Veterans for Peace
William Ladd Chapter 001
Minutes from Business Meeting
October 29, 2009
Augusta, Maine

PRESENT: Clarence Smith, Herb Hoffman, Kristina Wolff, Tim Blanchette, Dud Hendrick, Stan Lofchie, Dan Ellis, Bruce Gagnon, Richard Clement, Rita Clement, Tom Sturtevant, Victor Skorapa, Bob Lezer, and Doug Rawlings Guests (from Bowdoin College): Liz Leon, Henry Hoagland, and Marc Seligson

The meeting began at 7:05pm.

  • The three guests were introduced. They’re interested in VFP as part of an assignment from their Government class, which is focusing on “social actions.” They spent the evening observing the business meeting, and we shamelessly tried to engage them in some future projects.
  • Dud began the meeting by offering his gratitude to the committed membership that VFP/Maine enjoys; in particular, he thanked Bob Lezer and Tom Sturtevant and Richard Clement for their amazing work at the recent Common Ground Fair; he thanked Dan Ellis for his continued excellent work on the chapter’s website; he thanked Bruce for his great work as an international “emissary” of VFP as he recently returned from an extended stay in South Korea; he thanked Jack Bussell for his stellar work on our behalf as we plan for the 25th VFP convention; and he thanked Herb Hoffman for his good work putting together the November 6th rally in Portland. We around the table all agreed with Dud’s accolades and thanked him for his very effective leadership.
  • The minutes for the September meeting were accepted (Lofchie motion; Lezer second).
  • Treasurer’s Report: Presented by Tim Blanchette. Income for the previous month came to $1297 ($239 in donations; $30 in dues; $778 from sales at the Common Ground Fair; and $250 from the USM deposit return from the cancelled PTSD Symposium. Expenses for the same time period came to $1145.32 ($200 to the Maine Hospice Center; $316.20 for Common Ground Fair expenses; $20 for the “Stop the Drones at BNA” statement; $250 for Afghanistan/Vietnam bumper stickers; $24.90 for postage and CGF map; $15.75 for a microphone cable; and $318.47 for the National Board visit at the Eastland Hotel (which was taken from the general account, not the 2010 Convention account). The General Account Balance is $6265.77. The Convention account remains at $4350 and the Legal Defense Fund remains at $1330. Total Current Treasury: $11,945.77.

At 7:15pm Tim Blanchette officially turned the treasurer’s duties over to Kristina Wolff. We all thanked Tim for his exceptional work on our behalf and welcomed Kristina into her new position. Further comments about the treasury: Stan asked how this year’s Common Ground Fair compared to last year’s. Bob mentioned that since Rob Shetterly graciously donated 100% of his postcard sales to VFP, we were able to come close to last year’s net income. We thanked Rob for his support. Herb suggested that the money spent for the Eastland Hotel national visit should be taken from the Convention account and not the general account. We’ll do that. Bob Lezer mentioned that he has an $85.00 credit from Staples from the copying we’ve been doing. The treasurer’s report was accepted (Wolff motion; Rawlings second).

