July 2020 Executive Committee Meeting Minutes

Minutes of Democrats Abroad Guatemala

Executive Committee meeting on Thursday, July16, 2020 at 11:00am via WebEx

Members in Attendance: John Chudy, Chair; Mary Lou Ridinger, Vice Chair; Juan Pablo Aris, Counsel; Vincent D’Agati, Treasurer; Kee Adams Evans, Events Coordinator; Scotney Young, Media Contact; Rachael Shenyo, Occidente MeetUp Chair; Anne Thornton, member; Phyllis MacCartney, member; Rita Joyce, member.


Per our bylaws (paragraph 19.3), all meetings are open to all members. 

Called to order at 11:10am

Approval of Agenda and Minutes: Minutes from June meeting and agenda for July meeting were approved unanimously.

Treasurer’s report: A new bank account has been opened at Banco Promerica. It is a checking account and Vincent and John both have signatory rights. Tee shirt sales since the last meeting leave us this month with a new balance on hand of Q7,399.00 Vincent said he will maintain petty cash of Q1000 for small transactions.

Dave Evans remembrance and memorial: An emotional Kee shared that she has received hundreds of calls, emails, and Facebook messages from Dave’s friends and colleagues from around the world. Dave’s activism with the other Viet Nam veterans, and his humanitarian work that spanned the globe, created a vast network of contacts that were as devastated and saddened by Dave’s death as are people in and around Antigua, Guatemala. She also mentioned that a West Virginia journalist well known to Dave, is writing an article on Dave’s life which Kee hopes to share with DAGT members and friends when it’s published. Kee said she will lead planning for a memorial event/party to celebrate Dave’s life to take place at Casa Convento Concepción once social distancing restrictions are lifted. It could be in September or later. Scotney captured the sense of all of us on the meeting sharing this statement in the WebEx chat box: “The comments were truly so beautiful! Amazing how much of an impact he had on so many people. So inspiring.”

Chair’s Report: This is Vincent D’Agati’s first excom meeting as DAGT’s official treasurer. He was welcomed warmly by the excom and members attending the meeting. Positions remaining vacant are Secretary, Member at Large, and Guatemala City MeetUp group chair. Scotney announced that she is currently working up graphics to post on Facebook and elsewhere about these vacancies and encouraging members to volunteer. Scotney then announced the really big news that they are expecting a baby in February. Congratulations Scotney! She and her husband will move to Washington DC in a couple of weeks, at which time she will end her duties as Media Contact. Congratulations and thank you for all of your creative contributions to Democrats Abroad!

John mentioned the Democrats Abroad global prize draw to raise $30,000 for the DPCA GOTV fall campaign.  The $20.20 Eye on the Prize Draw” will kick off around July 27th with drawing on August 20th. Proceeds will finance CallHub, Facebook, Zoom and other GOTV messaging. Several cash prizes to winners. Please participate and support this fund raiser.

John summarized some GOTV related activities that members can get involved in including the Global Voter Protection team, the Voter Protection Tiny Action campaign, CallHub, and the Zoom Voter Assistance team and Drop-in Sundays for ballot request help that needs volunteers to guide voters wanting help:  https://www.democratsabroad.org/154943/zoom_voter_assistance.

The well-attended Americas regional meeting, July 14th centered on GOTV activities including CallHub campaigns currently underway in most country committees. These will continue; next round will center on returning voted ballots. Overseas ballots will be sent out September 19th. Most country committees in the Americas region are facing voted ballot return challenges.

Two paid Facebook ad boosts on Democrats Abroad Guatemala completed in June reached 11,840 FB users in Guatemala, with 4,700 engagements (lingered long enough to read, share, click or comment on the post). The two ads cost $25. More will follow in the coming weeks.

