Notes from the
General Assembly (GA) Meeting
Grace Church, Wilmington
a new global justice movement
to confront a global crisis.
Meeting started: 1908 hr
We will have a bank action March 10. The following week is a week-long series of bank actions, might want to coordinate with that. So the 10th is subject to change.
We canceled several SsAMS cooking sessions. We’re still trying to get people together to work in the kitchen at SsAMS church to make food for the camp. The kitchen is at the church at 719 Shipley St. Thursdays at 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm, Saturday mornings at 10:30 – 11:30.
We’re working on an event where SsAMS and Occupy volunteers get together for a meal.
Thanks to everybody for the beautiful job placing the new command tent on the pallets, all we have to do now is get the security up and start using the tent!
On March 13 there will be a national action against Chase Bank, the same day as our Sheriffs sale action. We could tie the two together.
We went to the weekly work party in Philadelphia with Occupy Vacant Lots, it was a lot of fun. This Sunday’s work party will be on Mercy St. in south Philly.
Maybe we could do this in Wilmington. We could just find a vacant lot and the city might have a program to help. The Delaware Center for Horticulture likes the idea of community gardens and will help out with money to get started.
A group affiliated with Philly did a study that showed that crime activity disappeared where these gardens are installed. We can find a high-crime area and kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
There’s a program at UD Townsend Hall Saturday 9am – 12 noon which will talk about community gardening.
Nate Kleinman is really supportive of community gardens and can help us set one up.
The Center for Horticulture has a contest each year. It’d be good to enter a Spencer Plaza garden and win!
Proposal 1: We accept the agreement that has been negotiated between Occupy Delaware’s Finance committee and DACA.
We’ve been working for 2 months on a fiscal sponsorship agreement, negotiating with DACA and their lawyer Hetal Dalal of the Leadership Conference for the Common Good, who’s also involved with Occupy Minneapolis.
We have the result of all that work, the proposal will be that we accept it.
Highlights: The purpose is to have a bank account so we can solicit tax-deductible donations (a 501(c)3 organization). To comply we’re limited to 20% of the activity the money supports being political (above that the raised funds wouldn’t be tax deductible). We would present a grant proposal (a one-page request) and DACA would disburse the funds. [see handout]
Can we have a couple of minutes to review it now? Yes.
How is the 4% fee charged? Every dollar that goes in gets 4 cents taken out.
Will you be opening the account at their account? Yes. Which bank? We were assured it was not a too-big-to-fail bank. We think it’s Artisans.
How much money are we talking about? The last count it was $700 plus additional money in people’s pockets and a promise of $500 from a donor. Some money was spent; $350 for the Internet access and account.
The donators get a tax write-off? Yes.
Who will be in charge of the money? That’s not part of this proposal but the GA has to determine that.
Corruption is in all of our souls. If we don’t have a process for controlling the money, at least 3 people to have control.
There should be someplace to post all transactions so that there’s transparency.
Regarding transparency, we could keep a ledger but it has to be on a volunteer basis, DACA won’t do it for us. It can be done.
Be sure to keep the records on par to avoid risking sponsor’s 501(c)3 status.
As politics change, the legality issue may become a problem.
We need to set up a policy of how to spend the money, we need to use this money as fast as it comes in, to fund our activity.
[these would have to be approved by the lawyer...]
Proposal re-statement: The proposal is that we accept the agreement that has been negotiated between Occupy Delaware’s Finance committee and DACA.
Straw Poll: all in favor
Binding Vote: all in favor
The proposal passed unanimously.
Proposal 2: We call for AG Biden to use the $8.3 million going to his office from the mortgage foreclosure settlement to fulfill the consumer education & outreach components of the Delaware Automatic Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. This program is based on the successful Philadelphia program, but currently does not include the grassroots component that the Philadelphia program does. We are concerned that unless grassroots organizations are utilized for education and outreach, this program will be doomed to fail and as a result Delawareans will needlessly lose their homes and the funds from the mortgage foreclosure settlement will be squandered.
This proposal comes out of meetings with DCRAC, and we asked for advice for something that needs to be done to empower people to deal with this foreclosure crisis. The AG’s funds are for his mortgage mediation program but he has not implemented it as it has been shown to be successful.
Darlene Battle from DACA did receive one of these grants [from HUD?] they reached 500 homeowners in 6 months, 250 followed through, (the program was a voluntary one) — they were surprised that their success wasn’t recognized with more funding.
The original proposal only deals with a portion of the mortgage foreclosure settlement as outlined in the press release from AG Biden’s office.
Didn’t a federal settlement occur 6 mos ago? Is this proposal premature? No, the AG’s press release says that the money will go to his office to do this, we’re asking that he let the grassroots organizations implement it, they’ll be better trusted, be more successful as it was the case in Philadelphia.
Are some states using the money to pay down debts? Yes, Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin is using the settlement money to balance the budget.
Would there be wording to make sure that doesn’t happening Delaware? That would be a amendment.
This focuses on a local level. We should appreciate that.
Should we specify the grassroots organizations? Yes, DACA and DCRAC are the two organizations that would benefit from this proposal.
Why is Biden doing what he’s doing? What’s his angle? He could channel some of the money to his lawsuits.
The AG has only one attorney in the office working on foreclosures, I’m concerned that they’ll use the money to hire another one. The money may be used to relieve their staffing problem.
Are we demanding that we release all the funds to grassroots organizations? To use the $8.3M to fund grassroots organizations.
My concern is how to define the grassroots organizations, perhaps “to find existing organizations…” That would be an amendment.
We could ask that the AG also have transparency on where the money is being spent.
Amendment 1: The money should only be used for the purpose for which it was intended. Seconded
Amendment 2: The wording amended to specify the grassroots organizations that would be receiving the funds would be existing not-for-profit groups already working with distressed homeowners in danger of foreclosure. Seconded.
(To change grassroots organizations to “fund existing not-for-profit grassroots organizations already working with distressed homeowners”. Proposer accepted as a friendly amendment.)
Amendment 2 was withdrawn.
Factual Information on Amendment 1:
Some states are using the money for other purposes, such as paying down debt. That gets the banks off the hook.
“$8.3 million that banks will pay to Biden’s office related to the multistate release of claims, as
well as an additional payment of $2.5 million in exchange for a limited release of penalties
against the Banks related to their MERS conduct. This money will be used to fund homeowner
assistance programs, educational outreach, support Delaware’s new mortgage mediation
program, and fund ongoing and new civil and criminal investigations and cases related to the
foreclosure crisis. Delaware can still pursue the settling banks to enforce any necessary
injunctive relief or corrective measures and consumer harm that may stem from the acts alleged
in that suit.”
The entire amount coming to Delaware from the settlement is $45 million. Since this demand is limited to only a portion of the settlement it might be more appropriate to formulate a separate and specific demand to address the amendment.
Amendment 1 was withdrawn.
The amended proposal was restated.
We call for AG Biden to use the $8.3 million going to his office from the mortgage foreclosure settlement to fund existing not-for-profit grassroots organizations already working with distressed homeowners to fulfill the consumer education & outreach components of the Delaware Automatic Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. This program is based on the successful Philadelphia program, but currently does not include the grassroots component that the Philadelphia program does. We are concerned that unless grassroots organizations are utilized for education and outreach, this program will be doomed to fail and as a result Delawareans will needlessly lose their homes and the funds from the mortgage foreclosure settlement will be squandered.
Straw Poll: approve: all, not approve: none
Binding Vote: approve: all, not approve: none
The amended proposal was approved unanimously.
Proposal 3: That the sign at the site be taken down. The one with a list of government officials in one column and in the other column it side says these are the lackeys that support the sociopathic bankers.
I like the sign.
