Minutes for MPJC Meeting of May 29, 2007


Present: Rey, Glenda Rae, Carol, Caroline, Pam, Lois, Peter

Old business
    1.  Approval of Minutes for April 24: The minutes were approved as written.

    2. Progress Reports
        a. Donnelly Meetings (Peter, Lois): We were told by Donnelly's scheduler that we could not get a meeting with him until August. However, he held a series of meetings at Martin Supermarket stores over the Memorial Day weekend and two groups of MPJCers met with him for an hour each. Ellyn, Peter, and a few others met with Donnelly at 12:30 on May 25, and took him to task for his vote the night before to fund the continuation of the war. We told him that the way to support the troops is to end U.S. involvement in the war. Bush is holding the safety of the troops hostage with his brinksmanship game playing. He promised to meet with us once a month. We should call him directly for a time. Others in the group expressed concerns about his position on funding family planning services, especially in developing countries, using mercenaries to protect the troops, immigration, gun control, post war planning. We were especially concerned with what would happen in September when it was time to authorize more war funding. Donnelly said it all depended on whether enough republicans would vote to override a Bush veto. He was cautiously optimistic.

Kathy, Lois, Karen, and others met with Donnelly at 4:30 on the 25th. Karen was interviewed by the LA Times and her comments were printed . Kathy pointed out to Donnelly that voting for funding was not necessary to ensure that the troops had what they needed to protect themselves and quoted a law giving Bush the power to use money designated for other programs to support the troops in wartime. Donnelly again promised to meet with us once a month.

        b. Wrong Way/Veto Rally and Press Conference(Peter): The press conference was well planned. Karen from Wand, Kathy from AAEI, Wes - an Iraq War Veteran - Caitlin from IUSB students, and Peter from MPJC all spoke and several folks were interviewed by the two TV stations that covered the event. The rally was spirited and noisy in spots. We had some chants, drumming, and a few folk songs to greet the motorists and passers-by. All in all, the response was very positive.

        c. Universal Health Care Topic of the Month (Ellyn): Ellyn could not attend, but we all had a copy of her proposed position. Some were concerned that several of the big health insurance companies seemed to be supporting it. The history of Hillary Clinton's universal health care plan was that she first proposed a single payer plan, but got so much flak that she watered it down with the help of the insurance companies. They then lobbied to sink even the compromise. We are concerned that the same will happen to this plan, which doesn't start out very strong. We were especially concerned with principle six which eliminates a single payer plan from consideration. Caroline suggested that we support HR 676 and will post a response to Ellyn's post and give the details of HR676 to the list. We got into a discussion of the British (which the two Brits in the room thought Margaret Thatcher had ruined) and Canadian health care plans. We will ask Ellyn to assess the Canadian plan since she was a landed immigrant in Canada before going to med school. Rumor has it that Canadians living near the U.S. border get their health care in the U.S. if they can afford it. We will continue with this topic for another month.

        d. Situation of Janco workers and their families(Caroline): No new word on this situation. Caroline will keep us posted. She clarified a few points of the new immigration law. The fine for illegal immigrants hoping to change their status is $5,000 per family, not per individual. Those applying for the guest worker program do not pay the fine. If guest workers lose the jobs they came in for, they can stay for the rest of the period if they can find another employer who will hire them. It is undesirable for immigrants to give up their seniority and join the guest worker program to avoid the fine. Many would be willing to pay the fine to gain legal immigrant status. Coyotes charge nearly as much. We noted that amnesty is the only reasonable approach to this problem. It would be a logistical nightmare to deport all the illegal aliens and it would cripple the U.S. economy. The lowest paid sectors in the economy are predominantly staffed by immigrants - this has been the case for hundreds of years.

        e. IPJN report (Kathy): Kathy could not attend but Glenda Rae reported that IPJN cashed our $25 dues check.

        f. Cure gun buy-back (Glenda Rae): No further word on this.

    3. Treasurer's Report: Glenda Rae reported that we have $433.76 in the bank and $11.61 in cash for a total of $445.37.

New Business

    1. Tabling at Summer Events (Lois): Glenda Rae has a half table (shared with Study Circles) for Juneteenth (June 16) at LaSalle Park across from Charles Black center. Peter will give her our literature before she leaves tonight. Lois will contact Ann Binder to see about the Artist Festival across from Charles Martin Center on LWW. We have had a table there for the last two years. Pam will contact the city about setting up a table at the Art Fest on Colfax to encourage kids and others to draw a picture for peace. She will also find out what we need to do to get a table at the Mishawaka festival.

    2. Protesting Donnelly Vote (Peter): Peter went over some suggestions from Steve. These are:
        a. Have a petition drive with the broadest language that we support the troops by removing them from the middle of the civil war: We decided to try for Thursday, June 14th (flag day) in the Keybank plaza to collect signatures, with folks on the other three corners handing out small flyers encouraging folks to go over and sign. We could continue the effort at the tabling events. Caroline mentioned that the UFPJ petition is good, except it doesn't mention reconstruction in Afghanistan. We decided not to mention Afghanistan so as not to confuse the issue. Rey will compose a petition and send it out to the list. After a few days for comment, we will go with the result. Lois will print the petitions and coordinate the June 14th event. We encouraged Rey to keep the wording as straightforward as possible and keep it focused on strengthening Donnelly's antiwar position. Rey wants to tie the petition in with homeland security.
        b. See if we can find or conduct a poll of some kind that demonstrates the broader support for ending the war we know is out there. When Kay gets back we will ask her to put a poll question on the website.
        c. Vigils and more in front of Donnelly's office. We could not think of a good theme for such a vigil in the time we had to discuss this. We will bring it up at the next meeting.
        d. Public LTEand VOP that specifically target Donnelly, Bayh, and Lugar. We encouraged folks to do this and noted the several fine letters published recently.
        e. Hinting at a primary and/or independent challenge to Donnelly. We encouraged anyone who was interested to get out there immediately and not wait til it is too late to gain support. Karen mentioned in her LA Times comments that we were open to an anti-war candidate challenging Donnelly.
        f. Present the petition drive and poll results at a news conference at Donnelly's office. Good idea.
        g. Ask Donnelly to have an advisory group on the war that goes beyond his veterans group to show that we can help him if he stands strong. We will ask about this at next month's meeting with him. We may be the defacto advisory group.

    3. Supporting the Marchers from Chicago (Lois): Caroline was turned off by the initial publicity as it indicated the marchers were doing everything to end the war and the rest of us were doing nothing. The marchers will be in Hubbard, IN on June 26, Notre Dame on the 27th and 28th, and Pleasant Valley on the 29th. None of these stops have sponsors as yet. We decided to try to find food and housing for the marchers (perhaps St. A's) and wait to see if the rhetoric changes before scheduling a meeting to which we invite the community. Coalition members can certainly meet with them in the evenings to fill them in about local anti-war efforts. Carol will help coordinate housing and talk to Kathy about MPJC becoming sponsors while they are in South Bend.

    4. Topic of the Month: Continue discussion of universal health care.

    5. Other topics and issues: None

    6. Next meeting: Monday, June 25 after the vigil. Peter and Ellyn will both be out of town. Perhaps we can get a room at the library. Peter will ask Glenda Rae to pursue this.