General Assembly Minutes 2012-01-13

Decision-Making GA

Roles
Facilitator – Kenzie
Stack taker – Chris
Vibe checkers – Spike, Karrie
Guide/greeter – Coral

Agenda
Roles, respect check, donations, approve agenda – 5
Announcements – 5 (+5)
Working and affinity group reports and proposals – 10 (+20)
Occupy Gainesville news – 5
Scary breakadoo – 5 (+10)
Other Occupy news – 10
Open discussion – 15
-topic: direct action vs. electoral activism
General proposals – 10
Open floor – 10
Announcement – 5
Meet the Ingles – 15 (+10)
Clean up, load up, run away

Announcements

Strategy working group will meet at 5:30 tomorrow on the plaza.

Occupy the Courts affinity group will meet to rehearse tomorrow at 12 on the plaza. We still need people for several of the roles; please join us if you’ll be around on the 20th and want to participate in some street theatre.

Move to Amend will meet at 2:00 tomorrow on the plaza.

We have 150 more OG shirts. They’ll be sorted, one box will be taken to Hear Again, and we’ll have a bunch available to raise funds on 20 January.

15 January, we will hold a candlelight vigil in 7:00 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Garden at City Hall. We will have a people’s mic reading of some of his writings. (The “I have a dream” speech and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” have both been proposed.)

We will march with the Veterans for Peace on Monday, at noon. Meet at the plaza.

SERCO affinity group will meet tomorrow evening.

Tomorrow morning, at 10 AM, a group is going from the plaza to check out a possible venue for SERCO.

Working and affinity group reports and proposals

Food and Comfort working group, via Ilene

Wednesday night was a F&C GA, where the group attempted to deal with the persistent problem of being understaffed.
Until F&C gets more volunteers, dinner will be scaled back and served at decision-making GAs. Meals may be provided on other nights if volunteers are able to cook and transport the food.
Proposal (passes): Every first Wednesday of each month, GA will be devoted to F&C.

Meet Your Commissioners affinity group, via Ilene

Met with three commissioners in the morning, and the mayor in the afternoon, on the 10th.
The conversation was warm, and the group was well-received. They emphasized getting individual statements of support from each commissioner.
There was also discussion of Move to Amend and the implications for elected positions.
There is another round of meetings on the 17th. The dates and details are posted in the forums and on Facebook. Everyone is welcome to join this friendly conversation.
The group has backed off on the plaza issue, but there was some discussion of the bathroom issue. The plaza bathrooms are maintained by a contracted private organization. If OG can qualify ourselves as a legal entity and underbid the current contractors, we could become the managers of the bathrooms. (The numbers are in the process of being worked out.) The contractor and the city agree on which hours the bathrooms will be open when the contract is agreed upon. However, maintaining all-night bathroom facilities may be a moot point without a contingent of sleepers. The point was also raised that we could establish a better, more private facility.

Conflict and Support working group, via Karin

Proposal (passes): 2 February will be another Good Lovin’, Healthy Relationships GA.

Move to Amend affinity group, via Michelle

Rehearsal for the street theatre will take place tomorrow at noon on the plaza.
There will be an event planning meeting at 2:00 tomorrow.
Wednesday, at 5:30 at the CMC, Jeremiah Cleghorn will meet with anyone interested at tabling at UF, and possibly Santa Fe.
If you want to get involved or need more information, email movetoamendgainesville [at] gmail.com

Internet working group, via Karrie

Guess what? The internet’s still working. (So use it.)
Some errors are popping up on the site. If you encounter one, please notify the team on the error and bug forum. Even if you get an error message, your posts are still going through.

MLK B-day affinity group, via Karrie

Volunteers are needed to lead the people’s mic at the 15 January candlelight vigil—need 4 or 5, any gender, with strong voices.

Media working group, via Chris

Need all the help they can get for 20 January, Occupy the Courts. Photographers, videographers, and everyone else to assist.
30 to 40 Occupiers from Tampa will come participate in our actions on the 20th. Tommy is in contact with their media team to find out if they can come lend their support.
There are issues with the monthly payment for the aircard. There are two options: 1) pass the hat 2 weeks before the payment is due, 2) ask GA for funds when wireless is needed (this means we wouldn’t have constant ‘net access).

