Archive for February, 2011

Five hundred or more supporters of marriage equality, including mmarriage hearing 2-17-11 002arried couples and religious leaders, crowded Representatives Hall in the State House Feb. 17 to oppose bills which would repeal the 2-year-old law that make it possible for same-sex couples to wed in New Hampshire.

With recent polling data indicating that the public is contZoe Dinnean 2-17-11 ent with the status quo, leaders of the Republican House majority appear eager to get this hot-button issue off the political front burner. Sponsors of the legislation have indicated they are willing to go along with having the bills “retained” in committee for consideration at a later date, probably next year.

Cornerstone Research, the well-funded constrevor marriage hearing 2-17-11ervative action group behind repeal efforts, secured a permit for a rally at State House Plaza before the hearing.  Concerned about possible unpleasant encounters between repeal opponents and supporters, NH Freedom to  Marry asked me to be present as a “peacekeeper.”  But the Cornerstone crowd maxed out at about 8 people, and hundreds of equal marriage supporters walked past them into the State House without incident.

Leaders of NH Freedom to Marry believe that delay of repeal measures is good for equal marriage.

The hearing began at 10:30 AM and lasted into the evening.

marriage hearing 2-17-11 015

jaime signs in 2-17-11

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Inzanity Strikes Again

RTW lobbying 2-15-11

Despite a mammoth organizing effort that generated thousands of calls to legislators and brought hundreds of pro-union activists to the State House, the NH House yesterday voted to turn New Hampshire into a “Right to Work” state.   As if it weren’t already hard enough to organize a successful union here! 

The proposal now moves to the State Senate, which is dominated by small business owners but is thought to be more “moderate” than the current House crowd.  

If the Senate passes the bill, Gov. Lynch is expected to veto it.  Then the fight would be over mustering enough pro-worker votes to sustain the veto.  

If you live in New Hampshire, call your State Senator and urge them to vote “no.” 

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(from http://www.seiu1984.org)

State Employees’ Association will be Adjuncts’ Collective Bargaining Representative
Adjunct faculty members in the Community College System of New Hampshire have formed a union.

The Public Employee Labor Relations Board has ruled that a majority of the System’s adjuncts had signed authorization cards selecting the State Employees’ Association as the new collective bargaining representative for the 557 eligible adjunct faculty members. The SEA already represents full-time professors as well as clerical, maintenance and other employees of the College System.

“Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty among adjunct faculty,” said Craig Cushing, NHTI Concord Adjunct Professor of English. “Working together through the SEA, we will bring positive change to the Community College System. Improved working conditions will benefit students – and bring better value for the taxpayers of New Hampshire.”

“Education suffers when there is high turnover and low morale,” said Mary Lee Sargent, an Adjunct Professor who teaches at both NHTI-Concord and Lakes Region Community College in Laconia. “By joining together in a union, the adjuncts will have a voice at the table and will be respected as educators.”

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Don Booth Marched Off to Peace

(reprinted from Concord Sunday Monitor, Feb. 6, 2011)

A lifetime of activism started during World War II

(with photos from the peace vigil that followed Don’s memorial service Saturday, Feb. 5.  People holding banners Don had made stretched from Park St. to Capitol St.)

don booth vigil 2-5-11 faith and hope

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, millions of young American men went off to war. Don Booth went off to peace.

An introspective young man when he received his draft notice, Don thought that some aspects of military life sounded appealing but concluded that he could not bring himself to kill another person. "I’ve seen too much of the present turning of energies both national and personal to killing, and I don’t think the waste is justified," he wrote in his journal. Instead, he wanted to devote himself to "constructive service."

Booth, who died last month at 94, later became a well-recognized figured in Concord, standing vigil outside the State House bearing witness to his belief that peace is possible. His beliefs – and actions – had their roots in his own wartime experience decades earlier.

Don applied to be a conscientious objector, a legally recognized status enabling men who refused military service based on religious beliefs to serve instead in noncombatant roles in the armed forces or civilian projects. After two denials, Don was granted CO status and joined the Civilian Public Service.lois walks the line

CPS was created by the National Religious Service Board for Religious Objectors, led by members of three pacifist religious groups (Quakers, Mennonites and Church of the Brethren), and the Selective Service. Under their negotiated plan, the church groups would fund and supervise projects in which the COs would perform stateside work of "national importance," without pay, while their peers went off to the European and Pacific wars. During the course of World War II, 12,000 of the 12 million men drafted by the Selective Service went into CPS. A smaller group of pacifists, who believed even applying for CO status to be a compromise with war, were sent to federal prison.

Don started his CPS experience at a camp in Royalston, Mass., run by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization which assumed much of the leadership for CPS administration. A few months later he transferred to another AFSC-run camp in Gorham. By the end of the war, Don had worked at a logging camp in Oregon, a public health project near Orlando, Florida., and a school for people with disabilities in Delaware.

Richard Anderson, a CPS vet and author of Peace Was In Their Hearts, based on a survey of more than 1,000 CPSers, wrote, "It is reasonable to assume that government negotiators were not much concerned about the significance of the CO’s work. Their interest was in keeping COs out of public view, and the fact that someone else would feed and house them was an unbelievable bonanza."

