National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

NWTRCC Meeting Minutes

May 3, 2009 • Harrisonburg, Virginia

Attending: Bill Ramsey*, St. Louis Covenant Community of War Tax Resisters; Robert Randall*, Brunswick, Georgia; Betty Winkler, New York City; David Waters, Birmingham, AL; Joffre Stewart, Chicago; Donald Kaufman*, Heartland Peace Tax Fund, KS; Rick Bickhart, War Resisters League; Gary Erb, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Boulder; Coleman Smith, Asheville, NC; Jim Stockwell, Fools of Conscience, NC; Dave Gross*, Northern CA WTR; Daniel Woodham, Greensboro, NC; Pam Allee*, OR Community of WTRs; Erica Weiland, Seattle; Larry Bassett, Lynchburg, VA; Tim Godshall, Harrisonburg, VA; Peter Smith, Michiana WTR, IN; Ruth Benn, NWTRCC Coordinator, Brooklyn; Geov Parrish, Nonviolent Community of Cascadia, Seattle; Clare Hanrahan, Fools of Conscience, Asheville, NC; Greg Reagle, Washington, DC.

* Administrative Committee members

The process and agenda were reviewed.

1. Consultant Report & Review

Folks reviewed the written report and asked questions.

? Can others be paid to do some of the things Ruth can’t do in 25 hours/week? Would be good to make more phone contact with people than we are doing now. A) During the budget process last fall we had to take out the money to pay for temporary/extra help. We do have more of volunteers around the country helping out these days.

Review: Consultant gets reviewed every two years. A letter and form are sent/emailed to everyone on the network list. About 30 responses came back. The Administrative Committee went through the detail with Ruth during their Friday meeting. Pam Allee summarized the written report, which shows most ratings for Ruth’s work at the high end of the scale – 8s, 9s, 10s in Overall Performance, Administration/Finances/Reports, Information and Referral, Newsletter, Literature, Network, Meetings. The two areas with slightly lower ratings were Fundraising and Outreach. Ginny Schneider has taken on coordinating the fundraising committee, so that could help. We all need to do more in these two areas. Details are available from Pam (biljrat@spiretech.com, 503-285-6371). Ruth was given a round of applause.

2. Objectives

Ruth went over some of the objectives that had been added in November for the current year. Items that have not received much attention include: reactivating the young adult review committee; sending our brochures to peace conference centers; some outreach has been done to a list of ’Zines – Clare has an anarchist group address to add to the list — still need to send newsletter regularly; sending press release or articles to religious publications has not been done, outside of the publications that are on the extensive list for tax day;

Facebook page is set up but is not very active as yet; speaker’s bureau is set up but needs promotion; contact and offer of help was made with WTR penalty fund – the current board will continue to manage the fund; WRL has many copies of the WTR book – Ed and Ruth will coordinate an update/insert for the coming year – we should try to figure out gimmick to sell more; website redesign is being revitalized at this meeting.

3. Finances

Folks reviewed printed finance report.

Concerns were raised about cost of scarves and sales – we just have to push them next fall; everyone at this meeting asked to take some to sell. We can make good income on them if we sell them all! Affiliate fees are low. A dues notice just went out and Ginny and fundraising committee will make follow up phone calls. Fund appeal is just out so we will see how the return looks and whether it seems the economy is effecting NWTRCC. We are not sure if Tana is going to continue as Treasurer, but we should consider someone new to take over that task – reviewing reports and the books at least at the end of the year. Bookkeeping is in QuickBooks.

4. Peace Tax Fund Bill Endorsement

(notes from Saturday panel)

Included in the decision-making process was our short discussion at the Eugene CC meeting in November ’08, notice of the controversy and articles in the April ’09 newsletter, comments from others that were brought to the May meeting. During our weekend program we had a panel presentation on Saturday afternoon, which included short presentations by Bethany Criss, Executive Director of NCPTF; David Gross, WTR from California; Ruth Benn, NWTRCC Coordinator; Ray Gingerich, Harrisonburg WTR. These statements (notes will be added to full report) and the discussion that followed involving comments from many participants in the room of 30-ish or so people seemed to cover most of the issues and most of the permutations of support for and against NWTRCC’s endorsement.

Comments after the CC decision indicated the people on all sides felt that the process was the best it could be and led to an honest decision, if not the one many would have chosen.

The question in front of the CC was the request from NCPTF to renew NWTRCC’s endorsement of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill. For the list and the statement of endorsement see http://www.peacetaxfund.org/endorsements/index.htm.

