National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

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National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
Meeting Minutes

Seattle, Washington • Sunday, May 7, 2006

Thanks so much to the Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia – Erica, Carolyn, Geov, Eddie, Scott, Vivien – our hosts in Seattle, and to Pablo for the great food! It was an excellent program, an excellent turnout, and a beautiful setting too. A write-up on the Friday and Saturday events will be forthcoming.

Present for CC Meeting: Pam Allee (Portland, OR), Susan Balzer (Hesston, KS), Ruth Benn (Brooklyn, NY), Eszter Freeman (Sonoma County, CA), Clark Hanjian (Vineyard Haven, MA), Larry Harper (Sonoma County, CA), Tana Hastings (Portland, OR), Celeste Howard (Hillsboro, OR), Erica Kay (Seattle, WA), Alice Liu (San Francisco, CA), Joe Maizlish (Los Angeles, CA), Scott McClay (Seattle, WA), Peg Morton (Eugene, OR), Geov Parrish (Seattle, WA), Ruby Phillips (Seattle, WA), Lincoln Rice (Milwaukee, WI), Peter Smith (South Bend, IN)), Jay Sordean (Berkeley, CA), Carolyn Stevens (Seattle, WA), Jim Stockwell (Micaville, NC), Eddie Tews (Seattle, WA), David Waters (Birmingham, AL), Daniel Woodham (Greensboro, NC)

Lincoln explained the Coordinating Committee process.

AdComm = Administrative Committee

1. Consultant’s Report (written - http://www.nwtrcc.org/consultreport306.htm)

            Additional report from Ruth: Tax day press release announced actions around the country. John Miller sent out to huge email media list. Carol Moore and Tim Godshall from NCPTF in DC were listed in the Institute for Public Accuracy press release and got quite a few radio interviews from it. About 30-40 calls came from USA Today article about Peter Smith that had bumper sticker with our phone # on it. Christian Science Monitor did good article. Tax day report on our website. Cleveland Plains Dealer ethics article distinguishes wtrs from other resisters.

            Comments/Questions: Peter Smith added that there is a bulletin board on the HangUpOnWar website but it is not very active. Clark noted that the Coordinator Evaluation process needs to get back on track.

2. Strategy Conference Follow-up

            A. Video/DVD: A committee formed at the strategy conference, and there was a round of emails back and forth discussing how to get going on this. Questions were raised as to what exactly we want – an real introductory video or short clips on the web. Susan Quinlan has suggested we create some short chapters on specific topics that might eventually be expanded to a full introductory film/DVD/video. Making sure it appeals to youth is important.

             The AdComm noted that a coordinator is needed for the committee and Daniel Woodham volunteered. So far other members are: Steve Hise, Tom Jackson, Carol Coney, Larry Dansinger, Ed Hedemann, Susan Quinlan, Mel Reslor, Sherill Crosby, Ruth Benn, Lincoln Rice, Peter Smith. Volunteers welcome. Daniel noted that in creating a longer film, one job is to develop budget, raise funds, so grant writing and video experience welcome.

            This meeting expressed strong interest in getting short clips on the web, even using a site like MySpace; people liked the idea of chapters that may be combined into a longer piece.

            The interviews done at the strategy conference are on DVD now. Ed Hedemann has the copies and plans to pull out some short bits for the website; a volunteer is also transcribing them to make it easier to find the desired sections. It’s a long project and time consuming. These interviews will be available for whatever project develops.

            There was a strong sense that a good introductory film is needed, and people emphasized having DVD, not video form.

            How soon do we need it? Some said “before next tax day” – at least for some short bits, but it’s important to have a really good video rather than push the timing. We saw a 45-min. documentary this weekend about the Plowshares action of 3 nuns in Colorado, which participant Jackie Hudson brought. She said it takes about 3 years to make something like that.

            We definitely need a specific proposal developed by the committee or individuals who are interested. It would be great to have a proposal for the longer film at our November meeting. Meanwhile, we hope the committee will figure out how to get some of the short clips on the website between now and the November meeting.

            Ruth will get the emails to Daniel for the committee and he will help to push along the discussion. We felt there wasn’t much we could do until a more formal proposal for a longer video is developed, with some outline of a plan and budget.

