Second Annual Convention
Thursday, Oct. 30
RUTH CAPLAN, AfD Co-chair, convened the
So here we are in Atchison, Kansas! Just as it was appropriate to have our
founding convention last year in Texas where Populism was born, it's appropriate
to have our second convention in Kansas where the populist movement flowered.
It grew out of farmers' efforts to free themselves from the shackles of
the company store, and eventually shifted from efforts to obtain some justice
from the system to recognizing injustice in the system itself.
Organizers had to overcome people's doubts at each step and work populism
into existing concerns. The traveling lecturers said join the alliance AND
form trade stores; join AND set up cooperative buying committees; join AND
set up your own cotton yard. They put their message in language farmers
could understand. The lesson to us: remember the AND.
Lawrence Goodwyn's history of the populists shows that a new culture was
being born, one of resistance to monopolies. Throughout Kansas "where
the farmers were rewarded with small successes, their respect for their
own efforts and for their alliance grew." Farmers became a schoolroom
The cooperative experiences of 1887-91 educated enough of the populists
to make independent political action a reality. So here we are in Atchison,
Kansas, in the late 20th century, with a president who thinks the bridge
to the 21st century is a global system that threatens us. And what is our
It is the "Alliance for Democracy." The name gets politicians'
attention. I got the ready signature on a statement of opposition to the
Multilateral Agreement on Investment from Ron Dellums (D-CA), a liberal,
and he sent me to Ron Paul (R-TX), a gun-toting libertarian, and he signed
it too. The use of "democracy" evokes a fundamental power that
talks of local control. But local isn't enough. Local cooperatives weren't
enough in the 1890s to combat big banks. The urgent need for capital led
to a deeper understanding of the economic system and to the idea of "sub-treasuries,"
where crops could be collateral for local low-interest loans until prices
rose. Money was being created by the farmers with real work and products.
The proposal was revolutionary--it went to the heart of the political system.
But the populists couldn't muster enough political power to make it happen.
Economic alternatives are arising now that do go to the heart of the system.
Community-supported agriculture sets up direct relationships between the
producer and consumer and is a reinvention of the economy. Local currencies
are working in British Columbia, Ithaca NY and elsewhere, involving directories
of services and producers. As we rally against a global economy we can begin
to build a local economy in our own back yards. We'll have something to
put in after the AND.
TONY CLARKE, director, Polaris Institute
Canada too has a populist history. A convergence of populists and socialists
in the 1930s was a force for progressive change and we're trying to rebuild
that now against the corporate system.
Canada faced the reality of free trade in 1987, with the "Canada-US
Free Trade Area" proposal, well before NAFTA. A broad-based social
movement arose to oppose it because we defined the issue to let ordinary
people plug into it without changing their daily concerns. The issue cut
across everything--farmers, labor, health care, education, culture, social
programs. We called it "a corporate agenda item" from the beginning.
We had been trying to change the government, thinking if we backed opposition
parties they would stop the treaty. That was wrong, acting on the old model
of social change as driven by the government. We didn't realize who's really
driving the agenda now. We almost won in 1987--getting 53 percent of the
vote but losing in Parliament--and we did get rid of the Brian Mulroney
government in 1993. But the Chretien government has accelerated the free
trade agenda despite opposing it during the campaign. This showed lack of
attention on our part to where the real power was: we didn't target the
I went with Mexican journalist friends to a Nations of the Americas gala
where heads of state and corporation CEOs were together. The journalists
asked David Rockefeller what had changed since the 1960s, and he said corporations
and CEOs had been on the sidelines then, but now were in the driver's seat,
not only calling the shots but writing the documents.
We need to rethink our models for democratic social change. If we don't
target what the corporations are doing we will miss the boat. Corporations
spent 20 years making big government Public Enemy Number One; we have to
make corporate power that enemy, starting now.
Corporate reinvention of government was systematic. The Trilateral Commission
was set up to look at the global economy and decide what changes were needed,
producing a "Crisis of Democracy" paper that said "excess
democracy" was the problem--the John Maynard Keynesian system of lots
of groups setting public policy along with government and corporations.
