G.A. Minutes 12-22-15

G.A. Minutes 12-22-15
The first Occupiers have managed to arrive at Coney Island still intact this evening.  It rained a bit earlier in the day.  Now all those innocent looking patches of snow are covered in thin sheets of ice.  Just the kind of thing that causes pain in the young folks and broken bones in the not so young.
It looks like we’re going to have a crowd again tonight.  Of Occupiers that is.  As people continue arriving, the guy behind the counter advises us he will need to close by 8pm. Apparently, somebody didn’t show up for their shift so the poor guy has been working for a really long time.  He’s tired.  No problem, we’ve all been there and done that so we can certainly empathize.
An Occupier tells a story about how she received a clothing voucher from the Salvation Army but when she went to use it, every item she found was too high priced to qualify.  She ended up just returning the voucher.
Another Occupier comments on how she feels conflicted about the Salvation Army, especially at this time of year when they have bell ringers asking for donations.  She knows many people who have been helped by S.A. but she also knows S.A. is very vocal about not helping people who are other than straight heterosexuals.  This year the Occupier has decided to refrain from giving to the donation kettles.
An Occupier reports, to everyone who wasn’t at the last meeting, that an initial meeting is scheduled with Em Westerlund, the new District 3 City Councilor, for February 1st at noon.  The Occupier reports that her first impression of Ms. Westerlund was good.  She remarks, “Em says she’s finding it really strange how people in government relate to her now that she’s a Councilor.  Apparently, everyone bends over backwards to please her, acting as if she were some type of royalty.  I just hope Ms. Westerlund keeps that outlook and doesn’t let the preferential treatment go to her head”.
Another Occupier adds, “I’ve known so many people who were good organizers but who changed once they were given a position in an NGO.  After a while they started thinking everything was about them and their position.  Many a good person has fallen after being given too much power and praise”.
Someone says, “At our last meeting we were talking about how we were concerned that Deputy Chief Tuscan will be given the position of Chief of Police now that Chief Ramsey is leaving.  Our City official friend suggested we apply to be on one of the hiring panels.  I asked the Duluth Human Rights Officer how we would go about doing that.  He said we should email Duluth Human Resources at tseverance@duluthmn.gov and the mayor atELarson@DuluthMN.gov .  We should request to be appointed and provide a short resume stating why we are qualified.  I think every one of us should apply so maybe they’ll have to appoint a few of us.
“Two of our community organizer friends were on the hiring panel for the recently hired new police officers.  We could ask them what we should expect to find on a hiring panel”.
One Occupier has done some research about the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial BOD. She gives us a list of the membership and some additional information.  She confirms that the time and place of the BOD meetings is secret information and attendance is by invitation only. 
Another Occupier suggests we could ask for a meeting with the CJMM BOD and bring a couple of the homeless people who regularly attend our fires along with us.  The BOD members would then have to look into the faces and eyes of the homeless folks when they explain why they don’t want “their kind” at the Memorial.
Somebody answers, “We could try it but I don’t think the BOD would be willing and I’m not sure which homeless people would be willing to accompany us.  I think many of the BOD members really believe Occupy is violent and very dangerous.  I don’t know why they believe that but I’m betting they watch Fox News”.  Everyone laughs.
An Occupier remarks, “So we’ve received all the responses from the DPD to the 4 complaints we filed against them.  The responses were signed by Deputy Chief Tuscan and they were really stupid.  He misquoted the main Fire Code and then included a copy of that strange letter from the Deputy Fire Chief.  The responses basically said “you can’t have a fire because we don’t want you to have one’.
“I spoke with the president of the Citizens Review Board and told him we feel these responses are completely unacceptable.  Apparently, we’re not the first complainants to say this.  The president said he would open negotiations between us, the CRB and the DPD.  In sort of an aside, he said we should contact the City Council because they are the people who supervise the fire department”.
Another comments, “People worked really hard to establish a CRB, we eventually got one but it has no teeth.  The CRB just has to sit and listen to whatever the DPD says.  I hope it’s time now to up the ante and fight for a CRB that has some power”.  Everyone agrees.
Someone says, “Well, there’s still that attorney from the Twin Cities”.  The Occupier who has recently arrived from the east coast responds, “I know of that attorney; he helped us when the government was trying to close down our homeless camp”.
Another of the Occupiers asks, “Hey, have you all heard what the mayor of Superior WI said yesterday?”  We have.  The Occupier continues, “Saying Obama is a Muslim and that he’s destroyed our country by using less of our military than is needed was weird but I guess the mayor does have freedom of speech”.
Another Occupier replies, “Yeah, but too bad he uses his freedom of speech to show everyone what a complete idiot he is”.  We all laugh some more.
The recently arrived Occupier states, “Back to the homeless issue, I’m amazed at how judgmental and punishment oriented many people are when it comes to homeless or poor people.  I remember making a comment in a church setting once.  I said, ‘Well if the only thing you can do for a homeless person is to give them a dollar, then just give them that dollar and leave the rest to God’.  Most of the church people freaked out, saying I was a horrible enabler”.
Somebody else inserts, “For real, I was at a homeless advocate meeting a while back.  There were many social work students in attendance.  One of them was bitching about homeless people drinking and drugging.  She said if they were gonna do that, they didn’t deserve any help at all.  I responded, ‘Over my years associating with homeless folks I’ve found that many of them have experienced the most horrific childhoods’.  The meetings moderator cleared his throat and said, ‘Well, now on a more pleasant note blah,blah,blah’.  It was like they all wanted to say they worked with homeless peeps but they didn’t really want to know homeless peeps as human beings at all”.   Everyone nods in agreement.
Another tells us, “I had a dream last night.  I was homeless and living at CHUM.  I was just hanging around with nothing to do.  There weren’t any books or classes to take, no work to do. I was about to run away but I woke up instead.  If it was reality instead of a dream, where would I have run away to?  I imagine I would have to start drinking or doing heroin or something.  How else would I relieve the boredom?”
We hear the guy behind the counter say to his co-worker, “My god!  I’ve been here since noon!”  We look at the clock and realize that’s his way of telling us it’s time to go.
We all plan to go to the Occupier couple’s home for dinner on Christmas Night.  The Occupier who will cook most of the dinner says, “We’re supposed to have a meeting the day after Christmas but I’m gonna need to sleep in and just rest.  How about we just meet back here again next Tuesday?  We say, “Sounds like a plan”.

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