Veterans for Peace
William Ladd Chapter 1
Minutes from Business Meeting
May 27, 2010
Buker Community Center, Augusta, Maine

PRESENT: Tom Whitney, Victor Skorapa, Michael Uhl, Kristina Wolff, Tom Sturtevant, Clarence Smith, Bruce Gagnon, Dan Ellis, Dud Hendrick, Herb Hoffman, Lori Somlyo, Bob Lezer, Rita Clement, Richard Clement, and Doug Rawlings

The meeting began at 7:00pm (many of us attended the Augusta vigil at 5:00pm led by Richard and Rita Clement before the meeting).

  • The meeting began with Dan Ellis reminding us to keep Peggy in our thoughts and prayers. Bob Lezer moved that we send a bouquet of flowers to Peggy (Doug rawlings second). Kristina Wolff will take care of the arrangements. $50 allotted for flowers
  • Last month’s Secretary’s Report was accepted as written (Gagnon motion; Wolff second). The secretary agreed to amend the minutes by eliminating a redundant paragraph. He did so reluctantly since such an act will deprive future generations of having the experience of reading these gems of wisdom more than once.
  • The treasurer’s report was accepted (Hoffman motion and Lezer second). As of April 29, 2010, we had $6,045.09 in the general account. As of may 27, 2010, we have $5,644.01 in the general account. Financial activity over this past month included income of $762 (donations of $380; dues of $260; and sales of $122) and expenses of $1,163.08 (mailing expenses of $17.60, copying expenses of $20.48, payment for table at Democratic Convention of $350, donation to the Tom Sturtevant fund in Peggy’s name of $400, donation to Maine FairTrade of $300, April’s meeting room rental of $50, and maintenance of a sales bag fund of $25. Our 2010 Convention Account Balance remains at $8,125.76; our Legal defense Fund remains at $1,330. Total Current Treasury: $15,099.27. Treasurer’s note: Kristina reminded us that we have voted to set aside $2,000 for convention entertainment expenses and that the Shetterly calendar will probably cost us around $5,000. She cautioned us about giving out too much in donations during this time period since an unhealthy cash flow situation could rise up. Dud reminded us that revenue from advertising sales for the convention goes directly to the national and does not impact our chapter budget. Dan Ellis requested a check for $58 to cover the cost of the VFP post office box.
  • MaineShare: Tom reminded us that another check will be coming in at the end of June. He also encouraged us to seek out local businesses to contribute to MaineShare. Dud told us that Hilde Lipson will put an ad in the convention program that will go toward our chapter’s points. Hilde will also be presenting a fundraising workshop at the convention.
  • Membership: Dan reported that we currently have 175 members (5 honorary; 29 associates; and 141 veteran members). One hundred and three are current dues-paying members. Dan will send out May reminders to members whose dues come up in May. Herb asked about the national’s interest in our membership. Dan send that Woody Powell from the national sends us their roster. Herb asked if we have any idea of who is a member of national but not a member of the local chapter and vice versa. Bob Lezer remarked that the national does not consider a person to be a member of VFP unless he or she pays the national dues. N Dud recommended that we send a letter out to Maine VFP members who just belong to the national encouraging them to join both the national and local chapters.
  • Convention Reports: Dud once again thanked all in the chapter who are working hard to make this convention a success. Michael reported that there are 50 full registrations so far (our goal is 200 to meet expenses). The convention generally costs around $60,000. There are a similar number of Holiday Inn reservations (which gets us close to half way for the required occupancy rate. The Holiday Inn will release our room block on July 24th, so we need to fill those rooms over the next six weeks.

Dud reminded us that Peggy will emcee the June 12th fundraiser at the Williston Church in Portland (200 seating). Doug, Dan, and Tom agreed to help Dud staff the event. Dud has advertised for the fundraiser widely – Portland Press Herald, Portland Daily Sun, and posters about town.

Dud reported that the Tom Sturtevant fund now stands at $1,080 (with Peggy’s donation we’ll be close to $1,500). He asked us how we should distribute the funds (reminding us that it’s initially set up to help subsidize veterans’ registrations for the convention). Dud will send out a reminder to other chapters that this fund exists.

