Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Day 32: Holding vigil against this 'bad bill' inside the capital



Photo by Regis Tremblay


We had about 17 of us this morning in the 3rd floor capital hallway between the House and Senate chambers in Augusta.  Even Darth Vader made an appearance holding a sign that declared his love for LD 1781 - the corporate welfare bill for General Dynamics.

We held a news conference at 11:00 am and got an interview on TV CH 8 and a call later from The Forecaster newspaper.  The MunjoyHillNews.com also covered us and Carol McCracken who runs that site said she has been getting excellent responses in Portland to her recent reporting on this campaign.  Our two alternative media cameramen/filmmakers Peter Woodruff (retired BIW worker) and Regis Tremblay also covered the event and will make a video report which I will post on the blog.

I really felt the power of our presence in the capital hallway today.  I am convinced that it is forcing this bill to stay front and center in their consciousness as the legislature faces massive human and infrastructure funding needs this year in Maine. They all know that GD does not need our feeble $45 million but they clearly understand that our state desperately needs these funds.  These elected officials need to be reminded by every Maine citizen to vote against this 'bad bill'.  So keep your calls and emails going to your legislators.  And please get friends, neighbors and relatives to do the same.

As of today we've had 118 letters, Op-Eds, radio and TV interviews in 25 Maine media outlets.  (There is a good chance we've missed a few as well.)  Your letters need to continue now more than ever.  The bigger papers are saying they've covered this issue widely on their editorial pages and are slowing down the placement of your letters.

Thus it's time to send letters to the weeklies.  Often times we don't think to prioritize the weeklies but that is a strategic mistake.  Many people long ago stopped subscribing to the daily papers to save money and pick up the weeklies for their news.  Some of the weeklies have larger distribution than the daily papers.

Quaker activist Leslie Manning stood next to me in the hallway holding a sign.  She knows most of the Democratic party legislators and got hugs from many of them.  I asked her to share a few observations from the day.  Here they are:

I was very encouraged by the response to your witness that I saw today in Augusta.  Despite what we are told, most of our friends and neighbors who serve in our legislature do want to make things better and have a hard time holding their noses and voting for a bad bill.  Regardless of party, there are many up there who oppose crony capitalism (as the R's call it) or inequitable distribution of wealth (the D's).  If they engage with each other, they comprise a majority.  I hope that continued communications from their constituents will bring them together to vote against the  GD tax giveaway.  You still can't put lipstick on this pig and call it pretty.  Preti, [Flaherty] perhaps, but not pretty.

How ironic that when the give-a-way bill was first heard, we observed the Maine DOT ask for $60 million in taxes to address the overdue infrastructure needs of our large, poor, rural state.  Today's irony at Taxation Committee was the hearing scheduled for the Gov's "tax conformity" bill.  He is seeking to make Maine tax code mimic the US Congress giveaway to the rich and the corporations at the expense of the rest of us, especially our most vulnerable.  It's "do as I say, not as I do" time for the D's; pulling out all the stops to oppose the Trump, Too Tax Code while handing out the same to GD.

But it doesn't have to be this "race to the bottom".  Keep the pressure on, keep the cards, emails and LTE's coming--make our representatives do the right thing, because it is the right thing - for Maine, her people and our democracy.  Solidarity then, solidarity now and solidarity forever.

Leslie

I will return to stand in the hallway at the capital next Tuesday (March 20) and Thursday (March 22) from 9:30 am to noon - weather permitting.

Let's keep it rolling....it's for a good cause.

Bruce

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