The corporate chiefs organized to become more powerful: Business Roundtable
here, the European Roundtable of Industrialists, and similar associations
in Canada, Japan and elsewhere.
They did it. Now, 51 of the 100 top world economies are transnational corporations;
corporations that once numbered 7,000 are now at 40,000-plus; they are consciously
organized as political machines to move public policy and redesign the state
to serve their purposes. The Keynesian model is gone. States do not function
now in terms of people but as corporate security systems. This is codified
through the World Trade Organization and trade agreements that lock in corporate
power as the economic constitution of the new world order.
The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) proposal comes at a critical
moment. The corporations want a global set of investment rules to regulate
all economies. The MAI is a set of rules about what governments must do
to facilitate trade. This is a total turnaround of government's original
purpose in regulating trade to benefit the people.
When MAI was proposed through the World Trade Organization, developing nations
were suspicious. Then the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD)--the club of rich countries that have 47 percent of all multinationals--proposed
this "high standard investment treaty" itself. He and others revealed
some of the documents in early 1997.
MAI is basically a charter for the rights and freedoms of transnational
corporations. The meat of it is the "takings rule" that would
say any effort to take property for a public purpose must be compensated
adequately and fairly. That may look okay, but on the international commons
of air, land and sea it takes from the public to serve private corporate
The bottom line: MAI is a set of power tools in the hands of corporations
that would reshape government by ratcheting down laws they don't like.
-Governments would have to treat local and transnational
corporations alike under all laws governing investment;
-Corporations would receive Most Favored Nation trading status.
In essence, MAI gives corporations the legal status
of nations without imposing any obligations.
Countries now can regulate corporations, but under MAI, laws would not be
enforceable unless they conform to MAI provisions. E.g,, national subsidies
to local corporations would be struck down. Regulations on local banks would
have to be the same for international banks. Under MAI's "rollback"
and "stand down" provisions, a nation would have to produce a
list of national, state and local laws that don't conform to MAI. That would
then become a hit list for rollback.
To top it off, transnationals would be able under MAI to sue nations directly.
Even under NAFTA a corporation has to convince its home government to take
on another government if it's having trouble overseas, but not under MAI.
Another tool is "lock-in": a country can get out of NAFTA with
six months' notice, but MAI requires five years' notice, and then the rules
still remain in place for another 15 years--i.e., it's a 20-year commitment
even if you quit the day you join.
We must talk about this as a corporate rule treaty, for that's what it is.
It hijacks democratic rights, and that's why it provides a broad-based issue
around which to build a movement. Every local fight can be related to it--it's
the framework. It's corporate power versus democratic control.
The moment is ripe: 1998 is the 50th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, an idea MAI and the WTO directly challenge. We can use
these symbols this year to remind people not to take their rights for granted.
Like the corporations, we must look ahead 10, 15, 25 years. MAI is an occasion
to broaden and deepen the long-term struggle, but it won't end there. We
have lost our government and we must return to our populist and socialist
roots to start the process of resisting corporate rule.
To move the focus off government, make more noise about the corporate connections
it has. Start the education process: it doesn't matter whom you elect if
the tools of corporate control remain in place. People must become aware
that they no longer have a democracy. We can create a platform and demand
that a party take it on, but no one yet is close to understanding what
that will require.
Developing countries are resisting but they are being coerced into agreeing
to MAI terms on threat of being isolated from the entire world economy.
If we try to change MAI rather than defeat it, we'll get cosmetic fixes
that accomplish zero. If we try to amend it to deal with core issues, the
amendments will fail. Sidebar agreements won't have any effect unless the
One way local corporations get around national restrictions now is to form
joint ventures with foreign partners exempt from local laws, and this trend
In Canada, corporate influence has led to a 38 percent cut in three years
of federal transfer payments to local jurisdictions. It's part of a plan
to let services deteriorate so as to increase demand for "efficient"
To relate MAI to average farmers and inner-city residents, emphasize the
export of jobs to poor countries that will accelerate while profits to
US corporations rise. Don't rule out alliances among unions across international
borders as a consequence.
