Minutes for MPJC Meeting of May 13, 2008


Present: Peter, Ellyn, Lois, Lee, Rey, Glenda Rae, Jennifer, Bernie, Caroline

Old business
    1.  Approval of Minutes for March 12: The minutes were approved.

    2. Progress Reports
        a. March Program for war protests: Most of the plans from the March 12th meeting for the rally and vigil on March 19th were accomplished. We counted 160 folks outside Morris Civic. The paper estimated 200. There was good TV coverage thanks to Kathy's efforts. The rally went well with good speakers and music by David James and Joe Taschetta. Bob Warnock, Wes, and Kathy spoke. Charlotte Pheiffer was sick but sent her speech. Ellyn did not think to ask Nora Batteast to read it until it was too late. We should consider her as a speaker at future rallies. The vigil was especially moving, with the long banner with the names of the 4,000 soldiers killed in Iraq stretched along St. Joseph Street. David James had brought a tape of Dr. Martin Luther King's Vietnam speech which he played in the background.

We had a bean pole at the rally where folks got 10 uncooked navy beans representing their tax dollars and could divide them up into a row of bottles labeled: Housing, Education, Military, Health Care, etc. Unfortunatly we turned the sign with the bottles upside down as we were packing up so we were unable to count them. We still have the display for another event. Also, Ellyn got people to sign letters encouraging Donnelly and Bayh to get us out of Iraq. After the rally and vigil, some of us taped the letters to the windows of Donnelly's and Bayh's offices. We had our usual debriefing at Fiddler's Hearth after the Morris Civic event.

Wes got Holy Cross College to permit the reading of the names of U.S. troops killed in Iraq in the afternoon of the 19th and had a few Saint Mary's and Notre Dame students join Holy Cross students in a march down to the 6:00pm rally. Notre Dame Progressive Student Alliance held a vigil in the fieldhouse mall from 1-2pm.

        b. IPJN report: No one was present who had been to the spring conference or heard anything about it..

       c. April15th events: Lois had a rough day, first locking herself out of her car, and then losing her cell phone. The rest of us carried on and vigiled at the post office from 4 to 7:30 on the 15th. We were told it would close at 7:30, but it they stayed open til midnight. We gave out about 250 leaflets and have about that many left. Lois suggested that we start leafletting downtown like we used to do, but no one picked up on her suggestion. There was a skeleton crew of vigilers and a reduced flow of traffic from other years. Lois was enthusuiastic for us to do it again next year. Peter attended the national meeting of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) in Birmingham and reported that the refused tax money from the War Tax Boycott amounted to $100,000. Half went to the New Orleans clinic where Ellyn and Peter have volunteered, and the other half went to provide medical care for Iraq refugees staying in Jordan. Only $6,000 had been sent to the NWTRCC office - the rest was to be sent directly from the war tax resister to the charities. Anton, the Executive Director of the New Orleans clinic, was there at the press conference to accept the $3,000 check. The total number of boycotters numbered just over 500, with 300 of those new to war tax resistance. The organizers termed it a success. It will continue throughout 2008 and then be renewed for the 2009 tax season.

     3. Treasurer's Report: We received a $100 donation which brings the balance to $274.86 in checking and $10.01 in cash.

New Business

    1. Election report: We noted that some Kokomo residents mistreated some Obama campaign workers but it seemed to be isolated incidents. It shows that we have a lot of work to do to bring about peace. It was amazing that the Indiana vote actually meant something this year and folks turned out in droves to vote for a black man and a woman in the home of the Klan. Locally, Steve Ross lost and Jill Long Thompson won.

    2. Indiana Voter ID law: The Supreme Court upheld this law so everyone, except those who mailed in absentee ballots, need picture ID approved by the state or federal government to vote. Lee had just come from a meeting of the new "Yes we can - Michiana" group of Obama supporters and said there will be a major push before November to get people who cannot get the documents needed to obtain a state ID to apply for and fill out an absentee ballot. Everyone will be encouraged to make use of the early voting opportunity as well. There is a mobile van run by the DMV which is available to visit neighborhoods or nursing homes to help people get a state ID. Perhaps Donnelly's office can help us find out how to request this van. Rey confirmed that early voting and absentee ballots are treated the same and sent to their precincts on voting day to be counted. In South Bend, everyone fills out a paper ballot which is read by machine, so there will be a paper trail.

    3. Flaming on the Listserv: There was a long discussion on this topic and the result was as follows:

    4. Topic of the Month: We did not have time to choose one.

    5. Other topics and issues: Lois reminded us about May 15 testimony of veterans in the Winter Soldier program who are trying to stop the prosecution of soldiers who refuse to fight. May 15th is conscientious objection day.

Lee wants us to put the flaming issue behind us and focus on stopping the war. We need to be about healing the lesions from the primary election and reaching out to people to tell them we need to come together and put pressure on whoever is the next president to stop the war. We can't wait until January. We need to be independent of the electoral debate and forceful in our opposition to the war.

Lois mentioned that the suicide rate among veterans is 18 per day, higher by far than the rate of combat deaths. We decided to host a press conference on or about Memorial Day at the Veterans memorial in Howard Park to focus on veteran care both physically and mentally. Ellyn and Kathy will work on getting out the press. Rey and Lois will collect the data and Caroline and Lee will prepare the statement. We decided to have the regular vigil 5-6 at the federal building on Memorial day but supplement it with a gathering along Jefferson at Howard Park when the press conference is going on.

    6. Next meeting: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 7pm at KJ's Main Cafe across Main Street from the downtown public library.