Minutes for MPJC Meeting of January 26, 2015

Present: Peter, Ellyn, Glenda Rae, Rey, Sarah, Lois(by phone), Wanda, Galen

Old business

    1.  Approval of Minutes for December 8: The minutes were approved as corrected.

    2. Progress Reports

        a. Concern about Vote Centers: The election board defeated this proposal by a 2-1 vote along party lines.

        b. Little Taste of Peace: The attendance was 128, a new record. All the comments we heard were favorable. Best ever! Some wished that the mayor could have participated in a circle after he gave the kick-off remarks, but Glenda Rae realized how awkward that would have been for him. There was one policeman in attendance and those in his circle appreciated his perspective. Some circles were too close together. There are not that many congregations that have a space big enough to hold this event as it grows.

        c. Reducing Gun Violence: Chief Teachman attended a gun violence meeting at St. Paul Bethel Baptist Church in December, along with the head of the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) project in South Bend. They were very favorable to restrictions on gun purchases. The police have installed shot spotters throughout the city. These devices can detect when a loud noise is a gunshot and notify the police to respond quickly. Only 20% of gunshots are reported by citizens, either because they think they are other noises, or that others will have reported them, or they do not want to get in trouble with the police or their neighbors. The GVI program has allowed police to discover that only 500 people out of the entire city are connected with gun violence either as perpetrators or victims, some more than once. The police have been calling those folks in to offer help breaking this cycle of violence. If they do not respond favorably then the police promise to be tough with them.

       d. Topic of the Month: Systemic Racism. Glenda Rae had not prepared a statement and we decided to reserve this topic for a later month. There was a wide ranging discussion which Peter had trouble focusing, but folks felt it was important to participate in. Some of the issues addressed were:

There are lots of reasons why innocent black folks are convicted and spend years in prison. Some even plead guilty when they are innocent. Thankfully, there are a number of organizations who are working on individual cases to get these prisoners released and their convictions overturned. DNA evidence, which was not available at the time they were convicted, is a big help.

There is not much hope for ending war. People will continue fighting over land, food, water, etc. It will probably get worse.

The XL pipeline approval by Congress is moving forward in spite of all the oil spills (87% increase since 2009). Thankfully, President Obama has promised to veto it. Tar sands sludge is very hard to clean up. The Kalamazoo spill of several years ago is still on the bottom of the river. Rick Perry, who is running for president is concerned about the declining cost of oil and its effect on Texas jobs. More oil being piped in from Canada will further depress the cost of oil.

Sarah mentioned that her Chicago group would sponsor forums on various issues. One of them focused on Israeli-Palestinian issues. Jews, many of them unbelievers, who are seizing land in the West Bank say it is theirs from the Bible. Looking at maps from various points of time since 1947 shows how much of the West Bank has passed into Israeli hands. If these new boundaries are respected, Palestine cannot exist as a separate state.

Peter and Ellyn will be returning for another medical mission to Nicaragua mid February to mid-March. Nicaragua is the safest country in the Western Hemisphere, although it is also the second poorest after Haiti.

       e. Martin Luther King Day Table: We actually had two tables. Lois set up a table on scholarships for college students. People commented on its innovative bridge design, showing that education is the key to helping folks out of poverty. Lois was disappointed that a young man on scholarship whom she met at another event was not able to visit the table. He had promised to write his story and get it to her so she could make copies for the table, but was not able to do so.

The MPJC table was right next to Lois' table. Thanks to Ellyn for setting it up, and Pam, Wanda, Galen, and Peter for manning it. The bean poll was a big hit this year. The education bottle received the most number of beans by far. People seemed to feel that without education the other issues would not matter. The military received the smallest number of beans. Lois thought that we should incorporate the bean poll into more of our events.

       f. Human Rights Day program: There were about 50 people in attendance. They showed the video of high school students reciting the U. N. human rights conventions. The United Way showed their video about poverty in Michiana. 20% of folks in Michiana live in poverty including 30% if kids. We talked a little bit about the ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employment) report for Indiana which shows that 69% of families have a combined hourly wage less than $20, whereas a family of 4 needs to make at least $23.42 an hour in a 40 hour week for a survival budget paying for food, housing,health care, child care, and utilities only. For a stability budget ($82,000 annually) a family of 4 with one wage earner needs to make $41.37 an hour. The sponsors of the Human Right's day program were pushing for an increase of the minimum wage in Indiana. By law, this has to be done by the state legislature. South Bend cannot set its own minimum wage. Literacy was another topic explored at the meeting. In a study conducted in Philadelphia there were only 300 books among 10,000 homes in the inner city.

    3. Treasurer's Report: Our bank total is now $40.67 with $5.11 in petty cash.

New Business

    1. What do we (can we) do next? We incorporated this topic into other discussion

    2. Topic of the Month: We decided to work on indigenous rights. Sarah will start out the discussion. She mentioned a book "American Holocaust" by David Stannard which speaks to this issue.

    3. Other Topics and Issues: Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow," available as an ebook from the public library, will speak at St. Mary's College at 7pm, Monday, February 9 in O'Laughlin Auditorium. The following evening, February 10, the Community Forum for Economic Justice has reserved the Dickinson Room in the downtown South Bend library for follow-up discussion of the book, concentrating on the Introduction and Chapter 6. Let them know you will attend by emailing sjc.cfed@gmail.com or call 574-234-7235.

Sheila Rosenthal from IJPN will be visiting South Bend on January 27. There is a gathering at 6:30 at Liggetts to welcome her.

The Moral Mondays group is hosting a march in Indianapolis. Call Glenda Rae 287-7715 for more information. The local chapter met last fall but there has been no follow-up.

    4. Next meeting: Monday, March 23th, at 2:30pm at Peter and Ellyn's.