All posts by nightcleaner

casual report on a productive General Assembly Tuesday April 3rd 2012

A good productive meeting on a perfect evening in the courtyard. We were informal and relaxed, friends among friends. I find it astounding that only five months ago I didn’t know any of them. (Well ok I knew Kathy………) Now we have worked together, shared food and water and living space, had discussions and disagreements, worked through it and found ways to move forward. This is great. I am amazed and delighted to find myself in a group of people who can agree to disagree and yet continue to move forward on common goals.

I didn’t take any notes. I don’t know why. I felt restless and spent most of the meeting pacing the courtyard. It was not nervous or bored pacing. I sense a rising excitement, a belief in people and ideas, a springing up of hope and expectation. This isn’t just the spring of another year. This is the rising up of human energies focused on change.

I don’t remember everything that was discussed. It was a really really free market of ideas……you bring your own stuff (ideas) and offer them to others. Others bring their own ideas, and share with you. You get to pick and choose, keep the ideas that are useful to you, take away new visions of the future….or of the next week anyway.

The discussion orbited around the courtyard like a thousand beeping sputniks, whirring out into the unknown and circling back again with new information. We talked about how to improve the courtyard, what we can do with the building, and how to respond to the few thick heads who continue to snipe and harass us from their civil service positions at city hall.

Some of our members are trying to figure out what exactly the city wants, in terms of permits and permissions, to continue the work we have started here. You may know that we had a visit last Friday from a few people dressed in official looking costumes who told us we can’t continue to work on improving the building. They presented no identification, no court documents, no written directives. They relied on intimidation to try to get us to comply with their demands. “You cannot be here,” they said, something like the boy who didn’t believe in Santa Claus. Too late. We are here. And guess what? We don’t believe in you either.

Take a drive by the corner of First Street North and Second Avenue West. You see that burned out building that used to be The Kozy Bar before some mysterious arsonist burned it down? People have been complaining about that dilapidated neighborhood for years, decades. What has the city done to clean up the mess? Nothing. Their only solution is to bulldoze the neighborhood and give away tax breaks, permits, permissions, and their sycophant assistance to developers who like to build more luxury hotels and multimillion dollar condominium towers. Never mind that the ones they built in the last decade of irrational exuberance are still standing, nearby and empty.

Our plan? Gardens and rain barrels. Solar and wind power projects on the roof. Festivals of new life in the courtyard. A neighborhood social center to promote communication and understanding.

Our only agenda is to build a better life in our community, neighborhood, and city. What agenda does the city have for the corner of 1st St N. and 2nd Ave West?


I have a post from someone writing from waiting for approval. I don’t see anything to keep it from being approved….but I don’t know who the sender is and I am reluctant to approve anything that could possibly be a false flag hack action…………..However the post does contain a statement saying the writer “can understand why others might feel offended by what he (Richard) records (in the minutes).”

If anyone reading the minutes feels offended by what they find written there, I have an interest in hearing what they have to say. I need to know what, exactly, they find offensive. It is not my purpose in writing to offend anyone.

I would like to offer here a bit of philosophy…..1.) Occupy does not have official positions, and it does not have platform positions or other demands. I am not Secretary to any higher authority, but I record what I see and hear as an autonomous member of Occupy. 2.) Anyone is free to write and post their own record, only that they need to stand up and be known face to face as an actual physical human being with a verifiable name and reputation. 3.) If anyone disagrees with the factual content of my notes, please let me know so I can make any necessary corrections. While I am not interested in twisting the truth, I am not perfect and I do not always manage to capture it perfectly.

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, we are engaged in a struggle to assert our Constitutional rights as American and World citizens. We are not building an organization and therefore have no interest in debateing parliamentary procedures. We do have anonymous enemies. Let’s not waste our time and energy snipeing each other over questions of power and authority. There is a lot of work to do.

