National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
Business Meeting • Sunday, May 15, 2016 • Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
Ari Rosenberg explained the meeting process
Present: Anne Barron, Peace Resource Center/San Diego; Susan Lee Barton, Philadelphia; Ruth Benn, NWTRCC Coordinator; Rick Bickhart, Treasurer/Ridgway, CO; Jerry Chernow, Madison Area WTR/WI; Bill Glassmire, AdComm/Corvallis, OR; Candi Horton, Peace Tax Fund volunteer/Washington, DC; Sam Koplinka-Loehr, Philadelphia, PA; Mike Levinson, New Rochelle, NY; Mary Loehr, Ithaca WTR/NY; HA Penner, 1040 for Peace/Lancaster, PA; Robert Randall, Brunswick, GA; Jason Rawn, AdComm/Maine; Paula Rogge, Madison Area WTR; Ari Rosenberg, AdComm, Philadelphia; Ginny Schneider, Maine WTR Resource Center/Portland; Paul Sheldon, Media, PA; Craig Simpson, NE WTR/Somerville, MA; Coleman Smith, AdComm/Asheville, NC; Peter Smith, Michiana WTR/South Bend, IN; Robert Smith, Brandywine Peace Community/PA; Erica Weiland, NWTRCC Social Media Consultant
Regrets: Rachel Soltis, AdComm/Phoenix, AZ
Virtual connection was available but no sign of life.
I. Consultant Reports
Ruth (click for written report)
Robert asks about Carol Coney being in SC (moved from Georgia). She sparked a vigil at the IRS in DC on April 15 and we joined the Democracy Spring actions and handed out some palm cards.
Mike asks who sells the WTR book? WRL & NWTRCC. And about who writes the blog: mostly Erica and Ruth monthly, but others are encouraged to submit stories, thought pieces, whatever for the blog.
Website – done. Still needs some changes but it works. How much for website? $4,500 + $120/year for updates, which is a bargain all around.
Erica (click for written report)
Do people link to us? Yes – some of the groups. Some affiliates, WRL, CNV, Global Day
Jason – We are fortunate to have Erica and Ruth, who are way way way beyond competent. Thanks.
II. SOAW (written)
Coleman spoke about the move of the SOAW annual action to the Border this fall, Oct 7–10. How is NWTRCC going to be involved? Coleman is coordinating a series of caravan roadshows. NWTRCC can have lit that will be on the caravan. He is a point person on this. Very international. Bilingual if not multilingual space. There will be a small event at Ft. Bening to “hold the space,” NWTRCC will stay involved and renew endorsement. Erica, Rachel, Anne, and Candi all expressed interest in going and would table for NWTRCC. We have an ad in their current newsletter Presenté. We’ll link or put info on our website. Be in touch with Coleman to get more info on point of contact in his region.
Mike will take bulk copies of Presenté; Ruth will have the order mailed to him [since the meeting it was noticed that SOAW charges for people to take bulk copies, so not sure we’ll do this].
III. Tax Day Actions
We had reports on Friday night and Saturday about what groups did the past tax season. Anne asks that NWTRCC continue on the Days of Action/Divest-Invest theme. She suggests we start making contacts to national boards like Veterans for Peace (VFP and CodePink to get support/endorsement for Divest/Invest and WTR and ask them to put on their websites. If we had a field organizer they could work with colleges. Anne thinks the community college students were more interested.
Robert agrees to carry on with this theme. Takes time for something to get rolling. As long as we have a theme out there it helps local groups have a hook to do their own organizing. Come up with additional materials like a poster that people can use locally. Suggests a change to “divest from war” rather than pentagon because “war” is broader and people can define it how they like.
Erica reported on divest/invest, which was noted in her report, and the response depending on phrase comes first, but there was generally way more engagement with a question than that phrase either way.
Mike asks about college student organizing – because many students don’t file. Mike sees a lot of high school students but they don’t express interest.