Kristina suggested that we set up the fund in $100 increments and distribute the $100 allotments as grants for veterans requesting assistance. Michael suggested that we wait until July 1st to put the word out since this might be the factor that nudges “fence sitters” into registering for the convention. Betsy from the national office can put the word out when we ask her to. Dan Ellis reported that the calendars are now complete. Kristina provided the dates that would carry some peace action information.

We have one estimate of costs from Franklin Printing of $4500. It was suggested that we use Legal defense funds to help pay for the calendar and then reimburse the fund after sales are completed. We decided to create an advanced sales pre-order form to distribute at the June 12th fundraiser. If we retail the calendars at $15.00, we will make a $10.00 profit on each sale. We could use some of that money to subsidize mailing costs. We decided to ask for $15.00 plus a $3.00 shipping charge on the pre-order form. The benefit of ordering early is that recipients will get the calendars sent directly to them (autographed by Rob?). Dan Ellis will make up the pre-order form and flyer.

Michael reported that we only have $2100 in ad sales so far for the convention program. Only 9 people have put in $25 sponsor ads. We need to urge national to get word out to all chapters to support the convention through these ads (especially through sponsorship ads). Bob Lezer, Richard Clement, and Dud Hendrick have all been pounding the Portland pavements, trying to get local businesses to put an ad in the program. They’ll continue doing so but would appreciate any help they can get.

Bob Lezer reported that Flatbreads Pizza Restaurant will donate $3.25 for any large pizza sold and $1.75 for any small pizzas sold on the evening of August 3rd (Tuesday). Please encourage supporters to come out and eat great pizza (terrific vegetarian options) and guzzle good beer for the cause. This could bring in close to $1,000 since this is a very popular spot during a heavy tourist time…. Bob will make up a poster to hang up in Flatbread beginning July 15th. Tom Sturtevant and Bob will work on a 3’ X 3’ canvas banner to hang up at the restaurant before July 3rd. This banner becomes the property of the Flatbread Company and could, conceivably, hang up at the restaurant for perpetuity. Bob will also work with local media to advertise the event. We agreed that we’d like to use Dan Ellis’s State of Maine (“Lifting the Fog of War” logo on the banner with a thank you to Flatbread.

So far Dan reports that we have “locked down” the following entertainers for convention slots: Inanna for the Public Ceremony; Noel Paul Stookey for the banquet; Ruth Hill and Jud Caswell to open the two plenaries; and Pat Humphries & Sandy O from Emma’s Revolution to sing at the Sunday Rally. Dan is also setting up an open mic night for VFP musicians to perform, probably Friday night after the Lobster Bake. It’ll be like the poetry night – people will be encouraged to attend and present their own material for 10 minutes or so. Dan will take care of the soundboard.

Michael said that he’d take care of editing the convention program, which will involve overseeing the following tasks: mounting the ads, putting together a table of contents, writing welcoming comments, pasting in workshop descriptions, writing bios of principle speakers, and listing exhibitors, to name a few.

Rob Shetterly resubmitted his proposed program cover illustration, which we in the chapter accept and will continue to advocate for it at the national level.

Bob Lezer and Bruce Gagnon will work on putting together an “art gallery” for Rob Shetterly’s portraits in the tabling area. Bob’s idea is to set up a series of black curtains that attendees will enter to view the portraits. The hotel may have a few easels to hold the portraits or we may have to rent some. Bob will work on this.

Tom Sturtevant talked of putting together a couple of large banners (30’ to 50’ cloth), one to hang out on Forest Avenue, which could be very expensive, and another to hang in the Holiday Inn lobby. Dan will help with the logo. Perhaps the banner will read like this: the Maine Map Convention Logo plus “25th Anniversary” and “Maine VFP Welcomes You!” Bruce also suggested that the stage for the banquet be decorated (perhaps National has something we can use).

Dud reported that we are somewhat concerned about the lack of interest in tabling. He will send out a letter to the Maine peace community asking for tablers. Gulf of Maine Books will probably have a table; AFSC (according to Tom) will pay for a table; and our chapter will have a couple of tables, one selling Rob Shetterly’s wares.

Dud mentioned that we should reserve a Holiday Inn suite to serve multiple purposes: to act as a hospitality room, a place to relax, and also as an “action central” locale (coffee and doughnuts, volunteer lists, etc etc). Michael will call Melissa at the Holiday Inn about this possibility. This would be separate from the Serenity Room already proposed. Michael will also find out if the Holiday Inn has a copying machine we can use.