Given that, the CC meeting could not come to consensus on the endorsement. The room was solidly split – a straw poll indicated about a 40-60 split, for and against endorsement. There were blocking objections to endorsing the bill as it stands now. The lack of consensus meant that we will ask NCPTF to remove NWTRCC’s name from the endorsers’ list.

However, at the same time, there was a strong sense of those present that everyone understand that NWTRCC will continue to support the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund in the ways that we support all of our affiliate organizations. It is important to distinguish between an endorsement of a specific bill and our general support of all actions taken by individuals and groups in regard to conscientious objection to military taxation.

The 2 key reasons expressed against endorsement (and these were about equally expressed) were:

In addition these reasons were also expressed:

Again, expressed frequently was the sentiment that, while we are not able to endorse this particular piece of legislation we want to continue to maintain a mutual and friendly relationship with the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund. Many comments sent in or made in the room included ideas for changes in the bill that some would like to see. Individuals with such an interest were encouraged to get involved with the Campaign.

Finally, all groups in the NWTRCC network are reminded that they can endorse the bill. If NWTRCC affiliates endorsed the bill, that might increase the number of organizational endorsers and, if WTR or similar words are in a group’s name, that might make the act of refusing to pay for war more visible on the endorser’s list.

Articles from the newsletter and comments that were sent to NWTRCC before the meeting and shared at the meeting are at http://nwtrcc.org/PTF_articles.htm

5. Proposals regarding changes to Statement of Purpose —

There is a statement of Purpose – failure to consent on a change means it stays the same.

We went through Clark’s proposal point by point:

Point 1 – No change recommended by Ad Comm
Consensus to leave current wording as is.
Point 2 – No change recommended by Ad Comm
Consensus to leave current wording as is.
Point 3Ad Comm suggests: remove USPTF and insert here the language from David Gross’s proposal – part 2, line b, except insert “recognize” instead of “legalize”. David agreed to this friendly amendment.

Much discussion ensued including: ? why “legalize” vs. “recognize” – Ad Comm suggests that we are in the position of asking them to recognize what we already consider legal; there’s a benefit to fewer words – stick with Clark’s suggestion of “peace tax fund legislation”; PTF seems like something we know but others don’t — the new language sounds clearer; saying PTF might confuse people that we are endorsing a piece of legislation; new language is more generic; also leaves open language that is more open and inclusive, especially for people who do not support “resistance” but support legislation;

We could not reach consensus on the Ad Comm wording. Returning to Clark’s original change to “peace tax fund” for consensus, there was a blocking objection from Joffre, leading to further comments. Joffre does not want to mention “legislation.” Right now the Statement of Purpose refers to the U.S. Peace Tax Fund Bill – a name which no longer exists, therefore there was a desire to change it to something than not to change it at all; the text clearly refers to NWTRCC’s support for groups that work on this – it is not an endorsement of legislative work in particular; we already made a decision that bent toward those who don’t like the bill and now we are just asking that we recognize that NWTRCC supports all ways that people work on these issues.

Dave Gross’s Proposal 1 asked that the old bill name be removed from our statement of purpose. Consensus was sought on removing the old name, but there were many objections.
No change will be made in this sections. It can be brought to the next meeting.
Point 4 – inserting “nonviolence”
Consensus – general but YES
Point 5Ad Comm agrees with Clark –
Consensus – YES and also taking out the “and”

6. Administrative Committee Nominees

Robert and Pam are rotating off the Ad Comm. David Gross moves to a full position. Normally the other alternate, Melissa Jameson, would move into full also, but for various reasons she needs to stay as an alternate for the next year.

Erica Weiland was asked to jump right to a full position, and she agreed.

Clare Hanrahan agreed to fill the other alternate slot.

Thanks Robert and Pam! Welcome Erica – and welcome back Clare!

7. Video

We saw part of the rough draft of the film that Steev Hise has been working on during the Saturday morning program. There were many comments regarding the quality and potential for finishing up the film. Steev sent a report with proposals as to where he is at with it and his current fundraising efforts to finish the film. The choices before the CC meeting were:

Questions were raised as to the money we had raised thus far and if donors would ask for money back. Ruth will check in with all. Steev was working with the film collective Pan Left, and Pan Left received half the final payment a few months ago because of their finances and contributions to the film (Ad Comm approved at the time). Some would like to have it in shorter segments if that is still possible. Some felt there was plenty to work with to edit to a workable film. Some were more skeptical. We do have $2,993 set aside still. Some of that was for promotion.

Consensus to empower Ad Comm and Video Committee to deal with #2 on Steev’s proposal – finding someone new to finish the film.