Anne tries to frame it as resistant vs. saving money. Community college students do tend to work and make money so are more likely to pay/owe taxes. She saw community college students at meetings over and over so thinks there’s good outreach potential there.
Ginny tabled at Concord high school and told students about w-4 so they weren’t giving free loans to the feds. It was relevant at that age. Also, Len Simons tabled at UMAINE used melty snowman and got more attention with that – 90 substantive conversations.
Jason – fine tune messages etc. For divestment campaign we can use the thought and language of fossil fuel campaigns. See where our messages are complementary. There’s a lot of overlap. Create some lit and a more formal campaign along those lines. Looking at institutional divestment can help us bring up the personal responsibility part. Corporate divestment and personal responsibility.
Ruth – use café press or one of those things to test sales on various messages.
Coleman – use the numbers comparing jobs and costs of education to military $$.
Mike – reaching out to other orgs – BDS campaign – find companies or military projects that are also involved in militarization of middle east we can have common targets. Join with BDS groups. Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc. Helps boost our popularity.
Susan Lee – organizational war tax resistance – in talking to college students are we talking about institutional divestment vs personal responsibility?
Sam – examples of direct action on tax day. March, shut down IRS office. Yes Men doing fall press releases.
Erica – There was some amazing work by a few people but we need to think a lot more about how to build more connections.
The group expressed support to continue the committee and carry on with Days of Action/Divest-Invest theme for tax season 2017.
IV. Finances & Fundraising (written)
Note the mini balance sheet at the bottom of the page, which shows the money in reserves, including previous and current grants from Craigslist. Note that if all proposals passed it is assumed that we use the old Craigslist money. That is actually desired, to use some of that money to do more.
Paula asks about the Craigslist grants. We received $25,000 in 2012; $10,000in 2014; $20,000 in 2015; and $25,000 in 2016. No strings attached; no idea if we’ll get it again.
Peter asks about the extra costs of printing. Ruth noted that we reprinted all the practicals, plus #8
Mike has idea about us getting grants from official bodies because we give tax info. Follow up with Mike on how this would work.
V. Proposals (written)
1 – Advertising campaign (includes chart) National Catholic Reporter does better than Sojourners.
Sam asks if it specifics which we might advertise with. Not defined yet. Twitter and FB are among the options. Email Erica with ideas. New committee members welcome.
Passed by consensus.
2 – Support for Maine WTR Resource Center
Ginny presented the proposal. NWTRCC has provided $500 from NWTRCC’s 2015 budget, and $250 plus lit for expenses related to April 2016 actions. She is asking $1,000 for the rest of year to start youth and militarism committee, tabling at Cannabis festival and Common Ground Fair and maybe others. $125 for public access TV station fee. They might give an office for that – pending negotiation, which would be a glass window office on Congress Street, the main street, in Portland. What she reported on at this meeting (see Fri/Sat notes) is what she has been using the money for. Up until now, NWTRCC has not paid for staff time. ROSC gave $1,800, CMTC gave $500, NE Alternative Fund had some money left over to give so those cover the staffing costs. She will ask for another grant from NWTRCC next year and is seeking more funders. To start up the office and do April actions cost $3200. To date, she has raised $5,000. Her total budget is $6,700 at this point for the org.
Ari reported on the Ad Comm discussion: there were reservations about staff time at $30/hr since that is more than our consultants get paid. Using NWTRCC as a granting body is something that we are concerned about and coming to NWTRCC for grants on a regular basis. AdComm was supportive with reservations; would have been easier to give support without seeing the details of the budget.
Coleman – supportive of this but being due diligence to details of the proposal, but knows you can’t do it for nothing.
Ginny – move to Maine the rent went up etc. She needs to live on a certain amount.
Mary – we should go with what the AdComm recommended and not try to parse the budget. Go forward with the basic proposal
Erica – Since NWTRCC pays consultants the $20.17 rate, it’s weird to pass a budget that includes a pay rate that’s higher than ours.
