Minutes, meeting, January 3, 2012

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Meeting started at 7:34 (9 present)

Open stack for agenda items

Andy: Updates on JFA?

Itzak: report backs as necessary on the agenda. Re-evaluating the purpose of the demands working group.

Lee: bring up idea of corporate personhood as a coordinated subject with electoral reform. Both will hit same subject as money in campaigns. Electoral reform is all private sources. Really the wealth of the country drives corporations. Why are these initiatives operating separately is confusing to me.

Itzak: Any report backs?

Andy: The movement cluster is meeting 5PM here on Sunday. We have over a dozen groups involved. A lot of people from other groups are excited. We want it to be a clearinghouse for ideas. It could be a way to ramp up quickly. Please spread word.

Lee: What’s difference between Call to Action and Direct Action?

Lee: Call to Action does articulation- writing. DA does marches, organizes actions.

Susan: Structure meets every 5:30pm. It’s an open discussion about GA and Spokes.

Itzak: Lee’s item is less central should be last. Should we discuss JFA first or purpose of the working group first? I think JFA is shorter? Anyone here know? Let me say that it was defeated at the GA and people who were more active in it are not showing up. Jay did. Which means that they are unrealistically disappointed. They should have known what would happen in advance. The issue of demands is not central to them. I hoped they would show up. In which case they can not revise JFA.

Susan: We can see what will happens on Sunday.

Itzak: this has become the JFA working group which is problematic. Let’s not discuss what’s wrong with JFA.

Lee: I talked to some people about a Jobs idea. That’s something that could be worked out later. It would be very different. You could talk about increasing jobs and an economic multiplier, that could work. You could get economists’ support- guys like Krugman. The concept isn’t bad it’s just the format. It can come back up in that form. Where do we want to go first. That bleeds into the topic- what’s the purpose of this group. Is that the way to push a demand that could go through here but we need to think about the broader consensus. There are a lot of people who would be opposed to a particular idea. Corporate personhood would be easy. That’s what where we’ll start.

Elena: I’m worried that no demand will get passed.

Susan: there have been demands, but they haven’t come through us.

Itzak: Are we moving into the next subject? What is the demands group about?

Lee: anyone want to get on stack for JFA?

Itzak: our next item- why do we have a demands group- what is the future? Where should it go?

Andy: i think as you said there have been some non-demand demands passed. I think part of the reason is that they want to the GA with just one thing. Or more work shopped. I don’t think it’s impossible but we need to be more focused. I hope we can work in subgroups.

Steven: in terms of thinking about the direction of the working groups- there wasn’t attention to the non-demand demands. We should about whether we do individual demands or a bunch of demands at once. Rather some kind of document coordinated with other demands.

Vivek: Occupy DC put together a demand this fall with a bunch of demand. That was framed in response to the super committee.

Lee” was a list of demands?

Vivek: it was halfway between a political party platform and an academic paper.

Elena: I uploaded it to the yahoo groups.

Lee: I like the idea of fleshing this out. Not to rehash bad feeling. I kept challenging JFA- a document fleshing out these challenges.

Itzak: I would like to deal with- a long manifesto of demands. Under this system- people are going to have objections to one or two elements- may oppose it. They are not into the consensus idea. It would be easier to take smaller chunks and work them out one at a time. I would feel uncomfortable with something that had a few problematic issues. It should be a chunk at a time and there should be a method to delineating between working groups.

Andy: I think to go along with Steven. A lot of groups are working on something like demands. In reach is drafting something for the federal govt asking for amnesty for 24 hour public assembly, and asks for UN or international pressure. Maybe coalesce into a larger document. In reach is like a subgroup of DA. DA is a group that has long been opposed to us but now they are working on something like demands. They are excited about movement cluster. Even despite the last 3 months. People are getting along better now.

Elena: When you say work with other groups do you mean just within OWS?

Andy: no, there are other groups that have been working on this for a long time.

Susan: we should work closely with visions and goals and follow their method for getting consensus with the GA.

Andy: just to wrap it up- it sounds like we should make sure we have a platform, going to the GA, being collaborative, and working with the movement cluster. It’s a good time to work with others.

Itzak: Lee will introduce the next time.

Lee: it’s a good transition to the last one. I’ve gone to a number for meetings. I’ve been trying to get the concept of effective organization of the movement. What steps do we need to do to get change in our society- to make effective change. I brought up the idea of bringing those two things together (corporate personhood and campaign finance). I think corporate personhood is about getting corporate influence out of politics. With their currently influence, there is no way for politicians to serve people. That in mind- how can we make the movement look as cohesive as possible. To me, it’s not just corporate money. The owners could just do individual donations as well to get around the laws. There are so many law, so many loopholes, and the lobbying process is a way to get money into the system. It needs to get changed all at once. Does corporate personhood solve the problem? No, that’s why it needs to be within the campaign system. One of the things I noticed- Bernie Sanders put out a proposed amendment but only corporate personhood. But we should push it further- not just corporate personhood but also how campaigns get funded.

