May 25, 2006
Portland Public Library
Fifteen members of Maine VfP were present for the meeting.
Minutes from the previous meeting were accepted with no changes. Treasurer Arthur Whitman reported that there is now $4,942 in the bank. Another check from Maine Share is expected to arrive soon.
Jack Bussell presented Seth Berner who was given an Honorary Membership in the chapter. Seth is a Portland attorney who gives much time and support to the peace community and is highly respected for his selfless dedication to peace and social justice. Seth was given a certificate of membership, a sweatshirt, a hat, and a bumper sticker by VfP president Doug Rawlings.
A summary of activities during the month were as follows:
- Stan Lofchie attended the New York City celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. National VfP was a co-sponsor of the event. Stan reported that the event was exciting and emotional and that Dave Cline, national president was there. Cindy Sheehan was also there and spoke about VfP support at Camp Casey.
- Several VfP members were in attendance at the NYC April 29 national peace march. Over 300,000 were present.
- Don Hardin reported that the state wants to improve links between Togus, vet centers, and local service providers so they can serve PTSD victims better. This is an outcome of our PTSD symposium. Don will stay involved by attending meetings that will be planned.
- Seth Berner reported on counter recruiting ….Has been asked by national counter recruitment lawyers to hold off on any local lawsuits for now. The Army would step in as an intervener and they would take over for the Portland school district if peace groups were to file a suit. They would pour in limitless legal resources. The appeals process would be an “Alice in Wonderland World” and the U.S. Supreme Court would likely end all counter recruiting efforts nationwide by ruling on behalf of the military. Seth recommended it was best to keep working on informal counter recruiting efforts with school board. Jack was given authority to seek compromises such as doing a large assembly.
- Arthur Whitman reported that he had concluded a 4-part class on the roots of violence in the Middle East. Thirty people had taken the class and he got a good response.
- It was announced that former CIA veteran Ray McGovern would be speaking in Brunswick on May 26. VfP is a co-sponsor of the event along with Brunwick PeaceWorks.
The May 29 Memorial Day parade was next discussed. It was decided that Stan would print an additional 500 flyers, giving us 1,000 to hand out to the crowd at the event. All members were to meet at 7am that day at Mt Ararat High School in Topsham to assemble.
Jack told about the Maine National Guard Adventure Program that is now being promoted to Middle schools in the state. Kids are taken on a trip to a military training center by uniformed active duty personnel. He has written a letter to Gen. Libby and Dept of Education Commissioner Susan Gendron seeking information. It was suggested by Don Hardin that if Jack does not get a response he should contact state legislative chairs of the House and Senate Education committees and ask them to seek information about this on our behalf.
Doug Rawlings reported that the national convention will be held in Seattle on August 10-13. He would like to attend. With travel, housing, registration and the like it would cost about $1,000 for a Maine VfP member to go. It was decided that Doug would represent the chapter and $2,000 was approved for the event. Bruce Gagnon may be speaking at the event so some of his costs might be covered – not yet known. Please let Doug know by mid-June if you wish to attend the conference. Maine VfP will also get a table at the event to display stuff about our chapter.
It was agreed that we would let our annual bulk mailing permit expire. Jack reported that we rarely do mailings and Bruce said that we could use a mailing house in Scarborough that would allow us to use their mailing permit and just charge us for doing the mailing if the chapter needed to do one. In the long run we’d save money doing it this way.
It was agreed that any VfP member wishing to be in the Bath July 4th parade should walk with the PeaceWorks contingent that is in the parade each year.
Doug said that because we registered a bit late we will only have one table at the annual MOFGA fair in September.
Doug again reminded us that he would like to hold a chapter retreat in November, after the elections. It would be a time to consider new officers, part business, part envisioning, and also social time. Any ideas for location should be passed on to Doug.
The chapter will have a table at the July 28-30 Maine Social Forum in Lewiston (Old Bates Mill). VfP will do a workshop and AFSC will do a workshop on counter recruitment.
Next meeting Thursday, June 29th at the Buker School on Western Avenue in Augusta.