Notes on Nelson Meeting 8/11/07

Florida For Peace Meets Senator Bill Nelson
Boasts, Prevarications, and a Rattlesnake

On Tuesday August 7th ten members of Florida For Peace traveled to Kissimmee, FL to meet with Senator Bill Nelson at the public library. They represented over fifty groups from from all parts of Florida.

When the group arrived a staff member directed us to a conference room where the senator was waiting. A local news crew had a camera set up. After shaking hands and sitting down, Senator Nelson mentioned how he was having town meetings, three just yesterday in Jefferson, Pinellas and Pasco counties.

Lydia Vickers - CODEPINK Tallahassee, Co-Founder/Florida For Peace - began by stating she had traveled to all eight of his offices around the state and had meetings with his staff and thanked the Senator for meeting with us.

Senator Nelson began by thanking us for coming from all over the state to see him. He then talked about what he termed as townhall meetings, two of which he had the previous day in the Tampa Bay area. He said that 150 people had attended one meeting and 130 had attended the other one and that no one had brought up the issue of the Iraq War... MORE

No Nelson Town Hall meetings in South Florida!!

FROM Hillary (Not Clinton)

Today I called Senator Nelson's offices in West Palm and in Davie to ask when and where Senator Nelson would be having Town Hall meetings in our area, and both told me that he would be having NO town hall meetings "this far south this time around." Josh in West Palm told me that their office covers SEVEN counties, and they "do not get him at all this time."
The folks in both offices were quite apologetic, so please be nice, but we need them to pass along to the Senator and his schedulers that he needs to listen to constituents in ALL areas of the state. Please call the offices and ask why we in South Florida don't rate town hall meetings...

Miami-Dade 2925 Salzedo Street Coral Gables, FL 33134
Phone: 305-536-5999 Telephone Fax: 305-536-5991

West Palm Beach 500 Australian Avenue Suite 125 West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
Phone: 561-514-0189 Fax: 561-514-4078

Broward 3416 South University Drive Davie, FL 33328
Phone: 954-693-4851 Fax: 954-693-4862

Action Ideas!


These can be left at your local alternative video stores, coffee houses, book stores, vegetarian restaurants and any small business with a progressive owner along with a stack of “Focus on Nelson” post Cards. Contact Hillary (not Clinton) for Nelson post cards!

From CODEPINK Sarasota:
Just wanted to send these pics of our ballot boxes. We purchased "touch up kits" from Sherwin Williams paint co. They are in the shape of a home. So we just primed them & painted them up.
We went to our Downtown farmers market yesterday and received 84 signatures! We also passed out flyers with information about the war in Iraq and the phone numbers to call Congress.
(that's 202 224-3121)

Toy Soldier Project

In her column today, Ana Menendez brings to light a quiet anti-war campaign, called the Toy Soldier Project, that's being waged by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in South Miami.
You may have seen them somewhere around Miami -- tiny plastic toy soldiers enlisted in the war against the war.

''Bring them home!'' says the front of the tag wrapped around the soldier's leg. On the back, the numbers for Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez.

The pacifist toy soldiers are popping up in supermarkets, drug stores and other public places.

Ana accompanied 64-year-old Judy Homer on a "drop" at the Dadeland Mall.
Stealth protesting is not for the shy. Even the most experienced agitator can find herself suddenly caught in a crisis of nerve when, for example, sitting in a parking garage with a paper bag full of mission-bound soldiers.

''I do get nervous, but I won't let it deter me,'' said Homer, 64. ``I like that it's a protest and that it's a peaceful one. I'm an old hippie.''

Within minutes, she was through the doors of Macy's and tucking a soldier between the athletic shoes at a Skechers display.

''We'll see if it's still there when we get back,'' she said, delighted.

Ha! This is great. And Judy wasn't done.
Homer headed out of Macy's and toward J.C. Penney. On the way, she propped a soldier on a marble tabletop and another on the counter at a smoothie cart.

Ana laments that there should be some deeper message attached to the soldiers. I disagree. The Unitarian Universalist Congregation' s efforts reminds Americans that soldiers are fighting and dying as we go about our mundane, and very safe, lives right here in the good 'ole US of A.

That's good enough for me.

Ft Meyers NEEDS HELP! Call today please

PLEASE CALL Senator Nelson's district office in Fort Myers. (239) 334-7760 and ask him to do a Town Hall meeting!

Last Tuesday Holley Rauen, of EPEC and CODEPINK, and I were part of a delegation of ten peace activists from around the state who met with Senator Bill Nelson to discuss Iraq. The meeting was arranged through CODEPINK's Florida for Peace Campaign, which is designed to focus on Senator Nelson and urge him to vote to end the war. Nelson voted for President Bush's war resolution in 2002, and has voted to fund the Iraq war every year since. You can imagine that the ten of us did what we could to sway the senator to get him to come out strongly against the war, to vote against funding the war and to vote to bring the troops home now.

Nelson responded that his position on Iraq was "evolving". He stunned us by saying he held a town hall meeting with 187 people in Pinellas County (St. Petersburg) the day before, and not one person asked him about Iraq. ??? Not one question about the issue that is upper most in people's minds? And the Tampa-St. Pete area has active peace and anti-war organizations. ??? This didn't seem right to us. Here is the answer from Deidra Lynch of Code Pink Orlando: ..... "Florida's Senator Bill Nelson's office is falsely reporting that he is touring the state doing 'Town Hall' meetings, yet his meetings are not being announced publicly until just hours before he arrives. Most of the meetings have been with city and county officials, not the public. These 'invitation--only' audiences with selected press are lulling Floridians into believing that he is concerned about public sentiment. His office has even refused to announce his travel schedule or place any requested alternative press members on the pre-notification list. This is open government? NO, this is public relations spin!" ..... Deidra is right.

It appears Senator Nelson is trying to evade and avoid his constituents who want to talk to him about Iraq. Apparently hebelieves that one hour with ten people is sufficient to discuss the number one issue of concern in the minds of his constituents across the state. WE NEED TO LET HIM KNOW THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE! I spoke to his staffer in the Fort Myers district office on Friday and asked about his Southwest Florida schedule. She said he would only be in Fort Myers briefly, he was not holding office hours or any town hall meetings. When I asked about 'supposed' Nelson town hall meetings actually being closed to the public, she said [paraphrasing] We want as many people as possible to come to the meetings. We give the public plenty of notice. WE CANNOT LET SENATOR NELSON COME INTO SOUTHWEST FLORIDA AND LEAVE WITHOUT SPEAKING TO HIS CONSTITUENTS ABOUT IRAQ. WE MUST INSIST THAT HE MEET WITH US ON THIS NUMBER ONE ISSUE OF IMPORTANCE.

PLEASE, on Monday call Senator Nelson's district office in Fort Myers. (239) 334-7760. Be polite, but firm. In your own words tell the staffer that you would like Senator Nelson to hold a town hall meeting for his constituents in Southwest Florida this month, or that you would like him to hold a special meeting to discuss the war in Iraq. Remind them this is the most important issue facing our country today. Americans are continuing to die in Iraq everyday. We want to discuss with him what he can do to end the war and restore peace to the MiddleEast. ETC. The staffer should ask your name and phone number so they can get backto you whenever Senator Nelson is going to hold a town hall meeting here. Tell them you hope it will be this month during his congressionalbreak.

IF WE CAN GET A FEW DOZEN CALLS INTO HIS FORT MYERS OFFICE (334-7760)THAT WILL SERVE NOTICE THAT HE CANNOT GO BACK TO WASHINGTON WITHOUT TALKING TO US ABOUT IRAQ. If we do nothing, nothing will happen. The Florida for Peace Campaign has opened the way for dialogue with Senator Nelson on Iraq. This was just a beginning. We must continue this process for peace here in Southwest Florida. If you've written, emailed and called before, you know how important it is. If you have not done so yet, please do it now. 334-7760
Thank you,
Tom Guelcher
Environmental & Peace Education Center
Florida for Peace

Senator Nelson’s PR spin on “Town Hall” meetings

by Deidra Lynch -- Orlando, FL August 10, 2007 -- Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson's office is falsely reporting that he is touring the state doing "Town Hall" meetings yet his meetings are not being announced publicly until just hours before he arrives and most of them have only been with city and county officials, not the public. These "invitation-only" audiences with selected press only are costing Florida taxpayers and lulling them into believing the he is concerned about public sentiment. His office has refused to even announce his travel schedule or place any requested alternative press members on the pre-notification list. This is open government? NO, this is a PR spin!

Senator Nelson, who is on vacation from Congress was pressured in June by leaders in the Peace communities across the state to hold true "Town Hall" meetings in August to meet with his constitutents about the 25 billion dollars of the Iraq debt that Florida now owns. Enough is enough, it’s time to come up with a plan to get us out of this endless war and the only way that's going to happen is to stop the funding. Florida For Peace members said they feel like Senator Nelson has been supporting the war sine the beginning and they want him to be one of 67 senators to override a presidential veto and bring the troops home now.

After occupying all eight of his offices with representatives of over 50 different peace organizations including Vets for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Grannies for Peace and CODEPINK to name a few, Senator Nelson finally agreed to meet with Florida for Peace, "We were ecstatic about the opportunity to speak with him and discuss the costs of war, the needs of Floridians, the treatment of our returning veterans and the horrendous rate of female soldiers returning as victims of sexual and physical assault by their own comrades which is 20% to 2/3 depending on the source" said Lydia Vickers of Florida for Peace. We had hoped for true “Town Hall” meetings in August but apparently Senator Nelson doesn’t understand the true meaning of the term.

Originating in New England when everybody in town showed up to speak their piece and then vote on an issue, today's "Town Hall" meetings are now held so people can influence elected officials in their decision-making process, often in large conference centers where people from every part of the community attend to express their opinions. No point of view is excluded or censored which is the very “Essence of Democracy” in action.

When Governor Schwarzenegger made this mistake, he was called on the carpet in "Governor corrupts 'town hall' " by Dennis M. Clausen:

"In his classic essay, "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell warns us that such abuses of language involve more than just semantic differences. "If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought," Orwell writes. "A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better."

According to Orwell, politicians corrupt language, and then a corrupted language corrupts the culture ---- which in turn makes it easier for politicians to further corrupt the language. The vicious cycle feeds off itself like a hurricane gathering strength over warm tropical waters.

When we reverse the meanings of certain bedrock democratic institutions and traditions like town hall meetings, and these corruptions of language go unchallenged, we are well on our way to a total corruption of our political culture."
I know it's hurricane season and we face this with half of our disaster equipment still in Iraq with many of our national guard but Senator Nelson's corruption of the "Town Hall" meeting strikes deeply into the center of my heart and raises my radar even more. This week’s PR spin by Nelson gives me even more to worry about then what’s brewing over our very warm waters right now.

*Dennis M. Clausen is a professor of American literature at the University of San Diego .
Original commentary...

THIS WEEK IN FLORIDA -- Bill Nelson Fri 8/10/07

8:30 a.m.
- coffee with holmes county elected officials
8:30 a.m. EDT
- franklin county town hall

10:30 a.m. EDT
- gulf county town hall

12:00 p.m. EDT
- meeting with gulf county elected officials

1:30 p.m. CDT
- tour tyndall air force base (panama city)

4:30 p.m. CDT
- bay county town hall
12 p.m.
- lunch with jefferson county elected officials in monticello

2 p.m.
- tallahassee media availability

4 p.m.
- meet with wakulla county elected officials in crawfordville

11 a.m.
- meet with code pink and florida for peace representatives in kissimmee

12 p.m.
- lunch with osceola county elected officials

2 p.m.
- orlando office hours

* 11:00 a.m. - pinellas county town hall meeting
* 12:00 p.m. - lunch with pinellas county elected officials
* 2:00 p.m. - pasco county town hall meeting
* 5:00 p.m. - meet with florida citrus growers

CH2 WESH News report

Florida Groups Push For End To War
POSTED: 3:03 pm EDT August 7, 2007
UPDATED: 3:51 pm EDT August 7, 2007

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Florida For Peace pushed for a meeting with Sen. Bill Nelson at the Kissimmee library on Tuesday. Members said they want Nelson to stand against President George W. Bush and end the war in Iraq. Many groups congregated at the library to meet with Nelson, including Code Pink: Women For Peace.

Members said they feel Nelson has been supporting the war and want him to be one of 67 senators to override a presidential veto and bring troops home.

"I think he needs to realize he's hurting these troops more by not saying, 'Enough is enough' it's time to come home, and let's come up with a plan,' so the only way that's going to happen is to stop funding," Deidra Lynch of Florida For Peace said.

"We need to start phasing down, but keeping troops there to train the Iraqi army, to go after al Qaida and to provide protection for our troops there, but start removing our troops," Nelson said.

Nelson will meet with Osceola County leaders next, one of more than a dozen town hall meetings being held in Central Florida in the coming days.

Video: Code Pink War Protest

To comment on this story, send an e-mail to Kendra Oestreich.

Radio Interview about Nelson

You ROCK Lydia!


Very good interview (about 1/3 into the newscast) and great idea Monica! We should all be contacting our radio stations and tv stations to offer interviews about this campaign. Go for it folks! peace, deidra

From: Monica CODEPINK Sarasota
Fri, 10 Aug 2007
Subject: FFP radio interview (with Lydia)

Hi Peace People,
Lydia was interviewed on WSLR lp fm (Sarasota) by Alex Newberry concerning Focus on Nelson campaign, and the recent meeting with him in Kissimmee. (You rocked Sista)!
You can go to this link to hear it! (News for August 10). Just hit "Click to Play" at: http://www.clickcaster.%20com/sarasotanews%20events

The interview is about 1/3 into the newscast.
WSLR is a great supporter of what we do:
and so is WMNF fm (Tampa)

Both stations are community supported and can be listened to via internet. I am thinking that someone should contact "The Women's Show" on WMNF (every Saturday at 10:00am) for an interview about your meeting and on going actions etc. They love CODEPINK!
Let me know if I can help. (both stations will announce events, meetings etc).
CODEPINK, Sarasota

Nelson Meeting in Kissimmee

Kissimmee, Florida -- Tuesday, August 7th, 2007 -- 11 members of Florida for Peace met with Senator Bill Nelson to discuss why we need to stop the war in Iraq, stop funding torture and restore our Constitutional rights taken away by President George W. Bush.