            B. Survey (written summary attached below)

            The committee coordinated by Bill Ramsey in St. Louis pretty much met the goals set out at the October conference. They did a pilot survey – available this weekend and are in the process of making adjustments based on that pilot. Bill’s report (see end of minutes) was available at the meeting, as was the survey, and some people said they’d get comments/edits directly to Bill. The survey was used on NWTRCC’s table at the April 29 demonstration in NYC and proved a good way to engage people.

            Timeline: revise and get final version that will be sent out to us soon. Use at SOA as end date for survey then start second part, which is one year of resisting. Ruth will mail paper to those who need it and request it, and we will have it on the web.

            Comments: good idea--will get out to all peace communities and people who haven’t had interest in wtr; how do I fill it out if below taxable?; needs something about retirement; might need more options under religion as Quakers didn’t seem to fit anywhere; some felt that the race question wasn’t necessary but others felt strongly it’s important we get that information – leave it in; good job committee!

            Survey Committee Members – Ed Hedemann; Eszter Freeman; Mary Loehr; Veronica Fellerath; Bob Bady; Leslie Schultz; Betty Winkler; Susan Silver. Coordinator Bill Ramsey, hras@humanrightsaction.net

            C. Young Adult outreach

            • Lincoln reported that we have established a youth review committee to look at literature to see if good for under 30s; Lincoln and Alice and 3 others are on the committee. Will send them the W-4 flyer draft.

            • Draft of W-4 flyer presented. We would like comments and an ok from the CC to proceed with this flyer before the next meeting. Comments included: have done by July 1; back is intended for single people starting first job; Legal consequences information needs to be softened since there isn’t that much risk – others argue to maintain it as is; Daniel noted that the Continental airlines magazine has article about reduced withholding with W-4 – much the same information that we give out!; add enough to make it useable for more than just young adults.

            Consensus: It’s basically ok. No objections allowing the group to complete without another CC review.

            Counter recruitment --add wtr to presentations. Susan Quinlan has 16-page packet with games, role plays to teach CO. We will have a link on our website soon. There is some mention on wtr.

            D. Intentional Communities

            Jim Stockwell has agreed to coordinate this committee and will get in touch with Bob Bady and Karl Meyer. Geov suggested we put something in Community Magazine.

3. Handbook

            At the strategy conference, Clark handed out a draft of a policy handbook for NWTRCC. We were to review it and then decided whether to make it official at this meeting. Clark would continue to update it.

            Clark reported that a few years ago a survey found lack of clarity on current decisions, so for the sake of institutional memory the handbook gets all decisions down in one place. It could be an informal restatement of what’s in the minutes as easy to read quick reference rather than verbatim of minutes.

            Lincoln said that the AdComm recommended to make it the official handbook. For the next meeting there are a few things that need to be changed or updated, like the information on the no longer existing working groups.

            Questions/Comments: How would we change this document? - Follow the usual decision making process; this is way we’ve done things, but not necessarily the way we could do things. Keep flexible. I wouldn’t want a lot of trouble to make some temporary changes.

            Consensus: Accepted as official handbook for NWTRCC. Thanks Clark!

4. Next meeting

            We have a choice between Las Vegas or Newton, Kansas

            Gary Cavalier and Julia Occhiogrosso at Las Vegas Catholic Worker are contacts on our list. They host actions such as the Nevada Desert Experience, and on a request from Ruth said that they would be happy to host us, having not been able to do much for NWTRCC. It might not  cost anything for space to meet, and they have plenty of space for people to stay.

            Susan Balzer talked with the Heartland Peace Tax Fund folks around Hesston/Newton and they also agreed to host us. NWTRCC last met there in 1998.  

            We had also asked Austin, TX, again but they are not able to host us. Birmingham, AL is an option. Albuquerque might be willing in a year or so.

            AdComm did not have a recommendation between Las Vegas or Kansas.

            Proposed: Las Vegas this year and KS in Nov. 2007.

            Consensus on proposal. Ruth will get in touch with Gary and Julia about details.

            May 2007 – “Call Austin and say we’re coming.” J David offered Birmingham, but New England hasn’t hosted for a long time, so we might check with one of the groups there as an alternate. No decision on location for May 2007.

5. Proposals

            A. Traveling Secretary 

            At strategizing conference Karl Meyer introduced the traveling secretary idea.    Recommendation by AdComm that with our limited resources the emphasis be on the video project for now and instead we promote a speakers’ bureau on the website, travel to be paid by inviting groups.