General Assembly minutes, 24 March 2012, Occupy Duluth, Paul Robeson Ballroom

A beautiful evening for a campfire. I didn’t get the names of all the people who were there. This is a partial list: Scot, Richard, Kathy, Justin, Sarah, Jesse, Ben, Tyler, Verne, Adam, Matt, Mike, Blake, Allan, George, Chris, Lydia, Riley, Ryan, JJ, Sleepy, Bridgette. There were about ten others, mostly from the neighborhood, more than thirty people in all.

Agenda: April 14 Direct Action Training; Foreclosure report; Mayday activities; Paul Robeson Ballroom and courtyard situation report; Food Coop contact; Coming events.

Verne reported that there will be a non-violence direct action training on April 14th from 1 to 5 at the Unitarian Universalist church in conjunction with a nationwide call from 99% Spring Movement. Training is available in Chicago and Milwaukee, but we will also have training here in Duluth using local facilitators. This action is undertaken by a coalition of about 30 progressive organizations. Scot said he would like the training to include discussion on the definition of terms, for example ‘non-violent’ and ‘direct action’ and ‘civil disobedience’….and he hopes it will present a diversity of tactics. Watch facebook for further developments….

Adam reported for the Foreclosure group, which has a two for two success record. Now we are working with Mary Anne, who was scheduled for an April 24th Sherriff’s sale, but someone from Wells Fargo has already called her and apologized for messing up her paperwork. They agreed to postpone the Sheriff’s sale. This action isn’t over yet, and an occupation is still on the table, if needed. Foreclosure group has yard signs which are ready to distribute, and also anti-business cards, containing contact information.

Scot said there is a planning meeting to bring organizations together to coordinate Mayday activities. Adam said a 99% festival is in the works, with music, tables for organizations to present literature, and probably other events. The planning meeting is open to anyone interested, and will be held Monday April 2nd 2012 at the UU church at 7 pm. Adam said we need to consider what the Occupy role will be at the festival. He suggested we act as master of ceremonies. Jesse said he has 3 bands on standby and is in contact with Mary Plaster about puppets. Scot asked for a reappearance of the Giant CEO puppet, but it seems that puppet is going to the Mayday Parade in the Twin Cities. So Scot suggested that we make our own puppets. We already have the Giant Human Heart puppet, which we made for the Make Out Not War event that was held at the People’s Power plaza on Valentines day.

On Friday morning the Occupy situation at The Paul Robeson Ballroom was challenged by two men in police uniforms and a lady who claimed to be a city fire inspector. They presented no warrant or papers and demanded that Occupy members not enter the ballroom building. They said we are trespassing. They said we have to have a permit for any activity in the building, including assemblies. Tyler reported that Eric told him we need to maintain a working relationship with the police department and not ruffle any feathers. Jesse said we should visit with the city council at their meeting this coming Monday evening at City Hall. Tyler said all we need is paperwork signed by an inspector.

Richard said he talked to a manager at the Whole Food Coop, who said the coop does offer support to organizations in the form of donations of tasty food items. He said he would go to the coop on Monday to fill out the paper forms.

Upcoming events:
Riley said he wants to show a film in the courtyard. The total length of the film is about three hours, so he wants to show it in two installments. There was some discussion of where we can obtain a projector. Justin offered to make posters.

Kathy said the Really Really Free Market is still on for March 31st. We will have it in the courtyard if weather permits, or find an alternate venue.

Alan said there will be a demonstration at noon at the civic center against the Paul Ryan budget plan, which is supported by our own congressional reprehensible, Chip Craveass.

Verne said there is a group called Transition Town which is meeting to find ways to make Duluth resilient to coming environmental and economic crisis.

Alan said Take Action Minnesota is now hiring canvassers to door knock from 2 pm to 10 pm. Scot said he made $11.00 per hour canvasing for them. Tyler said door knocking is so exciting that he had to go for a run after his most recent shift. The job does not include hitting the public up for donations, but is strictly informative.

