April 6, 2000


Now that we know this is Magazine Month, it is the duty of all loyal Rotarians to READ THE MAGAZINE - at least once. The pledge was led by DAN PRICE, followed by Messieurs HARRIS and DOWNIE leading us through It's a Grand Old Flag - and it should also be noted that we had some excellent background music from JIM'S keyboard before we officially got underway. PP YOSH SETOGUCHI stepped up with a good Thought for the Day, allowing as how we could stand up since it was short - which it was. PP BOB LUSK had no Visiting Rotarians to report, but recent 3rd-time dad MARK BLOCK jumped up to introduce his father-in-law, Bob Berman, who hails from the Rotary Club of Jackson, Mississippi. Among his other claims to fame is that he is the present District Governor for the state! And his reward for all this is that newly arrived Jared Block's middle name is Berman - although YOE is forced to editorialize that that's a very tough eligibility standard for naming grandchildren...

Bob Gaston, President of WLA Rotary, was next introduced, and he in turn named the members of WLA who were with us today. It was noted that we formed the WLA Club in the 60's, giving them our then-name, and adopting Westwood Village as our permanent moniker. The only ongoing confusion that this can cause is that there is also a Westwood Rotary Club, somewhere in northern California - but the facts are that WE know which is which, anyway.

STEVE ADLER spoke of his guest, Paul Supnik, who is an attorney specializing in intellectual property rights and entertainment. GEORGE DEA also introduced Ava Bodel, from Rotaract (and Germany). And in a demonstration of real evenhandedness, JACK HARRIS was fined by Prez BOB because JACK'S grandson made Phi Beta Kappa at that school in Indiana where BOB claims to have matriculated. Maybe this was Prez BOB'S way of saying that even though HE, BOB, was not so honored as an undergraduate, he felt that JACK would understand that some penalty had to be attached to his grandson's achievement. Ah, the ways and byways of Executive minds...

With the ever-present threat that PP JIM DOWNIE might walk at any moment, Prez BOB nonetheless went ahead with the usual litany of announcements. First up was April 11th, the Board Meeting at 6:30, hosted by ELLIOTT TURNER - RSVP's requested, please. The District Conference is at the Doral Palm Springs Resort, from 4 to 7 May, and almost 30 have signed up so far - RON KLEPETAR is the contact. GSE will be with us (see below) from April 30th to May 5th - check with LEE DUNAYER. And lastly, there are FOUR - count 'em - Golf Tournaments coming up. Prez BOB has the details, so call him, please.

GSE, which stands for Group Study Exchange, started in 1965, and we have consistently been involved. Rotary districts in different countries are paired up, each sending 4 or 5 young professionals to spend up to four weeks in the host country. They must be non-Rotarians, and are led by a Rotary Team Leader. Their purpose is to promote International understanding and goodwill, and they learn about the customs and cultures where they visit, of course. We are sharing a week of hosting this year's team with Santa Monica Rotary, and the GSE group comes from Bavaria. Immediately after our hosting, the group will attend our District Conference in Palm Springs. They will arrive in Westwood on April 30th, and there is a Welcome party at Marian and LEO TSENG'S home, starting at 4 p.m. - RON LYSTER needs to know if you would like to attend, please.

And now, briefly, two programs which are particularly close to YOE's heart: The Japan Student Exchange deadline has been extended - this program is truly an opportunity for 15-19 year old students to spend a month in Japan, and PP YOSH SETOGUCHI has the details. It's open to any relative of a Rotarian, the price is right, and whomever you send will thank you for giving them this unique opportunity.

The District 5280 Polio Corrective Surgery Committee is actively recruiting Rotary orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists, operating room nurses, and prosthesis technicians to participate in our wonderful project to enable polio victims to WALK! This is the $140 Value I have spoken of before - for the volunteers, it involves 2 to 3 weeks of time, in India or Africa, and the contact is Dr Wes Bradford, (310) 542-6686, wgbrad@ucla.edu. Please spread the word - the need is real.

SALLY BRANT brought us another excellent speaker, California Secretary of State Bill Jones. He first served in the Legislature, and was chosen by his peers to be Republican Leader of the State Assembly in 1990. Elected Secretary of State in 1994, he was the first resident of California's Central San Joaquin Valley to serve in a statewide constitutional office. Author of the Three-Strike Law, his emphasis in his new position has been to increase voter participation and improve business conditions for California companies. He lives near Fresno, has a working farm, and he and his wife of 30 years, Maurine, have two daughters, Wendy and Andrea.

He favors and has worked to provide an open primary. This is not popular with either political party, but it does give everyone a real choice in early voting - and the vote total in our recent presidential primary was the highest it has been in the last 16 years. And tests have shown that if you reach out early, the voter will stay with you. So it seems to work, even though both parties still refuse to abide by it in their selection process. California is a candidate-driven state, where issues are not as important as some other places. He is hoping for a 70% turnout in our next general election - and his goal is 100% turnout, eventually. He feels we in California can be an example, not just to other states, but to the rest of the world, and therefore is constantly seeking ways to increase this vital voter participation.

One of his proposals is to have a national rotating primary, with four regions, and each region taking turns at being first to vote. Sounds good, but which region will agree to starting last, YOE wonders? A study has shown that Sunday elections do not materially help in increasing participation, but several variants are also being considered. Part of all this is controlling voter fraud, and he favors a zero tolerance here. Over 2 million nonexistent voters have been removed from the rolls, and there is now a statewide computer network that helps in this endeavor considerably.

In the Q&A period, one early question was, How tough is it to do business in California?

We are not competitive with neighboring states, and the international trade rules handicap us. We must continue to work to correct these inequalities, and that is political, and thus takes time and patience. We had a Competitiveness Council under Governor Wilson, but it has been discarded. Remember, if we have to always depend upon bond issues to provide needed infrastructure, that source will eventually dry up - the legislature has to step up and fund some of these needs from our general tax income. What about voting on the Internet? The biggest problem is verification of the voters eligibility, but it is being considered. What are the problems in agriculture? Genetic engineering is under attack, but it will survive and prosper, over time. Does NIFTY work? Congress can vote - but the Administration has to implement, and sometimes that doesn't happen. Presently our southern neighbors can charge up to a 40% tariff, while we are limited to 10%, Their 40% will decrease over time, as stipulated - but by the time it gets even with our 10%, there won't be nearly as many surviving farmers as there are today. We continue to lose farmers because of lack of profit.

Secretary Jones, thank you for your message. And YOE has to add that he didn't realize there were ANY surviving elected Republicans in California. It must be lonely in Sacramento.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe