Minutes for MPJC meeting for February 16

Present: Mary Jo, Dustin, Paul, Lois, Lee, Kathy, Caroline, Ellyn, Peter

Old Business

1. Approval of Minutes: The minutes for the February 7th meeting were approved.

2. Progress Reports

  1. February 16 Bethel Vigil: A half dozen folks held a vigil at the east entrance to Bethel College from 4:30-5:30 to inform the Bethel workers that the college was welcoming Bush next week and asking them to think of the implications of this action. Some of the vigilers moved up to the grape-McKinley intersection since there was more traffic there.

  2. February 22 anti-Bush rally: The rally will be held at John Young School, 1801 N. Main, Mishawaka, from 6:30-8. A band called "Nice Save" will start playing (for free) at 5:00 pm for the entertainment of those who would like to arrive early and will also play after the event. Kelly Hogart is writing some anti-war folk songs for interludes during the program. There will be a two-minute introduction and five minute speech by each speaker. Kathy will ask Cindy Sheehan and/or Kathy Kelly to speak against the war, but, if neither can do so, her son Wes will give the anti-war speech. Kathy asked us to park our cars in front of the school facing the street with anti-war signs in the windows to encourage passersby to join in. In case Mishawaka voids the John Young contract at the last minute, the rally will move to the Town and Country parking lot across from McDonalds. The electrical union can set up portable lights and sound system there.

  3. February 23 Bush Demonstration: There will be buses and vans to transport folks from Local 365, 2405 Edison Road (just down from the junction with Ironwood, near the Post Office) starting at 8am. We do not yet know where we will be allowed to gather near Bethel, but Kathy encouraged us to contact the Mishawaka police asking for a venue for our group, not as a part of the larger demonstration. If enough groups ask, they may decide to set up a 1st amendment free zone before the last minute. MPJC will have our orange banner, so look for us when you arrive at the site. We did not have time to arrange cell phone contacts, but will bring this up at the final WFCM meeting on Monday at 6:00 pm, Room 2066 Mary Crest Building, Western Avenue. We also did not arrange for peacekeepers for the Thursday event. The unions want to walk a picket line on the sidewalk along McKinley, even though the sidewalk is quite intermittent. We did not decide whether or not to participate in this picket line. It will depend on where we are allowed to gather. Check the website for late breaking changes and for an up-to-date schedule of events.

  4. Many of the folks at this meeting had been at the rally planning meeting when we met on the 7th. They were very upset to find that MPJC had withdrawn from sponsorship of the rally. Paul proposed that we change our position to put our names back on the list of organizations supporting the rally. His position was that MPJC's main focus is bringing the war in Iraq to a quick end and we need the support of the other organizations in WFCM to help bring this about. Several MPJC members who have worked for years to build this wider coalition have been criticized about our dropping our name from the list of WFCM members. The folks at the WFCM meeting interpreted our action on the 7th as a Francis partisan move, while we thought not removing the name would be seen as a Donnelly partisan move. Lee will ask the Central Labor Council to allow Steve to meet briefly with them and perhaps receive a contribution to his campaign. After Ellyn agreed to talk to Zae about our reasoning we decided to send the following statement out to the membership and to the organizers of the rally:

    "The Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition met and had a long discussion about the goals of the new Working Families Coalition of Michiana (WFCM) and the anti-war events they are sponsoring this month. With further clarification of its goals we decided to join the WFCM. The primary objective of MPJC is to end the war in Iraq as quickly as possible. The only way to accomplish this is to work together with as many other like-minded groups as possible. We will continue our ongoing work with WFCM on the events leading up to Bush's visit on February 23 and add our name to the Coalition list.

    While members of MPJC are working hard in the campaigns of various candidiates, it is the policy of MPJC not to endorse any specific candidate. "

    It was mentioned during the discussion of this issue, that some people were not allowed to speak without being interrupted at the Feb 7th meeting. If the chair does not act to correct this at future meetings, anyone noticing this behavior should call it to the group's attention.

  5. CLAP project report: We ran out of time and Carol was not at the meeting, so we will bring this issue up again at the next meeting.

  6. Topic of the Month -- Withdrawal of troops from Iraq: No one except Lee has commented on the revised wording. We will let it go until the next meeting.

3. Treasurer's Report: The treasurer had another meeting and did not attend.

New Business

  1. Town Hall Meeting to showcase alternatives to Bush ideas: We postponed discussion of this until the next meeting. Ellyn contacted the Jobs with Justice coordinator who was open to cosponsoring such an event. The League of Women Voters of St. Joe County was also considering sponsoring a town hall meeting for the candidates. The League has a grant to host an openness in government forum 2-5 on March 18th in Wiekamp Rm 1001 at IUSB.

  2. Other topics and issues: Lois asked us to call our State Senators and ask them to support HB 1009 to create a bipartisan commission for redistricting to prevent gerrymandering by either party.

    Paul distributed copies of a note about the importance of unions in his life. Peter offered to set up a profile section on the web site to put a human face on our organization. He has a profile about his activism as well. Anyone else who wishes to submit a similar piece is more than welcome to do so. Kathy distributed flyers for the events surrounding the Bush visit.

  3. Next meeting: We did not decide on a meeting date. Peter and Ellyn will be in New Orleans until March 13, so an earlier meeting than that will have to be at a different location.