  • The Nominating Committee recommended that we accept Herb Hoffman as our next vice-president. Wolff made the motion that we do so; Rawlings seconded the motion. All around the table gratefully and enthusiastically supported the committee’s recommendation and the motion. Nomination approved.
  • Tom Sturtevant mentioned that MaineShare will be holding its annual meeting in December. He reminded us that we, as members of MaineShare, are obligated to contribute time and/or “marketing” to the group. We have recently advertised our membership in Maine Share at the Common Ground Fair and at the Peace Fair in Brunswick. We again thanked Tom for his good work with MaineShare.
  • Dud asked us what we could do in lieu of the most recent PTSD Symposium being cancelled. We agreed that we won’t hold a June PTSD Symposium this year since most of our energies will be devoted to the August National Convention. We agreed that we should support Rob Pfeiffer if he is interested in holding a similar symposium under the auspices of his Veterans Helping Veterans group sometime in the spring of 2010. Dud will contact Rob to see if he’s interested.
  • Bob Lezer reported on the Common Ground Fair: given the poor weather conditions and the threat of equine encephalitis, attendance on Friday was down from previous years. Saturday was well attended but Sunday was not. All of Chris Hedges’s books were sold; Dan mentioned that Tom’s map showing the extent of U.S. military bases around the world and Rob Shetterly’s portrait of General Smedley Butler really drew attention to our table. Dud mentioned that we need to organize better support for future CGF tabling since Bob Lezer, Dan Ellis, Tom Sturtevant, and Richard Clement did almost all of the work this year. Herb Hoffman was involved in some street theater at the fair (about 12 people in black shrouds were walking through the fair in protest against the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars). Herb mentioned how there was little response to the theater. Stan mentioned that people from the political action tent were disturbed by what they considered to be this “unauthorized” action. Stan said that their concerns should be taken seriously and asked if we could, next year, do this as a VFP action that has been approved beforehand. Richard moved (Lofchie second) that we reimburse Bob Ingalls for the Afghanistan/Vietnam bumper stickers we sold at the fair and to thank him for his good work and consider him for future projects. We all agreed to provide $250 – see treasurer’s report. Richard mentioned that at every CGF he likes to take note of at least one meaningful exchange. This year he remarked on how a group of middle school students really asked him good questions and seemed genuinely interested in our work.
  • Dan Ellis had no new developments to report for the membership committee.
  • Rita Clement, Richard Clement, and Herb Hoffman reported back about the Boston October 17th anti-war rally. Although Herb thought that the turnout was disappointing and that the apathetic response to the demonstration was disconcerting, Rita was impressed by the street theater (put on by the Vermont-based Bread and Puppet Theater, whom we should contact for the 2010 convention) and Richard mentioned that Maine peace action groups were well-represented (our VFP Chapter, Lisa Savage and CodePink, the Brunswick grannies, PeaceWorks, and Eastern Maine Peace and Justice). Doug made the motion that we donate $200 to Lisa Savage to help defray the costs of the Maine bus (Bruce seconded). Motion accepted.
  • Herb Hoffman circulated information about the November 6th Portland rally featuring David Swanson who has just released a book about our “imperial presidency.” Swanson will be speaking at USM in the afternoon; speaking at the rally at 5:00pm, and reading at Longfellow Books at 6:00pm. Herb will be leading the demonstration. Co-sponsors include VFP, CodePink, Global Network, Eastern Maine Peace and Justice, Peace Action Maine, and Waterville Bridges for Peace. Doug made the motion that we provide up to $250 to help meet the expenses of the demonstration (lighting, etc). Bob Lezer seconded. Approved. Tom agreed to staff a table at Monument Square to distribute VFP materials.
  • Herb mentioned that to date no VFP chapters had signed on to the After Downing Street petition against torture. Smitty moved that we should sign on; Richard seconded the motion. Accepted. Herb will put us on the petition.
  • Bruce Gagnon reported on his three weeks in South Korea. He visited No Gun Ri, the site of the U.S. massacre of Korean civilians 60 years ago instigated, ironically, by the U.S. 7th Cavalry who were responsible for the slaughter of Native Americans at Wounded Knee in the mid-nineteenth century. Bruce was able to establish some strong links with South Korean activists on our behalf and mentioned his vision of the national supporting a contingent of Korean veterans coming to our national convention this year, hosted by Korean War veteran Tom Sturtevant. He then visited JeJu Island where the U.S. is proposing the construction of another naval base for Aegis destroyers. The island has been recognized by UNESCO as an environmental treasure, and Bruce compared turning this site into a base as the equivalent of taking Pemaquid Point and paving it over for piers, etc. Bruce’s concerns are that we, the U.S., are attempting to use Aegis destroyers built at BIW to control the Malacca Straits where 80% of China’s oil supplies pass through. He has a video presentation and prepared remarks that he’d be glad to share with other groups about this facet of our country’s investment in a massive arms race.
  • Bruce showed us the full page ad against the use of drones at the former Brunswick Naval base with names from people all across the state as evidence of Maine citizens’ opposition to this further encroachment of the military into our state. Brunswick PeaceWorks is responsible for the ad (which cost $1500) and Dan Ellis was responsible for designing it. We need to continue a letter writing campaign against these drones and need to continue making it a statewide issue.
  • All members are encouraged to march under the VFP banner at the Veterans’ Day (Armistice Day) parade in Portland this November 11th. Our participation in the parade (and preparation for it) is coordinated by Jack Bussell.
  • Dud recognized Michael Uhl, Jack Bussell, Clarence Smith, and Dave Crowley for their efforts in hosting the national board this past month as they came to review the site for the 2010 convention. Jack did an excellent job presenting our case for how the convention should shape up. The major concern raised by the national board involved the disabilities accessibility of the Eastland Hotel. They reported that the bathrooms and the hallways were not adequately accessible to members in wheelchairs nor are there bathrooms on the first floor accessible to wheelchair-bound members. They suggested that a private ADA concern do a review of the facilities and report back to us. Tim Blanchette reported that he found the Eastland to be a very difficult place to navigate around. We agreed that the accessibility issue is of major concern and asked Tim to research other venues for the convention. We also agreed that Jack’s research into the hotel and its suitability for the convention was without fault and, in fact, commendable, but, perhaps, the hotel was less than forthcoming with its own information about accessibility. The issue now becomes one of finding another possible site and recouping our deposit from the Eastland. Dud circulated some written suggestions from Michael Uhl about the convention format for us to consider. His main points: holding a Wednesday evening poetry event featuring past poets from the WHAM and DMZ collections; Thursday morning opening ceremony featuring Jerry Genesio and charter members; Thursday evening public speak out that features Maine progressives; an overall theme that leans more towards non-violence than conversion; Friday evening lobster bake with good music; and the Sunday morning action being focused at Brunswick Naval base. He also mentioned that Jane Fonda has accepted the invitation to be recognized at the convention for her contributions.
  • Stan moved (and Bob Lezer seconded) that we donate $30.00 to support the work of Working Villages International in Africa. Bob Lezer agreed to staff a table at their November 3rd event.
  • We will not staff a table at this year’s Maine High School Principals convention. Tom reported that last time we did this we received very little interest from principals about our concerns involving military recruiters in schools.
  • Michael Uhl’s request for $159.43 to cover his expenses for the National Board visit was approved (Wolff motion; Lezer second).
  • Dud mentioned that the national newsletter is now on-line and that we should use that rather than the paper format.
  • Dud announced that Rob Pfeiffer is hosting a dance for veterans through his Veterans for Veterans group.
  • Dan Ellis encouraged us to watch “Rethink Afghanistan.”
  • The meeting adjourned at 9:10pm.

Hutchinson Center
80 Belmont Ave/Rt 3
Belfast, Maine