National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

National War Tax Resistance
Coordinating Committee Meeting Minutes
Sunday, May 4, 2014 • San Diego, California

Present: Ruth Benn (Coordinator, Brooklyn, NY), Rick Bickhart (AdComm, Ouray, CO), Elizabeth Boardman (AdComm, Davis, CA), Mariah Gayler (Peace Resource Center, San Diego), Bill Glassmire (Fundraising Committee, Corvallis, OR), David Gross (Retooling Committee, San Luis Obispo, CA), Ed Hedemann (counselor, Brooklyn, NY), Dean Koci, (sitting in here and there, San Diego), Robert Randall (counselor, Brunswick, GA), George Rodkey (counselor, Tacoma, WA), Paula  Rogge, mostly filming interviews but in and out), Peter Smith (Michiana War Tax Resisters, South Bend, IN), Jay Sordean (counselor, No CA War Tax Resistance, Berkeley), Joffre Stewart (Chicago Area War Resisters Support), Erica Weiland, (Social Media Consultant, Seattle, WA)

Photos from the gathering
Dave Gross's write up from the gathering

1. Consultant Report (written)

Ruth mentioned being pleased about the workshop in Rochester, NY, organized by Quakers up there and held at the Gandhi Institute. A great connection for us. They all were pleased too and are organizing an October gathering.

Question about Peace Tax Return and what changes were made? Mostly updating a few numbers and references; nothing major. Since it was mentioned on the Democracy Now interview we tried to make the link obvious

Question about the “partnership” with Alterni-Tees? Partnership is probably a stronger word than reality; we will not carry tee shirts but link to the ones we used to carry on their website; they are working on figuring out how to link back to us and track any sales that come in from NWTRCC and give us a small donation in return.

Ruth noted that she and the AdComm discussed her on and off thinking about leaving the Coordinator job and getting some new energy in, a discussion that did not have a specific date. We had talked about whether the job description and structure should change, partly with the Social Media job and whether we should make that permanent and redefine tasks. This might mean Ruth would stay on but do less. Ruth will continue to ponder this and this discussion will continue with the AdComm over the next few months. Everyone should review the Handbook for ideas and changes.

2. Social Media Consultant Report (written)

Erica has worked for NWTRCC for a year now and is glad to get paid for work she believes in.
She’s been tracking growth in followers on social media and finds Twitter the most useful. Some good connections have been made, particularly with journalists noticing us. She’s generally been working to find new places to post items about WTR and link to NWTRCC. You can help!

AdComm talked a bit about Erica’s hours and pay – coming to this weekend and the hours involved & pay for it, and how between now and November’s meeting we decide if this will be a permanent position and update our handbook appropriately.

Question about having another Google Hangout? Yes, she is thinking of organizing one that would highlight affiliates – having a few of them talk about their work; another one will be Economic Disobedience as a theme. Maybe 4 a year.

Question about whether we do podcasts? It’s easy to create them from audio out of the Hangout or other interviews online. People listen when they drive or travel or whatever. Could also transcribe the hangout and sell as ebook — do one event & change it into other forms; maybe create an intro to contextualize it.; do this with the audio things that we have online already if we have the rights. Good idea and Erica will look into this.

Jay suggests another idea is to pull out a very short segment – 30 seconds – then link back to longer piece; blanket internet with little segments that catch people’s attention;  Jay put a quick video together for the Center about a walkathon while he’s been here.

3. Finances (written) & Fundraising

We are in good shape as people can see. Don’t have enough time to spend the money! We got another $10,000 from Craigslist so this meeting and in November we can also look at best uses for that money.

Ruth also included a couple things that we could spend money on, like GoToMeeeting or one of those services that would enhance conference calling and be available for committees to use also. All agreed this is a good idea.

Question about why copying is so low? Have not copied the May appeal yet, which is a larger expense. For the meeting there were fewer papers so most were printed in the office. Not sure why else.

Question about whether and how we thank Craigslist? Yes, a letter and newsletter by mail and in newsletter which also goes online. They have not responded to our mailing or calls to find out how they decide to give us money.

Rick reported that Fundraising Committee has been meeting regularly by phone. Most of the recent discussion has been about the upcoming online effort on CauseVox that Erica has set up. We will launch it on Thoreau’s birthday in July, also the month he was jailed. Last year we did the Summer Fund effort, but we’ll try this and see if it boosts our summer income this year. The hope is that many of you will set up a CauseVox page and promote the effort to your friends and lists. It will be announced in the newsletter, to network by email, and pick on a few people to see if they will do it. CauseVox is free unless you raise more than $5,000.

