Good morning. We are asking all of the Demands Working Group in all of the GA's around the country to submit a list of grievances or demands to the National General Assembly delegates at the end of March 2012. We would like input from everyone as to what should be in a final Petition for a Redress of Grievances. There has been much debate as to the substance of the grievances and solutions and how many should be in a petition.
Our group is purely a facilitation group and we take no position as to what grievances should be in the final Petition for a Redress of Grievances. The 22 points we list at www.the99declaration.org are only suggestions. Our group has two functions: organizing a transparent election of one man and one woman from each of the 435 Congressional Districts to serve as delegates to a National General Assembly plus six delegates to represent DC, Puerto Rico and the US Territories. We hope that each GA will run candidates in this election and in those districts that do not have GA's, Americans will run for delegate to attend a National General Assembly in July 2012. This procedure is basically recreating the election of delegates from the 13 colonies to the first two Continental Congresses. Our group, which now has 4200 members, felt the National General Assembly would lack legitimacy with the 99% if the delegates were merely appointed by GA's since that is not a democratic process. Moreover, those areas of the country that do not have GA's would not be represented. We believe that the public is concerned that some elements of #OWS are oligarchical in structure and practice and holding a transparent democratic election will assuage these concerns to some degree.
Our second function is to provide a venue to the delegates in Philadelphia the week of 7-2 to 7-6. Again, our group takes no position on what the delegates should or should not do with that time. We will provide the venue which will hold up to 900 people, state of the art audio visual equipment, lunch for the delegates each day, insurance, security, housing while in Philadelphia and other miscellaneous costs. We will not be able to provide transportation but for those delegates that cannot in attend in person, live streaming video and audio will be available so these delegates can participate from home. We also plan to have a number of speakers and work shops related to running third party candidates in each state. Once the delegates have a final Petition for a Redress of Grievances, they will ratify and sign it and our group will arrange to legally serve the document on the Congress, the President and the Supreme Court.
Here is the latest news:
1. We have raised enough money to place a deposit on the venue in Philadelphia ($8,000). This facility can hold 900 people and has state-of-the -art equipment. I am meeting with the site owners on Friday morning to pick up the contracts. It is estimated that the event will cost between $60,000 to $75,000. The costs include rental fee, equipment rental, union labor ($20,000 of cost), lunch for delegates each of the five days, and insurance. It does not include miscellaneous costs like printing and copying and making the necessary ID tags for delegates. I know people may think this is expensive but we have researched the available venues for the week of July 2-6 that can accommodate 900 people and there are very few choices and all are comparable in price. I am also avoiding hotels like the Marriott that do not use union labor given the nature of our movement.
2. Two of the Board members will be meeting with the Mayor's senior staff in Philadelphia on Friday afternoon. When I say board members I am referring to the three interim board members who volunteered to be on the board for the not for profit corporation we set up in NY. The entity is called "The Ninety-Nine Percent Working Group, Ltd." You may look up the status of the corporation at any time here: http://www.dos.state.ny.us/. We have one year to elect a permanent board under the not for profit law. I would imagine the board will probably be five to seven people. If you would like to sit on this board, please send me your resume at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sorry if setting up a not for profit corporation offends people but it is the only way to collect money without having to personally pay taxes on the money.
3. We will also be meeting with Occupy Philly on Friday to discuss logistics and arranging a list of volunteers willing to house the delegates while they are in Philadelphia for the week of 7-2 to 7-6. For those delegates who get elected in their district but cannot make it to Philly, we will have live streaming audio and video of the proceedings. The delegates will have to decide for themselves if they want to make the live stream available to the public at large.
4. Our proofreading group of about 15 people have come up with a form letter to send to a list of celebrities and academics we would like to invite to the NGA to speak to the delegates. This list includes: Lawrence Lessig, Michael Moore, Alex Baldwin, Noami Wolf (who's staff responded with a request for more info), Bill Maher, Alan Grayson, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Noam Chomsky, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Cornel West, Robert Reich, Jeffrey Sachs, Russell Simons. We will probably send out the invitations the week after the commercial airs. If you have ideas for other speakers to invite let us know.
4. The commercial airs on Current TV during the hours of 8pm and 11pm the week of 12-5 at a cost of $10,000 (production, music licensing, coding and air time). The commercial directs the public to view our web page at www.the99declaration.org. Please note that the Tea Party has purchased all the similar domain names.
5. Work on the new web page continues. When it is complete, it will allow users to register as candidates for delegate, candidates to create campaign profiles for the voters to view and then when the polls open in March (or April) the voters in each district may return to the page, register to vote and cast their votes for the two representatives they would like to to see represent them at the National General Assembly.
6. I have been trying to reach out by email to the GA's across the country for their support and participation in this idea but things seem rather disorganized at the moment. I have received very good support and responses from some of the more organized groups.
7. We will wait until the last possible moment to place the deposit on the venue. This deadline is now 12-20. I would like to wait and see if the airing of the commercial the week of 12-5 will increase contributions. If there is not a dramatic uptick in contributions after the commercial airs, my inclination is to return the money we have collected and pull the plug on this project but I will leave that decision up to the 4200 member Facebook group. I don't think it is right spending $8,000, from people who really cannot afford it, if we cannot pay for the venue because the deposit would then be forfeited.
8. Lastly and probably most importantly, if you can afford to contribute to the National General Assembly fund, please send a check or money order to The 99% Declaration, PO Box 190, Red Hook, NY 12571 or go to the web page www.the99declaration.org and clicking the "please donate" link on the left hand side of the page. If everyone on this 4200 member page donates $25 we will have more than enough money to pay for the event in Philadelphia and money towards the election fund. If we can raise enough money, we will be able to have polling places in each of the 435 districts for in-person voting for those people who do to have access to the internet.
Thanks for your support! (as always, sorry for any typos but I am at work dong this between job tasks)
Attorney for The 99% Working Group, Ltd.