AWAY FROM HOME, ALAS - and for another TWO WEEKS, YET!

Yes, WVRC met today, Sept 25th, at Riviera CC, and we'll be there for the 2nd and 9th of October, also.  The fire in the kitchen at Bel Air caused a lot of damage, including part of the roof.  When they fix that, they don't want anyone inside, as we can all understand.  So enjoy the change, which will last two more weeks.

The buffet is set up so you can begin filling your plate when you arrive.  And it's no surprise that you can use more than one plate!  The formal program will still start at 12:30, with the speaker, as usual, coming on at l pm.  DENNIS CORNWELL started us off with the Pledge, followed by LENNY FRIEDMAN and PP JIM DOWNIE taking us through The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  We really KNOW that chorus!  Next up was ELLIOTT TURNER, with the Invocation.  ELLIOTT started off well, allowing us to sit down, which is always a popular beginning.  He then gave a brief prayer in Hebrew, pointing out that in the Hebrew calendar this was year 5764. He followed this with a poem entitled "The Dash".  This was a thoughtful recitation, beginning with the advice that what mattered most of all was the dash between the years (of birth and death). Here's the last stanza - "So when you eulogy is read, with your life to rehash, will you be proud of the things they say, of how you spent your dash". Well done, ELLIOTT.

Pres. PETER then noted several happenings that took place over the years, all on the 25th of September.  In 1789, the Bill of Rights was proposed in Congress.  In 1924, Malcolm Campbell set a world auto speed record of 146 mph - and our own RUDY ALVAREZ almost beat that figure on a recent jaunt on the public highway.  This reminder caused the usual cacophony of suggestions for a fine, but we were reminded that RUDY has already paid his debt to society (or at least to WVRC).  In 1926, Henry Ford inaugurated the 8 hour, 5 day work week - and as recently as 1956, the first trans-Atlantic telephone cable became operative. He further pointed out that bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers - to name just a few - were all invented by women!  And finally, we learned that the San Francisco Cable Cars are the only mobile National Monuments.  The obvious problem here is that he will, sooner or later, be calling someone on the carpet to repeat these pearls - and a fine for forgetfulness is assured!  I mention this as just another service provided by YOE, which, incidentally may encourage you to read this report more carefully…

The recent very successful Rotary Picnic in the lovely gardens of ELOISE and HOWARD SISKEL'S home was noted, and the event was warmly applauded.  DON NELSON was in overall charge - he even was one of the cooks - while PDG ANDY ANDERSON and LEO TSENG were busy on the BBQs also.  YOE ran the games - and I must report that the first picnic that Pres. PETER attended several years ago was his inauguration into the fine art of pumpkin seed spitting.  I have it on good authority that it was this 'bonding' that truly drew Pres. PETER into our Rotary society.  And for those of you who haven't tried it yet, that's something to look forward to next year!

PP STEVE DAY came forward to remind us all of the Paul Harris Celebration, which is set for November 1st at the deluxe Crowne Plaza Hotel in the City of Commerce.  In addition to the dinner, we are all asked to buy a book of 11 raffle tickets (you only pay for 10) and the prizes are great -  $5,000 shopping spree at Nordstrom's, a week in Hawaii and of course the raffle tickets are deductible.  PP STEVE noted that he knew who would be coming, and if you haven't responded yet, he will be in touch by phone.  So save him a call, and get those raffle tickets and reservations in, OK?  (I was so moved by this pitch that I have, tonight, filled in the damn raffle tickets and am now mailing them back to PP STEVE - so there!)  We were also reminded that car-pooling to the Crowne Plaza makes a lot of sense - but there is plenty of time to set that up.  I'll see you there.

HARLAN LEWIS did not locate any visiting Rotarians, which is no surprise since nobody knew we had temporarily moved to the Riviera.  PP BOB WESSLING hosted Walter Weiss, father of our Speaker, Councilman Jack Weiss.  BOB pointed out the senior Weiss was also the backup speaker in case Jack didn't show up, which remark got a good laugh.  LILLIAN KLEIWER had a Special Guest, Dr. Brian Kinney.  Dr. Kinney is the incoming Vice President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and practices in Century City.  LENNY FRIEDMAN introduced his partner, lover, and best friend, Sunny.  CHRIS BRADFORD brought along his Special Guest, Jeff Seymour.  Jeff is the current Chair of the UCLA Fund, a Past President of the UCLA Alumni Association, and a former Regent of the University of California, and he was also warmly received. 