Occupy Gainesville news

Ed was interviewed by the Fine Print today. They will keep in touch about actions, and want to do an ongoing series about us. They are of the opinion that we haven’t received the media attention we deserve.

We received a shipment of watchcaps from Occupy Supply today. Since we have no sleepers, we’ll give them out to the local community. John F has requested some scarves, and OS indicated they’ll send them along.

Other Occupy news

A group went to Tallahassee earlier this week to Occupy the capital. OT has a really cool camp 2 blocks from the capital, with a bus, kitchen, tents, and a greenhouse. Other Florida occupations, Awake the State, and Florida Progress also attended. The crowed mic checked Rick Scott, who wouldn’t face them but definitely heard them. In the afternoon, the group was denied access to sit in at the session, though our “business-type” groups were allowed in. Activists had a sit-in, called the media and the ACLU, and the story hit all the newspapers. There was a “library mic check” in the rotunda, whispering “we are the 99%”, which echoed around the room. Coral posted the video.

Lars would like to create a People’s Plan affinity group. The People’s Plan came out of the statewide congregation in Orlando in December, as a way of talking about and visioning the world we want to live in. The group would look over the 57 proposals, discuss them, and compile the various documents into a single comprehensive list to post online.

Open discussion – direct action vs. electoral activism

The underlying tension in most social movements is between working within a system to create change (engaging and petitioning lawmakers and elected officials), and stepping outside that system toward similar ends (doing what we want without waiting around for legislation).

The undisputed prevailing opinion was that we are big enough to accommodate both, and that both are indispensible tools for us. The two go hand in hand, and allow us to exercise different types of influence and power. Even if we prefer one over the other, please respect others who choose to take different types of action, and remember that we’re all on the same side and share a common goal.

General proposals

Passes: Sunday’s GA will be moved to 5:00 so that we can hold the candlelight vigil at 7:00.

Passes: 25 January will be a teach-in assembly about the world monetary system, led by Dr. Warwick. The location is still TBD, but we’re looking into either the plaza, the union hall, or the library.

Open floor

In other news, SOPA’s been pissin’ Karrie off, and she’s ready to drive to DC and kick someone. SOPA threatens us with barriers to web-based production and liability for client content. If you don’t know about it, Google it, educate yourself, and sign some petitions.

Ed has dealt with similar blocks on his internet radio station, with government monitoring of the songs played and the number of listeners. GoDaddy has flip-flopped on the issue and now supports SOPA.

Tommy made us a bunch of flyers for Occupy the Courts, and will make us more if we need them.

Lars, Kenzie, and Ilene went to Crystal River for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission public comment on the lawsuits brought by the organizations against 2 new nuclear plants in the Levy county wetlands. These plants would be inside of storm surge areas, and if flooded, we would face a Fukushima incident here in our own area. The companies that would run these plants have a poor track record for maintenance and safety (a cheap fix on the old plant just broke it even more). (They currently raised electricity rates to fund the new plants, and they’ll be keeping that money regardless of whether or not the new plants are built.) Spent fuel rods are poisonous for hundreds of years, and we currently don’t have adequate storage capability. Moreover, nuclear plants release radiation under normal operating conditions, and there is no such thing as a “safe” level of ionizing radiation.

While in Tallahassee, Karin learned some interesting trivia, like that the Florida state stage play is “Cross and Sword”, and (less worrisome) that we also have a state soil. She was interested in the process of the 13 hour GA, how people with differing viewpoints struggle to communicate and find an agreeable process. We’ve got an opportunity to explore and improve this with SERCO.

Nancy, a Shands employee, attended the hospital’s MLK appreciation ceremony today. Shands refused to let her put our Occupy the Courts flyers out on their table, claiming it would violate contracts with the two Shands unions. She did, however, speak with several of the speakers at the ceremony, some of whom were pastors, and all of whom were interested in the action and took flyers to distribute.

Chris was shorted about $100 on her last paycheck from Macy’s. In recompense, she’ll be dropping an Occupy the Courts flyer in every bag she rings up from now until the 20th. She hopes we have another mall action so she can mic check Macy’s.

Announcements

Tommy is going canvassing this weekend. Feel free to talk to him if you want to join.