Scot asked for a recap of Mayday actions at People’s Power Plaza, Lake Avenue and Superior Street. Ben said the PPP is a prime location for Mayday actions, especially since Mayday this year falls on Home Grown week, so there will be lots of crawlers to accost. Tyler said our Anishinabe friends will be having a pow-wow at 10 am, and there will be a table with materials for making May baskets. Adam said the main act, a rally, should happen at about 6pm. Justin suggested applying for a permit. Tyler said permitting requires an insurance policy costing $300.00 per day.
We had a loon heckle-fly by about here. First loon I have heard laughing this year. No one else seemed to notice, I just thought it was worth reporting, even though the damn bird did not bother to ask to be on the agenda.

There is a talkback session, on the Amy Goodman talk which occurred at CSS on Saturday, at Glen Avon church on Woodland at 7 pm on Monday, which conflicts with the time of the city council meeting.

A group called Students Seeking Spirituality is planning to show a movie on April 10th at UMD TV lounge. The movie is “The Awakening.” Check facebook for details.

Tyler said people have been unhappy with the way the minutes are written. He said Richard should not have to be the one to take notes at every meeting. There was a confusion about names of local media outlets which had to be corrected. The minutes should be approved. They are not really minutes, but are too encompassing. It isn’t necessary to write down what people said. Some people don’t want what they say to be recorded.

At about this time the neighborhood contingent came in. The meeting wasn’t centered after that, but broke into small group conversations. I couldn’t keep track after that.

Eviction party! Everyone welcome, leave your suits at home.

6 pm at Paul Robeson Ballroom courtyard. General Assembly followed by eviction party and bonfire. Time to show up…….we must show Duluth that people are the power. They think they can handle the dozen or so Occupy core group. They probably can. But can they push us around en masse? Come on down. Do it for the homeless, the unemployed, the disenfranchised, the discarded mentally ill. OCCUPY THE PAUL ROBESON BALLROOM AND COURTYARD!

General Assembly minutes, Tuesday March 20 2012

We were in a working mood and used GA time to do landscaping. Richard, Jesse, and Jay went and got a truckload of gravel and used it to level the walkway from the alley down to our courtyard, Some of the gravel went to fill muddy spots in the yard. Old broken bricks were used as fill, and Jesse did some artful stone step work and also built garden beds. DJ helped unload and spread gravel. Kathy brought coffee and some awesome blueberry bread from Great Harvest. Jenn stopped by, and Mat helped out. Jay said Tyler got us hooked into the internet on the Occupy computer. I don’t know about everyone else, but I felt we did good work and the results are pleasing and beneficial.

Next GA Saturday, 24 March 2012, 2:00 pm at the Paul Robeson Ballroom and Courtyard.

Occupy notes, Saturday March 17th 2012 2:00 pm
Paul Robeson Courtyard and Ballroom

From: Adam Ritscher

Hello comrades,

At today’s Occupy meeting we decided to try and put on a “Festival of the 99%” for May 1st. We put together a list of groups we’d like to invite to participate. We also decided to hold an open planning meeting on April 2 at 7pm to invite these groups, and anyone and everyone who would like to help put this together. Below is a sample letter that I was asked to write up that can be used for inviting groups to participate. Feel free to re-write it though, or use something completely different. The main thing is to give them an idea of what we want to do on May Day, invite them to participate, and also invite them to the April 2 planning meeting.

Regarding the planning meeting, we don’t have a venue for it. I’ve emailed and called Scot B. about using the Unitarian hall, and am waiting to hear back from him. We also decided that we should invite folks who can’t make the April 2 meeting to attend the April 14 non-violence training, where we can share our plans for May Day.

So, below is the sample letter. And beneath that is our list of groups to invite, and the folks who volunteered to contact them. I’ll let you know as soon as a venue for April 2 has been nailed down, and after that, we can start the tidal wave of invites!

Dear Socialist Action,

Spring is here, and what a wonderful time to re-commit ourselves to trying to make this world a better place! Towards that end, a group of us have come together to try and put together a “Festival of the 99%” on May 1st – May Day. Our goal is to bring together as wide an array as possible of progressive, activist and community groups and individuals for an evening of speeches, music, tabling, food, sharing experiences and networking other concerned citizens.

