Veterans for Peace
William Ladd Chapter 1
Minutes from Business Meeting
July 21, 2011
L/A Community College, Lewiston

PRESENT: Dud Hendrick, Bruce Gagnon, Doug Rawlings, Tom Sturtevant, Clarence Smith, Dan Ellis, Peggy Akers, Herb Hoffman, Peter Woodruff, Tim Blanchette, Victor Skorapa, Bill Slavick, and Ed McCarthy GUEST: Rango Wehani

  • President Dud Hendrick began the meeting by welcoming guest Rango Wehani, a friend of Herb Hoffman’s, who presently hales from Ottawa, Canada but spent most of his life in New Zealand. He spoke to us of his long-time work on the behalf of high school drop-outs in his native country. He was able to found and then run a university that was more cost-effective (and therefore more accessible) than traditional post-secondary schools. It eventually enrolled over 80,000 students, many of whom are Maoris.
  • The SECRETARY’S REPORT from the June meeting was accepted as written (Hoffman motion/Smith second).
  • MAINESHARE REPORT: Tom announced that his Hike and Bike to raise funds for MAINESHARE will take place on July 30th. People will start at Union Street in Augusta (down from the HHS building) at 10:00am. The trail goes along the Kennebec River; it’s 6.5 miles each way. Riders and hikers can stop at the Liberal Cup Pub in Hallowell if they wish. To sponsor Tom’s event, you can either send him a check or go on-line vis-à-vis Dud Hendrick’s sponsoring website. All funds will go to MAINESHARE, a group that provides VFP and other peace-action groups with much-needed funding.
  • NOMINATING COMMITTEE REPORT: Tom announced that the committee (Dud, Tom, and Doug) met with the two potential candidates for the chapter presidency, Peggy Akers and Clarence Smith, and came away convinced that they would do a super job as co-presidents. The nominating committee moved that Peggy and Smitty take on this role as of our next meeting in September. Herb seconded the motion. The nomination was accepted unanimously. Congratulations to them both. Those around the table also acknowledged the excellent job that Dud has done as our chapter president these past few years. We thanked him for his service on our behalf.
  • MEMBERSHIP REPORT: Dan Ellis reported that our chapter currently has 139 members (103 are current in their dues). During this discussion, Peggy acknowledged that she sent Bob McElwain a personal letter of thanks for his lifelong membership contribution to our chapter. In further discussion, Dud recommended that we forego Belfast as a chapter meeting place in our yearly rotation of meetings. Instead, he recommended that we meet in Augusta twice each cycle. Dud also mentioned that he’d been in touch with Art Whitman, who’d like to attend the next meeting we hold in Augusta. We agreed to discuss Dud’s suggestion at the next meeting.
  • OLD HALLOWELL DAYS ACTION (AND BOW$H): Bruce reported that over 25 people joined the contingent and that the banner demonstrating the outrageous military spending our country indulges in and the puppet Jamilla created garnered second prize for most creative float entry. Even Senator Olympia Snowe was convinced by Dud to join us (and Bruce got a chance to discuss military spending with her). Bruce thought that Snowe’s “defense” of the war in Afghanistan was “weak” and pretty much pro forma. There’s hope there, perhaps…. Thirteen people attended the BOW$H meeting after the parade. Tom suggested that the next action (the statewide Care-A-Van) be dubbed the “Bring Our War Dollars Home and Put ‘em To Work” action. It will start on September 10th in Unity with a WERU conference and conclude on October 10th. Local groups are encouraged to organize activities to coincide with the van’s visit to their areas. Peggy has agreed to let us use her van. Bruce suggested that daytime activities include leafleting, speaking, banner drops, etc etc. Herb has invited Dennis Kucinich to speak at the Common Ground Fair as part of the action. Bruce announced that they are contacting Chief Kirk Francis to speak at the van’s conclusion in October (Chief Francis spoke eloquently at our convention last year about the impact of war on Maine’s indigenous people), which would correspond with October 10th being “Indigenous People Day.” Bruce moved that our VFP chapter contribute $500 to the campaign to further enhance our media efforts. Peggy seconded the motion. Passed unanimously. This will give the campaign $1,000 to put out 25 to 30 one-minute ads throughout the month. Bruce suggested that we use WBACH as one station since it runs the length of the coast in broadcasting range and that we research to find other stations that could have an impact. Doug suggested that people try to get the ads onto local college stations. Dud reminded us that BOW$H folks and others are organizing a 9/11th evening candle-light encirclement of Portland’s Back Bay and that our chapter should be there in force.
