29 SEPTEMBER 2005
Meeting began 7:04 pm. Attendance: 25 VFP members
Doug Rawlings announced that VFP won a purple ribbon at the Common Ground Fair for most educational display. (applause!!!!)
At National Convention in Dallas, in August, chapter 001 was recognized as the founding chapter of VFP.
Doug read letters from:
*Jerry GENESIO, congratulating VFP on its level of activity.
*Jim Mayes, from the Vermont Chapter of VFP requesting information
on the cost of war display. Display information was sent by Jack and
book covers were sent by Peggy.
Review of September activities:
*9/10—Blue Angel demonstration. 350 people attended. Great press coverage beforehand. Bruce Gagnon, Mary Beth Sullivan, Bob Lezer, and John Wirtz were commended for their outstanding organizational work.
*9/18—Maine Share Bike-a-thon—very successful. Raised $13,000 for MaineShare. VFP receives substantial funding from Maine Share.
*9/23—9/25—Common Ground Fair. Raised $626.32 from sale of items and donations. Over 35,000 people attend the CGF; VFP table was very active throughout the fair. Our counter-recruitment display was popular with young people and their parents. Lots of VFP brochures were distributed as well (potential new members). Thanks to the crew who took care of things: Stan Lofchie (the money man), Tom “tables” Sturtevant, Bob Lezer, Dan Ellis, Joe Sirois, Victor Skorapa, Gerry Oleson, Bob McElwain, Doug Rawlings, Bob Chute, etc.
*9/24—Washington D.C. march
Russ reported that he started with the NY group and due to the numbers of people, it took 3 hours to begin walking. He reported on sale of items at march and that people were everywhere.
Peggy reported she walked with Code Pink and the Raging Grannies. She experienced great new energy. See Michael Moore’s website for a great statement by Peggy. Rita said it was amazing to see so many people all together. Dud reported on the vigil at Walter Reed Hospital Friday night. There were about 200 people and about 200 counter protesters.
On Monday 378 people were arrested at the White House. Dud was one of the 30 or so VFP people who were arrested. Russ reported that VFP and the National Lawyers Guild met in Washington to work on ending the Korean war. Russ also reported that he heard Hugo Chavez and Jesse Jackson in NYC.
Minutes of August 18 meeting were accepted. Moved by Jack Bussell, seconded by Bob Lezer.
Upcoming October events:
*10/8—Vigil at BIW from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. during Keep Space for Peace Week. Bruce reported that 2 weeks ago in Yokahama, Japan, a boat flotilla leafleted Japanese sailors on their ship. US now getting Japan to have an offensive Navy to assist in circling China. The Aegis destroyers built at BIW are critical to this effort.
*10/14: Biddeford reading of names at Senator Snowe’s office. Meet at 9:30a.m. at Riley’s Bakery across from Senator’s office. Reading will last approximately 6 hours. Now 1, 931 Americans killed. Note: at the last reading of names in Lewiston a “War is Not the Answer” poster, visible from the street, was placed in Susan Collins’ office window and stayed there most of the day.
Dud reported that Pat Wheeler, who has videoed all the reading of the names events, has put together a teaching video that lasts about 1/2 hour. Suggested that a goal would be to do the readings of the names in all six of Senator Snowe’s offices on the same day. The Maine Frequent Visit Program continues.
Arthur Whitman reported that we have $5444.88 in the treasury at the moment. There are still a few outstanding expenses from the Blue Angels demonstration.
There was a brief discussion of setting up a data base that would be accessible to Doug, Art, and Bob Lezer.
Honoring a VFP Member:
Arthur Whitman received a plaque acknowledging and honoring his service to Maine VFP as both treasurer and secretary pro tem in addition to providing years of leadership and inspiration. Members present at the meeting joined in applause for one of our finest.
* Kate Harris contacted Doug regarding VFP being a co-sponsor for Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist who has been reporting from Iraq. Doug heard him speak in Dallas at the National Convention. He is a dynamic speaker who stated that he was “proud to be addressing Veterans for Peace, an organization that he greatly admires.” AAFC is donating $100, PeaceWorks $100,???? is donating $50. VFP voted to donate $150. Doug will represent VFP in introducing Jamail on November 2nd.