            Comments: Geov recalls 1993 national speaking tour for NWTRCC he did, which came close to breaking even, but what happened required active outreach – takes a lot to set things up, but the expert from out of town does seem to have more credibility than does a local person!; local/regional speakers would be best; the examples Karl gave were of people already famous – if we had someone like that it would be easier to support; it’s hard to “recruit” for wtr, unlike some other movements or actions; Peg and Erica volunteer for regional in NW, Jim for SE, although we haven’t decided on such a project as yet.

            Consensus: No to the proposal at this time.

            Susan proposes a regional speaking system. Geov suggests we follow regular procedures and prepare a proposal for November CC. Volunteers: Pam Allee, Erica, Geov, Peg assisting Pam.

            B. Coordinator pay proposal

            Only one formal raise for Coordinator since Ruth took the position in ’03, with one more plan approved in October. This proposal adds $108 to our current budge, detailed in the written proposal. AdComm recommended approval.

            Consensus: Approved 

            C. Personnel Policy amendment proposal

            Introduced by Clark, especially to remind AdComm to look at coordinator pay annually.

            AdComm recommended approval.

            Consensus: Approved

6. Fundraising Clerk Review

            AdComm recommends we continue to have this position and seek a new volunteer as  Jim S. is now stepping down.

            Comments: Fundraising clerk might focus on specific projects in seeking grants; Clerk needed for other than grant-seeking, asks about what has been done in the past; Jim reported that  he wasn’t connected electronically, this hindered his connection with Ruth and with funding prospects, and he also had to take a time out due to personal circumstances; perhaps we should create a committee on fundraising; Ruth noted that a Fundraising Clerk is good for doing follow-up calls to affiliates and contact with other kinds of groups such as religious groups; a clerk among other things could help shape a fundraising plan;

            Consensus: Maintain the position. Seek a volunteer during the next month.

            Tana suggests we recruit actively for the position, she has a couple of possible names. Jim has offered to stay on if no one new is found. We can post in June newsletter.    Contact Ruth (nwtrcc@nwtrcc.org) if you are interested in this position! Travel is paid to the 2 CC meetings per year and phone/mail expenses reimbursed.

7. Administrative Committee Members

            Current members: Lincoln and Eszter are completing their two year full-time terms: Daniel and Susan stay on one more year; Alice has been an alternate for a year. One full position open and two alternate positions.

            AdComm recommends we add Clark Hanjian as a full member and move Alice Liu into a full position now. As alternates, Pam Allee and Robert Randall. We thanked Jerome Witschger for throwing his name in the hat too, but he might move to Mexico next year so AdComm felt we should hold off on adding him at this point.

            Consensus: Plan approved as recommended with thanks to the retiring AdComm members.

8. International Conference

            A. Representation

            The meeting will be in Waltersdorf, Gmany in October. We pay for our NWTRCC official representative’s travel and expenses. Candidates are Jim Stockwell (NC), Larry Rosenwald (MA), and Don Kaufman (KS)..

            AdComm recommended having two reps, with Larry as one since he has offered to pay his own way, then sponsor Jim or Don, but AdComm couldn’t figure out how to choose. They are all strong candidates who would be great reps for NWTRCC.

            Tana suggests there are a couple of other paths: accept Larry’s offer and use NWTRCC money to sponsor a third world person as we have in the past (usually out of special fundraising); or use some of our money for a second person but ask that person to raise the rest of their costs; we tossed around strengths of each candidate; another idea - send them all, splitting the money between the two and assuming they will raise funds to cover any balance; send Larry and save the money (but we don’t want to select a person just because they might have finances that others don’t). This turned into a lengthy and circular discussion, until a small committee went off to go over it all and come back with a proposal.

            Proposed: Send Larry Rosenwald as the NWTRCC representative, and use our budgeted funds to send a person from the third world who would not otherwise be able to go.

            Consensus: Approved

            Larry added that the committee suggested that we consider in the future adding a “third world person conference attendance support” item to future budgets.

            B. Request for Financial Support

            The German organizing committee needs some help to prepare for the conference. AdComm suggested we sent $100.

            Consensus: Approved

9. Literature

            Practical #7 is nearly done - on aging, Social Security, inheritance, health insurance, etc. In its almost done final layout stage. Offers to show to others for suggestions. Funding for it has been set aside. The work on #7 led to consider a #8 on “money.”  The difficulty it poses for people’s decisions about wtr, how people respond to large inheritances, and such.