RONNIE DUGGER, AfD founder and co-chair
I had a conversation with a Michigan State student
who defined a happy, beautiful society as happy people working and being
together. For two years we've been having this conversation about a paradigm
shift in the world. The two political parties have been bought by corporations;
people are beginning to understand that the issue is democratic authority
vs. corporate autocracy. How do we get from here to There, the beautiful
Let's put ourselves There and see how we got to be happy people working
and being together. We had to decide who should own what; set limits on
total wealth; get control of our organization and the purposes of our work.
We had to learn how to own, run and share the fruits of our own labor. We
had to set limits on greed--on a person's total assets, or have a tax system
that doesn't tolerate starvation. That is, Bill Gates can have all the ego
satisfaction he wants but he can't have 40 billion dollars.
We're There where technology is not used against people, where we have possession
of the whole social fund. Our culture is not dominated by television corporation
owners; the airwaves are used for enlightening, for free and open democratic
debate, to decide what it means to be a human being. Without reference to
nationality, race, religion or prior condition of servitude, each person
is equal in importance and value to every other on the face of the earth.
Human values prevail among us, not the cold calls of the greed machine.
People make a fair living with personal independence--and that means we
had to cap the size of corporations and bring them down to human size.
To get There we had to turn the United Nations into a democratic union of
people, not governments. We had to stop genocides-in-process, militarily
if necessary: some of us had to go into the military and put our bodies
between the killing machine and people. We had to democratize our foreign
policy and take it away from the corporations. We redefined corporations
as limited and ruled by people. We had to take the political party system
into our own hands, either by reoccupying the dead and gutted Democratic
Party or by creating a new one.
The media are ours and we are the medium. To get There, we will build one
national people's movement. We will join our various organizations and passions
into one effective coalition in action. First in states and then in regions;
before that in neighborhoods where we're connected into each other's central
nervous systems. We can speak to as many as will hear so as to bring all
of us into action on short notice. We can persuade any of us to make any
change we want. We need multimode feedback, a non-fail communications network
among ourselves everywhere. We have to invent a fail-safe communications
loop. We will start in our homes, with democratic conversations among friends,
and we will go across the bridges and the tracks to where real people are
suffering and struggle alongside them.
Happy people being together, using technology for people, not for profit--that's
There. Here is here. We must take our own vision from there to here. We
are on the lip of alliance, of fully articulating the vision inherent in
our ideas and historical situation from the first. We are three or four
months from completing that process. But we have yet to build the ship that
will sail. We have been given pause by internecine struggles about procedure
without substance; if we weren't such a powerful movement, that would have
sunk us already. But we have got now through this valley of the shadow and
have got to the high pass. Now we have to ask, "What do we need that
we don't have in order to prevail?"
We need a people's movement that is independent of government and both political
parties--locally, statewide and nationally. We must build at the same time
a new global people's movement. We need the AfD as the organization that
revives and teaches the population and is dedicated not to be this movement
but to the precipitation of it, first here and then everywhere.
We badly need a worldwide union of workers. It's stunning how disconnected
the peoples' movements of the world are. They need joining into one mass
movement. We need democratically produced analyses of issues and proposed
remedies. That's what this convention is doing. We need an educational consortium
where we share what we know and listen to learn. We need action on issues,
picking those most likely to produce the most results for the least investment
of time, passions, work and money, and at the least necessary personal risk
to ourselves and our allies.
We have an integrity requirement--that our actions not require economic
means that we can't get if we don't sell out to the all-buying oligarchy.
We have to practice actual democracy even if it means reinventing it so
that no one is master and no one is slave. In our new AfD Constitution that
is now under draft, officers should be removable for reasons of general
dissatisfaction that don't have to be specified. Now that's a reinvention.
We can't waste time begging for reforms that the oligarchy wont allow. Begging
for campaign finance reform on our knees? No. Direct action? Yes. We need
our own mainstream media, a communications commons based on open and democratic
use of the airwaves that people own. Then we need legal and constitutional
action, each person taking responsibility for his or her own acts.
This is going to be a working convention, small enough that we'll get to
know each other well. It's a second-wind convention, after a year in which
we've been knocking the wind out of each other.