Doing almost Double Duty, CHRIS then introduced our Speaker.  Jack Weiss is the Councilman for the 5th District, and was elected in 2001.  A personal note here - I worked a Precinct for Jack, and had great success in promoting his candidacy when I pointed out to anyone who answered the door that Jack was running against Tom Hayden.  But getting back to Jack, he graduated from Princeton, then took his law at UCLA where he edited the Law Review.  He served as an Assistant US Attorney in LA where he worked closely with the FBI, before being elected to the City Council.  He has become involved with disaster and emergency preparedness, improving our water quality, and has worked closely with the LAPD.  Jack is married, has two kids, and lives close to the UCLA campus.

Jack began by reminding us that this was his 3rd visit with us since his election, and he hopes to make it an annual visit.  In a lighter vein, he noted that he had sponsored a recently passed ban on lap dancing, but then noted that with the Recall going on, it was a tough time to be in local government.  One good result has been an increased interest by the public in politics.  A major problem in the Los Angeles community is that we are short by $47 million dollars of balancing our budget - and the law mandates that we must have a balance!  There are only three ways of paying this off - first, you can cut other programs, second, you can raise taxes (now called fees, he reminded us) and last, you can borrow, which is what we are doing.  Next year will be even worse, he suspects. 

We learned that the Santa Monica Blvd project widening will cost seventy million dollars!  It will create "a Really Big Santa Monica" for the section between the 405 and Beverly Hills, and will take from 2 l/2 to 3 years to complete.  He hopes that those using Santa Monica during all this construction will STAY on S.M. - if they start moving to Wilshire or Olympic or anywhere else, the traffic will be really terrible.  There is some good news, in that many of us will be receiving a major refund from Adelphia.  They increased their fees, and upon being questioned, could not justify the increase, so now we will get some money back. 

Jack reported on two specific Security situations in which he was involved.  In the Encino area, arson was proven, mostly on synagogues.  When he learned of a case, he got to the scene an hour before the police arrived.  They had no prior knowledge of the existence of the problem, partially due to the fact that the fire department is very 'protective' of arson information - they consider it to be THEIR baby.  But this past spring, when a small private aircraft crashed in the Fairfax area, the police and the firemen were both on the scene very quickly and working together very well. This cooperation resulted from some of his efforts to urge the two departments to share information more willingly.

Q&A - DENNIS CORNWELL, What are you doing to encourage shorter response time.  The two departments are now in tough - but they still don't have compatible radio systems.  The police system is digital, and the fire dept is analog.  This, by the way, was one cause of the death of over 300 firefighters on 9/ll - the NYPD helicopters overhead early on predicted that the two buildings would collapse - but the firemen inside could not receive this transmission.  Senator Finestein has sponsored a bill in Congress that is starting to help this problem.  SEAN McMILLAN, What do you propose to solve the 47 million dollar shortfall we are facing?  Two agencies are now analyzing the problem, and their report has yet to come out.  We are trying to cut expenses, of course.  The hiring freeze, which has been in effect, really, since 9/11, continues. JACK HARRIS, What is happening with the Casden project.  The difference in Casden vs. the Smedra project of two years ago - which Jack was able to kill - is that Casden is a mixed-use program. That means they want to provide commercial space on the first floor, with residential space above that.  It seems like a good concept, but Casden wants 350 apartment units, while the Westwood Specific Plan allows only 225 units. The plan allows four stories - Casden wants five stories.   This will all go to the City Planning Commission to be resolved. PP BOB WESSLING, What is the status of the VA plans to utilize some of their excess land.

They have a very large plot - running almost from Sunset to Santa Monica Blvd, and they are being pressed by Washington to maximize their income potential.  The problem is that their planning, so far, has had no input from the local community.  Jack and Zev Yaroslavsky will be appearing before a VA Committee shortly to explain this lack of planning involvement, and he is hopeful they will then better understand the problem. PDG ANDY ANDERSON, Is it true that the land, if not used by the VA, can revert back to the original land owners.  There is some basis for this, but it is a cloudy issue, dating back to several conflicting laws that may apply.  Pres. PETER, what is your opinion about the duration of the Really Big Santa Monica project.  They have listed it as lasting 900 days, but I'm guessing three years total, thus being finished in 2006. We are hoping they will keep two or three lanes open each way during the construction. SALLY BRANT, Are their financial incentives for them to finish on time, or ahead of time.

Yes.  Jack, thanks for all your information.  We like having you report to us. 

YOE, Ernie Wolfe