April 19, 2001


We almost started again with the Song, rather than the Pledge. This is not as hard to understand as it would appear, since Prexy STEVE does operate from a typed sheet - I hesitate to call it an agenda. Anyway, on my copy, lo and behold, the Song is indeed first! So STEVE, switch it on YOUR list, OK? That helpful advice out of the way, SHARIN KLISSER led the Pledge, remarking beforehand that she was carrying a 'cheat card' (since she is originally from South Africa, and thus not growing up with this Pledge as most of us have). To her credit, she only consulted it once - and with the kind of discipline her audience usually shows, that is remarkably good. LENNY FRIEDMAN fearlessly followed (three first letters in a row, that's called alliteration…) with the Song, the U.S. Air Force, and noted this was in honor of our crew who were just rescued from China. This statement was immediately challenged by CLAWSON BLEAK, an ex-Navy man who pointed out that this was a Navy operation, not Air Force. But the song went well anyway, accompanied as it was by PP JIM DOWNIE and JACK HARRIS on the keyboard. Last in this Intro Phase was PP RON LYSTER, who found something on the Rotary Website, described as a Declaration of Standards for Rotarians in business and professions. No one could disagree with any of the precepts, but there sure were a lot of them - nothing was left unsaid…

GUESTS - and there were many, again
MARK BLOCK introduced his father-in-law, Robert Berman, a former District Governor from Jackson, Mississippi - he has been with us before. PP BOB WESSLING brought Special Guest Dore Charbonneau, who is with the Salvation Army. ELLIOTT TURNER was with Clarice Evans, who is in Marketing, and she is also a Special Guest. Pat was there with PDG ANDY ANDERSON, and PETER MORE was accompanied by Shirley, who is also President of our Rotary Auxiliary. The co-president of our Rotaract Club, Yvette Garfield was introduced by GEORGE DEA, and she briefly outlined the many worthwhile activities they are pursuing. They have over 100 members - and GEORGE, you are doing a great job with them!

BIRTHDAYS - Started off with ELLIOTT TURNER, who arrived on the lst, in Jacksonville, Fl, and two on the 4th, BILL MICHAEL in Dallas, and Sherry Dewane, from Manitowoc, Wis. Next up was CLARK McQUAY, in Alhambra on the 7th, followed by RON KLEPETAR, entering on the 8th from Chicago - same date as DICK ROBINSON, who hails from Altus, OK. In far away China, RALEIGH SHAO said hello on the 9th, followed by JIM GREATHEAD, who arrived in Oelwein, Iowa on the 16th. ANN ELKIN came along on the 18th, in Chicago, while DON PARK was the last in April, on the 28th, from Brunning, Neb. I checked with CHIN ONG, who was falsely accused of arriving still later in April - but really, he came into the world in Singapore - and in JUNE! The eight who were in attendance were give smurf balls, and at least one was tossed to an appreciative member of the seated audience. (YOE feels compelled to caution against this exuberant behavior, considering the known instability of our membership - who knows what anarchy it could lead to?)

Who contributed to the meeting included Yvette Garfield, introduced earlier, as co-president of UCLA Rotaract. Their specific activities this year include working with the Bellagio Newcomer's School, where they read to the kids, delivering Angel Food to AIDS patients, and working with Vista Del Mar school. Probably you have heard that today's college students provide significant volunteer help, and these Rotaract students seem to be leading the way. Our congratulations - keep up the good work! RUDY ALVAREZ introduced Sabine Dehnel, an artist from Germany whose work was shown on slides in the anteroom before we came in to lunch. Sabine is one of our Ambassadorial Scholars, studying in the graduate department at Otis College of Art. She outlined her journey in art education, starting with graduation from her German Gymnasium, which is similar to our Community Colleges, in 1991. After several years studying in Europe, she came to New York for a year. She was immediately impressed with its huge size, and vibrant lifestyle. When she came to the West Coast, she presented her portfolio to several art schools, and choose Otis. She feels it is a good fit for her talent - and you have to be impressed by the depth of her continuing study. She was very appreciative of her scholarship, pointing out that it allowed her to contact people and ideas she never would have met otherwise. In effect, YOE feels that this was as good a commercial for Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships as we are likely to encounter, and we wish her the best in her scholarly activities.