Penalty Fund could use this method, because the individual appeals for the Fund are well suited to peer-to-peer fundraising.

4. Endorsements (written)

World Beyond War – should we sign on to their Declaration of Peace as an organization?
David Hartsough (WTR) and David Swanson (author; spoke at our Asheville gathering) are key people behind this. Some questions were raised about whether this effort is different than any others that have been tried. Joffre had written concerns about NWTRCC supporting just lobbying, but saw that direct action/WTR could be added. His comments were read as he was out of the room but were not seen as blocking

** Consensus to sign on.
The groups is also having an in-person meeting Tues, June 3 – Fri June 6 at Lomond Quaker Center in northern California. Elizabeth cannot go; Jay is interested and might consider going. Ruth will make sure he has the info.

US Social Forum ally – become an ally
Erica explains about the US Social Forum. They are hoping to have more than one conference around the country in 2015, and so far Jackson, MS, and Philadelphia are committed though the dates are not set. There is a lot of info about their statements and process on their website. Pam Allee in Portland, OR, is involved and interested in this; she has been to a couple meetings there.
Questions about what we are signing onto – document refers to agreeing with the world social forum principles. Looked up online during this discussion and nothing there seemed to be objectionable.
Robert thinks that we should do it; the first US forum was in Atlanta, and he knew many of the people involved. No problem aligning with this.
Peter knows many who went to Detroit and has no problem with being an ally.

** Consensus to sign on to be an ally with the US Social Forum.

Jay asked for a list of groups that we have endorsed over the years. See bottom of these notes for list.

5. Strategy Committee – reports

Economic Disobedience – with the proposal in November, we did not move forward but encouraged groups and individuals to do something in between that meeting and now (5). Erica spoke at one event in Eugene, but could not get an event going in Seattle. Overall as far as we know, not much follow up has happened, but we all still like working in this context. We should try to connect with the Debt Resistors Manual because it has a chapter on tax debt that references us and also covers many issues we want to connect with. The workshops this weekend about TPP and youth organizing were related to Economic Disobedience also.
Dave G has been tracking its development in Spain also, and they are moving on with this and setting up a website. Dave wrote an article for their website; people writing for our newsletter or blog should submit to that forum to keep US WTR visible in that forum. It was suggested that Jason repurpose his 99 Tactics book review to post on these forums.
Robert didn’t feel the workshops this weekend had the kind of workshop we wanted but the Debt Resisters Manual is one we should work with and use.
PM press published the book and we should watch for events and review it for next newsletter (Elizabeth volunteered as she has a copy).
Lots of Occupy remnants out there that we could connect with around the manual and do an event. Robert will look into an event on this in Atlanta with Occupy folks etc. Erica will reach out to groups in her area and see about doing an event. Steve Leeds very involved with Occupy in Bay Area – Elizabeth will talk with him about that.

Retooling Committee – Dave reported that there is ongoing work on reviewing our literature and online resources. They have a set of principles they use to evaluate each piece. The concern is about message and outreach and reaching new members. They looked back at previous efforts like Youth Review Committee (Lincoln Rice was the point person); looking at material we have and old stuff on website. Should control message better; people can find old pages and minutes that may not be useful if they are looking for WTR info.
Question about how on our website links come up in same window rather than in a new window, so people are directed off our site. Dave sees that it is kind of rude to do that, that the user should decide; you are manipulating the user and making a decision for them; Robert doesn’t like it when it opens in a new window – you don’t know the skills that your user has, which are generally not great. Probably we should change this.
Question about “What you can expect sheets?” Retooling might do some drafts. Bill asks why an environment activist should be a WTR and Erica gave a short explanation about the military being the biggest polluter and such. Erica is drafting some text for new outreach sheets.

6. Proposals (written)

#1 – Setting aside money for website work  
Robert favors the proposal but cautions about two organizations he knows who redid their website using content management system format and found it to be a big mistake. We probably would not use that format anyway.
There was some discussion about how now viewing on small screens like tablets and IPhones you have to swipe back and forth to see all components of website in one screen, although a couple people passed around their phones and the website did not look too bad. We will discuss this with a web consultant/designer and see what changes are suggested.