Atchison is Amelia Earhart's birthplace, "the city where dreams take
flight." As Eleanor Roosevelt said, the future belongs to people who
believe in their dreams, and our dreams are formulating themselves in our
listening to each other. The test, however, is not in our dreams but in
the mechanisms we create to have an organization that can get to the midpoint
where our dreams can take off. We need the bookkeeper, event planner, typist,
moneyraiser, organizer, speaker, thinker, recordkeeper, and people on e-mail.
We must build an airplane that won't disappear over the Equator. Let's stand
our ground and draw the line and build it.
RULES COMMITTEE REPORT
Jo Seidita, committee chair, presented the convention
rules (Attachment #1). She added Rules from Dear Abby: Learn to disagree
without being disagreeable; be assertive but not abrasive; don't be judgmental;
remember that eye contact, shaking hands and touching are important; be
kind and courteous as civility is a sign of strength; speak softly; let
your opponent withdraw; remember that attitude is more important than aptitude;
show mutual respect; let people be heard without interruption; and remember
that the shortest distance between two people is a smile.
MOTION from the floor to adopt the rules as presented.
Discussion concerned whether Section V on voting procedures would allow
chapters to represent their members' divisions. Janet Harris, Baltimore
MD, offered an AMENDMENT to allow chapters to represent their members proportionally,
with weighted votes not necessarily constant within a delegation, so that
chapter votes more accurately reflect their members' divisions on different
Discussion concerned whether existing rules supported the proposed change;
the relative time required by the two methods; and how cumbersome the change
would be. Caplan suggested a trial period, but Harris rejected the idea
on grounds that voting forms existed to make the procedure quick. Bruce
Hunter offered a FRIENDLY AMENDMENT to make the change possible at the chair's
discretion, but Harris rejected it, and he withdrew the amendment. She noted
that nothing in her amendment authorized any delay of voting for caucus
VOTE: TO ADOPT THE AMENDMENT ALLOWING PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION: CARRIED
on a voice vote without dissent or abstention (Attachment #2).
VOTE: TO ADOPT THE RULES AS AMENDED: CARRIED on a voice vote without dissent
NOMINATION OF CONVENTION OFFICERS
Seidita reported the Nominations Committee recommendations for convention
co-chairs: AfD co-chairs Ruth Caplan and Ronnie Dugger. She made a MOTION
to elect them by acclamation.
VOTE: TO ELECT DUGGER AND CAPLAN CONVENTION OFFICERS: CARRIED, by acclamation.
NOMINATIONS FOR 1998 AfD OFFICERS
Seidita noted that this year's nominating committee was picked by the AfD
national council, but that the convention would elect a nominating committee
for 1999 officers. She described voting procedures and read the 1998 nominees:
--Co-chairs: Dugger and Mid-Atlantic Regional
Rep. Sue Wheaton;
--Co-vice-chairs: Co-vice chair Kwazi Nkrumah and Nancy Price, Davis CA;
--Treasurer: Marie Smith, Kansas City MO [convention registrar];
--Secretary: no nominee;
--At-large delegates: Joe Seeman, Capital District of New York; Sarah Craven,
Southeast Regional Representative; Arnold Stanton, Delaware at-large member;
Marc Loveless, Chicago IL; Emilie Nichols, Denver CO; and Nancy Campbell,
Columbia MO [convention coordinator];
--Nominations committee: Bob Comeaux, San Antonio TX, ombudsman; Laura
Jennings-Cranford, Northeast Regional Representative; Ben Kjelshus, Mo-Kan
chapter; Al Krebs, Washington at-large member; and Joanne Omang, AfD secretary.
Seidita introduced the proposed convention agenda (Attachment #3) and made
a MOTION to adopt the agenda. Discussion concerned whether time to adopt
resolutions had been included. It was agreed to add such time on Friday.
VOTES: TO AMEND THE AGENDA and APPROVE IT AS AMENDED: CARRIED by voice votes
without dissent or abstentions.
Caplan presented the financial statement for the period June 1, 1997, through
Oct. 1, 1997 (Attachment #4). She pointed out that the balance sheet reflects
the costs of starting up the organization as an asset, with the associated
debt as a liability. This includes expenses paid for out of pocket from
personal funds by Dugger ($16,636) and consulting fees to co-vice chair
Kati Winchell ($10,957) and Jonathan Fine of the Boston/Cambridge AfD ($2,000)
in their early roles as national coordinator and executive director respectively.
