Veterans for Peace
William Ladd Chapter 001
September 27, 2007
Business Meeting Minutes
Peace and Justice Center
Portland, Maine

PRESENT: Kristina Wolff (acting facilitator), Richard Clement, Rita Clement, Tom Whitney, Smitty Smith, Jack Bussell, Stan Lofchie, Dan Ellis, Al Norton, Norm Rasulis, Peggy Akers, Tom Sturtevant, Doug Rawlings, Tim Blanchette, Stephen Potts (IVAW), Lora Somlyo, Sam Dinning (guest from Bowdoin College), and Rita Kissen (guest).

President Lezer could not attend the meeting since he was in Ohio for family matters.

The meeting began at 7:00pm with a discussion led by guest Rita Kissen of The Refuser Solidarity Network (please note: the secretary was late to the meeting and missed this discussion. I would appreciate anything you’d like to add as an amendment to the minutes. Please send additional commentary to Stan moved and Smitty seconded to send $100 to the Refusers Solidarity Network. All agreed.

The Secretary’s Report (minutes) for the August meeting were accepted. Tom moved and Dan seconded.

The Membership Report: Dan Ellis reported that the chapter currently has 159 members ( we added 13 “new” members this past month because Dan sent out letters to members who had not kept up their local chapter dues). Of the 159 members, 123 are veterans and 36 are associate members. Dan will start our membership drive (renewal of dues, etc) in November.

The Calendar Project: Kristina reported that we have sold 603 calendars to date. We have also donated 309 (that means we have made our “mark” — i.e., our promise to donate 300 calendars to schools, which was a stipulation in our RESIST grant). She feels that word-of-mouth advertising is working best among teachers. However, we still need to sell most of the remaining calendars to develop “seed” money for future calendar projects and to bolster our operating funds. Smitty will get the word out to Portland area members. Rita Kissen volunteered to get word out to USM faculty. Richard suggested that at some point we ask teachers for feedback on how the calendars have been received at their schools and for suggested changes in format. Rita asked if there had been any mention of trouble with school administrations. Kristina mentioned that some teachers are concerned and that some librarians are a little uneasy with the calendars. Tim mentioned that his wife received complaints for e-mailing the calendars within her school.

The Treasurer’s Report: Tim reported a balance of $7733.87 as of September 27, 2007. Revenue includes $157 from calendar sales, $1079.60 from the Common Ground Fair, $305 from donations, and $305 from dues. Expenditures from the past month include $79 for business cards, $200 donation for the MaineShare Bike and Hike, $500 from MaineShare funds to Chapter 003 (Bangor, Maine Chapter), $400 for Common Ground Fair set-up, and $85 paid out to Rob Shetterly from sales of his postcards at the fair.

The Legal Defense Fund is showing a balance of $1710, with $220 coming in as donations this past month and no expenditures reported.

Tim made a small correction to last month’s report on the PTSD Symposium. He had mistakenly subtracted our USM room deposit twice. So our final “cost” to the William Ladd Chapter for the symposium is $662.41.

2008 PTSD Symposium Planning Report: Jack reported that the USM site has been reserved (the Abromson Center, which we used this year). Doug reported that Michael UHL is pursuing three different speakers and will report back his findings.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Occupation: Kristina reported that five women from Farmington’s Women in Black group occupied Senator Collins’s office in Portland on September 14th. Although there was no press coverage and no arrests made, Kristina reported good meetings with Collins’s office aides. The women presented the aide with petitions calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq; reports on the effects of PTSD on women in Iraq; reports on sexual abuse within the military; and a report from Lee Sharkey, a participant who attended the International Women in Black meeting at Valencia, Spain this summer. Over 40 supporters outside Collins’s office passed out leaflets and brought flowers into the office in support of the five women. The women left Collins’s office at 9:00pm.

MaineShare Hike and Bike Event: Tom Sturtevant reported that the September 9th event attracted 60 bikers despite the inclement weather. Over $15,000 was raised at the event, which will go towards paying administrative salaries. Tom thanked the chapter and individual members for their support. He reminded us that MaineShare is the major financial contributor to Maine VFP.