** Approved by Consensus

#2 – Slush Fund for in-person outreach at conferences and such
Robert asks why not more money? He proposes to increase the amount to $5,000. Accepted as a friendly amendment, though we will do a budget in November and may not spend this much before then.
Ruth noted that more than the money the management of this is a little trickier and will take time. Hopefully a volunteer could help collect a list of possible places we could table and do workshops, the latter being especially encouraged by some, and then how to find out who can go and setting up a schedule.
Elizabeth suggests we find a better name than "slush fund"
Question about whether the money can also be used for shipping supplies. Yes, and also the AdComm had talked about producing a few displays to set up on tables that would look nice and unify our appearance. A laptop could also run Death and Taxes or photos or whatever. 
The addition of the Peace Studies Association Conference was mentioned (maybe after this session). Their annual conference is October 16-18 in San Diego. This would be a good place to promote the Thoreau kit - We’ll see about getting someone there.

** Approved by Consensus at $5,000, and we’ll revisit in November - see the editable schedule online — sign into Google and you can add to the list, note if you can cover a conference, etc. NWTRCC will pay for table and other fees and help with travel as needed. Contact Ruth for arrangements (or if someone can volunteer to track this page and needs that would help!).

7. Administrative Committee Nominees (written)

Rick Bickhart and Carlos Steward rotate off after this meeting. Elizabeth Boardman and Ari Rosenberg have one more year, and Greg Edge becomes a full member. Wendie Stauffer decided AdComm was not the best place for her so we have 3 slots to fill.

A number of people were nominated but some refused (Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa, Sara Sunstein, and others I think I forgot).

Jason Rawn and Rachel Soltis submitted the answers to the questions and AdComm recommends then, Rachel as an alternate and Jason as either depending on the 3rd person.
Jolene Mechanic from Asheville, NC, was also nominated last minute and got her answers in just before the meeting. As she is so new to knowing about NWTRCC and WTR, AdComm recommends a different position for her. We’d like to work with her very much as she has lots of skills; Fundraising Committee may be a better fit.

At this meeting Robert Randall (Georgia), Bill Glassmire (Oregon), and Cathy Deppe (Los Angeles) all expressed interest and willingness to be on AdComm when asked. Cathy is a longtime WTR and well-versed in the nonprofit world and has not been on AdComm before, so we decided to ask her and she agreed.

** Approved by Consensus, Jason Rawn (Maine) as full member; Cathy Deppe and Rachel Soltis as Alternates

8. Review Objectives (written)
Questions about report on Economic Disobedience and the little that has been done and whether we should leave that as 1d on list. Yes, we would like to retain this and will report back in November.

Questions about how was tax day this year? Some good creative actions, ehlps to be associated with Global Day of Action on Military Spending though those actions are not WTR. Brings more attention to the day anyway. Getting on Democracy Now is important and Lida did a great job, and the article in Vice was a new network for us also. Peter said they were out on tax day with Americans for Fair Taxes, which is based in the Unions  against corporations who don’t pay so the mix of messages was kind of interesting.

Question about whether we did new ads or have exchanges with other newsletters? Didn’t get to new ads but hope to create new ad buttons for online sources. Haven’t organized exchange ads but maintain on list as reminder. Dave tends to think we should drop things we are not doing. Erica agrees to look into exchange ads for a limited list of publications.

Under Literature objectives, Ruth noted that she drafted a legal sheet on health care and updated the one on frivolous. Both need review; Peter Goldberger has the frivolous one. The sheets were passed around for others to review and send comments/changes/additional info to Ruth. These are linked on our business.php page for counselors.

Under Literature 5d, add that the health care act should be part of practical update process. Agreed.
We should add a QR code on all our resources since many people coming to tables just want to know the website and will read materials online. The QR code scanned by smart phones takes them right to that page and they can bookmark it immediately. We will do this. Make it Literature 5e.

Daniel is working on #8. Rick and Peter S have been contacted by him recently and they will try to pull all the materials together and see what they have so far.

9. NWTRCC Endorser Announcement

Following up on the proposal we passed in November to get endorsers for NWTRCC (if groups will not choose to be affiliates). Network people should get the endorsement letter and form around and think of groups to endorse. Peter will follow up with WAND – affiliate and/or endorse; Paula and Elizabeth will try to get Quaker endorsements
Ruth reports that Brandywine Peace Community and LEPOCO Peace Center (both in Pennsylvania) will probably be our first endorsers.
Peg Morton asked for copies to take to groups. Ruth will follow up with her and see if she has managed to hear from any groups.

10. Next meetings and number of meetings
AdComm has been talking about the two meetings a year again and the cost of travel and environmental impact of travel. As a trial for 1 year, AdComm is suggesting that we forego an in-person May 2015 meeting and work on a plan for an online meeting. This will be a proposal to the November meeting.