Caplan said regular financial reports would henceforth appear in Alliance
Reports, most likely on a quarterly basis.
STRATEGIES AND ACTIONS COMMITTEE REPORT (Attachment #5)
Committee co-chair Mike Givel said SAC had collected ideas for two years,
beginning with those from nine "task forces" named at the last
convention and continuing with locals' and individuals' suggestions. The
AfD council at its February meeting recommended four short-term actions
for 1997: a Declaration of Independence from Corporate Rule; opposition
to the MAI; participation in The Other Economic Summit (TOES) during the
Group of Seven industrialized nations' meeting in Denver; and a harvest
food action campaign against agribusiness giants.
Members were solicited for longer-range suggestions and more than 200 were
offered. Those were catalogued this summer for a two-stage straw preference
poll. The outcome informed the convention delegates in their choice of eight
proposed National Actions (which will receive AfD resources of funding,
effort and time) and five proposed National Recommendations for Action (which
will receive endorsements only). The convention will vote which of these
to accept this week.
Givel urged delegates and members to join Action Development Groups, which
will develop specific actions with specific, doable plans using available
resources; and Issue Networks, which will discuss and report on more general
goals and educational efforts.
He listed the following campaigns as top vote-getters in the preference
--Launch corporate reform campaigns (to redefine
corporate structure and function by preparing a model federal law; end
corporate personhood; educate people about the Santa Clara decision; rewrite
corporate charters; and elevate people's privacy rights over those of corporations);
--Stop the MAI;
--Reduce corporate welfare and giveaways;
--Bring in single payer health care;
--Redistribute economic wealth;
--Promote election campaign finance reform; and
--Use innovative media forms (video, cable/community TV, and pirate stations)
to disseminate the AfD message.
Givel said the goal would be to build a network
of people nationwide who will work to implement what we approve here in
next few days. Finding allies is an action item by itself.
After discussion of relevant questions to ask about each proposal, the convention
adjourned to group discussions of both new and proposed strategies and actions,
with convenors as follows:
--MAI: Ruth Caplan and Dave Lewit, Boston;
--Campaign Finance Reform: Francoise Farron, La Jolla CA
--Corporate Structure and Accountability: Ronnie Dugger;
--Health Care: Calvin Simons, Santa Rosa CA;
--Food and Agriculture: Margie Eucalyptus and Ben Kjelshus, Mo-Kan;
--Membership and Coalition Building: George Ripley, Boulder CO; and Alliance
Caravan, Ben Sher, Sacramento CA;
--Children's Rights: Nick Seidita, San Fernando Valley CA;
--Clearinghouse on Alternative Economics, with GEO Magazine: Alan Mathews,
--Fielding Candidates: Gary Dugger, Austin TX.
Sue Wheaton distributed materials for afternoon
workshop sessions (Attachment #6), to be facilitated as follows:
1-Building and Sustaining Chapters: Jo Seidita
and Sue Wheaton
2-Internal Communications and Building New Leadership: Garret Whitney and
3-Networking and External Communications: Omang and David Lewit
4-Sharing our Visions and Strategies: Mike Givel and Nancy Price
At the evening plenary session, co-chair Caplan
reported on AfD lobbying that in conjunction with AFL-CIO efforts had strengthened
opposition in Congress to Fast Track authority for the President. Such coalitions
would be essential in blocking MAI next spring, she said.
REPORTS FROM LOCAL CHAPTERS
Boston-Cambridge MA: Dave Lewit--participation has stabilized at 20 regulars,
a drop from the early days, but rose with the summer MAI conference and
a strong follow-up mailing. Other AfD chapters were asked to find out from
state attorneys general which laws MAI would challenge. The idea is to get
someone in each AG's office looking into MAI and knowing what's at stake.