Ari – it seems you have more funding than what is in the budget. Do you need the $1000 from NWTRCC?
Ginny – thinks Erica and Ruth should be paid more. What she’s showing is the NWTRCC portion on the revised. It’s needed. To start up the office and do April actions cost $5,000. Her total budget is $6,700 for the org.
Susan Lee – questions about what we are paying somebody. We are not paying anybody. We are giving grant money to regional groups to do the work they are doing. We are not hiring a local organizer. Pay is different in different part so the country and that’s not what we need to be deciding.
Ruth – Susan Lee’s point is good and important and this is a new type of proposal for us. Maybe we don’t need the detailed budget definition. What kind of reports do we need to know how our money is being used, etc. This was not questioned to pick on Ginny but because it is new that we have money to offer affiliates.
Passed by consensus.
Ari presents about comic book, and Erica noted comments on Loomio, which had a number of comments about the storyboard for the comic book. [A few asked about accessing Loomio and problems with it
Anne B wants to join the literature committee and thinks there should be an allowance in the process for everyone to see the draft before the comic is printed.
Rick – would not support an amendment that has “everyone” approving the final comic. That involves too many people and it will never get done.
Who is the target audience? Is this supposed to appeal to young people? Comic/graphic readers of any age? It has not really been defined but the thought is general interest.
Mike – works in a library. “Comic book” is really passé. You should call it a graphic novel.
Jerry –The story is important in making this a successful venture. He’s seen some good graphic stories on labor that are boring. It’s a good medium.
Coleman – it has to be in the hands of the committee.
Sam – Feels that this is something that the Jehovah’s Witnesses do. Do I want to pick up and read this? It can be more like beating someone over the head. It’s a tricky one to go for. It’s great to be creative but it’s really hard to make it something people really want to read and share.
Ruth – I’m tripping over how many need to review this.
Paula – We want to see the story.
Sam – what is the amendment? – That the draft copy has to come to the November meeting for review.
Jason – Decided to withdraw from comic book committee but instead am interested in online animation. This sounds kind of expensive.
Susan Lee – Doesn’t matter to me how many see it but does hope there is testing and feedback with other audiences.
Consensus, and consensus on amendment that a story board comes to the November meeting, not for approval but for feedback and comments and to make sure it’s on the right track.
4 – Promote WTR During Campaign Nonviolence Action Week
This is not an endorsement but suggested NWTRCC promotion of the Campaign Nonviolence Action Week, a campaign that we already endorse. We are encouraging groups to do something that week to include war tax resistance.
Hopefully we will get more interest in our lit and maybe have a poster people can use. Likes that we infiltrate this. Robert might try to do something for this.
Ruth – after hearing people talk about this in workshops Saturday realizing more of what I’m looking for is something like “network facilitator” – someone who can keep more personally in touch with our network. While some people fear having a “national” person come tell them what to do, there are many in our network who could use a visit from a field organizer type person. We can see what response we get in terms of hiring 1 or more people, but the more people we pay the more people I have to manage. There’s good movement happening now and thus a good time to give it a whirl.
Ginny – what we might need is something more like “deep organizer” – picking out certain regions, focusing on certain areas. Feels that it needs a year. 6 months just getting started.
Coleman – this does need more time than 6 months. What is the pool? Do we have someone who is up to speed or will they need 6 months to get oriented?
Sam – good idea. He’s done community organizing for many years. Can add a lot to network and work. Should extend the time frame.
Paula – whatever we do, that person should be focused on strengthening local groups. Am for the proposals, just not sure the travel. That gives her pause.
Erica – 6 months of full time or a year of part-time. If you start dividing that, the time each person gets is significantly less. Then the person is more split with how much they could get around. Local organizers would have fewer travel expenses.