We do have a travel fund and should encourage people to apply for it.
Attendance may be higher if it’s once a year
Recognize the value of being together
Rick’s trip here $420 – price never came down. He’d rather donate to NWTRCC than spend the $$ on travel.
Peter said that with at least 1 regional meeting those who want to meet WTRs in person could go there.
Elizabeth said the challenge is encouraging more regional meetings, the need to promote it happening. It might be good for the network to have individuals promoting those meetings; it might get more people involved in face to face
Our current 2 gatherings are supposed to nurture local groups – we would be missing that, assuming it has been happening (the evidence is not strong in recent years)
Mariah can imagine interest in So Cal, southwest regional gathering
Erica likes face to face and would miss it but we are hearing about the costs of travel at every meeting
Good idea to go to other regions' gatherings if there is not one in your area.
Don't favor this change but think it won’t be successful.
Ruth talked about the pressure in the spring to organize for tax day and also organize for the May meeting. It was pointed out that meetings don’t have to be November and May if we are making changes

Milwaukee was asked before this meeting to consider hosting in May 2015, which they are considering. If November meeting rejects this proposal for a virtual meeting in May, then Milwaukee could be back up.

**No decision on this, but a proposal will come to the November meeting; input in advance welcome

11. Evaluation

Great to see everyone, good discussions this weekend about moving work forward in various ways; thanks for support of social media; great to do work that aligns with values

Love San Diego, beautiful space, regret filming took her out of workshops, but enjoyed meeting people over meals, etc., especially new people like Cathy, Joe, Alex – likes that she asked for help; grateful to people for giving time in interviews

Always enjoy these gatherings, lovely space, good stories.

Missed people who did not come who we’ve seen before, but enjoyed meeting new people here. Hope to get more written on 9/11 and WTR.

Space great, a low key gathering, feels it was a low energy weekend , disappointed in low participation from local folks, good food.

Agree with all, good housing hosts Ken & Mary, and seeing all here

Mariah was a great hostess and asset and available the whole time. Much better gathering than expected. Didn’t have to sleep on floor! Excited about ideas last November but experienced a dip and muddle in 6 months in between and conversations in committees that went around in circles. Feels like we are coming out of that better than we expected now. We can go thru dips and muddles and come through with new ideas.

Nice to be here. Recharge to come to meetings and see all. Smaller gathering than expected but allowed for informality and relaxed pace that is good and refreshing. Look forward to seeing what’s happening with proposals we approved.

Didn’t expect as much from San Diego community as others did because we have not had much of a base in SD, but was pleased with the number of local folks who did come here and there over the weekend. Great to connect personally with Mariah and the Peace Resource Center as they have been an affiliate for a few years now.

In favor of changing how we meet but also will really miss the 2nd meeting if we drop it
Really enjoy seeing everyone.

Lots of creativity comes out of being together. Once had 5 meetings during year, went to 3, and it’s been 2 for a while. It’s an isolating activity to begin with so getting together is the terrific part of energizing people.. This place was great. Austin should host – some parts of our network are lacking. Prefers more workshops on our issues than presentations from other groups.

NWTRCC Endorsements and Memberships
(Ruth’s note: this is what I find from recent years; anyone remember anything else – at least standing ones as opposed to when we’ve endorsed a single action or event?)

United for Peace and Justice  Member – (since before 2008, random donations when we have money)
Global Day of Action on Military Spending (Partner Organization – since 2012?, no dues)
Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World, Signatory (May 2012, no dues)
Conscience and Peace Tax International - member (Nov 2012, review Nov. 2014, random donations)
Sponsoring film being made by Paula Rogge and Jerry Chernow (May 2013, no money)
International Planning Group – for Nuclear Abolition, Peace and Justice - events; not a standing endorsement (May 2010)

Requests Not Approved
U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation –we did not endorse because we did not have a point person to be the contact and stay in touch with them (Nov. 2012)
Peace Tax Fund Bill - took NWTRCC off endorser list because the endorsement was of the bill itself and there was no consensus on the bill’s current text (May 2009)
• Time for New Priorities: A Global Call for Action on Military and Social Spending - not a sense that our endorsement is that meaningful and most found it not strong enough (May 2008)
• Join War Tax Resistance to subvert the myth of 9/11- Sign-on statement (May 2008)

The Peace Resource Center of San Diego was a great place to meet. Thank you Mariah and Samantha and all board members for allowing us to meet there. Thanks also to the local hosts who opened their homes to weekend attendees.

Photos from the gathering
Dave Gross's write up from the gathering