* VFP chapter 001 voted to become an affiliate member of Global Network, contributing $100. Moved by Stan Lofchie, seconded by Bob Lezer. Passed. We will be an affiliate member each year—thus a $100 contribution each year.
* Bruce spoke about his book COME TOGETHER RIGHT NOW. —$13. Has copies with him. Doug & Bob stated what a good book it is. It is highly recommended for anyone interested in developing their organizing skills.
* Armed Forces education/ career options in Maine’s high schools.
10/12—Doug and Larry Dansinger will visit Mt. Blue high school in Farmington to hold two workshops during the school’s career day. They will be emphasizing “full disclosure” of information about serving in the military.
10/27—Mountain View High school in Thorndike. The same deal: they want us to come in during their career day. Anyone interested in doing this, please contact Doug Rawlings at 293-2580.
Portland school board—Jack reported on the opt in and opt out. Spoke about the importance of data cards and to limit to 3 school days per year military recruiters in high school. Push for HR551.
Main Street Moms’ for Peace in California, has found it has more impact on counter-recruitment in schools by working with school boards.
Andrea reported on her son’s experience w/ recruiters and read a letter to the editor, written by a recruiter, from the Kennebec Journal supporting recruiting in high schools.
Dan reported that the DOD has contracted with a private marketing firm to maintain a huge data base. Another incursion into privacy.
Peggy reported that VFP post cards have gone out to all Maine schools announcing the availability of VFP book covers. Upon request, schools will receive 50 book covers unless they request more. So far, book covers have been sent to Portland HS, Deering HS, Waterville HS, Messalonskee HS, Cony HS, Winthrop HS, Monmouth HS, and Maranacook HS. Doug will bring book covers to Mt Blue on October 12th.
Dud reviewed the Cindy Sheehan plane ticket scenario. There may be reimbursement of ticket costs. Note: On October 4th, Dud received a check for full reimbursement of ticket costs.
Anyone interested contributing to Katrina victims,—VFP national website has contact information. VFP chapters have been sending supplies down to Covington, LA, where VFP has set up a distribution point.
Presentation by Victor Damian, a VFP member. Damian was born in Peru in 1965 and emigrated to the United States in 1985. He joined the Marines and served for four years. He currently visited Bolivia. He spoke about activities of US troops in South America, Bolivia and Paraguay in particular. There are 1500 marines in Paraguay protecting natural gas lines. Halliburton and Enron are heavily involved in the area. Ms. Harden, Don Harden’s daughter who lived in Bolivia for two years during a time of a water war, a war for natural resources, mentioned that she looked to Bolivia with a lot of hope. The people are organized to peacefully resist U.S. military oppression. Roger leisner questioned why Maine doesn’t contract with Venezuela for low cost refined oil, as NY is doing. BUY CITGO GAS!!!!!!!!
To follow Latin America closely go to the NarcoNews website.
Victor answered a number of questions posed by VFP members. In recognition of his contribution to our meeting, Victor was given a VFP tee shirt.
Stan moved, seconded by Jack, to make Brian Clement an honorary member of VFP, chapter 001 and to give $100 to Brian for his work with IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War), Maine chapter. Brian recently returned from a tour in Iraq; he was recognized last year by our chapter for his courage and commitment to peace(applause!!!!!!!!!!!). Brian was also given a VFP tee shirt.
Jack passed out True Cost of War brochures, which represents the True Cost of War display in pamphlet form. At the Common Ground Fair we were struck by how many people who saw the display board wanted to have a brochure with this information on it. Jack designed a prototype that we discussed. He’ll have a final copy ready for review by the next meeting.
Doug brought up the Massachusetts initiative to recall their state’s National Guard units from Iraq. Presently, peace groups in Massachusetts are gathering signatures for a referendum next year. Since Maine is one of 24 states that can do the same thing, Doug wondered if VFP Maine shouldn’t try the same tactic. Bob Lezer mentioned that he is currently discussing another option with Beth Edmonds, the Speaker of the Maine Senate, about putting forth a resolution to the Maine Senate calling for withdrawal of National Guard troops. Edmonds had asked Bob to send a draft statement to her attorney for consideration before October 7th. Bob and Doug will work on this statement.
Next meeting October 27 at 7:00pm in Lewiston. Place to be announced.
Adjourned……9: 00 pm
Minutes respectfully submitted by Bob Lezer.