  • BLUE ANGELS ACTION: Tom announced that the Blue Angels will be at the former BNAS in Brunswick on August 26th, 27th, and 28th. We agreed to hold a major demonstration in front of the BNAS main gate on Saturday, August 27th. We should get there by 8:30am with appropriate banners and signs (Bruce will bring the mammoth Hallowell Days banner) and stay until 1:00pm. We’ll hold a rally at 11:00am. Tom is lining up speakers and Dan will bring our sound system. Other actions are also planned.
  • COMMON GROUND FAIR: Dud reminded us that we have two tables reserved. We’ll share the space with BOW$H. Peggy will talk to Bob Lezer about tabling material. Note: Bob sends greetings via Dan Ellis.
  • MEETING WITH SENATOR OLYMPIA SNOWE: Herb suggested that we try to meet face-to-face with Snowe since she often meets with other veterans’ groups. Herb will put together an agenda for the meeting and recruit a small delegation from our chapter to discuss foreign policy with the senator.
  • CENTER FOR AFRICAN HERITAGE MEETING: Dud reported on the pizza party we had with members of the organization prior to tonight’s business meeting. Dud, Dan, Smitty, Peggy, Doug, Peter, Bruce, and Tim met with Dahwoud and his colleagues plus four young people to discuss their work and what role VFP could possibly play. We met at their garden site in Falmouth and discussed possibilities. They certainly need financial assistance as well as people willing to work the garden plots. We could also provide military counseling since the young people are susceptible to military recruiters. Peggy agreed to go to their next meeting in early August to further discuss possibilities. Tom mentioned that the Hinkley School is working with AmeriCorps to encourage young people to farm and that this could provide us with an opportunity. He also suggested that VFP might want to sponsor a couple of young people to attend the Common Ground Fair. And perhaps the Heritage Center should consider joining MAINESHARE. Peter mentioned the wonderful opportunity for war veterans to do some therapeutic work at the garden plots while conversing with young people entertaining the thought of joining the military.
  • PTSD SYMPOSIUM/WELCOME HOME PROJECT: Dan mentioned that Smitty will purchase the video from Bill McMillen at the VFP National convention. The thought is that a showing of the video and a workshop led by Michael Meade, etc might supplant our traditional PTSD symposium. Dan is still exploring the feasibility of getting Meade to the symposium.