Karin appreciates Karrie for showing up at GA last night, where they had a names-beginning-with-“Kar” GA.

Nancy appreciates those with the fortitude to sit through the 13-hour GA.

Gary had a good discussion with Harry, the plaza supervisor and Occupy supporter, about the physical nature of the plaza. The city will not be resodding the center (which is ok, because they were using the wrong grass). Several sprinkler heads are also broken. We may want to consider how we can support the refurbishing of the plaza.

Emerson appreciates shimmying up the tree and picking some fruit for us, and for including her in the discussion.

Lars appreciates Emerson for translating the SERCO invitation into French.

Lars also appreciates everyone here; he missed us this past week.

Trish appreciates this evening’s fire-makers.

Karin appreciates Trish and James for bringing coffee and hot coco.

Karrie appreciates Ilene and Kristine, for missing her online presence while her internet connection was off, and for taking up fundraising to get it turned back on.

Meet the Ingles
[Questions and responses are paraphrased, except for direct quotes from James]

James Ingles is running for city commission in the interests of bringing the common person’s voice back into local government (as a starting place). He has a long history of fighting for worker’s rights, and will bring that to the commission. The 1% is alive and well in Gainesville, and James is committed to countering their influence on local public policy. He’s come to GA to introduce himself, meet everyone, and answer questions, because he feels that we have similar goals.

Q: How much can you do as one commissioner?
A: “Almost nothing.” Getting elected isn’t the victory, it’s the first step. It’s an opportunity to push issues in an official capacity; a commissioner can make sure that important issues are continually brought up at meetings and discussed, and not just swept under the rug. It will take more than one commissioner to change anything. Sustained activism and community involvement is a must. There will be results, but it won’t be sweeping change right away.

Q: What is your platform?
A: There are three main planks. First, the biggest problem in Gainesville is the overwhelming poverty; 1 in 3 people live below the poverty line, and we are 5th worst in the nation for wealth disparity. Many jobs are low-wage, part-time, no-benefits. The city’s core problem is that residents aren’t able to support themselves. Second, renters rights need to be enforced better. Over half the city rents their homes; renters need to be educated on the rights they already have, and they need to have the same rights as everyone else. Third, we need more government accountability, and we need to bridge the gap between the people and the officials (both interaction and information).

Q: What is your stance on the Biomass plant and Koppers Superfund?
A: There are serious problems with Biomass. The biggest issue is the lack of public oversight during the process, and discussion of the problems were never addressed. There is a role for biomass, but this one is very large and may not be successful, and we may pay a very high price for the power. Koppers Superfund is an issue that could unite everyone in town; no one is happy with the cleanup or the pace, but the general attitude right now is to trust the EPA to take care of it. We should take the opposite approach, and make sure everyone in town is educated (including people moving into town). Our representation in DC is terrible, and it will take a huge public outcry to incite change.

Q: How would you go about job creation if the rest of the commission supports you, and how would you go about it if they didn’t?
A: The simplest steps aren’t unpopular ideas. One is a local hiring preference, to make sure city projects employ and contract locals, so a lot of the money stays in town, in local companies hiring local people. If there is resistance from the commission on ideas like this, sustained activism will come into play.

Q: How do you reach DC officials?
A: Hand-written letters get more response than emails and calls, but only if they’re received en masse. Achieving something like that for the Superfund site will require a major change in the way people look at the problem.

Q: Do you have any ideas on how to address Gainesville’s ten-year plan to end homelessness?
A: There’s been a lack of follow-through (like the ordnance that all businesses will recycle their waste). The city will frequently come up with good plans, but are merely concerned with image and not action. There are many issues like that here in town, and it’s going to be difficult to move forward without community involvement.

Q: What do you think about the relationship between the city and the university?
A: “Shands and UF are very engrained in town, they’re always going to be an important part of Gainesville—as long as they’re the only things in Gainesville, we’re going to be stuck as a company town.” Gainesville is a university town. There are some benefits, like jobs and cultural influence, but they are interested in keeping wages low. They want to keep other industries out so that they don’t have to pay competitive wages. A lot of change on that front will have to come from Tallahassee, but we can invite other industries and adjust some of our programs to facilitate that. Right now, we’re stuck as a service economy.

89 Comments

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