Minutes, meeting, December 20, 2011

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Demands group, 12/20

Meeting delayed start because of Structure meeting


Leah: agrees to facilitate

Jay: to take stack

Leah: introductions

Elizabeth: alternative AIDS activist










Leah: agenda items

Jay: report backs

Elizabeth: use of foster children for clinical trials

Itzak: discuss what happened Sunday; revisit the JFA proposal on its merits;

Susan: no binding votes (temp check was positive)

Lee: I want to read a statement from Walter who couldn’t be here today. I want to talk about what Binh has put up. Also: direction of the group. What can we do?

Susan: can we have a discussion about a time

Itzak: Some of the items can be combined. Those that should be combined should be.


  1. report backs
  2. discussion of time
  3. discussion of last Sunday
  4. how OWS functions
  5. JFA on merits
  6. Walter
  7. Binh
  8. Direction of group
  9. US foster children used in clinical trails

Alejandro: how to sign up for list serve

jay: Yahoo groups- demandsOWS

Leah: No later than 9.

Next a discussion of last Sunday.

Jay: I think many people were there. Last Sunday after two months of hard work we went back to the GA for the first time for a vote. Jobs for All demand- a mass public works program. A number 9of the other working groups and community groups outside of OWS were there to present the demand. Liliana Gomez, Lillie from Occupy Harlem, Occupy Jobs, and 99ers WG. There were four components- concerns, clarifying questions, and amendments. 12 people threw up blocks. Because they opposed demands period. They were going to table but we agreed to have a vote. When the vote was taken, there were 36 in support of JFA, and there were 18 opposed- under the 90% rules of OWS. It was not adopted.

Itzak: Nonetheless,we would have needed 109 people to vote for the proposal to overcome the 18 people who voted against. And then on that, they would wanted another person for all those hours. I knew it would not pass. Why did people vote against. The majority did not vote because of deficiencies on economic analysis, or undocumented immigrants. The objections were much more basic and ideological- and they varied. The groups that don’t make demands. Demands are not part of our culture. Some felt that from this So and So government is illegitimate. Or any government is illegitimate. If any kind of proposal, in a movement like this, when a small minority has principled opinions to which they are entitled. That is a serious problem. None of them cared about it.

Lee: I have a different take. I was there. There are two ways you can measure the blocks. I spoke to people. Some of them didn’t like our group. Didn’t like our process. I know 5 people who didn’t like the demand itself or its implications. This group didn’t look at the demand which has massive inefficiencies in it. That’s important. I think we spent a lot of time on this. The vast majority of our time was spent on it. It didn’t work. To go back into is unfair to what the group doesn’t want to do. Let me finish- the 2/3 votes- how many people came to vote who were supporting the demand. That stacks the vote. There were a lot of people of from the demands and groups. It’s then more of a 50-50 vote. WE weren’t even that close when you look at the outside people.


Leah: how does OWS function?
Itzak: a 10% minority can block it. Disagreement on issues where we deeply disagree- we have very different approaches. There are social democrats, there are also those who want radical changes. Different principles, and that’s the limit with the issues, they have to confront the issues. Third group doesn’t want a group. They want an anarchist paradigm. The first two can come to a compromise. The third group says we are functioning an different universe. How do we keep the three groups functioning is a serious problem.

Lee: This might be a good time to read Walter’s statement. His proposal that we can not bring things to GA without broader support. Need to fix our image. Send someone to Spokes. Demands are silly when people are in retreat.

Renzo: I completely agree with what you’re saying. There are people in this Occupy movement that have different fundamental basis to what they see the outcome of the movement. Some people want in system fixes. Others see that as unrealistic. You can’t just ask corporations to get rid of corporate personhood. You can’t have in system fixes in a system that is unequal. WE need something to happen that people who aren’t in the same group. The end result is not compatible.

Susan: I disagree. Being around many different groups helps me to grow politically.