A bad joke

The COs soon realized that "national importance" was somewhere between don booth vigil 2-5-11 don banner 2 exaggeration and a bad joke. "Using a pick and shovel gets pretty wearisome, especially when we hear that the holes aren’t considered important," Don wrote. "But," he added, "we like working together, and can discuss history or psychology or ethics of camp problems and still keep the pick swinging."

It was through those endless discussions with other COs and with visitors to their camps that groundwork was laid for postwar work on behalf of peace, civil rights, and the environment that proved to be of tremendous historical significance.

Imagine the setting: A small group of young men, each one bristling with idealism and willing to take a lonely stand, are sent off to live and work together, out of public view but in accord with their principles. For Don, "his four years in CPS was like going to a graduate school in issues of pacifism, peace and justice and community living," observes Bob Henninge, who edited Don and his wife Lois’s papers for a 2009 book, Finding Our Way: A Quest for Peace & Community.

"They are a peculiar kind of people," wrote Gen. Lewis Hershey, the director of the Selective Service.

"We all shared an aversion to war, but on everything else there was a wide range of beliefs and attitudes," wrote Anderson. "Everyone knew what it meant to be strange," he reported. But in the "unfamiliar luxury of being with so many like-minded people," the young COs put their ideals into practice as best they could.don booth vigil 2-5-11 carol & jessica

For example, when Don decided he wanted to learn about building construction, he joined a CPS crew building sanitary facilities in rural Florida to reduce incidence of hookworm. After manufacturing privies, they turned their attention to maintenance of a school for black children in what was still the segregated South.

At the end of the school year, the CPS group, all white, organized a party at the school. Don led circle dances and games. "But the Ku Klux Klan," Don wrote in a letter, "learned that eight white CPS men had even eaten and played games with those colored boys and girls and teachers, and we were invited to leave town as soon as we could go."

Similar acts of desegregation took place in other CPS camps, and even in federal prisons. "Our convictions took us to CPS, but from CPS we gained the vision of a better life for ourselves and our world," wrote Anderson.

Multiple influences

Don’s generation of pacifists did not come to their convictions all on their own. In his journals, Don described the influence of such elders as Norman Thomas, leader of the Socialist Party; A.J. Muste, who headed the Fellowship of Reconciliation; Scott Nearing, a radical economist and pioneer of simple living; and Arthur Morgan, an advocate for intentional communities and the president of Antioch College.

Bayard Rustin passed through one of Don’s CPS camps. "He’s been denied many civil rights, but insists on them still, even at the cost of some beatings (by police usually) and much humiliating indignity," Don wrote. "He’s done a great deal on at least a small scale to get Negroes the equal rights they should have."

After the war, Rustin and other pacifists would stage the first integrated "Freedom Ride," the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation. Later Rustin advised Martin Luther King Jr. on nonviolent tactics in Montgomery and organized the 1963 March on Washington. Don was in the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial, listening to King describe his dream.

Some World War II pacifists took their experience into postwar movements for peace, nuclear disarmament and reform of mental health facilities, or applied their tested principles to education, human services and business. As Anderson put it, "After CPS we found it easier to stake out positions and to speak out on other unpopular issues" and become involved in community affairs. "We became lifetime activists in the causes of human dignity and peaceful coexistence," he noted. The movements of the 1950s and ’60s were their descendants.

Don found his life partner, Lois, in postwar pacifist circles and together they toodon booth vigil 2-5-11 banners 1 k their values into building a family. They moved to Canterbury, where fellow COs Bill Meeh, with his wife Mildred, and David Curtis had already settled, and joined the local Quaker meeting. An idealistic man with practical talents, it’s really no surprise that Don applied his passion and considerable intellect to building passive solar homes. It was only after his retirement that Don was able to devote himself to the peace vigils that made him such a visible figure in Concord.

As the war was wound down in the summer of 1945, Don wrote home that "the ideals which brought me to CPS are deeper and stronger and broader than they were four years ago." Those ideals never wavered.

As a young man, Don Booth went off to peace. He never came back.

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I know that Tom Brady is quarterback for the New England Patriots, but beyond that, I haven’t thought much about American professional football since I was a kid.  Whenever I try, I get stuck on the fact that Bret’s name is pronounced “Farve,” instead of the way it’s spelled.

But I’m rooting for the Green Bay Packers to win the Super Bowl.

The reason is simple: the Packers are the only franchise in American professional sports that is owned by the community, not by a big corporation, a family, or a group of rich guys.  

According to the team’s web site, “Green Bay Packers, Inc., has been a publicly owned, nonprofit corporation since Aug. 18, 1923, when original articles of incorporation were filed with Wisconsin’s secretary of state.”  As of their 2010 Annual Meeting, a total of 4,750,937 shares were owned by 112,158 stockholders, none of whom receives any dividend on their investments.  According to their bylaws, no one can own more than 200,000 shares, which keeps individuals from taking over the team and its management.  

It’s not exactly one person, one vote, but it’s a lot closer than we usually find in the world of big business. 

Go Packers!

Now, somebody please tell me who they’re playing against.

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