            #5 - Low income/simple living seems somewhat out of date now. David Gross in CA has offered to update this one, and had a editable version on the web. If there are volunteers who would like to help, please contact Ruth for the details

            A few of us have been working on a flyer specifically about the Iraq War and WTR to hand out at demonstrations, etc. Rick Bickhart, Joe Maizlish, and Ruth have circulated a draft. Help welcome – contact Ruth if you’d like to help get this done!

10. Budget Review

            Eszter asked about being over budget on grants. Ruth responded it was from a fund which sent a higher grant than in the past, a donor-directed grant of $3,000.

            Joe: observation/question about postage and phone being less in recent years due to internet email use?  Ruth thought probably so as regards phone bill.

            Adjustments: Tana suggested we add $108 to grants income (becomes $2608 – we are over-budget on that line anyway) to take care of the $108 from the coordinator budget change and take $100 from miscellaneous expenses item and give to the international conference.

            Consensus: Approved

Conference evaluation

            Liked the weather; one who hated meetings liked this; Appreciated panelists and workshops; Thanks to Seattle group and all they did; Great space to have it in; Listening to the comments of several folks who were completely new to wtr, prompts Clark to suggest we make sure wtr is introduced earlier in the program than 2 pm on Saturday afternoon!; AdComm and Coordinator’s work preparing the agenda and each topic was very helpful; Wanted a little more self-introduction at beginning of conference Friday evening; One questions the idea of having a musical show, favoring more of a social evening, informal party.

_____________________________________

SURVEY REPORT (see #2B above)

Dear Survey Committee and Coordinating Committee members and SLCCWTR members:

We have tested the survey at an April 1 St. Louis Charlie King Concert in St. Louis (before, intermission, and after)  and at the April 29th NWTRCC Table at the Festival at the end of the march (two-three hours).

Here are some general comments:

  • In both cases we both handed out questionnaire forms to people who took them with them and to people who filled them out on the spot. None of those passed out have been returned yet.
  • Those of us staffing the table in NYC found the questionnaire forms to be a great tool for engaging people about WTR.
  • We believe the three different forms should be color coded and that they should be formatted in a small type in two columns, so that all three will fit on the front and back of one page.
  • Also many of those who completed the forms asked for a website address to stay in touch with the results and plans for 2007 action.

Here are general results:  (this is not base on a complete tabulation, but simply looking over the completed forms for frequent responses)

  • Five forms were filled out at the CK Concert (two “Never done’s”, two “did but no longer do” , and one “presently doing.”
  • 34 forms were filled out in NYC (25 never done, 4 did but no longer do” and 5 “presently doing. )
  • Of the 25  “never done’s” nine respondents said that they had never heard of WTR
  • Among the “never done” and the “did but no longer do” almost all respondents marked consequences (employment, legal, or financial) as their reasons for not doing war tax resistance. Many also marked “not enough information”
  • In all three categories of forms completed, respondents consistently named WTR as a Courageous or Highly principled tactic. Many also indicated that they believed it was a potential mass tactic.
  • Most of those would “did, but no longer do” said they quit because they were collected upon or it was too much trouble.
  • A large majority of respondents in all three categories said they were willing to consider doing  “one—year WTR with others in April of 2007

Have others tested the questionnaire? If so, please share your results and ideas.

On the basis of these results, I would recommend we:

  • Reformat and color code the questionnaires
  • Place the questionnaires on the web site so they can be filled out and tabulated on line.
  • Prepare a model “tabling kit” for use of the questionnaire at events.
  • Make sure that respondents are given a website address to view the results and hear about a possible mass action
  • Create a “consequences” question and answer piece to hand to those who complete the survey
  • Circulate printed questionnaires at summer and fall festivals, conferences, and actions, to gather hundreds of completed questionnaire, perhaps ending with the SOA action in November.
  • Figure out a system for tabulating the results as the survey’s come in so that by the November NWTRCC meeting we can have a body of information to help us decide if we should move ahead with the “one year boycott” tactic for April 2007.

Thanks for your consideration of all this.

Bill Ramsey, hras@humanrightsaction.net

 


National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY 11215 • Email: nwtrcc@nwtrcc.org
www.nwtrcc.org