New President Scott Heller told us at his first meeting last Friday to prepare for CHANGE! The Plaza View Room has a new audio-visual system, President Scott was sporting a wearable microphone, and other changes were also evident. The members of our Sergeant-At-Arms committee will be wearing red armbands so they can be quickly identified if something should go awry.
Another change is that the banners that we have exchanged with other Rotary Clubs will once again be prominently displayed. As an unplanned underscore, President Scott exchanged banners with Visiting Rotarians Chris and Lisa Hamphill, from the Rotary Club of Dougherty Valley / San Ramon.
President Scott also encouraged us to show Rotary every day, as he provided us with window stickers, decals, and a lapel pin showing the symbol of Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee: “Reach Within to Embrace Humanity”. Scott hopes that we will wear our Rotary pins every day, and he gave us a challenge – if we see him in public and he is not wearing something that identifies him as a Rotarian, he will contribute $100 to our Paul Harris Fellowship accounts.
Another goal for Scott is to increase our membership from the current 55 to 65 in his year. (If you are a non-Rotarian reading this, and you’re interested in “giving back”, please contact a Sunrise Rotarian to see if Rotary is right for you.)
GUEST SPEAKER: D.A. PAUL GALLEGOS
Our Guest Speaker was District Attorney Paul Gallegos. He noted that the DA is the top law enforcement official in the county. As such, he is directly accountable to the Governor, the Attorney General, and to the people. His office is part of the Executive Branch of state and local government.
He said that law enforcement has two checks – the judiciary and the people of California who serve as jurors. His office has about 50 staff members, including administrative personnel, investigators, and attorneys. The staff also includes the only computer forensics expert on the North Coast and two handwriting experts.
“Almost every year since I’ve been in office,” said Mr. Gallegos, “we’ve had budget cuts.” He explained that initially, the staff was able to cope by increasing efficiency. However, there is a point where additional cuts cannot simply be absorbed. At that point, core functions begin to be reduced. Grants have become more competitive, and they are more difficult to maintain. Mr. Gallegos said that public safety should be funded by the county’s General Fund.
|President Scott with D.A. Paul Gallegos|
He then discussed the recent Supreme Court ruling that overcrowding in California prisons constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Mr. Gallegos pointed out officials were given two years to decrease the size of the prison population. Any prisoners released outright would be “non-non-non” offenders, in prison for crimes that are considered non-serious, non-violent, and that do not constitute sex offenses.
Mr. Gallegos stated that we need to get past our own prejudices regarding former prisoners. He said that felons go to prison, they are punished, and they are released. Then the punishment needs to stop. We need to re-integrate them into society.
It may look like President Scott is taking a swing at Bob Goodman, but instead he is carefully buffing Bob’s brand-new Past-President pin.