Veterans for Peace
William Ladd Chapter 1
Minutes from Business Meeting
September 30, 2010
Curtis Library, Morrell Room
Brunswick, Maine

PRESENT: Richard Clement, Rita Clement, Tim Blanchette, Stan Lofchie, Dan Ellis, Dave Crowley, Michael Uhl, Bob Lezer, Tom Sturtevant, Peggy Akers, Dud Hendrick, Bruce Gagnon, Dovey Balsam, Nicole Moreau, Suzanne Hedrick, Susan Connery, Howard Bonis, Kristina Wolff, and Doug Rawlings

The meeting began at 7:00 pm

  • Last month’s SECRETARY’S REPORT was accepted as written (Peggy motion/Kristina second). Thanks to Bob Lezer for taking minutes at the beginning of tonight’s meeting due to the secretary’s tardiness.
  • TREASURER’S REPORT: Kristina reported that we have two major topics to discuss – the convention and the Common Ground Fair. As far as the convention is concerned, the confusion over the check mistakenly sent to the national has been resolved. Kristina estimates that we made about $2,000 in merchandise sales (mostly from Shetterly calendar and card sales). We now have a tentative balance of $12,330.60 with perhaps $1,000 outstanding. The Legal defense Fund has been restored back to $1,330.00. Donations and dues are down. Kristina suggests that we put our account into an interest-bearing money market account. If we do this, we have to maintain a balance of $1,000 (i.e., we can’t “touch” that amount in order to keep the account active). After some discussion, Kristina moved that we change our current account to an interest-bearing account. Bruce second. Approved.
  • MAINESHARE REPORT: Tom reminded us that the MaineShare Bike-Athon has been discontinued. He will be riding the Augusta rail trail as a fundraiser for MaineShare next week. Those interested in sponsoring Tom should send him a check. Tom also mentioned that we’ll be receiving our MaineShare check at the end of December. Our chapter has to submit a financial statement to MaineShare by the end of November (Tom, Dud, and Kristina will work on that). Dave Crowley has volunteered to help represent VFP on the MaineShare Board along with Tom.
  • MEMBERSHIP REPORT: Dan announced that we currently have 182 members in our chapter – five honorary members, thirty-two associate members, and one hundred and forty-five veteran members. Of that number, 106 are current in their dues payments.
  • BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE! (ACTUALLY, APPLE CIDER): Chapter President extraordinaire Dud Hendrick passed out the bubbly, and we all celebrated the unequivocal success of the 25th ANNIVERSARY CONVENTION held in Portland this past August. Once again, Dud extended his sincere thanks to the many in this chapter who worked hard to pull this off. Right now it looks like the convention MADE $18,000 – in other words, we supported the national by dumping some real change into their coffers. Bob Lezer graciously recognized the “Big Three” (his words) – Dud, Michael, and Doug – for their work in planning and implementing the convention by giving each of them a very handsome pullover jacket with the Maine Convention logo. At least one of the three wore it to bed last night. Dud, Michael, and Doug “went back at ya’” to thank all members who contributed. Such feel-good moments are rare; to share them with such an amazing group of people is very special. As Michael pointed out, the local press coverage for this event far exceeded our expectations; people around the state have been reminded once again that when VFP Maine steps up, good things will happen. I am authorized to use this medium to say again: THANK YOU to all of you for your work and support and good cheer. Note: we’re not going to ride this pony too much further – President Hendrick announced that he will not volunteer us to host another convention until the 50th despite pressure from the national to replicate this event.
  • Dud mentioned that one major problem with convention planning involved communication between the national office and our chapter planning committee. That said, Michael pointed out how incredibly helpful, professional, and conscientious both Betsy and Virginia from the national office were. In fact he moved (Doug second) that VFP Maine make Betsy and Virginia honorary members of our chapter with all the rights and privileges that are part of that designation. Approved. Dud will officially inform them of this decision (someone make up a certificate?? Bob??)
  • Dan reiterated that lots of people helped out with the convention and should be recognized – not the least, Dan himself (my note). You know who you are, and we know who you are, too. Michael pointed out that national President Mike Ferner asked for a list of names of people who helped out. Michael gave him 17 names.
  • Doug mentioned that the whole enterprise could not have been successfully carried out unless our planning committee could turn tasks over to individual members with the confidence that they would be taken care of efficiently. The lesson we three learned from the January Retreat was that we have a great group of quite capable individuals who just needed to be asked. Did I say THANK YOU before?
  • We started telling a few convention stories. This humble scribe was stunned by Peggy’s account of Iraqi women from Portland providing babysitting services for a few IVAW women who attended the convention. How cool is that? She also mentioned that this happened because of the good work of Dottie Blanchette.

