. Also there was a reception of 13 people including VFP members at Susan Collin’s office requesting a public forum to discuss the Iraq war.

The chapter was honored to have Perry O’Brien from Portland Maine who spent 8 months in the army in Afghanistan as a medic. He received CO status and was discharged. It was requested that he speak to the group in the future about his experiences. He agreed to do this. It was unanimously decided at this meeting to accept Perry as a current member of our chapter.

Tom Sturtevant requested that pressure be put on Susan Collins against the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General.

The chapter has a commitment for a table at the Many and One Coalition in Lewiston on January 15th. Stan Lofchie suggested that literature be focused on peace,  the economic draft and the cost of war. The National Priority and Cost of War web sites will be explored for leaflets regarding the costs of war. Stan, Dud, Bob Lezer, Arthur, Tom and Doug volunteered to staff the table.

Arthur Whitman will distribute the Poet’s Perspective on Palestine and Iraq pamphlet from Americans for Middle East Understanding.

Recently the library in Brunswick refused to have the Cost of War exhibit because they say it is a policy that they don’t display controversial exhibits. Stan requested a contingency of VFP members to visit library. Bruce felt that getting an attorney to contact them asking to see their rules and regulations, would be the next step. Arthur will contact the Lewiston library. There will be an effort to get the display into the Bowdoin library. Stan will contact the director of the Brunswick library and ask for their regulations. It was also suggested that Push Anthony and Seth Berhei as well as the Maine Civil Liberties Union be contacted.

Discussion of a letter focusing on civilian casualties 100,000 +, to be drafted to send to all editors of Maine newspaper editorial pages. It will be sent to VFP membership. Issue is based on a Lancet article – November 20th, 2004.

Peace Action Maine has a bus to go to Washington D.C. for the counter-inaugural Demonstration put on by the Answer coalition on January 20th,2005. The bus will be departing from Bangor early evening on the 19th, arriving/departing Portland between 8-9 pm. They will arrive in DC the morning of the 20th. The cost is a sliding scale of $70-90 dollars with some assistance available. They currently have about 35 – 40 seats available. Seats are first come, first served but it there is a large enough call for more busses Peace Action will look into that. Please email Joy or call 207-671-4292 with your name and the names of anyone you are calling on behalf of, what location you plan to depart from, where you will be coming from and your phone number. Also, they will need a volunteer in Bangor to assist those boarding there. Payment and donations can be mailed to:

Peace Action Maine
PO Box 3842
Portland, ME 04104

Support given for VFP National petition on behalf of unarmed patients and medical staff both living and dead at medical facilities in Falluja on need for treatment according to the Geneva Convention.

Books and magazines were brought in for Brian Clements.

Jack Buzzell is working to get the Portland School system to opt out (informing parents about releasing the name of their child) in regards to recruiters.

Article printed in Vanity Fair about depleted uranium passed out. It shows how controversial issues can still be printed about in the mainstream press.

Adopt a Minefield issue was tabled at this meeting.

Bangor VFP chapter is involved in Bangor High School. They have an anti recruitment display in Guidance office. Portland contingency taking book covers and pamphlets to area schools.

There is a review of MaineShare funds for Bangor chapter.

Michael Uhl is involved with counter recruitment in VFP newsletter. This is a national issue with programs also in Santa Fe, Albany and Philadelphia. Michael suggested this be an issue at the upcoming retreat. He felt it needed a Media splash. Should the chapter target a specific school? There is a lot of material on the VFP Maine website. Perry O’Brien is planning to do a presentation in the Portland schools and talk to students. Michael asked Perry  if he could find out from students what information the recruiters are presenting. Boothbay peace group going into high schools to show other side of recruiting. Dud questioned if counter- recruitment could be a break out session at the upcoming retreat.

Peggy Akers is the editor of new woman’s page in the National VFP newsletter.

John Wirtz presented his version of Speakers Bureau Brochure. Board to decide format of brochure. A picture of Perry talking to students will be taken for the brochure.

Next Meeting: January 27th in Lewiston Maine. 7pm-9pm

Signed Dan Hamilton- Secretary