Jay: i think that OWS is very undemocratic. The GA is set up to prevent change. It privileges those who want to prevent change and prevent action. The 90% rule is deeply anti-democratic. I agree that we need to work with other groups. But a minority should not have the power to block change. With the 90% rule, that also applies to Walter. That same group, that same line, they can block the group there. That’s why other groups are forming. People are realizing that there are other ways of organizing. They don’t monopolize what democracy works. That’s where Eric is. Manhattan is not the center of the world. They’re talking about networking the five occupies in NYC. They’re making a new GA. But there has to be a new way of organizing that gives people an opportunity to speak and take action.

Alejandro: I agree, everyone should come together. There are always people who are not willing to compromise. I am against the 90% rule.

Itzak: I am trying to be brief. 90% of what? Of the people who show up on a cold night on Liberty park. Or can come here. WE need to discuss what democracy. I won’t continue. What does 2/3 mean? To Walter’s statement, it was not a broad group. They are on the fringe of the political structure. The guy from Occupy Harlem- the real communist party did not have any revisionists.

The tone at the forum was very militant and far left. That’s fine. But there was no to the center. That is half of the problem of whom we draw in to support us.

Jay: point of information of the panel? We were supposed to work and do outreach. We did a lot work but other people did not. That’s been one of my points of this whole experience. People talk about reach out.

Jay: We’re trying to broad our scope with our outreach. The Solutions cluster, which operates under 90%, which was repeated considered undemocratic. We’re supposed to go through that.

Lee: I know 10 people who went to our 3rd and 4th meeting who didn’t come back because they didn’t like the way this came about. People were upset that JFA went through too quickly, already set in stone. You couldn’t overcome. The ten people felt they did not fit the far left review.

Itzak: I’ve been to many meetings. I don’t like any thing that normal people wouldn’t like. I was told it was set in stone and that we could not change it. I can not be sold the Brooklyn bridge. I saw the other groups come along they would go along with demands, and if they came with suggestions to improve, they were shot down. We were not allowed to change 25 million or change the wording.

Jay: Lee and others consistently have tried to kill it. It was voted on at a full meeting, 75% consensus, it was…

Itzak: it was still a shit of a demand.

Jay: because you disagreed with it you tried to kill it. I twas at the GA. We got feedback. It was revised a couple different times. It was not a bill. It is not democratic parties going to subcommittee. These are basic broad demands that speak to the broad needs. Of course our state has the resources. The point is the political power. This is not just.. this can bring in broad swaths of the working class, just not a few more young people to the solutions cluster. SO we can bring in broader parts of the 99%.

Alejandro: when we meet again?

Lee: If we can get 10 people on the listserve to commit to Tuesday, 27 on 7PM, but otherwise 3rd of January.

Lee: Binh had put something on the listserve on the lack of physical occupation being a problem, but also a link to the article she wrote. She talked about 2 things- the directions of the group. Spoke of the opportunity to create a socialist and working class party. This is what I’ve been speaking to the past 2 months. What they see in the group. Binh wants the Socialist left to run the group rather than be marginalized. What can OWS really achieve? The challenge is that if we go out with a socialist far left agenda, as soon as we get a demand out, what’s gonna happen next? We’re not going to have the attention of the 99%. The 25 million JFA is more left than Europe, our country can’t even get behind universal health care. What are we to do? Only 11% likes Congress. But they won’t go for change unless they like this. It has to be a message that most can get behind. Otherwise what will happen- left wing statements, we have no representation to government, and no way to get stuff implemented, the far left who has been working on this for years will have made a statement. Let me just finish. If we go through something about making all campaigns publicly financed, take away ability to do revolving door, that is something 80% that country will be behind.

Leah: I just want to say something very shortly. I don’t know where the 99% will go. My understanding is that the 99% isn’t a static entity. Our situation changes. The 99% will, I feel fairly certain, they’ll keep moving, they’ll keep transforming. I feel like Susan. I am open to libertarian ideas, anarchist ideas, I temper myself. I am a Democratic socialist, but I rein myself instead. I have to be mindful of that. My situation is that I’m constantly struggling. The 99% internally struggles too.

