Meeting in Review: August 28, 2013
At 12:30, President Shaun called the meeting to order, asked for cell phone silencing, and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Words of inspiration came from Andrea Ghiaroni, who invoked Mother Theresa of Calcutta, and read her advice to “take the time” – to serve others, to read, and other actions often postponed.
Secretary Tim Hurd introduced the guests of Rotarians:
- PP Judge Larry Margolis hosted law clerk Scott Sasieck and Judicial Assistant Connie Roy of the Court of Federal Claims.
- Paul Margolis, Management Consultant from Chicago, was here as the guest of his parents, Larry and Doris.
- Robert J. May III, Rotary Scholar, was the guest of President Shaun English.
- Robert Montague, guest of William Busker.
- David J, Walker, an attorney with Saul Ewing, PC, a guest of President Shaun English.
American Rotarians were present: Sergei Andramalov, of the Fairfax, Virginia club; Laura Harwood of Lahaina, HI; Stephen Yates of Idaho Falls. ID; and Mary Eileen Wood, of the Syracuse NY Inner City Rotary Club. She told us about an upcoming Congressional Science Fair sponsored by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, which will feature 25-50 NY State winners and is an authorized Rotary makeup event.
Sergeant at Arms David Treadwell announced the birthdays:
- Patricia Bueno-Abdala, August 24. Patricia joined in 2009, sponsored by Ken Kimbrough. Her classification is Finance.
- Clara Montanez, August 29. Programs Committee Chair Clara was sponsored by Memo Grajales in 2003. Her classification is Financial Advisor.
- Steve Adkins, August 30. Sponsored by Peter Kennedy in 2004, Steve's classification is Law: International Trade.
- Tim Hurd, August 30. Secretary Tim joined our club in 2009. He was sponsored by Rob Warne, and his classification is Consulting: Media Relations.
Relatively new member Shelly Williams introduced himself and described his work.
New member Bill Busker, sponsored by Dr Sam Hancock, picked up his Red Badge and put a felt star on the banner.
Announcements included Clara Montanez with advance notice of UN International Peace Day, September 21 and Peg Schoen announcing the upcoming Pool Party in Annapolis, September 15.
Sharon Taylor then introduced our speaker, Irvin Nathan, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, reviewing his long list of posts in and out of public service.
Taking the podium, AG Nathan recognized our own Larry Margolis, who also served in the DC Attorney General’s Office, then called Corporation Counsel, some time ago. He noted that his own father-in-law is a Rotarian in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and joked that there is an old saying, “behind every successful man is a very surprised father-in-law.”
He gave a brief rundown of the responsibilities of the appointed office he holds: all the litigation for the District, some 1,000 suits a year; all the appeals to the Court of Appeals and the Circuit Court; representation of children and all juvenile prosecutions; and legal opinions for the agencies and the City Council. Seven hundred employees are under his direction, including 350 lawyers.
He then discussed a controversial change for the Office of the District Attorney – in 2010 the Council voted to have the AG become an elected official rather than being appointed by the mayor, with a 2014 election leading to a 2014 inauguration. But since 40 agency General Counsels report to the AG, and since elections mean politics and possible runs for higher office, it’s his view that the reporting structure should be changed. This and other worries led the City Council to vote to postpone the election, though they have to ratify their vote again in September. Also, the current employees of the AG are not allowed to run, and AG Nathan urges that law be changed. He complimented his staff’s performance in the environment of a “gotcha” press and a fractious Council.
He told us about four notable cases they have filed: against Exxon for their system of agreements with local retailers and distributors, which possibly cause higher gas prices; against Travelocity and Expedia for failing to remit all the taxes they collect on ticket sales; and along with other state AGs, suits against Standard and Poors for faulty ratings and against the merger of American and USAir.
AG Nathan gave a lengthy personal endorsement of Mayor Gray, saying he feels the Mayor has done an outstanding job, displaying probity, honesty, and no corner-cutting. He called him a straight-down-the middle guy, with a long record of service to the District.
He wound up with arguments for DC Statehood. With a larger population than Vermont or Wyoming, the District collects $6 billion in taxes but can’t spend a dime without Congressional approval. It’s a disgrace, he said, disenfranchising 625,000 people.
In questions and answers, he convinced Davis Kennedy that the Exxon suit had a chance of remedying the situation. He answered doubts about fairness for developers in the pending land swap for the DC United stadium, showing the no-nonsense edge that probably serves him well in litigation. He said more about the DC statehood issue, and then described how a politically elected AG would maintain independence in office.
President Shaun presented the tree certificate. President Shaun called for the raffle container, run by Jessica Stewart. The $43 pot was won by Haleh Vaziri, who later confided it would all go toward a grocery store run that afternoon. She drew the card for the big pot of $193, holding up the card behind her: the crowd gasped – the card’s single spot was black, not red – Haleh’s eyes widened in hopeful confusion – but it was the Ace of Clubs, not the Ace of Spades.
The Hospitality table was staffed by Stu Shalloway, Ted Hamady and Balraj Gupta. The greeters were Patricia Bueno-Abdala and Andrea Ghiaroni, who is determined to win his blue badge as soon as humanly possible.