G.A. Minutes 12-6-16
I’m gonna stick my neck out and say it may actually be winter now and for some time to come.  The skies have been overcast for like ever; the temperature is in the low 20s and the wind is mean and nasty.  The weather people say it’s gonna get colder every day for as far as they can see.  It’s the dark time of the year too.  Arghhh….
However, it’s warm inside Coney Island.  The most recently hired hipster is working.  He has another new trainee.  This time it’s a young hipster woman.  Within a few minutes it becomes obvious that she has done this type of work many times before. This is good because we have many things to talk about tonight.  We’re glad we won’t need to help her do her job.
Everyone is excited by the news about Standing Rock.  Last Sunday the Army Corp of Engineers announced that they were withholding the permit for Energy Transfer to drill beneath the Missouri River in order to finish the pipeline.  They said they were going to do an environmental assessment on other possible sites that the pipeline could use. 
Everything is kind of up in the air right now but whatever they end up doing, it’s going to take a while.  Energy Transfer isn’t going to have a pipeline ready for use before December 31st. That’s the date they promised all their refineries they would send out their first oil shipments.  The refineries will have to get oil from another company.  Energy Transfer is going to lose a lot of money.  There’s more to the story but we’ve found in the past that the best way to get a corporation to change its ways is to cost them a lot of money.
An Occupier comments, “Energy Transfer put out a statement saying they were going to go ahead and drill under the Missouri anyway.  They will just pay the $50,000 a day fine until they’re done.  What are the Water Protectors going to do if the company does that?”  Another Occupier replies, “I think Energy Transfer is bluffing because they’re finally worried.  Just going ahead and drilling will be very difficult to do.  They’re going to need to find a contractor to supply the workers.  The contractor would have to be willing to blatantly defy the US Government and possibly be arrested and sued out of existence”.   
Some Occupiers begin exchanging ideas as to what they think Standing Rock should do next.  One Occupier opines, “In actuality, we don’t have anything to say about it.  We just need to wait for the elders and the water protectors to figure out their strategy.  They’ll then tell us what they need us to do”.
Our good friend, the city official arrives.  He has inside information for us.  He tells us, “Remember when Dr. El Kanti was here and scheduled to speak at a lot of places including both the high schools?  Well, the head of the school board and the principal of Denfield H.S. got together and cancelled one of Dr. El Kanti’s speeches.  The head of the school board was throwing his weight around saying he needed to put a stop to the things Dr. El Kanti was saying.  I called someone in the school system who has as much power as the school board leader.  Once the dust settled, the school board guy told me personally that he had no problem with Dr. El Kanti and that all the speeches would go ahead as planned”.
An Occupier remarks, “What a bunch of morons.  I suppose because Denfield is the high school with the most students of color, they didn’t want students of color to get information showing them that the only race is the human race”.
Someone asks, “So what did you all think of the horribly long City Council meeting that we went to last night?”  Someone else replies, “I thought the folks representing the Homeless Bill of Rights Coalition presented the plan really well.  I wish there was more that had been figured out about how to implement the right to 24 hour access to hygiene facilities.
An Occupier explains, “Oh there is the beginning of a plan figured out.  I and one of the Social Action members have been scoping out the parts of the city most frequented by homeless people.  We also interviewed many people who stay at CHUM. We made a list of good places where we and homeless folks think porta potties could be placed.  We also called around to porta potty companies to get price estimates.
“However, I wasn’t on the panel so when the Councilors began asking about specifics I didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to jump up from the audience waving maps and price estimates.  All the information has been sent to Councilors Westerlund and Sipress though.
“I didn’t think it was such a good idea for the Councilors or the mayor or whoever it was to send the bill back to the Human Rights Commission.  The HRC already had the thing for at least a year and didn’t do anything.  I go to all their meetings; they have some very interesting discussions but they don’t really do much.  I guess I’m going to have to recruit lots of people from the coalition to attend with me.  If we do that consistently, we can make them do the work”.
Another Occupier wants to know, “There is gonna be access to shower facilities too, isn’t there?”  The Occupier working on the H.B. of R. responds, “Yeah, but we haven’t figured that out yet”. The first Occupier suggests, “What about the empty showers at the Washington Center?  After the swimming pool was closed down, all those showers have just been sitting there not being used.
“Also, I’ve seen that in some cities they have taken old buses and converted them into portable shower facilities.  Our DTA can only use a bus for so many years and then they have to sell it and get a new bus.  They sell their old buses for around $5,000”.  The H.B. of R. Occupier remarks, “Those are good ideas.  I’ll present them to the coalition”.
Another Occupier reflects, “It was so great that the City Council voted almost unanimously for the resolution in support of Standing Rock.  The people who spoke in favor of the resolution blew me away with their eloquence”.    
Changing the subject, an Occupier says to the city official, “So what do you think about having to deal with ‘The Donald’?”  The official states, “It will probably suck but at least things are out in the open now.  For a long time people of color have been reporting that racism still exists and that it is all encompassing. Political correctness has kept a lot of the racism hidden from many white folks.  Now everyone can see that things have not improved much.  Maybe actual changes will be made”.
An Occupier asks, “Do you guys want to hear about my latest scandalous experience?  We say, “Yes, please”.  The Occupier tells us, “I was at the latest Citizens Review Board meeting the other day.  Someone brought a copy of this month’s Zenith newspaper.  In it was an article about various types of citizen/police overview groups across the country.  A Duluth police department communications officer was interviewed and quoted as saying, ‘Duluth has a Citizens Review Board but it doesn’t have any power and can’t see most of our records’.
“The CRB Commissioners went ballistic.  I kid you not, they were screaming at the only cop who was present.  One said, “So where is the Chief?!?  He hasn’t been here since he officially was given the job!  Where’s the lieutenant?!  Where’s the sergeant?!  Another yelled, “So if we have no power, why are we doing all this work?!?  I’m this close to telling you where you can stick it!”
The only cop who was there is a middle aged dude who has just been appointed to his position.  I’m betting that he was there because he’s too low on the totem pole to be able to send someone else in his place.  He says, “Well gee, I don’t know. I’ve never even heard of the Zenith and I didn’t know there was an article in it”.   
After they calmed down a little, the Commissioners asked me to give them my truthful opinion.  I’m usually the only person from the actual general public who attends the meetings.  They seem to think I have my finger on the pulse of the community or something.  Anyway, I just told them I thought the general perception in the community is that they don’t have any power”.
Another Occupier adds, “Actually it’s pretty cool that it went down like that.  Maybe the Commissioners will fight to gain more power now.  After all, some of them said at the beginning of the year they were going to do that”.
It appears the staff has finished all the cleaning.  We were so busy talking we didn’t even notice.  Time to leave.
We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.