Minutes for MPJC Meeting of April 24, 2007


Present: Rey, Glenda Rae, Caroline, Kathy, Lois, Caitlin, Ellyn, Peter

Old business
    1.  Approval of Minutes for March 14: The minutes were approved as written.

    2. Progress Reports
        a. Iraq War Anniversary Vigils (Kathy): The regular Saturday and Monday vigils were slightly larger than usual. Some of the Monday folks went over to the Morric Civic to provide bodies for early press coverage of the 7pm memorial vigil. The latter was very well attended - over 200. The boots project had a successful day at IUSB with press coverage practically the whole day. The boots were brought to the Morris Civic vigil and set up there and then taken to ND for the next day. All three TV stations and the Tribune covered the anniversary events. Kathy knows who and when to call the press.

        b. Results of March 25 Donnelly Meeting with Wand (Caroline): Kathy had attended the meeting along with Karen from Wand and David Cortright from the ND Peace Institute. Several other Wand members attended as well. The most important result of the meeting was the chance for Donnelly to get to know David and hopefully to tap into his expertise on the war in Iraq. Donnelly's statements about the war recently show that he has not taken David's words to heart or sought him out again. (See below)

        c. Midwest Peace Conference (Kathy): The events around this conference began with Cindy Sheehan speaking to a large crowd in Gary and then at Saint Mary's in South Bend, where she got excellent press coverage. Cindy gave a talk in West Lafayette later that day where she was heckled by the Gathering of Eagles group. She gave the keynote at the Midwest Peace conference in Indianapolis to a very receptive audience. The conference had an excellent program, but only 150 folks attended so some of the talks had very low attendance. The IPJN will be discussing how to do better outreach for next year's conference whose funding is not yet in place.

Some folks visited Lugar's Indianapolis office during the conference to encourage him to go public with his criticism of the conduct of the war. There was good press coverage for this. Also, on March 19, Karen and Kathy went to Grand Rapids where Bush was speaking at an upscale high school. There were over 2,000 protesters and they moved out of the free speech zone when they realized that Bush would not be able to see them if they stayed there. When they got behind the school they saw that the students, most of whom were locked in their classrooms, had put peace signs in the windows. Again there was good press coverage of the protest.

        d. Tax Day Vigil: (Peter) Lois heard a recording that the Post Office would close at 7:30 on Tax Day, Tuesday, April 17th this year. We changed the time of the vigil to 4-8pm as a result. It turned out the outside mailbox was attended until midnight as before. The traffic was quite light and we only gave out 300 leaflets. If anyone needs pie charts of how tax money is spent call Peter. The post office personnel were considering closing at 5:30 next year due to lack of demand with the large number of electronic filers. We will have to think carefully about our tax day plans next year.

        e. Situation of Janco workers and their families(Caroline): Nearly everyone is out on bond. The benefit at St. Adalbert's was massive. Great food and lots of bond money collected. English was rarely spoken and everyone was very friendly. Many of the arrestees have found other jobs. The next step is to hire lawyers to represent folks at the hearings.

Rey questioned whether we should support the Bush guest worker program. Caroline and Caitlin responded that this plan is a continuation of the bracero program and is just a step up from slavery. Candidates have to pay up to $5,000 to be accepted and if they quit the job they come in for, they are deported. Thus, companies using guest workers can cheat them out of wages and provide miserable working conditions. The workers are afraid to complain and heaven forbid try to form a union.

        f. IPJN report (Kathy): There will be a conference call the first week of May. Kathy will report on it at the next meeting. She will also find out how much the dues are and pass the word to Glenda Rae.

         g. April 15 Peace Sunday project (Kathy): She was not able to attend any of the events but there was a fairly good response on the part of local churches. It is worth repeating.

    3. Treasurer's Report: Glenda Rae reported that we have $418.76 in the bank and about $20 in cash. The amount reported last month included Study Circles money which is also sponsored by the Peace Education Fund.