Richard: I just want to say, I agree with a lot of people. To get caught up in labels is divisive. I want to arrive to an effort we can all achieve. One of them could be getting money out of Washington and our political system. If you demand jobs from jerks working for the establishment, that’s the way you look at it. Get money out and change the people, then everything you approach will be reasonable, not just corporate driven.

Mike: you pay the politicians 150,000 a year, and then you give them pension where you take out the money you make after politics

Jason: I’m not political. I am vet a Marine. But you could like the 1% of politically minded people who really cares about others. But we don’t want to have a new occupation or problems like this again. It is disgusting how people treat each other. AT the end of the day, it’s the only way we can take those these entities. It’s the oldest trick in the book. It goes beyond 2000 years. The power is in us as a movement. We are the walking talking example of what we want the world to be. The point is we are treating each other with respect, not because of Karma, but because of feels good. Once we get behind that, once we realize that’s why we are really here. We can get people to join the numbers game. WE are more like the 5% than the 99%. We are not the 99% right now.

Renzo: this is my first OWS meeting. I was going to school in Maine I am surprised how divisive it is. Instead of seeing it like Republic or Democratic or a black or white problem, they are human problems. They would want a system where really poor and really rich isn’t a given. Or homeless people with bankers making more than they need. It’s a pragmatic needs thing. There is a lot of ideological rhetoric behind it but we’re all talking about the same thing, but we’re giving out these labels. There’ s quote, the problem of today … we take authority as truth rather than truth as authority. That is never going to work. That’s why its very difficult to move forward.

Itzak: it’s been a while since Lee read what he read, about the proposal. It’s just the kind of thing, it’s what you’re opposed to, but she does not represent the majority of this group. She’s off the deep politically. She wrote like a provocateur. There are serious issues. Are we reformist or revolutionary? Are we inclusive or exclusionary. People like her seek to drive away people from other directions. Most of us do want to come to working together.

Lee: You said “Reformist v. Revolutionary.” If we did JFA, i don’t think it would ever get through our current political system. It would have to go through the first one. You could only do JFA through revolution. Getting money out of politics is reformist.

Beth: I work with a group called Rethinking AIDS. I want to respect this group and the process. What I am hearing for the past hour is a need to come together. A need for common ground, common denominator. It seems that you’ve been through enough frustration. Taking it up into ideology. You’re ready to talk brass talks. What you actually get done no matter how modest. In that spirit, I want to say that what I want to discuss isn’t a first demand. It’s not a common denominator thing like getting money out of politics. I want to express this issue in its common denominator. Government intrusion in our lives. It’s government intrusion in our lives. Corporations intrusions in our lives. Personal freedom. It involves the kidnapping of NYC children from their families and family members and putting them in foster care where they are wards of the state and are for use by corporate needs. When we get to the higher levels, all hell will break loose. Then taking them into enrolling them clinical trials. These kids get no compensation but “access to care.” Our children are not public property no matter what neighborhood they come from. Bill deBlasio stopped this. Food for thought for demands. As this group evolves better is that issue of clinical trial, violation of Nuremberg code. The disease in question is AIDS. Without these drugs the kids would have died anyway. But not of skin burning.

Itzak: I have question- there needs to be documentation. WE understand the values. The facts need to be clearly organized. If you bring it to us, we’d appreciate several pages of documentation.

Beth: There is a website called Askdeblasiowhy.com, and I’ll give out cards. That’s a starting place.

Susan: there are other groups that may help you with this- like Direct Action, political action, and health care. They have other resources to bring.

Jason: The only thing is that we should focus on one thing at a time and get it done. I don’t know in this system if we can get it done, we just have to know that we won’t stand for it. We all know that it’s not OK, like the military industrial complex, they all go to the same fraternities, same interests, they all know each other. This is what we’re truly up against if we’re truly a tangible movement. We’ve already won. We claim to be 99%. Let’s become the 99%.

Jay: We do have the “rights” subgroup within demands. Your concern might fit in this group. One way to move beyond single demand focus. That replicates the problem. One way is to link up to the rights group.

Meeting ended at 8:50.


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