  • OCTOBER 6TH WASHINGTON, DC ACTION: Dud reminded us of the importance of this action. Our chapter is still considering renting a van if enough of us want to attend. We’d probably leave on the 5th with the thought that we’d be back on the 8th. Jimmy Freeman is also driving his school bus down to the event
  • ED MCCARTHY ISRAEL/PALESTINE RESOULTION: Dud circulated Ed’s resolution and Bill Slavick’s response to it. At our previous meeting we agreed to look at Ed’s resolution and two others being proposed at the VFP national convention next month. Our chapter was to consider whether we should endorse Ed’s resolution or not. Ed began the discussion by pointing out that the other two proposed resolutions would not be achievable in the foreseeable future. His, he claims, speaks to the possible – the U.S. government could move towards a negotiated settlement in a reasonable time-frame. Ed also claims that the other resolutions that call for a one-state solution is a bit disingenuous (editor’s word) since Israel would never go for that. He says that the two-state solution would at least allow the Palestinians a degree of self-determination. He thinks his resolution is not far from what the Palestinians would agree to. He based his proposal on the work of Lee Hamilton, Frank Cerlucci and others that appeared in the January and June issues of the NY Review of Books. Ed concluded his remarks by pointing out that the U.S. is going to be the major broker in these negotiations, whether we like that or not. And the U.S. will act with its own interests in mind; his resolution acknowledges this and calls for a more balanced approach than the other two resolutions do. Bill responded to Ed’s proposal by pointing out that we can’t lose sight of the injustices suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis. He used this analogy: the Israelis have stolen the Palestinians “farm” and now want to enter into negotiations about giving some of it back. The accused, Bill says, is dictating the terms of the settlement. Absurd. He believes the Palestinians will get justice despite the actions of the U.S. And they and we can’t wait for a “negotiated settlement.” Bill also pointed out that VFP has a unique standing to speak to this issue because of who we are and what we stand for. He acknowledged the following challenges: (1). The Palestinians have not made a good case for their predicament; (2). We can’t wait for the Israelis to come up with a “solution”; (3). Any resolution from VFP must be based on international law and human rights policies; (4). No one can give away the Palestinians’ rights without the Palestinians being in full agreement. Palestinian rights should not be compromised, and we should not be presumptuous enough to dictate to the Palestinians what they should want; and (5). The U.S. government cannot be a broker in these negotiations since it has been dishonest in the past and has resisted all peace efforts (point: our government has chosen to listen to Dennis Ross for the past three presidencies, a man who is beholden to AIPAC). Bill concluded his remarks by stating that we should not support any of the resolutions proposed. Bill believes that Ed compromises too much and that the other two resolutions don’t deal adequately with the reality of Israeli intransigence. Ed responded briefly by pointing out that his resolution at least has an implementation mechanism within it. After further discussion Bruce moved (Dan second) that our chapter state that we are not prepared to sponsor any of the proposed resolutions at this time. Before the question was moved for a vote, Herb pointed out that Ed’s resolution is attractive but he agrees with Bill’s assessment that the U.S. can’t be involved as a Broker. Dud thanked both men for their scholarship and their hard work on such a contentious issue. The chapter members voted unanimously to accept Bruce’s motion. Final note: Ed suggested that we turn to for more information on the issue.
  • BRUNSWICK PEACE FAIR: Dan informed us that our chapter has reserved a table for August 6th. We also have a page in their “passport book” (an ingenious idea). Each table has a page; visitors to the table will have their passports stamped and will be encouraged to participate in an action sponsored by the group (in our case, we are asking people to participate in the Blue Angels Demonstration and to write their Congressperson or media outlet in opposition to the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan).
  • VFP FACEBOOK: Since Nicole wasn’t present, we tabled discussion.
  • VFP NATIONAL CONVENTION: Smitty will be there to represent our chapter. Ed will be there to discuss his resolution. Dan informed us that we have a full-page ad in the convention booklet.
  • Tim announced his 25th annual bike-a-thon for MS, which will take place August 6th and 7th. If you wish to sponsor him, please contact Tim.
  • Dud closed the meeting by thanking us for our support during his presidency. He called it “a great honor,” and that he was proud to serve in that capacity. He is also grateful to Peggy and Smitty for their willingness to take over the reins. He mentioned that we need to look for Herb’s successor and possibly Kristina’s as well. Members around the table thanked Dud for his great work and welcomed Peggy and Smitty to their new roles. Editor’s comment: I think it’s a credit to our chapter that we can relatively seamlessly move responsibilities around with very little contention – we have a talented and resourceful pool of people to choose from and many of us are committed to helping out when and where we can. It is indeed bittersweet that we are losing an accomplished and well-respected president but replacing him with two people who will undoubtedly lead us quite successfully into an interesting and fruitful future.
  • Since we think we have adequately taken care of the summer’s business and prepared for the fall, we agreed to not hold a meeting in August.

NEXT MEETING: SEPTEMBER 15TH IN BRUNSWICK. Dan will try to reserve Curtis Memorial Library or another venue for the meeting. Peggy and Smitty will preside!