Anne – what is the purpose of the field organizer? To get more wtrs, to do wtr organizing, to support local organizers.
Ruth sees it as the latter. Written at 6 months because November is when we do the budget for the next year, so we can see where we’re at then. Sees the timeline as being getting committee going to write a job description and advertise, and maybe hire by fall.
Susan Lee – be careful with job description. Define it carefully. Field organizer and relationship building takes a long time, so the job will likely have to be extended.
Robert – the purpose is listed in this proposal. Hearing a bit more of different definitions. He hears it as the person traveling and being out there.
Jerry – corrects the addition in the proposal, so the final total is $20,100, not $21,000.
Concensus – $20,100 and setting up a hiring committee to flesh out the details of a job description and hiring process.
Hiring committee: Anne, Ginny, Jason, Ari – Ruth
We will announce to NWTRCC Network and take applications. Make clear that the $1,500 is all there is and travel is expensive now, so it could cost the individual a bit more. On Loomio Ken F posted to have the decision made by Network people on Loomio, but not everyone is on it. Will try to put some part of the discussion on Loomio, but AdComm will take input and make decision.
Passed by consensus.
VI. Endorsements (written)
1 – Faithful witness – Agreed by consensus
2 – Maine Walk – Agreed by consensus
3 – RNC in Cleveland – no endorsement, but participate in the People’s Justice and Peace Convention Cleveland sponsored by the Nonviolent Network if you can. No one at the meeting indicated that they could go.
4 – March for our Lives – July 25 – DNC – Agreed by consensus
Ruth and Susan Lee expect to be there with a WTR banner. Also watch what Brandywine and Know Drones are doing during the DNC and join them.
VII. AdComm Nominations
Ari & Jason are rotation off. Coleman and Bill are moving to full positions. Rachel and Cathy are one for another year.
Others were nominated but for one reason or another chose not to accept the nomination.
Jason met Chrissy Kirchhoefer in Korea and she sent in the responses to questions right away.
Taking nominations at this meeting, Sam Koplinka-Loehr was asked if he’d be interested and he said yes. Sam introduced himself: lives in N Philly, worked in community organizing and on environmental/economic/racial justice for years. Has lived in Vermont and Canada also. He’s excited about WTR and building the base of young people and not just of European heritage but a more diverse crew. Look forward to brainstorm with people about new and perhaps slightly more creative ideas. He works as a nanny now. [He happens to be Mary Loehr’s nephew also and wrote a great public letter to the IRS last year when he resisted.]
Chrissy and Sam are approved by consensus as new AdComm members. Welcome!
And thanks to Jason and Ari!!
Asked if we had any short videos, Ruth noted Justin did a W-4 video that is posted on the website.
Erica is going to record a podcast with Jason
Mary asked about affiliate dues. Renewal slips are sent out in spring and fall, depending on when the group has traditionally given. Most give but less than in the past and we’ve lost a few like Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
Candi reported on what Peace Tax Fund is doing: Jack McHale is the new staff person. Congress is not much in session now so they are working to get going at the beginning of the year. She plans to do something from the west coast when she gets back home after 3 months in the office. They got a grant from Craigslist so that has given new openings.
IX. Next meeting location
New Orleans is always on our list; Coleman has a location idea; he’ll get the name to Ruth
Newton (KS)?, Iowa, St. Louis. Jason will pursue Iowa and St. Louis
Fall 2017 – NWTRCC combine meeting with NE gathering
Hostelery International, which is all over the country and has group rates, was suggested as a housing possibility. Erica says it is still much more expensive than our normal, says Erica.
Bob – Atlantic Life Community uses a retreat center in Camden 2x per year with negotiable rates = Oscar Romero Center.
Preference to meeting in the South if possible.
Paula – really enjoyed their host, Jonathan Broadfield. Grateful for the chance to show film clips and get feedback on their project.
HA – I just got here. Always stimulating and encouraging and thank all for the effort.