We would love it if your group would join us for this Festival! We value the work that you do, and would like to provide a venue for you to share it with others. Specifically, we’d like to invite you to send a speaker to talk about what your group is working on, to set up a table and to share word of this Festival with your membership.

We’re shooting to hold a planning meeting to flesh out the Festival idea on April 2 at 7pm. We understand how busy you are, and it’s by no means mandatory to attend this meeting to participate in the Festival. However, if you, or anyone from your group, would like to come and participate, that would be absolutely fantastic! The more people and ideas there, the better!

This Festival is still a work in progress, but we’re very much excited about it, and excited to have you join us! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Otherwise I hope to see you at the April 2nd planning meeting, and at May Day!

~Adam Ritscher
organizing committee for the Festival of the 99% – (715) 394-6660

-United Steelworkers Local 9460 (Adam)
-AFSCME Local 66 (Jesse)
-United Food & Commercial Workers (Adam)
-Duluth United for All Families (Jeff)
-YWCA (Tyler)
-YMCA (Tyler)
-Project Save Our Homes (Adam)
-Loaves & Fishes (Adam)
-Henry Banks (Jesse)
-UCC Peace Church (Adam)
-Unitarians (Jesse)
-Price of Peace Lutheran (Tyler)
-CSS Center for Just Living (Adam)
-UWS Amnesty International (Adam)
-CSS Amnesty International (Tyler)
-Duluth/Superior Amnesty (Adam)
-Twin Ports MoveOn (Lara)
-PAVSA (Kathy)
-CASDA (Adam)
-Gloria Day/Together for Youth (Jesse)
-Lifehouse (Kathy)
-Sustainable Farmers Association (Jesse)
-Food & Water Watch (Tyler)
-Respect Your Mother (Jeff)
-Fond Du Lac Band (Allen?)
-Protect Our Minomin (Allen?)
-UMD Americans Elect (Jeff)
-Carlton Co. Center Labor Body (Adam)
-Move to Amend (Lara)
-Duluth Human Rights Commission (Adam)
-Northland Anti-War Coalition (Adam)
-Break the Bonds Campaign (Adam)


201203061815 Paul Robeson Ball Room March 6th, 2012, 6:15 General Assembly minutes

201203061815 Paul Robeson Ball Room March 6th, 2012, 6:15 General Assembly
Members present: Reese, Vern, Carl, Nadia, Kathy, Matt, Mike, Adam, Bridgette, Richard, Jesse
Agenda: Vern; Foreclosure Report and a request.
Reese; HP347, Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011.
Really Really Free Market and Critical Mass bike ride.
Minnesota tour
Jesse; Foreclosure rally Wednesday 8 March 2012
Matt; Chum SWA confusion clarified
Alan; Events and developments on the left.

Vern told us that there has been movement on the part of US Bank in the foreclosure fight to save the home of the Dunbar family from sheriff’s sale and subsequent eviction. The family met with four bank officers and the meeting included a teleconference with two USB officers from the Minneapolis branch. The bank agreed to reconsider the foreclosure, and will meet with Dunbar’s again on the 14th of this month. At 3:00 pm on that day a picket line will form in front of the downtown Duluth branch of USB to call for the bank to halt the foreclosure. Depending on the results of that meeting, the picket will culminate in a celebration, or else a more vigorous demonstration. Jesse commented that we should prepare a list of offenses committed by USB, not just against the Dunbar’s and other bank customers, but also in their support of the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, which accepts money from anonymous corporate donors and channels the funds to a stable of pocket party politicons. ALEC is a major force pushing for voter ID laws, which are designed to disenfranchise impoverished and homeless voters. Matt said a recent issue of Zenith has an excellent article explaining what the voter ID laws will do to Americans.

Vern said is sponsoring training for non-violent direct actions, and a training event will be held at UU church, or other appropriate venue, at a time to be decided. The training will be a lead-in to planned May Day and Tax Day actions. Watch for it.