Next Wednesday is a ceremony at City Hall involving Emergency Preparedness. PDG ANDY ANDERSON and TED IHNEN have been heavily involved in bringing this Protocol to fruition, and it will be signed by Prexy STEVE for WVRC, and by TED IHNEN for the Sister City association. The meeting will start at 0900, and afterward, those who are interested will be able to tour the Underground Emergency Center which is in place in case of a major emergency. If you are planning on attending, call Carmen Stewart at (213) 485-7825, who will provide you with parking instructions.

Was introduced by PP BOB WESSLING. David Fleming has spoken to our club before, and is currently the Chair of the LA County Economic Development Corporation. Mayor Riordan refers to him as "Mr. San Fernando Valley" and he chaired the City Charter reform process, plus serving as Chair of the City Board of Fire Commissioners, among many, many other positions of consequence - always as a Volunteer. In his 42 years as a lawyer, graduating from UCLA Law School in 1959, he estimates that he has given 50,000 hours of volunteer service - wow!

David began by quoting the Ten Things you wouldn't want to find in one of your employee's personnel file. # 10 was that he had just hit rock bottom and was now starting to dig. # 1 was that if you gave him a penny for his thoughts, you 'd get change. (Almost makes you think it might be worthwhile to watch David Letterman sometime)

The city of Los Angeles acquired the San Fernando Valley almost 100 years ago - and some things then in effect should be noted. There were about 500 residents in the Valley, and the number who voted for annexation was probably less than 100 total. Life expectancy was 47 years, the leading causes of death, in order, were Pneumonia, Tuberculosis, Diarrhea, Heart Disease, and strokes - cancer was not even mentioned. Only 14% of homes had a bathtub, and 8% had phones. There were 8000 cars TOTAL in the U.S., and all of 140 miles of paved roads. The average hourly wage was 22 cents.

The Valley covers 220 square miles, and forms part of our city - which happens to be the only large city anywhere that is bisected by a mountain range. This leads to a lack of appreciation by each side of the mountain for the problems on the other side - thus, not much civic crossover occurs. There are 88 cities in Los Angeles County, and the Valley has 24 identifiable communities. If we split in two, LA would drop from 2nd to 3rd (behind Chicago), and the Valley would be 6th, nationwide!

We all want more local control - we crave the feeling of being closer to government. David is a strong advocate for changing from our present system to a Borough system, where local issues are decided at the local level. In November of 2002, the communities of the Valley, Hollywood, and San Pedro will be pushing to separate from LA as it now exists. They contain 38% of the registered voters, but are closer to 50% of those who actually vote. Several surveys show an overall favorable vote is possible - and of course, all of Los Angeles will be voting on this important issue.

Will this be a tough sell on the West Side? We have LAX, the harbor, and the DWP on our side of the mountain - but will the Valley activism now appearing provide the difference in outcome? Can we expand the City Council, which now has 15 members? This has been defeated before - the bureaucrats are well entrenched. But the way the system actually works, the City Council doesn't have much to do, so they have moved into every aspect of life - thus, the cry of lack of local control. 1.3 million people live in the Valley, and we were surprised to learn that many of them also work there. How would we divide joint facilities? It is complex, but theoretically possible. With a Borough System, we could have, say, a local board of 5 people for each Borough - they would decide the local issues, with the City Council still overseeing interrelated issues. Will the projected Neighborhood Councils help? We have to wait and see, but certainly by now we realize that they are very slow in forming. Property taxes would remain the same, apparently. At this point, Prexy STEVE cut him off, but David Fleming really delivered a lot of useful information, and we appreciate all his efforts.

Thought for the Day -" I'm going to speak my mind, because I have nothing to lose"- S.I.Hayakawa.

YOE Ernie Wolfe