Ari – very convenient for me. Not much to add. Appreciates all coming.
Craig – like the tour yesterday.
Ginny – thanks for the support for her work. Loves the NWTRCC gathering. Wish she could afford to come to every single one. The Kensington tour was pretty key. Drawing her back in July. Organizers of this did a seamless job.
Coleman – Food and hosts and spot all worked out great. Liked the tour yesterday. Made some good contacts in human rights network. From the heart, really care about this group and what’s going on. In general feel that WNBTRC is less regionally biased than some groups. Very accepting. Non judgmental.
Mary – happy to be here and to see the film clips, tour was really great. And to feel supported, extend support.
Sam – loved the tour of my neighborhood. Wonderful to have NWTRCC engage with things going on in communities. That was dope. Recommend that for NWTRCC in future. Good to know people.
Ruth – this was a hard meeting because of the distance we stayed from the meeting location and the driving driving driving (a problem with owning a car!). Various moving parts at this meeting and getting people into Philly for the tour. But now that it’s over and it all worked out I’m happy. Thanks much to Paul Sheldon and his wife Fran for all the work on meeting space and food and to Ari and Bob for help with other parts of getting this gathering set up.
Jason – downtown tour was great. Glad to meet Cheri. Quote from her about offering housing etc but not as a crash pad as part of the organizing. Good to meet new folks.
Erica – great to meet all and hosts were good. Wish she had promoted virtual meeting sooner. Tour yesterday was really good and difficult and awkward and amazing and all of that. Voted for Cheri on Green Party ticket in 2012. The money and our responsibility to end inequity as really connecting to WTR – that drove it home to her.
Robert – ditto on positive, concentrate on disappointments. If we are supposed to energize local places, it’s not working. Amazed how few locals are here, Quakers and otherwise. Quality of local people participating is fantastic. Thank you for all that.
Peter – great to see all and meet people not known before. Appreciative to Bob. This meeting very well facilitated.
Bob – thought all the discussions were good and illuminating. Interesting to hear you speak of Kensington and such through other eyes as he’s familiar with it all the time. Frustrated that we could not arrange a meeting place in center city Philly and have people stay together. We missed a window for a larger meeting not being in center Philly. Camden is a good site for a gathering. WTR consciousness so strong during Vietnam war. In Philly Steve Gulick and others were central. WTR is not an assumption of Philly Quakers. More happening out in the hinterlands than otherwise.
Bill – very well organized logistically. We made progress. As to the tour, he’ll be thinking about for a long time.
Jerry – always enjoy being at gatherings. Ditto on a lot of things. Getting older and health not great, harder for him to get here but walking tour was hard for him to walk/stand. See more break from the ordinary – more music. Video clips helped just as a break from discussion
Candi – thankful that she was told she was coming. Hearing all this has helped her a lot and in figuring out working together with PTF. Process is a breath of fresh air compared to others.
Anne – appreciative of the work that consultants and others do. Hearing the different perspectives. Loves these meetings. These Sunday meetings are hard but discussions yesterday did feed into what we talked about today. Looks forward to the next one.
Susan Lee – gratitude to those who organized but as a first-timer felt very welcomed and included. Suggestions: if goal is outreach having people staying at homes is one way to do outreach. Making connections with community orgs is good. Helpful to have more info and awareness of people’s physical limitations and what’s involved to make decisions about what we can do. Walking and chemical sensitivities.
Mike – great to be around other activists in groups like this. Does a lot of actions on his own, like the “loiter action” wearing a ‘don’t register’ tee shirt outside a recruitment office. Didn’t have to make group decisions and decide about priorities. Things one person can do but good to be in bigger group too.
Rick – enjoyed it – and Jason’s presentation on Friday night.
Huge thanks to our hosts Paul and Fran Sheldon, Ari Rosenberg, and Bob Smith, and to Lansdowne Friends Meeting and School for the excellent facilities.