The good news is that our former member, Henrietta Knapp, is back with
us. She and Harold Lian were married this past August, still living
in Malibu, and it's good to have you back, Henrietta. The sad news is
that Mary Jane Marshall died earlier this week. She had lung cancer,
and it suddenly became virulent, apparently. Memorial services are pending,
but will probably be held on the 18th of February - stay tuned, please.
After a rainy start, we got underway when Prez BOB asked YOE what those
damn three Conditions of Rotary this ear were, and of course I could
only think of one…We moved on anyway, with ANN ELKIN leading
the Pledge, followed by a triumvirate of BRUCE HARRIS, MARK BLOCK and
BILL MAXWELL combining to lead us in Dixie. (That's the song, not the
place)…Some of us had to depend upon lip reading to get some
of the words, but it all ended well, which is what counts. DAVID MATSON
stepped forward as a substitute for MYRON TAYLOR, giving one of MYRON'S
excellent prayers. But alas, this didn't save us from the embarrassment
of having NO visiting Rotarians.
The day was saved, as well as our minimum guarantee, when PP STEVE
SCHERER introduced his Special Guest, Viggo Butler, President of one
of the Lockheed subsidiaries. STEVE also brought Deborah May Scherer,
his lovely wife - and all this time YOE thought her name was Debby!
Jan Colley, wife of our Speaker, was introduced, along with JIM SUMNER'S
Special Guest, Warren Dodson. YOE was unable to restrain himself from
asking if this meant that Warren was now old enough to be a Rotarian,
since he has been on the cusp for some time…
PP RALPH WOODWORTH then announced that, as could be noted, our friends
from Guadalajara were not with us. We later learned, via a fax to PP
JOHN SINGLETON from Miguel Apodaca that two of the ladies had an auto
accident on Tuesday. Thus the group simply became too small, and they
canceled entirely. However, since the welcoming party at MIKE O'CONNELS
was already scheduled and catered, it would go on as planned. YOE and
perhaps 40 other WVRC'ers were there Thursday night, and it was a lovely
event. In addition, the SISKEL'S, MULRYAN'S, ANDERSON'S and YOUSEM'S
will still be hosting their scheduled dinners, which shows that we WERE
prepared to entertain Guadalajara if they had indeed come to L.A.
Tuesday, Feb 15th - Board Meeting at PP ERNIE WOLFE'S, 6:30 pm
Thursday, Feb 17th - Tour Meeting on South America, Ernie Wolfe III's
And into March -
Tuesday, March 28th - District Breakfast, Fritz Coleman as speaker,
at LAX Westin.
Wednesday, March 29th - Yearling party - all invited - at SALLY BRANT'S.
Somehow we slipped up, and had a few minutes of unscheduled (that's
called FREE time) before PP STEVE SCHERER introduced our Speaker, Steve
Colley. Steve has been with the District Attorney's office for over
20 years, and in January of 1997 was appointed Head of the Welfare Fraud
unit - which of course was the title of his talk. The presentation began
with an excerpt from ABC's 20/20, which gave an excellent visual overview
of what Steve Colley's unit has been doing. As he stated it, the District
Attorney's job is to "protect the needy from the truly greedy",
and they have found lots of prospects to investigate and prosecute.
The Welfare Office distributes over 2 BILLION dollars per year in L.A.
County - and that amount of available money is an obvious target for
people looking for angles.
To go after individuals committing major welfare fraud, the basic approach
is to first rely on informants, then obtain search warrants from the
court. If, after investigating, there is probable cause, present the
case to the Grand Jury. When prosecution begins, publicizing what is
happening is quite important - this kind of news spreads within the
'welfare fraud' community quite quickly. Recovery of assets is an obvious
benefit, but the publicity is even more important, since it sends the
clear message that the whole area is now under scrutiny. In a recent
pilot program in L.A., 30% of Applications were either fraudulent or
otherwise not qualified. Do the math - that's a hell of a lot of money
Why is this figure so high? Basically, our entire system of civil law
and custom is built on trust - we expect people to tell the truth. But
this, apparently, is no longer a practical guideline to depend upon.
An outside example - in the MediCal program in L.A. alone, over l.6
billion dollars was billed for non-existent or non-performed supplies
and services! The profile of perpetuators of welfare and MediCal fraud
points to recent immigrants from Russia and the Middle East, where lying
to beat the system is commonplace and accepted as the thing to do. That's
why publicity about prosecutions is so important - once put on notice,
there is a marked decline in such fraud, and that is much more cost-effective
that trying to find and prosecute EVERYONE who commits such fraud.
During the Q&A, someone asked how people getting relatively small
welfare checks could accumulate the huge sums mentioned. Turns out this
is usually just one of many scams they are conducting, but it does enable
investigators to bust them. Penalties include 3 years for fraud, 4 years
for perjury, (which usually go together). Now, if you just TRY to commit
fraud, that's a misdemeanor - but if you get away with more than $400,
that's a felony. Thanks to the two Steve's for this program - you could
tell how interesting it was by the attention given, plus the many questions
All this talk of penalties and criminals apparently inspired Prez BOB
to fine two residents of the head table 100 clams apiece - MARK BLOCK
& HOMER NEWMAN for some undisclosed transgressions. DICK DAVIS was
then asked if the picture of him in the Rotary booklet was indeed 40
years old - when he admitted it was maybe 25 years old, he, too, paid
$100. The final lesson to be retained from today's meeting is that you
probably would not be well advised to hire PP STEVE SHERER to program
YOE, Ernie Wolfe