    Kristina told us that our scholarship program directly impacted 40 attendees, many of who could not have made it without our $100 individual scholarships (a fund that was created entirely from fundraising events). Tim announced that he found alternative housing for twenty people – again, they couldn’t have attended without this assistance. Two of those twenty were new members from Iowa who just started up their VFP chapter.

    Peggy reminded us that members of the Lions Club who put on the Lobster Bake voluntarily drove members back to the ferry terminal. Dud thanked Bob for his extraordinary job managing the tabling area and Dan for his creativity and diligence designing the programs, setting up the web pages, etc. Dan reminded us that without the professional assistance of Headlight Company the audio-visual component of the whole convention would have suffered greatly. Doug pointed out that Ken Mayer from the national office mentioned that the Sunday Rally was the best closing event he had witnessed at a convention. Bruce mentioned the extraordinary work that Martha Speiss did with recording the event (Dud showed us some CD’s – with 400 photos — and DVD put together by Roger Leisner). Many of us acknowledged the extraordinary efforts of the Holiday Inn staff as they, too, got into what we are all about. Kristina announced that over 200 surveys were completed during the convention and thirteen interviews with women were completed.

    Dud has thanked many people outside of the chapter who helped out with this convention, but he may have forgotten a few – let him know if you think someone deserves a note from us. Dud thanked Nicole and Dovey for joining us and being such dedicated new members. Tom thought that the Ben Cohen presence at the convention was especially impressive.

    Kristina moved (Bob second) that VFP Maine also extend honorary membership to Noel Paul Stookey and Terry Tempest Williams for their gracious, powerful, and inspirational contributions to our convention. Dud told us that both of them declined the offer of an honorarium for their work. Jack Bussell sent Dud a letter and commendation from the Maine State Legislature sponsored by state representative Herb Adams that lauds Maine VFP for its good work. Dud will send a note to Jack encouraging him to come back into the fold.

  • COMMON GROUND FAIR REPORT: The fair attracted 15,000 people on Friday; 27,000 on Saturday (a record); and 17,000 on Sunday. Although our table did not generate much money (about $500 to cover the costs of the table), all staffers said that they engaged in some very good conversations. The Peace Walk was heavily promoted. Stan mentioned that all the years he has attended the fair, the VFP table is the best staffed of any group. Staffers for VFP this time around included: Bob Lezer (the main man!), Tom Sturtevant, Richard Clement, Rita Clement, Kristina Wolff, Doug Rawlings, Dovey Balsam, Nicole Moreau, Bruce Gagnon, Dan Ellis, Michael Uhl, Dud Hendrick, and a few I’m sure I’ve overlooked. Dud thanked all involved for spreading the work out so that Bob wasn’t overwhelmed. He hopes this trend will continue in the future. Dud mentioned that both Pingree and Michaud stopped at our table – Pingree seemed to do so by happenstance; Michaud sought us out.
  • PEACE WALK: Bruce announced that he and Dan have meticulously marked out the 151 mile route (having driven it and noting key landmarks). The route is broken down day by day and put up on our website.

    Bruce also announced that each town’s host has set up a place for a pot luck dinner (mostly churches) and a brief program. The walk averages about 15 miles per day (BREAKING NEWS! Maine acupuncturists and masseurs are volunteering their services at the end of three of the days so far; we may end up with their services at 4:00pm each day of the walk). Members are encouraged to join for any amount of time. Hosts are also providing home hospitality for walkers who need a place to sleep.

    Bruce encourages all walkers to notify us by e-mail (see website) to let us know when they’ll be joining us and for us to figure out meal demands, etc each evening. Doug announced that college students at UMF will be participating. Bruce will put out a press release on Friday, October 1st. Now we need to promote the walk as widely as possible. Since Bruce will be in India for a couple of weeks, Bob Lezer will take over as contact person in his absence. We’ll kick off the Walk (all puns intended) on November 2nd in Farmington. Doug suggested that we emphasize this walk as a way to engage with local communities – not to “lecture” to them but to listen to how the war is impacting their lives.

    We are designing a series of handouts to accompany walkers. We’ll end the walk on November 10th in Portland at Bill Slavick’s church. Bruce encourages us to find a notable speaker to highlight that evening – Suzanne suggested John Dear (an amazing Catholic priest activist with ties to Danny Muller of Maine Peace Action); Tom suggested Sebastian Junger, the author who has just published an account of the Afghan and Iraq wars impact on soldiers; and Dud and Michael have suggested Andrew Bacevich, who has written extensively on these wars and whose son was killed in Iraq. Doug, Bob, and Tom agreed to work on finding a speaker for this event (Dud will be contacting Bacevich soon). Peggy asked us to consider whom our audience will be – should we reach out to the community who probably doesn’t recognize any of these speakers or to the peace movement or who? Bruce thought that members of Bill’s church would be attracted to John Dear; he also mentioned that many times at the culmination of a walk participants from all around would gather for a moment of closure.