Anyone with contacts in this area can give copies of the current film to them to see what’s there and give us recommendations for getting it finished. We need someone who can get it done as soon as possible and at the best cost possible. A volunteer would be great but may be impossible.

Contact Ruth with ideas.

8. War Tax Boycott

Proposal to take the boycott each year, revise its content for opening appeal each year, distribute palm cards, gather pledges, evaluate those who have signed to determine where they’re coming from etc. See it as an ongoing entry point into our work promoting WTR. Consider taking the year by year focus off it and just make it ongoing.

Agreed.

9. Regional Gathering

Southern Appalachia Region (Katuah) will be sending a letter of intent. The region is roughly nothern Alabama to Central Appalachians.

PVWTR will give up to $1,000 – they would like it to be more than 1 gathering, but we’ll see with budgeting what is available.

The Speakers’ Bureau can be used by groups as they plan gatherings.

10. International Gathering

Just announced – near Oslo, Norway, July 2–4, 2010

We will solicit for a representative over the next months and make a decision in November so there is plenty of time to look for the best priced travel. Larry Rosenwald is going but has his own financing. He offers to be our representative if another is not found. Clare is interested. Rep needs to report back with a newsletter article and come to next gathering to report. They should be willing to offer workshops, give NWTRCC report at the meeting, and be part of panel if asked by the program committee.

Anyone interested should send letter describing interest to coordinator.

11. Literature/Web site update

12. Fundraising Committee Report

Ginny Schneider coordinated a conference call of the committee before this meeting; notes are available on request. Ginny is calling some lapsed donors and nonpaying affiliates. Pam reported on a meeting Saturday with herself, Larry Bassett, Geov Parrish — emphasis on just ask for money! By phone, not by letter, email. Ask the comfortable people not the giants. Promote the speaker’s bureau for fees – YouTube video for promotion – short! Look for gigs at colleges and universities where honorariums are offered; set up a donation tree, like a phone tree; Newsletter ads – could be a leaflet included in newsletter – this can be a way of assisting the WTR in our network — can take book ads as a business expense to pay for ads. sell scarves! Individuals and groups can also send “friendship letters” – to their own lists asking for support. Portland did this last year with good results. See also, notes from Saturday large group discussion.

New committee volunteers: Larry and Geov (Ginny Schneider coordinating, plus members Rick Bickhart, Jim Stockwell, Pam Allee)

14. Next meeting

Cleveland, November 6–8. Charlie Hurst and Maria Smith are hosting. They sent a note to this meeting telling about plans to use space at a Methodist conference center, Nehemiah Center, which charges $25/person/night. We’ll have a sliding scale for housing; Charlie and Maria offer to hold a fundraiser to make up the costs that we can’t cover. If individuals have to pay more, our pass the hat might bring in less. Some in our group can pay and some can’t. NWTRCC does have a travel assistance fund for getting to the meetings, which people should remember to use as needed.

Agreed that May 2010 meeting should be in Southwest – Arizona or Utah would be great.

Utah, Tucson, Flagstaff – good community there, Albuquerque

Austin or Houston, So Cal, No Cal (someday)

Evaluation

Just nifty; Well, it was interesting, more to come; ditto – great hosts, really enjoyed Our Community Place; very good meeting; seemed to be good not having been here before, dedicated good group of people, impressed; happy to be with all and feel support; thanks NWTRCC for all support, time allowed for groups was excellent, despite some glitches it was a great meeting; liked process/consensus/well run meeting/open to everyone; great shot in arm, nice to hang around cast of characters – impressed with all the stuff this town has going; intense, rather pleasant, don’t like meetings very much; glad meeting is ending on time, good job all, had great weekend; toe in water to see how coming back would be, floundering a bit, enjoyable couple of days, problem reviewing written materials and getting up to speed; great to be back and have folks in home town and to connect with locals; meeting space pleasant and all fine; thanks to Jennifer and Ray and Wilma and Rick for hosting/transport, and Robert and Pam for Ad Comm and all their input; This is a meeting with heart not head; thanks to Ray for connecting us to the community; well prepared meeting; missed having a primary input on why we are all here – having a speaker on Saturday night more generally on war and our issues and outreach to the wider community – public event; great hosts, great town, process good in general. Must be a better way to review an org document than having a room of people review every word. Great food let’s go get some more. Hosts went the extra mile and picking us up and all. And places to stay. Meetings went well. So nice to come to these, there are times of doubt when you’re alone and then coming here you all feel good about what I’m doing

Saturday discussions page