Movies to be shown at 10:00pm each night include: “Atomic Mom”; “The Good Fight: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War”; “Agent Orange: A Personal Requiem”; and “No Gun Ri.”

Doug reported that, unfortunately, Jerry Genesio had to bow out of the Opening ceremony for health reasons. He and Judy will be there for the banquet. So far it looks like we’ll ask charter members to join us on stage; we’ll hear from Charlie Clements; we’ll hear from Maya Kazazic; and we’ll hear from Mike Ferner. A Native American ceremony will kick off the ceremony as well.

Dud reported that the Public Meeting to be held Thursday night will feature Congressman Bob Filner, artist/activist/writer Terry Tempest Williams, Mike Brennan, Dawud Ummah, Gkisedtanamoogk, Geoff Millard (from IVAW) and Betsy Smith from Equality/Maine. Rachel Talbot-Ross is still a strong possibility, too.

Bruce reported that his plenary has two speakers lined up with another possibility (maybe Sarah Bigney).

National (Mike Ferner, specifically) is in charge of the second plenary. Right now, it’s set up to feature David Cobb.

Doug reported that invitations for workshops have been sent out to 48 potential presenters. They have been encouraged to validate their workshops by June 18th. The workshop committee will then review the proposals again and modify the workshop schedule accordingly. To date (June 23rd), it looks like about 30 workshops will be presented, some as panels and some as collaborative efforts. We should get a quasi-final workshop schedule out by the first of July.

Dud reported that the Lobster Bake bus to take people from the Holiday Inn to the Casco Bay lines is quite expensive ($550 perhaps discounted to $350) and it’s not handicap accessible. He’ll look for other options.

Michael suggested that we have some entertainment during the business meeting on Saturday.

No new developments on the banquet other than considering an additional speaker. Right now Chris Hedges will be the key note speaker and Paul Stookey will be the entertainer. Perhaps Ann Wright or Charlie Clemons or Terry Tempest Williams could be considered as a second speaker.

Nothing new to report for the Sunday rally.

OTHER BUSINESS (What? You mean we’re doing something else besides prepare for the convention?):

* Bruce reported that 25 people were at the latest Bring the War $ Home meeting. They’ll keep at it. We applaud them for their efforts.

* Herb reported on the Bring the Guard Home Campaign. He’ll keep trying to connect with Joe Brennan. The issue is the automatic federalization of the National Guard and if states’ governors are obligated to ascertain if the federal order is legal or not. The whole issue may end up in the Supreme Court.

* Six members of our chapter were at the Democratic National Convention (Dud, Dan, Kristina, Bob, Michael, and Doug). We raised a couple of hundred dollars (not quite covering the cost of the table) and made some good connections, including at least one new member signing up.

* Bruce talked a bit about the proposed Peace Walk this coming November. He and Doug would like to put together a VFP contingent, led by the Buddhist monks from Massachusetts, to walk from Farmington to Portland, arriving there on Veterans’ day. We’d start on November 3rd and finish off on the 11th. We’d discuss various issues – ending wars; ending war spending; dealing with PTSD; artists supporting peace projects in their communities; etc. Each day would end with a public event. Bruce and Doug will map out the route. So far, Bruce, Doug, Bob, Dud, and Kristina have agreed to join the walk.

* Dud thanked Michael for his work on the VFP Agent Orange project – bringing presenters to the state. Michael is waiting for legislation to be introduced. Dud would like to find different venues for the presentations.

* Dud suggested that we take out a year’s membership with the Community TV Network to help publicize the convention and to recruit (bad word) new members. The network reaches over 75,000 households, publishes weekly calendars, and hosts “Democracy Now!” It would cost $100 for a year’s subscription. Doug moved to accept the proposal that we take out a year’s subscription (Herb seconded). Approved.

* Bob Lezer wants us to go to a Sea Dogs game as a chapter social event. He’ll try to schedule a good time to get us all there.

* Dan Ellis announced his son’s House Concert in Brunswick at 7:00pm Saturday. Dan’s son is an accomplished singer/song writer who is on a Northeast tour.

The meeting adjourned at 9:26pm.