THE INTERFAITH ALLIANCE OF ROCHESTER
+People of Faith Working Together For Justice in Public Policy+
Board Meeting, February 20, 2014 Minutes (revised 2/28/14)
Covenant United Methodist Church
Attending: D. Barnes, D. Bird, A. Cason, B. Elwell, C. Garman, M. Howden, N. Jaschik, E. Johnson,
E. Lemon, G. L’Esperance, P. Meeker; M. Morich, H. Parreño, D. Rice, G. Strother,
B. Swan, G. Wethers, D. White, M. Wienk, and W. Wilkerson.
Guest speaker: Dr. John (Lory) Ghertner, co-chair of the Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigration Justice.
(1) M. Morich requested volunteers to help serve breakfast and lunch at the Global Citizenship Conference, March 11, 2014, held by the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue at Nazareth’s Shults Center. Volunteers include B. Elwell, P. Meeker, G. L’Esperance.
(2) Because some of our Board Members have been accosted by panhandlers after our meetings, M. Morich requested that conversations afterwards take place inside rather than in the parking lot, and that members leaving last accompany one another for safety.
1. Opening Reflection: G. L’Esperance shared a tribute from the Minority Reporter about the community’s loss of Tom Ferraro, Director of Foodlink.
2. Approval of Minutes of January 16, 2014: Motion by E. Johnson; seconded by M. Wienk.
Correction: Neil’s name
Item #4, add that “this proposal regarding homelessness is a continuation of TIAR’s focus on poverty.” (In January 2013, we had a presentation on the working poor by members of the Eastern Service Workers Association. Members were invited to sign petitions to the Public Service Commission to seek adjusted rates, and adjustments or waivers of utility arrears for people below a specified income level.)
With changes, approved unanimously.
3. 2014 Proposed Budget: B Elwell presented the proposed budget for the year 2014 for acceptance. Motion by C. Garman; second by H. Parreño; approved unanimously.
4. Honorarium Rule: M. Morich reported the Executive Committee’s recommendation to offer an honorarium to speakers whom we invite, and not to those who make a request to speak. Motion by N. Jaschik; second by P. Meeker; approved unanimously.
5. Pre-Kindergarten Funding: Gov. Cuomo’s proposal is a beginning; he is not prepared to do it for the indefinite future. The Rochester City School District has Pre-K programs but not enough for all children. M. Morich distributed a packet with 2 letters for members to sign and send to their state Senator and Assembly Member, along with a list of our area legislators, which is important to keep for future reference. Please also extend this opportunity to contact legislators to members of our faith communities / friends / family. This action places TIAR in a position to join with others on this and also other issues.
6. Homeland Security / Immigration: M. Morich requested endorsement of the letter that she sent to Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, drafted by the Northern Borders Coalition / Southern Borders Community Coalition; she signed it in protest of the practice of the Border Patrol showing children how to shoot paintballs at targets resembling immigrants (see copy attached with the Feb. 2014 TIAR agenda). Dr. John Ghertner noted that the website of the boy Scouts of America had a section on “How to take down a Mexican” which was removed after complaints. Motion to endorse by G. Wethers; second by D. Barnes; approved unanimously.
TIAR Minutes, 2/20/14, p. 2
Speaker: Dr. John (Lory) Ghertner spoke powerfully about how the proposed immigration reforms are worse than doing nothing (see copy of “Republican Standards for Immigration Reform” attached with agenda). Enforcement is currently at a lull in our local area, thanks to groups who have protested; but children are severely affected. No child goes to bed without worrying, “What will happen if my parents are taken away?” and they are depressed, oppressed, and frightened all the time. César, for example, hides every night behind the couch, affected for life and permanently scarred. The Border Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents continue patrols in unmarked cars.
Dr. Ghertner then spoke of the Batavia Detention Center, which has moved out 120 serious felons to make room; 50% of current detainees have performed no criminal activity; some have been incarcerated in excess of 3 years. NY buses and trains continue to be searched and arrests made. Asylum seekers are incarcerated, just as during WW II, 650 Jews were locked up in Oswego, and German prisoners of war brought items to give them.
Some members of the Coalition have had a tour of the Batavia Detention Center and have secured clearance for a visitation program. Purpose: (1) to show those who are locked up that someone outside cares about them; (2) to oversee what is actually going on there. Visitors go two on one. Volunteers are needed for this: please spread the word among congregations / family / friends.
Lobby Day in Albany is March 5 on behalf of NY Dream Act and of issuing driver’s licenses to all who qualify (i.e., able to pass vision test and road test). Undocumented persons now are driving without license or insurance because they have to in order to work, keep appointments, get groceries. This increases the expense of damages for all of us.
7. Trans-Pacific Partnership: little or no media coverage. Please sign the petition that has been emailed.
8. Casino Update: M. Morich reported that the developer seeking to build in Henrietta, David Pflaum, is a big contributor to both Democrats and Republicans; it is alleged he is lobbying legislators. The Seneca Nation is purchasing a property, but would have to go through state and federal application processes.
9, Poverty Update: G. L’Esperance reported regarding the homeless that Sr. Grace Miller met with Mayor Warren near the beginning of February, and then with two of her deputies who assured us of their interest. Mt. Carmel Convent has been vacant for 2 years and could house 12 residents. Sr. Grace has spoken with the owner of a building which could house 40. There are funding and zoning issues to be resolved.
10. Interfaith Collaborative’s Trip to Albany: E. Johnson represents TIAR on the Children’s Agenda and is going to Albany March 11 for Child Day Care and Pre-K funding. Anyone from TIAR is invited to go.