Indianapolis IND: Jack
Miller--the local has two web sites and a speakers' bureau. Members' focus
is on opposition to a new sports arena in Indianapolis, which has won them
a good bit of TV coverage. A newsletter is going out; they almost have their
501(c)(3) and (c)(4) incorporation completed. They had a rally in May with
"FOR SALE" signs in front of the statehouse: it got media attention
and flak from the folks inside, who launched an investigation of how such
a radical group had obtained access to the Indiana University mainframe
computer for its Web site. Newt Gingrich said Indiana Mayor Steve Goldsmith
was his favorite mayor, so the local wrote to the Justice Dept asking for
an investigation of Goldsmith's finances and they have asked for details.
Pioneer Valley (Western Mass.): Michael Wolff--With
15-20 paid members, a hard core of half a dozen works at building coalitions,
which is easy in such a progressive area, and they are already an effective
local force. The local helped start a coalition of 75 progressive organizations
reaching to southern Massachusetts. On July 4, members read the draft Declaration
at a popular farmers' market and got lots of signers. They hold a social
potluck every month that's useful for recruiting.
They helped write and distribute a pamphlet on local farmers and produce
that will be effective. Monsanto is doing genetic soybean research and some
members are active against its local office. Others are working toward single
payer health care.
Jim Schrider--Sue and Phil Wheaton, Ruth Caplan and Joanne Omang are among
the DC activists. The local sent members to help organize the 4th of July
event in Philadelphia. Its forum on the crack cocaine issue at Howard University
was controversial, drawing Dick Gregory and San Jose Mercury News reporter
Gary Webb and 600 people to hear them. It produced a connection between
Webb and IPS that may lead to hearings/tribunals nationwide. The local wants
to be of service to other AfD chapters for their work with Congress and
in getting national information.
Campbell noted that the DC local hosted the national council meeting in
February, and she introduced singer-songwriter Jim Bush of the North Texas
AfD. He sang "Tree Huggers," "This Land is Your Land,"
and "Join the Alliance."
John Withrow--The group draws 3 to 13 at its meetings and wants ideas to
increase membership. Dugger brought 'em out initially. Before she moved,
former council member Sarah Craven led a boycott of area mushroom farms
because of their working conditions. The group is trying to bring Richard
Grossman to speak on nature of corporations, and is checking the Alabama
corporate code to stimulate interest in changing it. Alabama is not an easy
state to work in but the fight is worth the effort.
Loveless--the chapter has had organizational challenges: one activist died
recently; post-1996 convention energy dissipated in trying to find the right
leaders. But the number one industry in Chicago is politics and the phoenix
rises. A planning meeting on the race for Rep. Sid Yates' 9th District congressional
seat will lead to a People's Congress on it. Jim Hightower will come for
a New Party event and Carl Bielby will host an AfD event for him. The state
senate has asked Loveless to speak on campaign finance reform as an Alliance
voice. Next year's Chicago goal is 30 convention delegates.
Neff--Western MO and eastern KS members had been meeting before AfD's creation
on progressive concerns. They have worked with other organizations; the
Missouri Alliance for Campaign Reform is working now on a citizens' initiative
bill. Neff testified on campaign finance reform before an interim committee
of the state legislature on governmental organization. At the federal level,
members got signatures for a Common Cause petition on Project Independence
and delivered for the second time a printout of the 7,500 names on it from
Kansas to the office of a state senator where a staff member had said he
hadn't been getting any feedback. About 25 people were there from several
groups. The local also joined Teamsters and other labor groups twice in
making their views known, and they got some press coverage with a wheelbarrow
full of "the real farm stuff" with a sign labeling it NAFTA. AfD
is now getting some respect from the headquarters of some allied organizations.
also helped organize the AfD convention.
Baltimore MD: Janet
Harris--Dugger brought 50 people to a founding meeting in a March snowstorm
and many are still involved. The local is meeting with a coalition on clean
elections campaign in Maryland and starting other efforts.
Ben Sher--Organized just before the founding convention, the local has a
solid core of 10 people who show up every two weeks. They demonstrated against
the Democratic party for filing suit against the California CFR law. They
picketed the statewide Democratic convention with 100 people, got on TV
and did not get arrested. Some Hmong people joined the picket line to protest
the U.S. sellout of them during Vietnam. The local organized a multicultural
panel for Dugger's visit and now plan a March teach-in on corporations.