Blue Angels Demonstration: September 15th and 16th at the Brunswick Naval Station. The Friday night vigil started with about 15 people and by midnight there were three who decided to vigil throughout the night. Since the vigil was held at the gate of the Navy Base, there were more negative remarks directed at vigilers than at other demonstrations. The night passed uneventfully. Fifty people marched with us on Saturday despite a heavy downpour throughout the morning. Linda and Sandy from MFSO spoke eloquently about the status of their children who are in the military and Betty Burke from WILPF spoke beautifully about her wishes for world peace. The demonstration was facilitated by Bruce Gagnon and Marybeth Sullivan. VFP members provided security.

Common Ground Fair: September 21 to September 23rd. Our participation in the fair was announced to be a success, not only financially but also in terms of outreach to veterans, veterans’ families, and children. Tom was officially commended for the excellent ad that he created for the fair newsletter, and Rita drew a round of applause from the membership when she suggested that we praise President Bob Lezer for his great work in setting up the display and also in staffing it throughout the fair. It was noted that we need to set up a more definite schedule of staffers for the table earlier next year.

Portland and Bangor Office Occupations: VFP members were involved in both demonstrations calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. See the web site for more details.

National Convention 2010: We agreed that we should apply for the 2010 VFP National convention to be held in Portland. This will mark the 25th anniversary of the organization, which started here in Portland lo so many years ago. Jack Bussell was officially nominated as the Convention Chairperson Kristina motion; Stan second). He recommended James Carroll as a major keynote speaker. Jack also announced that USM residence halls would not be available for the convention although their meeting facilities (the Abramson Center) could be. Jack recommends the Eastland Hotel as the main site. Discussion ensued: perhaps the Holiday Inn by the Bay might be a better venue? Jack will pursue possible sites. We agreed that we should hold the convention over the weekend of August 19th (Th, Fri, Sat, and Sun) 2010. Doug passed convention guidelines on to Jack.

Carlos Arredondo Incident: Kristina reminded us of the attack on Carlos at the latest Washington, DC demonstration. He is pressing charges and currently living at the Code Pink House in Washington. A request for support has gone out. We agreed to send Carlos a card of support and a check for $250 to help defray his expenses. Kristina will send the card. Doug motion, Stan second. We also talked about making Carlos and Melida honorary members of the William Ladd Chapter.

Other Business:

  • Jack suggested and we agreed to send flowers to Mimi Wirtz as a “get well” gesture.
  • Jack reminded us of the BIW demonstration coming up (see VFP web site for more information).
  • Veterans Day march: This will be a high priority item at our next meeting. Jack has received no further information about the parade after our initial acceptance/invitation to join. Jack will make up one 18 FOOT BANNER: MAINE VETERANS FOR PEACE. Stan moved and Doug seconded that Peggy be chosen as a contact with the American Legion to have a VFP speaker present at this year’s parade. We agreed that jack should be given $65.00 to cover the cost of the banner.
  • GI Coffeehouse: Stan mentioned that Brunswick area peace groups are planning to have a GI coffeehouse in Brunswick. Discussion was tabled for a future date.
  • Stan mentioned that Victor Skorapa should be recognized for his work with the Unitarian Church to push the impeachment agenda.
  • Stan urged us to be prepared for a response to a potential bombing of Iran. In the event of a bombing, members around the table suggested that we hold a “no business as usual” demonstration in protest the next day after the bombing starts. Some members urged that massive civil disobedience take place in Portland, blocking traffic etc etc. Since the time of Stan’s suggestion was late and not all around the table were in agreement about a VFP-sanctioned civil disobedience, we agreed to continue discussion of this response at our next meeting. In the meantime, however, Stan, Doug, and Richard agreed to mount an impromptu, “unofficial” response if bombing were to occur before our next meeting. Note: the young man from Bowdoin College (doing an anthropological field study of VFP primates) announced that many students would like to join us in such an event. We would have to choose a site (the Casco Bridge was chosen as one) and a time (noon the following day). In any event, VFP participation will be chronicled through the list-serve and the web site.
  • Tom Whitney announced the Saturday, October 27th rally in Boston against the war. VFP should be there. Tom will help organize car pooling for those interested in attending.
  • Peggy suggested that we send a card to Dave Cline’s family and to the national office in commemoration of Dave’s good work and to memorialize his passing. We will consider a chapter donation in recognition of Dave at a later meeting.
  • Sam from Bowdoin thinks that we should set up a network with Bowdoin College students to keep them informed of our actions.
  • Stephen Potts of IVAW joined our meeting out of curiosity. He’d like to join us.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30pm.