Minutes for MPJC meeting for February 7

Present: Mary Jo, Carol, Pam, Ron, Zae, Lois, Joe, Kay, Glenda Rae, Caroline, Ellyn, Peter

Old Business

1. Approval of Minutes: The minutes for the January 29th meeting were approved.

2. Progress Reports

  1. No Child Left Behind issue -- Let Me Decide High School Project: Brenna was not there, but she had reported a significant increase in the number of calls to the GI Rights Hotline recently..

  2. February 23 Bush Demonstration: There will be a rally organized by the unions from 6:30-7:30 Wednesday evening, February 22, to call attention to the issues working families have to deal with as a result of Bush policies and how his policies are robbing working people (Bush as Sheriff of Nottingham). The following concerns will be raised: The War, Pensions, Medicare, Health Care, Social Security, Government Corruption, Immigrant Rights, Government Accountability, Domestic Spying and Civil Liberties, and Barriers to Voter Registration and Reliable Vote Counting. It became clear that the thrust of this rally had changed from a town hall format proposed at the Saturday meeting to a restricted five speaker format with no open mike, and that one main goal of the rally was to showcase Joe Donnelly (one of the speakers) as the union choice for successor to Chocola. Because MPJC will not endorse any candidate, we debated whether or not we could cosponsor the rally in its current format. Openness in the Primary process is a Democratic ideal and shutting down one candidtae is a bad idea. We called folks at the organizing meeting for the rally and tried to get the other Democratic candidate on the speakers platform, but were told that the speakers list was closed. One exciting bit of news is that it is possible that Cindy Sheehan will be one of the speakers. We regretfully decided not to cosponsor the rally, but encouraged all our members to attend. This does not mean that MPJC may not join the Working Families Coalition in the future. We need more information on its goals and program. The location for the rally has not yet been determined.

    On Thursday, February 23, the unions are planning an informational picket before Bush is scheduled to arrive. We decided to coordinate our demonstration with their picket and schedule it from 10-12. They are working behind the scenes to find an approved location for the protest and we were advised not to contact the police directly as yet. Concern about parking and access to the demonstration location was raised. We just don't know enough yet to assess this problem. There will be a sign-making gathering sponsored by the unions in the near future and notification will be sent to the listserv. Some of the suggested slogans were "Out Now," "Impeach," "Blood Money," "Bring the Troops Home Now," "How Many More," and "Command an Immediate Withdrawal." We still want to get out the word as widely as possible for the February 23rd demonstration so everyone who agreed to contact groups at the last meeting should follow up. (Gary/Chicago (Lee), CPNV (Ellyn), CPT (Peter), Elkhart and Goshen peace groups (Peter), NAACP (Ellyn), IMA/URC/Muslim women's group (Lois), Students at ND and SMC (Carol), Catholic Church bulletins (Carol)). We did not discuss forming a peacekeepers unit. Brenna is contacting the Michigan Peace Team out of Lansing to see if they will send down a contingent for this purpose. We did decide to organize a cell phone network, at least two layers deep. There will be one phone at the top that the police will contact and a group of a half dozen or so phones that the top phone person can contact and that everyone with a cell phone will have access to, so we can be ready in case the secret service moves the first amendment free zone at the last minute.

    Notre Dame students have scheduled a Peace Week from February 20-24. On the 20th and 21st they will set out 300 pairs of boots, part of the Quaker witness, on the South Quad. These boots represent the National Guardsmen who have been killed in Iraq. All are invited to walk by and observe this tribute. There will be a panel on Wednesday evening about the effects of the war. The speakers have not yet been selected, but it will be open to the public. On Thursday, the students will join the demonstration near Bethel. Mary Jo was fairly certain that the unions could help provide transportation for the students to the demonstration site. Joe will try to get a count on Wednesday, January 22, of those who need rides on Thursday.

  3. February 16 anti-Bush vigil: MPJC still plans to sponsor a vigil outside the main Bethel gate on Logan from 4:30-5:30 a week before Bush's visit to alert the Bethel workers that Bush is collecting blood money on a Christian campus.

  4. CLAP project report: The Campus Labor Action Project (CLAP) is working to improve the working conditions, wages, and benefits for the hourly workers at Notre Dame. As the largest employer in the community, Notre Dame has a responsibility to set an example and pay a living wage. The organizers plan to sponsor a February 8th Worker Appreciation Day, to distribute candy hearts on Valentine's day, and to form a group which will talk to workers to discover their needs and concerns. Call to Action asked MPJC to join them in sending a letter to Fr. Jenkins asking for a meeting to talk about a living wage. CTA will draft the letter and put it out to the list serv. We will decide at the next meeting about MPJC sponsorship, although this seems to be an ideal project for us to work on. St. Joe Valley Project should also be contacted and asked to send representatives to the meeting if it should be granted. Fr. Jenkins has refused to meet with students on this issue. Perhaps he will meet with representatives of the community.

  5. Topic of the Month -- Withdrawal of troops from Iraq: Peter had just sent a proposed rewording to the list serv. We postponed discussion until the next meeting.

3. Treasurer's Report: We have $261.93 in the bank and no outstanding debt.

New Business

  1. Town Hall Meeting to showcase alternatives to Bush ideas: We postponed discussion of this until the next meeting. We had hoped the February 22nd rally might have served this purpose, but it will not in its current format.

  2. Other topics and issues: There will be a Witness For Peace speaker in Saint Mary's Dining Hall auditorium on April 25th at 7pm. Nikki Thanos will speak about her recent stay in Colombia.

  3. Next meeting: We did not finish discussion on this issue. We should meet on another night than Tuesday so that Lee can be involved. What about Wednesday, February 15th?