Campbell introduced folk singer Victor McManemy of Travers MI, who sang
"Family Farmers," "Can You Feel Something Growing,"
and "I Can See a New Day."
Sonoma County CA: Calvin
Simons--At the 1996 convention the local had just finished an action opposing
the corporate takeover of a local hospital, but the takeover occurred, and
the local's energy level declined. It formed working groups on corporate
mapping, economic democracy, media study, and CFR. That is the most active
now, and the chapter is seeking a plan of action, possibly from the convention.
Dugger visited the area for four days, going to the Santa Rosa, Sacramento,
Oakland, San Francisco and Davis chapters, and back to Santa Rosa for a
Labor Day picnic. The Public Access Media Center let the AfD use new TV
equipment and young filmmakers to tape the picnic, so the local has a 28-minute
video good for recruiting and showing on educational or public access TV:
$10 for anyone interested.
San Fernando Valley CA: Jo
Seidita--the oldest AfD chapter meets every month, and even at 106 degrees
they never have fewer than 25 members and often 100 or more attending. The
chairman and CEO of Bell Industries, Ted Williams, spoke recently on responsible
corporate behavior. People go every Saturday to protest the Disney Corp.
labor conditions; many rode a bus overnight to protest strawberry workers'
conditions. Several committees exist including one on education: it organizes
an evening on one subject like the MAI, or sets up a speakers' training
session, etc. Signs, brochures, fact sheets get produced. The local puts
Dugger on KPFK public radio when he's in town and it generates phone calls
for two or three weeks afterward. A profile article on the AfD in the Los
Angeles Times generated a lot of interest too. In January the AfD will have
a major fundraiser at the home of Stanley Sheinbaum, a prominent local progressive.
North Bridge MA:
Garret Whitney--With 43 members (40 national), North Bridge hosts the national
office. Two barn sales raised $4,000, of which $1,000 went to National.
Constitutional issues absorbed them recently, but they cosponsored an MAI
conference with Boston-Cambridge AfD last summer. They are active on CFR
and the Massachusetts Clean Elections Campaign, modeled on the Maine initiative.
They worked to make Nuclear Metals clean up its process for making the "sabots"
that war games troops fire at each other, made of uranium that's still unacceptably
hot. In Concord, Esterbrook Woods has five endangered species and Indian
burial grounds right where the Army Corps of Engineers wants to put athletic
fields. They staged a float in the local July 4th parade to start the Declaration
of Independence from Corporate Rule, playing Jim Bush's song, and won a
prize for the float with the most words.
Austin TX: Gary
Dugger--With 37 national members, they made a statement on CFR, took part
in the UPS strike, Earth Day celebrations (petitioning to get Jim Hightower
on a local radio station--he is on now); and in the Oct. 4 National Day
of Action on Sweatshops and Child Labor, gathering petitions. Now the local
is organizing an MAI debate Dec. 3 involving Public Citizen and others.
Members have done several radio interviews. The local held a party on July
4 and went to Auditorium Shores to perform a well-received guerrilla theater
skit showing corporate fat cats whipping Third World child laborers, greedy
politicians taking money, and a woman auctioneering a ballot box to the
Davis CA: Nancy
Price--some members and another new group, The Friends of Davis, protested
a Borders Books set to be the anchor for a commercial development on the
edge of Davis' traditional and as yet unmalled downtown. Davis already has
eight flourishing bookstores, but wherever Borders comes in, most or all
independent bookstores close within two years. The group was denied appeals
by the city council and planning commission so have sued the city, the U
of California at Davis (whose land is in question) and the developer. The
$350/hr lawyer on the other side filed a dismissal mostion that will be
heard in January. The group received a foundation donation and has a fiscal
sponsor, so they can be a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.
North Texas: Jim
Bush--the local TXI cement plant, through a legal loophole, burns toxic
waste as fuel and has applied for a permit to burn twice as much. The group
Downwinders at Risk found out about a regulatory board meeting near the
plant so built a fake smokestack and had a skit along the highway, getting
motorists to honk for their benefit. Political action can be a lot of fun.
Jim Bush and Victor McManemy performed for the delegates songs of movement
[Index] [Thursday] [Friday] [Saturday] [Sunday]