September 7, 2000



There are Two Clarence Chapmans

Yes, and we'll get to that later. But for now, we got underway with the Pledge by new member NEAL ZASLAVSKY. Next up was JACK HARRIS, accompanied by another new member, KEN KILPO. Actually, and to be entirely accurate (which we always aim for, as I'm sure you will agree…) JACK was the accompanist and KEN was the song leader. JACK allowed as how his regular helpers had better offers, and thus he was "going to the well" and KEN emerged. The result was The Battle Hymn of the Republic, followed by yet another new member, TODD GURVIS with the Thought for the Day - the final idea being that even in the face of impossible odds, by repeating what he believed in, the subject was preventing others from changing those beliefs.

There were scads of visitors (that means there were a lot of them), and in no particular order, they included Special Guest Jeff Miller, escorted by LEE DUNAYER, while GEORGE DEA brought Umi Hara, Co-President of Rotaract, and BILL MICHAEL, admitting that he really wasn't LEO TSENG, spoke for LEO'S Special Guest, Kathleen Jackson. ELLIOTT TURNER had former member Dave Long plus Gary Basco, both from Manhattan Beach Rotary. Dave provided a bit of philosophy, pointing out that when he joined WVRC he thought he probably would need to learn to play bridge - and instead, he's riding a Harley! JIM GREATHEAD introduced Mark Jaffe, from LA Westside Sunrise, plus Janie Spencer. BILL PIERCE brought his son-in-law, Doug Montgomery, from Palm Desert, and SALLY BRANT escorted John and Pat Walter, old friends from Albuquerque, where John is Senior Active. Rumors abounded that some of the visitors were indeed here for a motorcycle event, and it did appear that our vaunted 'dress code' needed a bit of touching up (to put it kindly). Among long-lost members was PP DAVE WHITEHEAD, back from a six-week hiatus.

PP STEVE DAY presented LEE DUNAYER as our newest Paul Harris Fellow. And more good news - BRUCE HARRIS is home from the hospital, but no visitors just yet, please. Cards are best right now. Last reminder - Rotary Board Meeting this coming Tuesday, 12 Sept - RSVP, please to TED IHNEN. There is a Literacy Breakfast at 0800 at Lawry's - check with ANN ELKIN. The next day, the 23rd, is the Heart Association Walkathon at Mattel, and KEN KILPO will sign you up, to walk or donate. The Feature of the Month, of course, is the SISKEL picnic on Sunday the 24th, including Rotary Scholars and Rotaract. A little bird told me that PP ROY BELOSIC will be interviewing past sports champions from the Picnic next week - once you've heard their inspiring stories, you'll just have to attend! Seriously, mark it down, and bring the kids or grandchildren. And to cap off a busy month, our District Breakfast at the LAX Marriott is at 7 a.m. on the 27th - JIM GREATHEAD is the contact.

PP MIKE NEWMAN presented our three newest Members. They are TODD GURVIS and NEAL ZASLAVSKY, both of them co-sponsored by Prez STEVE and PP RON LYSTER, plus KEN KILPO, sponsored by BILL MICHAEL. TODD and NEAL were with the West Hollywood Club, which just folded after 72 years of operation - a lesson to keep in mind as we look at our own Westwood history, certainly. A nice crop, and Prez STEVE in particular should be commended for showing the way in bringing in good new members.

But getting back to our opening headline, there are indeed TWO CLARENCE CHAPMANS. CLARENCE, who is on temporary leave as a member of WVRC, spoke today as an advocate - and he's a whole new personality in that role, compared to his recent, really humorous talk about what to expect before the DNC meeting just concluded. Today was a no-nonsense presentation, and CLARENCE certainly had reason to be serious. His title was Civil Litigation and Law Enforcement, and he got our attention right away by pointing out that the expected cost to us taxpayers of the Rampart Division problems will be at least 125 million dollars! Note this comes out of LA City operating funds, which means we have that much less for what the money would ordinarily be used for. If you think about recent history, until the 60's we had support systems for the homeless, the mentally ill - those who cannot cope with life in the city - but these safety nets have disappeared, due to severe budget cutting. So who gets to handle these problems, for which they are NOT trained, but the LAPD.

The vast majority of present complaints deal with charges of using excessive force - and note that these cases start with calling 911, so the officer who responds has to decide ON THE SPOT what amount of force is necessary. It must be "reasonably necessary" - and in the period from 1994 to 1998 there were over l50,000 complaints filed charging EF. Of this total, 646 were sustained upon investigation - that's .0043%! What drives this huge complaint figure? If you said money, you have it right. Another example - recently there were 561cases charging abuse, none sustained upon investigation - BUT all the claims were paid. Why - it's cheaper to pay than litigate.

Look at dangerous pursuit complaints - before 1997 there were a bunch, but when it was ruled that pursuit was OK, there were no more (even today, that is). CLARENCE gave another example of 'deadly force', as defined before 1999 - lots of cases with the K9 program, but once the court established that dogs did NOT produce deadly force, the complaints stopped. In the test case, by the way, the dog was named Rin Tin Tin - and had he been named Bobbie, or even Sylvester, it wouldn't have been nearly as tough to get the ruling properly settled! There was a law firm that ONLY handled K9 complaints - but they have since gone broke, so there is hope for all of us. Summary - once you remove the monetary rewards, the complaints almost totally stop.

CLARENCE'S last subject (and note that he condensed his talk to WVRC to a half hour, when he usually speaks on this subject for 3 or 4 hours) was the recent ruling by a Federal Judge that the LAPD was guilty under RICO. This stands for Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations - and how the judge put the police into THAT category is difficult to imagine. If upheld upon appeal, it would give the federal government oversight over our local police - and that won't play! In a brief Q&A, do the police usually settle or try the case? With triple damages under RICO, they can't afford to try the case. Do the police have E&O Insurance - yes, and it is needed, sad to say. His final example of trying to milk the system concerned a woman who claimed that an officer had called her a bitch, among other epithets. When he finally was able to face her, his new tape recorder was shown off - and she withdrew her complaint. So what CLARENCE wants us to support is reasonable judicial rulings, by taking the money out of fictitious and phony charges. Thanks for a much-needed reminder, Chief CHAPMAN.

And lest we forget, the Thought for the Day: Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being - Goethe.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe