Polifit had its first meeting February 16, 2017. In attendance were Rene Kane, Jason Katoch, Eric Wilson and Tony Canata.
We discussed why we were gathering. Tony’s view was that he wanted a structured way to influence the polity at the local, state and federal levels; that he wanted to crowd-source the tracking and reporting on what our local, state and federal leaders are doing, as well as what our courts are deciding and what our administrative agencies are doing. Eric added that there is an educational aspect to this, in that most people (including us) do not know how follow or to directly influence what our government does.
We talked about the relative strengths and weaknesses of groups formed around particular issues or in response to particular government actions and whether we would want to focus on a particular issue, as opposed to or in addition to monitoring and directly influencing our leaders and government policies.
We also discussed some groups that are currently politically active and whether or to what extent we want to partner with and/or join them.
Rene talked about a group that is fighting back against the local ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
Jason has been working with the Pioneer Workers Coalition, which is meeting Monday evening at 6 pm that has gotten an ordinance passed in Northampton to assist undocumented workers and is implementing a rapid response program to fight ICE tactics that they are calling ‘sanctuary in the streets.’
We also discussed Indivisible, a national organization with 4000 member groups focused on thwarting the Trump agenda using lessons learned by former Congressional staffers, who saw the effectiveness of the Tea Party tactics first hand and have largely coopted them for the left.
We discussed the first ‘fork in the road’ for a group like this, namely, should we keep it a close knit group of hand picked people, or should we make it an open group welcome to all.
We discussed the basics of what we would do at meetings, including possibly having reports from individuals on what is happening in the various local, state and federal domains; taking time to draft letters as a group; planning to attend a protest; making calls to representatives’ offices and other direct influence activities. We discussed that the first order of business would likely be identifying our actual representatives and gathering intel on the best ways to keep track of their positions and their actions, whether it be votes made, orders issued, decisions handed down, etc.
We agreed to meet again on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at Low and Canata’s law offices at 4 Market Street, Northampton. We agreed to keep the invite list identical to the one for the first meeting.
We agreed that we will revisit the issues we discussed at the first meeting and hopefully get the additional insights of the people who could not join us at the first meeting. Specifically, we will discuss whether we will join Indivisible and whether we will actively support the Pioneer Workers’ Coalition. We will discuss how we will structure future meetings and what kinds of projects we will do during meetings. We will begin to share our understanding of local, state and federal civics, including identifying our executives and representatives at each level.
Subsequent to the meeting, Rene spoke with Northampton City Council member Bill Dwight, who agreed to come to a future meeting and talk to us about the basics of local politics and how to exert our influence.
Rene suggested that Tony should be the Secretary of Polifit on the flimsy basis that he brought a pen and paper to the meeting and took notes. He was actually writing the words to Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road,’ a habit he started in high school to pass the time during boring classes. Nevertheless, Jason wrote out an ‘executive order’ naming Tony as Secretary. It was about as well drafted as the ones signed by Trump. It also cannot possibly be binding since there is no executive to issue such an order. Tony is therefore ‘Acting Secretary’ under protest.