VETERANS FOR PEACE, Chapter 23, MINUTES of meeting 2/19/20 [PROPOSED MINUTES TO BE VOTED ON AT THE NEXT MEETING MARCH 18, 2020]

Present: James Swarts, Marybeth Knowles, Bruce Pease, Bruce Freeman, Jack Spula, Mick Cole.

 

Minutes of the January 15, 2020 meeting approved.

 

Treasurer’s report by Marybeth Knowles. Current balance--$903.02; $50.00 Riseup check did not clear yet. There are 14 dues-paying members—list of members who have not yet paid to be made up by Marybeth so they can be notified.

 

REPORTS.

 

NO WAR WITH IRAN PROTEST ON JANUARY 25, 2020---Jim Swarts

The rally in Geneseo, NY was attended by Marybeth Knowles, James Swarts, William Fisher and Bruce and Bonnie Freeman. James S spoke to the crowd of about 85 people. James S’s remarks are posted on the Chapter 23 website, as is a photo of the Chapter 23 members who attended. James S was interviewed by a reporter, Ben Beagle, for an article published in the Livingston News. The article has been posted on the Chapter 23 website. Hailey Schiller, a SUNY Geneseo student whose grandfather is a VFP member in Queens, NY, joined the Chapter 23 members and was also interviewed for the Livingston County News article.

 

Mick Cole attended the No War with Iran protest in Washington DC which drew only about 100 people, four from VFP. Two photos of Mick in DC are posted on the Chapter 23 website.

 

SAVE OUR VA (SOVA) LOBBYING EVENT IN WASHINGTON DC—FEBRUARY 9-13, 2020---Mick Cole

Mick Cole attended the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)/SOVA lobbying effort along with 28 other SOVA advocates.

SOVA advocates met with 33 house members/staff in support of HR 701. AOC and one other NY assembly-person signed on to the resolution.

Mick and others went to Morelle’s office but were told no one was available to meet with them.

 

Mick was told by a legislator that ten letters will get Morelle’s attention and Mick asked that we all write letters to Morelle in support of HR 701. Reference was made to a recent local article about “Postcard Fridays” noting that postcards go right through to Congress members (no need to check for Anthrax).

 

Other points made in the SOVA discussion:

 

There is a bill making the VA responsible for malpractice by doctors provided to veterans under the Mission Act.

 

14 to 18 regional VA hospitals have run out of money and a hiring freeze has been imposed. They are looking to close VA hospitals.

 

Trump closed 13 VA hospitals to retirees and their dependents---they are being sent to private providers which have co-pays and deductibles.

In some cases veterans being sent to private providers have to travel further and wait longer than was the case before the Mission Act.

 

The nurses union was helpful and welcoming, the AFGE was not.

 

Government unions have very little power since Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, no power to negotiate wages and salaries.

 

Veterans seeking urgent care are being sent to CVS to meet with a triage nurse for referral to providers. The owner of CVS is a Trump supporter.

 

The hostility locally between VVA and VFP was noted.

 

The Save our VA February 202O Lobbying Fact Sheet has been posted on the Chapter 23 website.

 

POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN (PPC) UPDATE---Marybeth Knowles

The February 7, 2020, Rochester gathering was cancelled due to bad weather---no word yet on whether it will be rescheduled. It was anticipated there would be a standing-room-only crowd in a church which can seat 850 people.

 

Marybeth handed out written materials from the Poor People’s Campaign and highlighted the positions and arguments relevant to military spending, climate change and criminalization of the poor. These written materials, flyers summarizing the campaign’s positions, the “Executive Summary,” and “A Moral Agenda …,” are available on the Poor People’s Campaign website. There is a link to the website on the Home Page of the Chapter 23 website.

 

There will be a Poor People’s Campaign rally in Washington DC on June 20, 2020 (anniversary of the launch of the campaign by Martin Luther King). The local SEIU (Service Employees International Union) is chartering a bus and there will be no associated cost for Chapter 23 members. We need to notify the local SEIU of the number of seats (on the bus) needed for Chapter 23 members.

 

Marybeth will attend a local Poor People’s Campaign gathering in Brockport addressing redlining.

 

OLD BUSINESS

 

UPDATE ON “WAR SCHOOL: THE BATTLE FOR BRITAIN’S CHILDREN”---Bruce Pease

Bruce P will schedule the showing of the film at the Cinema Theatre on Sunday April 26, 2020 at 1 pm. The cost is $300. Donations from attendees can be requested. The theater will arrange Skype communication with the film’s producer. Bruce P will take care of purchasing the posters and creating/purchasing flyers.

 

BATH PEACE AND JUSTICE GROUP PRESENTATION—MARCH 4, 2020---James Swarts

6:30 pm at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 122 Liberty St, Bath, NY.

 

Marybeth Knowles, Jack Spula and James Swarts will attend. Marybeth will present on the Poor People’s Campaign. Jack Spula will present on Lew Montemaggi’s 2020 visit to the Mexico border. Other topics which may be addressed include: No War on Iran; peace activism, VFP national programs, Pentagon budget, deported veterans, Tijuana VFP chapter, School of Americas Watch, Remove the Stain, environmental actions, counter-recruitment, People Over the Pentagon.

 

Communicate with Binghamton VFP Chapter to see if anyone will attend?

 

VFP CHAPTER 23 WEBSITE--- Bruce Freeman---Tabled

 

NEW BUSINESS

2020 PLANNING—James Swarts---Tabled

NATIONAL OFFICE INFORMATION UPDATE

          FEBRUARY 13, 2020 CONFERENCE CALL--Tabled

POST-HOLIDAY SOCIAL GATHERING---James Swarts---Tabled

COUNTER RECRUITMENT---Lew Montemaggi, James Swarts---Tabled

MEMORIAL DAY---USS LIBERTY, ROCHESTER PARADE---Tabled

 

Next meeting: May 20, 2020, 7:00 pm---Virtual by Zoom