Minutes for MPJC Meeting of November 10, 2014

Present: Peter, Ellyn, Glenda Rae, Rey, Sarah, Lois

Old business

    1.  Approval of Minutes for September 15: The minutes were approved as corrected. There were a couple of typos.

    2. Progress Reports

        a. Concern about Vote Centers and the November Elections: The committee studying Vote Centers met on Thursday, November 6 and the 3-member election board met on Monday, November 10. The election board set up a series of 5 public meetings to get feedback on the plan to set up 4 vote centers for the 2015 municipal elections to replace precinct voting places. These meetings are as follows:

Learn more at St. Joseph County Clerks, Voting & Elections

Send comments or questions to vcenters@co.st-joseph.in.us

Glenda Rae mentioned John Hagen's report showing that the switch from precinct voting to vote centers will not increase the number of voters but in fact decrease the number that vote. Another consequence of the switch is the fact that Democratic voting numbers went down whereas Republican numbers stayed the same for an overall decrease in the number voting. Right now, every county can decide this question for itself, but Glenda Rae is worried that the State legislature will pass a law requiring voting centers. She said that the election board had originally scheduled only 4 public meetings with none on the West Side, but bowed to pressure and set up the Charles Martin Center one. She encouraged all of us to attend one of the meetings and speak against setting up voting centers. Lois mentioned her experience driving folks to the polls on Election Day. One elderly person had to travel a long way to her precinct voting place, even though they drove past another voting place much closer to her house. This is the result of gerrymandering. Another person had forgotten her ID and they had to drive back to get it. In some other counties in Indiana which have already switched to voting centers, people waited for hours to vote due to equipment malfunction.

        b. September 21 vigil at Morris Civic: This was very successful with few glitches. There were between 50 and 80 participants, depending on who did the counting. People loved the Buddhist pole that Lois set up. She had two-foot-long pieces of ribbon on which people could write what they would miss most when global warming brings about climate change and then tape the ribbon to the pole. Lois brought the pole with ribbons to several Monday vigils, but the wind was often too strong for the ribbons to display properly. She is looking for someone to modify a stand to fit the pole so it will stand alone at our vigils. One comment that a reporter was especially taken with mentioned the sounds of frogs and insects at night. He pulled Lois aside for a long interview at that point. The Sierra Club representative, Matt Skuya walked folks through filling out comment cards to be sent to the Governor who must propose an energy policy for the State. One speaker who talked about Hoosier hospitality towards the climate change marchers spoke too softly and not close enough to the microphone to be heard. Ellyn prepared a press release and the coverage was excellent. Peter made several signs for the vigil and we are continuing to use several of them at our Monday vigils.

        c. Moral Mondays March and Rally: There were two buses that went to Indianapolis on September 20. Lois said the event went well and everyone got revved up. There have been two meeting since then. The first was well attended and the second much less so. One action that came out of these meetings was to distribute flyers encouraging folks to vote on November 4, preferably at malls or big stores. Glenda Rae put the flyers on porches in her neighborhood because it was easier for her to do so. Moral Mondays is a multi-issue, multiracial movement anchored in five critical issues: Education, Economic Development, Health, Voter's Rights, and Criminal Justice. The movement began in North Carolina and folks are trying to bring it to Indiana.

       d. St. Marcellus Day events: Lois was sick and unable to attend. Rey and Glenda Rae attended the dinner and talk by Zoughbi Zoughbi at Remick Commons at Notre Dame. The talk was well received, although those on the sides of the room had trouble hearing. The dinner was prepared by Catholic Worker folks and served Middle Eastern food. MPJC is sponsoring an informal question and answer session with Zoughbi at the downtown library from 6-8pm on Thursday, November 18. Questions about his Conflict Resolution and Transformation Centre in Bethlehem and general questions about peace, interfaith cooperation, non-violent struggle, and reconciliation are welcome. There are peace groups in both Israel and Palestine who are renouncing the violence. The South Bend Tribune has in the past refused to cover Palestinian human interest stories.

We talked about the group in Nigeria which is targeting schools and churches, especially those founded by the Church of the Brethren. So far 100 churches and many schools have been destroyed. On the day of our meeting a bomber had blown up a school, killing 48 children and wounding 79. Dr. Dali who spoke in South Bend last month barely escaped with her life. Lois noted that there are 17,000 Church of the Brethren members in Nigeria, about as many as there are in the entire United States. Many people are fleeing into neighboring Chad and Cameroon, where extremist Christians are killing Muslims, as well as where Boko Haram are carrying out their anti girls' education tactics.  (They are in all three countries.).

    3. Treasurer's Report: We paid our Jobs with Justice dues which Glenda Rae was able to negotiate down to $25. Our bank total is now $55.67 with $5.11 in petty cash.

New Business

    1. What do we (can we) do next? We incorporated this topic into other discussion

    2. Topic of the Month: We postponed coming up with a new topic until the next meeting because we could not decide which topic to choose. We first discussed focusing on voting issues, especially those designed to cut down on the number of voters. Then we talked about gun safety, noting the recent spate of accidents wounding or killing folks cleaning loaded guns and children near them. The NRA has frightened Congress into defeating or not bringing gun control legislation to a vote. Also, they forced the government to back down when Surgeon General Koop set up a requirement that family doctors ask their patients if there are guns in the house and if they are properly stored. Florida now has legislated that doctors may not ask this question. Obama's nominee for Surgeon General is not being confirmed because of a stand like Dr. Koop's. We also thought about developing a policy about the bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq. We will allocate more time at the next meeting to these topics.

    3. Other Topics and Issues: We decided to change the Monday vigil time to 4:30-5:30 and reevaluate this change in the Spring.

Sunday, December 7, is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Lois will start an email statement, including the fact that spending money on the military takes it away from helping people, for us to work on to promulgate before the 7th.

December 10 is International Human Rights Day. There will be a program at the downtown library starting about 6pm.

We need to start preparing for Martin Luther King Day events. The cost for a table is $40 without electricity and we agreed to pay this fee. Glenda Rae and Lois are meeting with the MLK Day committee and will keep us informed. Glenda Rae is also planning the Little Taste of Peace.

    4. Next meeting: Monday, December 8th, at 2:30pm at Peter and Ellyn's.