The reason we are in Spencer Plaza is because of free speech. The city cannot infringe on our 1st Amendment rights.
This is a matter of free speech and we’d be censoring an opinion.
This is an individual free speech issue, not a group issue, it’s a public park.
We haven’t had any consensus around signs.
This sign has a skull and crossbones on it which could be seen as threatening. We don’t want to be threatening. That’s not our purpose.
The tents are considered to be part of our free speech so it’s great to see signs on the tents.
The skull and crossbones has historically symbolized poison.
It’s also the symbol for Yalies skull and bones.
The only person who’s putting signs up is Andy. Others can put other signs up.
I could put up a sign that says “I hate Jews.” What Occupy Delaware is about is moving things forward, being attackful is a detriment to the organization.
I can put a sign up about the sign and about the issue, but that’s resorting to childish and petty behavior.
We haven’t voted on signs before and we’ve had many rallies where everyone brings their own sign.
Does the sign actually say Occupy Delaware on the sign? No.
What is your main concern with the sign? We’re trying to engage people to move forward with issues, if we’re antagonizing them then they won’t be as cooperative.
Do you understand where people are coming from in that you’re asking them to censor their free speech?
Is there anything on the sign that says it isn’t associate with Occupy Delaware?
Have you tried taking the sign down? Yes. I was put in fear of physical abuse by the person who put it back up.
Have you tried mediation? No.
Doesn’t the assembly have the power to decide about the sign? Not if an individual did it on a public park…What the GA has the power to do is determine our collective voice.
Don’t you feel the camp is rather aggressive itself?
Is the real issue to set a precedent, are we going to allow anyone to put any sign up or are we going to be able as a group to be able to manage this issue?
That’s a good question.
We are continually being attacked about freedom of speech so we should exercise it as often as we can. We need to watch the effect of this it may tick off people we want to have cooperate with us, but they may cooperate if they’re uncomfortable. Most of the people who vote these people in will be alienated by the sign. I think free speech is pretty important.
In a world where you’re going to insist on free speech some things may be beyond the pale, but the answer would be more speech. If somebody wanted to put up a holocaust denial thing then I’d try to stop them but that’s a personal decision. I think it’s ad hominen and goes too far, sociopath is a medical diagnosis. We should think of the effect our speech has on others. It’s a pretty clear case of free speech.
The sign went up after we had our meeting with Chris Coons and promises were made to us which he violated. They lied to us in the meeting, and I don’t mind the sign after how we were treated in the meeting.
When you went into the meeting you were misinformed, the Volcker rule was put together by the banks and should be opposed, Coons is supporting our original demand that Glass-Steagall be reinstated.
That sign is on Occupy and we all identify with Occupy as a group. The sign says that we all agree with it, regardless of whether we do or not. It’s not necessarily the issue of this sign but of how we’re going to manage signs. That represents us as a whole, you have a right to free speech but we should make a precedent of how we manage it.
We try to empower people with our own voices, and we have made it known that the camp is a public space, it’s not ours but everyone’s.
We’ve been able to maintain and achieve things that have been run over in many other cities, Occupy Delaware has continued to function and hold ground, because you do do things that don’t provoke them to give an excuse to come after you, a derogatory sign compromises the entire organization and gives the nonsupporters a reason to dismiss you. He can hang the sign up while he’s there and take it away when he leaves.
What is Occupy? Who is in Occupy? We all are. Everyone who wants to be involved. Our group changes, it’s everyone who wants to be a part of the movement.
I don’t particularly like the sign but that’s his voice and that’s what this movement is to me and we promote that — that’s his voice. If we silence him we silence all of us. I realize there could be signs that are objectionable but we need to deal with them on a case-by-case basis. The best way to deal with this is to put up other signs.
Even if we do take down this sign how will we do it? This is not the right way to do this, we should create a better environment for free speech to happen that’s more sustainable.