Vern presented us with copies of the Loren Martel petition to request a state audit of School District 709 (the Duluth school district) which was last audited fifteen years ago, before the school district’s long range facilities plan, even though school district’s own policy (School Policy 3215) explicitly states that the school board is to arrange for state audits to be conducted every five years. The long range facilities plan, infamous to Duluthians as the Red Plan, continues to incur cost overruns. Many Duluth residents are still choking on the way it was forced into us. Several occupiers took copies, and there will be a box of them available at Paul Robeson Ballroom for people who want to help collect signatures. Vern said the petition needs another 1600 signatures of eligible voters. Adam noted that questions could be addressed to Art Johnson, who was the only school board member to dissent when the plan was approved. Jesse said he is willing to organize a street walk and door knock campaign to get more signatures.

Vern also told us about a Transition Town project to achieve the Occupy vision, which meets at 2304 W. Superior Street in Duluth on alternate Saturday mornings.

Reese spoke about actions planned to protest the passage through congress of HP347, Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, which will allow the arrest of persons attempting to exercise first amendment rights to free speech on Federal property. The bill passed the Senate (97 to 3) and is on President Obama’s desk, awaiting his signature. The protesters are pushing for a veto. Kathy said there is an online petition available. Reese said there will be a nationwide Occupy conference call Thursday March 8th at 7pm local time about actions planned for the 12th of this month. Jesse noted that this may be an issue to address at the Philadelphia Article 5 Constitutional Convention on July 4th.

Reese announced that he is going to tour Minnesota from Wednesday the 14th to the end of the month. He plans to spend time with Occupy groups across the state, starting in Minneapolis, and plans to visit in St. Cloud, Grand Rapids, Bemidji, and Moorhead. Have ideas for outreach? Give him a call.

Reese then advocated moving toward obtaining a 501C tax status for the purpose of legally receiving donations for utilities and upkeep of the ballroom. Counter arguments were presented by Jesse, Bridgette, Matt and Vern, who pointed out that Occupy is not an organization. Obtaining a 501C would involve forming a permanent board of directors with officers and formal leadership positions, which in our case would be forced from the top down. We risk becoming like any other institution. Matt said we could spin off a 501C working group to do the fundraising, keeping our Occupy fingers clean of any resulting corporatism. Kathy and Bridgette moved to table discussion of this idea until Reese returns from his grand tour. That seemed happy. Jesse suggested an entire meeting be set to discuss the ramifications. Bridgette noted that we will still be discussion fundraising at upcoming GA’s.

Jesse spoke of the need for a two-year moratorium on foreclosures. An action in this regard is being undertaken at the State Capitol on the 14th of March. Tomorrow a protest will form in front of USB at noon to show a banner and distribute leaflets. The banner will carry the message that 18.5 million homes are now vacant, and 3.5 million are homeless. Let’s see, that works out to about five vacant homes for each homeless person. One of ten Americans is now homeless. Vern commented that the banks are now trying to bundle the homes and sell them to investors in rental properties.

Matt told us that there was a confusion at Chum about posters for the anti-racism rally at the city hall a few days ago. Staff at the Chum center thought the posters were supporting Nazis, since they showed a swastika. Staff apparently didn’t notice that the swastika was overlaid by a red circle and ban line, and was being thrown into a trash can. Higher staff at Chum now assures Matt that it was a mistake and they will be more than happy to post our posters in future.

Adam reported that Food and Water Watch is doing an action involving corn costumes, a local box store, and unlabeled genetically modified food items for human consumption on the shelf. There will be petitions, flyers, and media attention. Also, Take Action Minnesota is planning to fund actions against our recently elected tea-party Congressman Crackass. Big resources are being committed in our area to take this clown back home to the circus.
The meeting adjourned at about ten minutes after eight pm.

Next meeting, Saturday 10 March, 2 pm, at Paul Robeson Ballroom. Everyone welcome.