Itzak: Michael from Restore democracy created a subgroup- we found that we have a dual identity- a subgroup of demands but also our own working group with our own identity. I persuaded them to concentrate on corporate personhood- something easy and passable compared to other things more complicated. Two issues- does it require a constitutional amendment and what else would follow. Corporate personhood requires a constitutional level fix. If we have to address critically is Buckley- people like Bloomberg can put personal money into a campaign. I do not see anything else that requires a constitutional amendment. Legislation would be hard but less hard than a constitutional amendment.

Lee: if you’ve identified the two most difficult things from a legal point of view, with not work with the other aspects?

Itzak: Everything else can be dealt with through legislation.

Lee: You’re excluding the easy things to get done.

Itzak: they’re easy institutionally, but hard to get done. They require 3/4 of legislatures would be impossible.

Lee: if you need two constitutional amendments but in addition to the constitutional amendment you can also do this.

Itzak: Yes, of course, but the constitutional amendments are the necessary first steps.

Susan: can you call a collaborative subgroup meetings.

Itzak: this is meeting on three levels: 1) demands has two subgroups- corporate personhood and campaign finance. 2) Politics and political reform group did bring to the GA a resolution on this subject.

Cecily: I was at the subgroup last night to discuss the press conference today and direct action along side anonymous against the Defense bill. That’s a demand. They’re demanding that the bill get taken back. They did a huge day of action today in coordination with Anonymous. We may have more leeway if we don’t call them demands.

Itzak: we should consider bringing up a resolution to the GA that say “We have demanded this and that- therefore OWS does do demands when it finds it advises.” If we bring such a resolution, even if it fails, it will create debate on the issue.

Andy: I don’t think it would help our cause. I think we need more demands and better demands. If we make it about us against them will lead to blocks.

Cecily: Yeah

Susan; We could say this during debates

Cecily: Maybe we could make a list and send to our listserve.

Andy: Just to answer your question, when we present it, whoever is presenting it can make that decision.

Lee: I think it needs to be judicially used. It’s better to work together with other groups.

Itzak: Anything else on the agenda

Lee: A response to the board- it seemed like there was a lot of outrage that they did this. But it’s different to organize an action vs. Coming out with a demand. They said NDAA won’t go through with out people saying it’s wrong.

Cecily: Maybe if we started a diversity of tactics- DA’s that are issuing demands- maybe it would normalize demands.

Andy: I think these are both good points. Maybe one way to get further involved in the movement is to come up with a basic idea about what a demand should be work with DA, and then come up with a demand.

Lee: We have 5 demands, four of our major remaining demands- should we re-examine and figure out how to get more information, maybe ask the subgroups to do more research and writing. We can use those existing demands- that’s our first step- going back to that- it’s been consensed on- the way we should work in temrs of the process. This is our first step, we want you all involved.

Susan: we can have a discussion about this at the next meeting- figure out what we do post failure of the JFA at the GA. For example, we may want subgroups to work with movement groups- working groups, and DA.

Itzak: Read a piece from Bill Fletcher. (DSA publication). Demands are not legislation. We are not legislating. We are proposing the outline.

Cecily: I think it’s important to have a single unifying point or goal but it seems right now that our movement has strong differences, and it will take time to sort out. We have that time if we make baby steps towards going there. The four demands that have been passed- the demands group should take a more actionable approach – figure out what’s been passed, and work with other groups, along with working with DA. So maybe we should start thinking of ourselves not as a literary but an actionable body.

Andy: First of all, I agree with everything you said. But to address that quote. We’ve heard from demands and JFA_- lots of great quotes about why demands are necessary but they won’t convince those who think demands are necessary. They think they know where they are going- they think are building a new society from the group up, and they think that by making demands to the state- well, these kinds of quotes aren’t going to help.

Itzak: I was preaching to the choir. You deal with a fundamental issue that I’m dealing with the structure group. WE are diverse organization and the basis of this foundation is… they consider the process to be more important than the outcome. I’ve been told in the discussion that I use old outcomes- they are interested in changing the world. We do have to resolve it and i don’t know how. Unless we resolve- if they are serious about consensus- we have to figure out consensus on how to get things together and get things done. Other wise they will dictate a paradigm. But for the time being I want an organization with integrity, human relationship, etc., but I don’t want outcome to be sacrificed by the shortcomings of the procedure.

Steven: I wanted to echo Andy- people in the movement who are influential who want to create an alternative society. One thing we have in common with those people is that we all want a mass movement. I think about demands this way- I know think about them as a rhetorical- figure of speech. It isn’t a demand on the state- it’s mean to be an apostrophe- we’re speaking to the state but we’re really speaking to the mass of the people- we figuratively speak to the state but we’re really speaking to the people. People fear that if you demand the state, you wait, but instead we seek to bring people into the movement.

Lee : this goes back to the fundamental difference I have with the group. I think there is a need to speak in a way to get the vast majority of people. Most American people don’t want revolution they want reform. They’re saying “f-ck the system- we want a new game.” Once we have other groups on board, can we maybe challenge their assumptions. That’s the fundamental dichotomy we have with that approach we have to deal with.

Itzak: Let’s meet on Sunday. We can have a discussion about how often to meet.

Lee: Tuesdays might be more subgroup oriented.

Meeting ended.



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