    Bruce announced that there would be two vans to accompany walkers (one from the Buddhist temple and one loaned to us by Peggy) and a pick-up loaned to us from Tom Whitney to carry supplies. All three vehicles will be with walkers throughout the walk.

    Doug moved (Tim seconded) that VFP William Ladd Chapter set up a $1,000 walk fund to cover the costs of transportation, speakers, and miscellaneous supplies needed on the walk. Approved. Bruce also pointed out that each evening a hat will be passed to help cover local expenses incurred (and to donate to host churches). Bruce also mentioned that November 2nd is a timely moment to begin our chapter’s walk – we’ll be showing Maine citizens that, no matter the outcome of the elections, we are not giving up in our opposition to these wars and we will continue to work on the behalf of soldiers serving in them. Stan(?) or Dud(?) suggested that we send a letter to all Maine politicians inviting them to join us on the walk. Bob pointed out that Channel 11 will be announcing the walk periodically.

  • Dud relayed a message from Herb Hoffman urging us to keep the “Bring Home the National Guard” alive. Every time we encounter a politician seeking office (especially gubernatorial candidates) we should ask them directly: should the governor of a state have the authority to contest the legality of a war and, if deciding the war is illegal, to deny access to that state’s National Guard units for fighting in the war. Herb recommends a questionnaire be sent to each candidate asking them that question. Stan, Bob (?), and Dud will work on this. Suzanne pointed out that back in the 80’s then Governor Joe Brennan (a member of VFP) refused to send National Guard troops to the wars in Central America until then-president Ronald Reagan federalized the guard. Tom Sturtevant agreed to get the names and addresses of all candidates, and he will work with Stan on the questionnaire. The chapter members present agreed to authorize Stan and Tom to carry this project out on our behalf.
  • BRING THE WAR DOLLARS HOME CAMPAIGN: Bruce announced that CodePink is now promoting this campaign nationally; communities in Alaska and New York are adopting it.
  • PTSD, BRAIN TRAUMA, AND MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA SYMPOSIUM: Michael asked when we should hold the next symposium. Some think as early as March; others suggest we wait until June. Michael will find out which Saturdays will be available for USM’s Abramson Center. The Symposium Committee (Michael, Doug, Dud, Kristina) will choose a date and start lining up possible key note speakers. Charlie Clements has already indicated that he would be one of them. Bob Lezer mentioned that Portland’s Whole Foods Market will sponsor certain events by approving 5% of their net profits on a given day. Bruce moved (Doug second) that Bob be authorized to approach Whole Foods on our behalf to see if they would be willing to sponsor our symposium.
  • A discussion of national dues and chapter dues was tabled until next meeting, pending Dud hearing back from national officers.
  • We agreed not to have a table at the Maine Principals’ annual meeting because we didn’t think it would be a good investment of our money ($279) or our time.
  • Tom and Bob volunteered to staff a table at the Maine State Employees Combined Charitable Appeal event on October 14th in Augusta. Calendars, membership material, and the Peace Walk will be featured at the table. No cost to the chapter.
  • VETERANS DAY PARADE: Dud has been trying to contact the parade officials (American Legion) to no avail. We decided that if we’re not invited, we’ll hold our own event (it’s the culmination of the Peace walk). Dud thought that we should insist on having a speaker at the dais. Kristina thought that we should force the legion’s hand and use a rejection as a form of publicity. Peggy will contact the mayor of Portland to see if our participation in the parade is possible. We’ll wait for the result of that conversation to move forward on this aspect of the Peace Walk. There will be a VFP presence in Portland on the 11th.
  • SCHOOL OF AMERICAS WATCH: Tom Whitney will be going down to the SOA demonstration from November 19th to the 21st. He’s looking for folks to join him (car pool?). Contact Tom if you’re interested in going down.
  • Dud suggested that some people might want to write Frank Donnelly who is currently serving a jail sentence in South Carolina for war tax resistance. His address is FRANK DONNELLY, FCI-ESTILL-CAMP-UNITE-01787-036, PO BOX 699, ESTILL, SC 29918
  • Bob saw Art Whitman’s daughter at the Common Ground Fair. She said that “he’s hanging in there.” Art’s address is 235 Oak Hill Road, Auburn, ME 04210 if you want to drop him a line.
  • Dan asked us to contribute $25 to the Brunswick Curtis Library for the use of their room tonight. Kristina will send them a check.
  • We need to sell 375 calendars to break even, Kristina announced. We’re about half way there. Members are encouraged to pick some up to distribute to teachers or to sell. Please let Kristina know what you’re doing with them.
  • We closed the meeting with a group picture that Bruce will use to advertise the Peace Walk.