Events for 2020: 2020 Voter Registration and GOTV activities. Kee mentioned that because we don’t have mail service, and cannot rely on the U.S. Embassy to receive and mail voted ballots, DAGT will try to encourage a cooperative effort by identifying regional DAGT handlers around Guatemala to receive and forward to Kee and/or John their ballots for onward delivery (either to the US Embassy or via DHL). Kee mentioned that 26 states require mail return of voted ballots. This is an evolving strategy, so watch your inbox for message(s) from Kee regarding ballot return information.

For states that allow fax return of voted ballots, e.g., Florida, Phyllis MacCartney, mentioned that Office Depot’s fax doesn’t work, which is a condition of fax service in lots of places. Scotney mentioned that fax apps exist where one can take a photo of their voted ballot and then send from their phone and it arrives at the other end as a fax. Two such services are: https://faxzero.com/ and https://www.efax.com/how-it-works.

CallHub and email outreach to members to use VoteFromAbroad.org will continue. The DAGT CallHub country campaign is still up and running and volunteers are welcome to make calls. Since 150 of DAGT’s 600 members have opted out of receiving emails, and we have no mail service, one way to reach them is by phone. So please volunteer if you want to contribute to making sure we get a change in 2020.

Biden Tee shirt sales have been good.  A third and final order of tees was delivered on July 13th. A new promotional email will go out July 19th. Get yours while supplies last. On hand: 6=L; 5=M; 4=S.

Movies and other public events are currently on hold, but will resume when social distancing restrictions are lifted.

Covid-19: Mary Lou led off with an update on what Club Rotario de Antigua is doing in preparing and distributing food packages to families in the area. She mentioned that a Rotary Club in France has donated $10,000 to the Antigua Rotary Club to help this effort. The need is great and people who want to help can donate to Rotary Club Antigua by making a direct deposit to the club’s Banco Industrial account.  Information on this was posted on the Democrats Abroad Guatemala Facebook group page. Mary Lou also mentioned some other groups around Antigua that are responding to the need of families affected by the loss of income and purchasing power. Contact Mary Lou for information.

Anne Thornton, who is currently in Sonoma, California, shared impressions about the recent spike in cases in California. California is a big state, and the situation varies by area. The state had been doing very well in controlling the virus early on, and began some reopening in May and June, but people were too exuberant, especially young people, in their yearning for a return to some normalcy and left their guard down on social distancing measures. The result has been a huge spike in cases leading to a reinstatement of some shut-down measures, with cases flooding hospitals to capacity limits reaching full or even being overrun. She said San Franciscans love their restaurants, but can’t go out as much now, people are running out of money, and the rebound in cases all contribute to a depressing pall hanging over the state. In Sonoma, some restaurant workers (where outdoor service only is allowed) don’t want to go back to work because they have the $600 a week unemployment stimulus benefit. (The $600 may be less of a deterrent to want to work than exposing oneself to getting sick). Overall it’s not a good situation. Her daughter’s wedding that was to have taken place in Antigua, was cancelled and now will be a small at-home event among family members. She said it would probably be better to be physically in Guatemala than in the US. Some of us agree with that sentiment since Guatemalans appear to be less divided on social distancing measures than is the case in the United States.

Following up on Anne’s reflection about the depressing environment in California, Mary Lou added that she watched Michael Moore’s Rumble podcast with Laurie Garrett, “This is the Plague.” She said she didn’t want to recommend the podcast because while it is very informative, it is very depressing. One of the points Garrett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer, makes is that the destruction of our environment and climate change has led to closer human contact with animals because of loss of habitat leading to more spillover of disease. All viruses, even the common cold, originated with animals and then spilled over to humans. So did covid-19, and this will happen at an accelerated pace in coming years and decades, warns Garrett. Mary Lou emphasized that if you don’t want to become depressed with this new reality, don’t watch the podcast. https://podcasts.podinstall.com/michael-moore-rumble-michael-moore/202007060400-ep-98-ladies-and-gentlemen-plague-feat-laurie-garrett.html (also available on Youtube).

The DAGT Excom will meet next on Thursday, August 20th, at 11am Guatemala time, via WebEx.

Travel Notes: All plans are on hold.

Adjourned: 12:43pm