If I were to paint a sign that were on my tent then you would tell me to take it down. And there’d be no occupiers on the site. The people who oppose Occupy will find plenty of reasons to challenge us.
The sign is tame relative to other city’s. We all know Delaware is a “company town” and more rabble rousing is merited.
We’ve been able to do things other Occupies haven’t but other occupies have done things…
As a person observing the sign I thought based on the unity of Occupy Delaware I assumed that it was an agreed-upon message. For those who don’t know how Occupy works there’s a disconnect that it represents Occupy Delaware. But there’s no question you have to agitate to get things done. But the message might be lost by going after names. Fight for freedom of speech but recognize it has a great responsibility. The person or group making the speech takes responsibility for it.
The signs pique people’s interest, might make their brains click. Most people are asleep and decision makers count on that.
We passed a proposal that we would not endorse any candidate, putting up names encourage people to vote for other candidates.
I don’t feel that it’s telling me to vote for anyone.
We agreed that we can talk negatively about candidates.
Part of my philosophy is to get rid of all encumbants, not endorsing the opponents.
That position is not an Occupy Delaware position.
The public perception that it’s speaking for all of us, anyone who reads the Occupy Delaware web site would understand that it doesn’t, we could put up a sign saying that “Occupy Delaware does not necessarily endorse all these signs.”
Amendment 1: To put up a small sign that says these signs are…. do we need an amendment for that? No, just do it.
That was accepted as part of the original proposal, any sign would have to be identified as the opinion of the individual with a generic sign.
Re-state the proposal: The sign be taken down.
Straw Poll. In favor: 6, opposing: 16
Break out into 5-minute discussion groups.
Straw Poll. In favor: 3, opposed: 15
The proposal did not pass.
Please spend a little bit more time at the site, get to know the people there, understand the experience to understand the cause. Come feel it.
Tomorrow we are doing a presentation at Pacem in Terris, we want as many Occupy Delaware people as people. An Evening with Occupy Delware Representatives, March 1, 7 pm, Grace Hall, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1506 W. 13th St., Wilmington, 19806. There is free parking behind the church. This is part of our ongoing community outreach awareness raising effort so it’s important to come.
After the PiT meeting, we could go support Des Kahn’s band at Gallucios.
There’s another Occupy Group at UD, part of a group of progressives at UD, a round table discussion on Mar 2, Friday, 3 pm, Memorial Hall, rm 124.
Proposal to the Wilmington city council, a resolution in support of overturning Citizens United decision, for advancing an amendment to the Constitution to eliminate money as speech and corporate personhood. [MoveToAmend.org] tomorrow 6 pm at Wilmington city-county bldg.
Occupy Atlanta is pushing for a national day of action against Chase Bank March 13, the birthday of Jamie Dimon, the CEO. This coincides with the Sheriffs sale so we could tie this in — predator and parasite. And go down to the building to make sure our voice is heard. We could get Occupy Philadelphia to come down for this.
Update: there’s a new camp in Jenkintown, Occupy Jenkintown, attempting to occupy suburbs to make access to people easier.
[The finance agreements were signed.]
Demands committee is presenting a workshop on Economics, Finance, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and Related Topics, March 11, 4 pm at Hanover Presbyterian Church in Wilmington.
Can we get people to have a die-in about Fukushima at its anniversary?
Anybody going to Boston meet after the GA.
Bring these ideas to the Action meeting.
I’ve started an Archives committee, so bring things to archive, to Jen.
Next Wednesday the Demands committee will present a proposal, wording can be found on the FB page.
The weekly rallies for Wilmington are (I-95 bridge on Delaware Ave.), 4:30 pm – 6 pm, Wednesdays.
Friday rallies in Newark are full steam ahead as students have returned to school; Fridays, Newark, 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm.
Action meeting after this GA.
Occupy Philly has started an archive, we will too. The UD Special Collections Dept. has expressed an interest in collecting our documents.
GA adjourned: 2112 hr