Minutes for MPJC Meeting of November 9, 2011

Present: Peter, Glenda Rae, Rey, Wanda, Galen, Lois (on speaker phone)

Old business
    1.  Approval of Minutes for October 5: The minutes were approved as corrected.

    2. Progress Reports
        a. Topic of the Month: Writing letters to the editor- Wanda was the only one of us who had written such a letter. She passed around a copy and described how the Tribune editor had asked her to condense it and to justify her claims, which she did. The rest of us are encouraged to follow her example. Peter has put the stories of nonviolence on the MPJC website.

        b. St. Marcellus Day events: Several had attended these events. The march was well attended and went well. The talk during the service was good, but the acoustics in the basilica made it hard to hear unless one was right in front of the speakers. There seemed to be 75-100 folks at the service. The music was very good. The picnic was on the south quad which was quite a way from the prayer service and many folks left after the service. There was a lot of food left over, but we are sure the Catholic Workers made good use of it. The rain held off until the end of the picnic.

        c. Witness for Peace Speaker: She was an excellent speaker with a very talented translator, who jotted notes and translated a paragraph at a time. She emphasized that the American trade policy has made things much worse for the people of Mexico.

        d. CPT speaker: Wanda and Galen had gone to Goshen to hear this speaker, who also mentioned the new free trade agreement with Colombia and had a petition to try to stop it. Galen thought it would be hard if someone wanted to go help in Colombia and Rey described how both CPT and Witness for Peace sent delegations to Colombia. These are mostly fact-finding missions and intended for those who would return to the U.S. and describe their experience.

        e. MPJC relationship with the Occupy folks: Lois has been down to spend time with the demonstrators almost every day.They claim to be non-partisan, advocating neither Democratic nor Republican ideals. On last Friday, the performers at the Morris gave them permission to stay on the plaza during their performance. On Saturday, there was a wedding at the Morris and the bridal party let the protesters stay. Apparently, when the Morris is rented, the rentees have control of the plaza where the tents are pitched. There is also an ordinance forbidding anyone to sleep or smoke in a public park. The city has chosen not to enforce this ordinance so far. The occupy folks are hoping to obtain the use of a storefront on the corner across LaSalle from the Morris during the winter. The fire department has inspected the campsite and found everything was in compliance with the health and safety regulations, even the kerosene heaters. There was a rally and march around the banks on Saturday, cosponsored by Move-on which was well attended, but only a few folks are actually present at the site around the clock. The city attorney representative thought they should be more active during the day engaging people in conversation about the issues.

Lois visited the Occupy DC site in Washington and reported that it was much bigger than South Bend, with a separate medical tent and a media tent. They have a general assembly every day where all decisions are reached by consensus. They are committed to non-violence, and hold a social justice learning session every afternoon. She recommended that MPJC reserve a table at MLK day and see if the Occupy folks wanted to put some of their literature on the table. We agreed to do this.

3. Treasurer's Report: Our bank total is $160.13 with $20 in petty cash. We agreed to spend $40 for a table at the MLK day events. Lois will fill out the application and Glenda Rae will write the check.

New Business

    1. What do we (can we) do next? We skipped over this as time was running out.

    2. Election Results: There were a number of new folks elected, including the mayor and half of the council, although the party representation did not change. It is too early to tell how the new executive and legislative bodies will respond to our issues. We also wondered what the new mayor's position on the Occupy folks will be.

    3. Topic of the Month: Rey had suggested including a story about a Kurd from Iraq who had visited several Chicago schools asking the children to write letters to children in Iraq. We agreed to do this. Peter will put it on the web. We will also try to write letters to the editor.

    4. Other Topics and Issues: Glenda Rae asked if we were interested in changing banks, as our funds are held at Wells Fargo. We do not yet pay any charges. Peter said that the credit unions he has checked out do not transfer money to Nicaragua, so switching to a credit union would hinder that project. He will inquire whether Teacher's credit union does this kind of transfer. Glenda Rae would have to check with the other Peace Ed Fund projects to get their permission if a change was to be made. MPJC decided it would not want to change banks unless Wells Fargo changed its policy regarding free checking for the Peace Ed Fund, but we should check into the policies of other banks just in case.

On Monday, November 28, we are asked to go to Obama headquarters to ask him to oppose the Tar Sands pipeline. We were not sure where the headquarters was, but assumed it was at Democratic headquarters. We should create some signs about stopping the pipeline for the vigil, perhaps visiting the headquarters before the vigil.

We talked about the Eric Holder scandal regarding confiscated guns being sent across the Mexican border to be used in violence against Mexican citizens.

We noted that December 10th is Human Rights Day, and wanted some new posters on Monday, the 12th, to the effect that human life is a right. Also, December 7 is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor and we could make a sign "Never Again."

    6. Next meeting: We forgot to discuss this but the logical date would be Wednesday, December 14 at 7pm. .