New Business

    1. Donnelly Meeting Schedule (Kathy): This topic provided a chance for folks to express their deep disappointment in Donnelly's recent statements. He was quoted in Bloomberg press on the day that Bush, Pelosi, and Reid were meeting re the war funding bill that he was opposed to any mention of timetables and that this language should be removed from the bill so it simply funds the troops. We wondered if he had been misquoted but his office confirmed his position. Several influential folks have called him on this, including the guy with the DNC who was influential in getting him funding for his run against Chocola. If Donnelly continues to stay off message, he will get no support from the DNC the next time he runs. This could mean that the second district may fall back into Republican hands. We wondered if we should start looking for someone to run against Donnelly in the democratic primary in 2008, but after he voted for the funding bill which included withdrawal timetables, we decided to give him a little more time. MPJC will not be involved in the elections as an organization but our members can certainly work for a more anti-war candidate on their own. The only funding we want is for tickets home for the troops.

We debated starting a regular anti-war vigil outside Donnelly's downtown office to put pressure on him to respond to the will of the 2nd district voters who clearly want a quick end to the war. As one of our signs says, "Hey Congress, We Voted for Peace." However, we decided to give him a little more time to come around.

We were disappointed not to find out about Donnelly's town-hall meeting at the Northeast Neighborhood center a week ago. He did not put it on his website and there was no announcement in the Tribune. Perhaps we should plan and publicize our own town hall meeting and if Donnelly refuses to come, have an empty chair in front with his name on it. Donnelly canceled a scheduled meeting with IUSB, ND, and SMC students citing a prior engagement, even though the students had scheduled the meeting a month in advance. We decided to try to get another meeting with the students and also one with MPJC to ask Donnelly to explain his position on the war and say how his benchmarks differ from a timetable. Ellyn will call for a meeting involving MPJC folks.

    2. Universal Health Care (Ellyn): Joe Carbone scheduled a panel including Ellyn representing the AAFP position, a representative from the Physicians for National Health Care, and a member of the Sterling Group. There was a good turnout. The AAFP position is to provide universal coverage but not single payer. We noted that MPJC does not have a position on universal health care and it would make a good topic of the month.

    3. Veto/Wrong Way Rally (Kathy): The veto of the funding bill is certain. It will probably come next Tuesday (May 1). Immediately after the veto, Kathy's organization will hold a press conference to denounce it. Organizations are encouraged to send her statements to be read at the press conference or used in the publicity. No one from MPJC volunteered to write our statement but the press contacts should take this on. The next day after the veto at 7pm there will be a noisy vigil in the green space in front of the Morris Civic near St. Joseph St. Peter will bring the bullhorn. Folks are encouraged to bring drums and other noisemakers. We brainstormed some visual image opposed to the veto but did not agree on anything specific. Ellyn suggested that some of us gather in time for the 5 and 6pm news to maximize TV exposure.

    4. Topic of the Month: Ellyn will propose a draft statement on universal health care to the list and we will try to develop a position on this topic.

    5. Other topics and issues: CURE is thinking of a gun buy-back. We authorized Glenda Rae to attend the CURE meeting and report back at the next meeting. Lois reported that a Northern Ireland Nobel Peace prize winner Mairad Corrigan Maquire was shot in the leg by a rubber bullet in Bethlehem. She asked us to write or fax the Israeli prime minister, Quiryat Ben-Gurion, at 3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, 91919 Jerusalem, Israel. Fax 011 972 2 670 5475. There is a film on Women's Suffrage at 7pm on Saturday, April 28, in Wiekamp Rm 1001. It is an excellent film. Christmas in April is also Saturday, April 28, as is the Democratic 50 State canvas day. Gather at noon at the Bieger Elementary School for the latter. Eric from Indy is working on a brochure for door to door canvassing that Caroline has mentioned at previous meetings. She will fill us in on plans at the next meeting.

    6. Next meeting: Peter had to leave for a conference call before a meeting date was selected. After the meeting a few of us selected Tuesday, May 29, at 1036 N. Niles. If no one objects, we will go with this date.