Absent: Garrett Cohn, Bill Perloff, Dean Hoegger, John Harris, Sam Carmen
Guests: Harry Porter, Judy Porter, Ruth Kelsen, Peter Sigmann, Tom Davis, Ed DiMaio, Don Heeringa, and Steve Kastner. (May have been a 1 or 2 more)
Announcements included: Joel Kitchens is having a listening session tomorrow, Feb. 27, from 10-11:00 at the Sturgeon Bay Library. Naomi offered a list of issues that could be pursued at the session. At the Mar. 26 membership meeting Dean Hoegger will present the program Protecting the Waters of Door County; It Should Not Be Political. Currently Dean works for the Clean Water Council. As part of the program we will discuss current legislative action. At present we do not have a speaker for the April meeting. The Thomas Paine dinner is scheduled for Thursday, May 28th at the DC Firehouse. Mike McCabe, author of Blue Jeans in High Places will be the keynote speaker. Cocktails are at 5:30; dinner is at 6:30, with more details later. Mary Ann Zjala requested that we sign an online petition supporting Senior Care in Wisconsin; she described it as the best drug program in the US and in need of signatures of endorsement.Ron Maclean gave opening remarks about the film The Koch Brothers Exposed. We viewed the documentary and some extra material about creating it. David and Charles Koch are the multibillionaires whose father Fred made his money in oil in the Soviet Union. The Kochs represent the top 1% of the wealthiest. They continue a family history of secrecy and wealth. Think Tanks the Koch brothers established have developed strategies for wielding major power in the United States. Three distortions that they have reinforced and disbursed widely are: the retirement age for social security needs to increase, Social Security is going bankrupt, and Americans should privatize Social Security. These are untrue and generally unpopular stances, but the Kochs are paying politicians and others to repeat and emphasize them. Americans for Prosperity and ALEC are two groups that the Kochs support with millions of dollars. Demographic groups most vulnerable to the Kochs’ efforts to change voting right requirements are Blacks, Hispanics, the elderly, the disabled, and students. The Kochs run a $100,000,000,000 a year enterprise and have operations in 45 states. The Kochs enterprise is one of the top 10 polluters in the country. The documentary contained multiple interviews with residents of Crossett, Arkansas, where the Kochs own a Georgia Pacific plant. The environmental destruction and devastating health impact on employees and residents was truly alarming. The Koch brothers want to be free to make the greatest profits possible and assume no responsibility for the consequences of water, air, and soil pollution reminiscent of the 1950’s. In 2000 the Kochs were cited by the Environmental Protection Agency for 97 EPA violation counts in Texas. Then President George W. Bush and the Kochs worked to reduce these violation counts to 1 count with a fine of $20 million dollars. The Kochs gave 14 million dollars to universities through grants with major strings attached. They were instrumental in altering the outcome of school board elections in Wake County, North Carolina. Part of the agenda was to segregate a well- integrated, successful school and control the curriculum. The eventual overthrow of several Koch-endorsed school board members was one of the few uplifting and inspiring parts of the film. It wasn’t easy! The community became highly involved with protest demonstrations and other grassroots efforts. The group Occupy is one strong public voice that works to protest the Koch brothers influence and inform citizens about their shenanigans. This year $300 million dollars was cut from the WI budget. This documentary The Koch Brothers Exposed is also available on Netflix. Currently an effort is underway to pass a constitutional amendment against ALEC. Steve Kastner urged us to view the smartgrowthvote.comwebsite.