Posted by Paula Olson on Feb 09, 2018
         For some reason, about 45% of the usual Rotarians attending Friday meetings had other things to do today. There was one table with two lonely members sitting and missing members at most other tables. And they missed a great meeting dealing with changes to the Constitution and Bylaws about attendance and the real Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, all the way from Olympia.
            Our favorite current President Don Daniels opened the meeting a little early interrupting the pouring of coffee and cookie selection. The new microphone was introduced. Mick Johnson led us in the invocation and Michael Lewis did a spectacular job leading us in the Pledge of Alliance. Meeting set up included Mick Johnson at the Paul Harris table, yours truly Paula Olson, bulletin writer, Troy Wilcox as photographer, Mary Marlin doing double duty as raffle tickets seller and sergeant at arms.  No visiting Rotarians were in attendance.  No Sunshine report, although Richard Simmons is home now and doing well.  Joe Quinn introduced his guest – wife Kris Quinn. $227.00 was collected for the foundation.  Nice haul.
            Prez DD asked for hands up on our preference for a visit from the District Governor jointly with other clubs or individually. In true Lakewood fashion, no real consensus was reached. 
            Sam Hunter gave us an update on proposed changes to the Constitution and Bylaws, which were mostly deletions.  In the Constitution, Article 9 re attendance will be stricken since no one pays any attention to it anyway. In Article 12 re duration of membership, the section about termination for non-attendance will be struck. In the Bylaws, Article 5, Sec 2 re meetings, recommend to strike second paragraph. In Sec.4 re board meetings, the phrase “on second Wednesday” will be struck and replaced with “at the designation of the President.” In Article 7, “the” will be struck.  In Article 12 re finances, Sec. 5 should provide that financial officers be bonded. That issue is being researched for the cost and additional information forthcoming. In Article 14 re temporary red badges, recommend to strike “fireside” and “attend other club meetings” and have the list of requirements to read attend a board meeting, serve as greeter for two meetings, and agree to serve on one committee. Members had much to say about this as some value the fireside groups, which can still take place but aren’t mandatory. One member recalled the days when the names of absent members were called out as naughty boys and girls. Attending another club is also highly recommended but no longer mandatory. Gayle Selden asked for gender neutral language throughout. A motion was made to approve changes and Bob Hammar seconded. Greg Rediske reminded everyone they still have to read the bulletin when they miss a meeting so he can report to District. The vote was unanimous.
            Kim Prentice and Bob Peterson asked for volunteers to be presenters for Educator of the Month. A script and certificate will be provided and volunteers will be put on the yearly schedule to fulfill this fun job.
           February birthdays included Barlow Buescher, Mary Marlin, Dave Reames, Ron Adkins, Mary Moss, and Tom Crabill.  Wedding anniversaries in February were Johnny and Millie Walker 7 years; Morris and Lavonne Northcutt, 14 years; Chris and Wendy Easter 19 years; Donna and Andy Phillips, 49 years; Tom and Fae Crabill, 55 years; Terry and Walli Roarke 40 years and the winner of the marriage game is Mo and Fereshteh Sarram at 58 years.  Congratulations to all! Mo honored his marriage with $50.  February Rotary anniversaries included Cheri Loiland, 4 years; Jim Weinand, 6 years; Kris Peterson 8 years; Dan Livingston 12 years; Donna Phillips 13 years; Ward Fletcher 18 years; Chris Kimball 19 years; Mike Lewis  19 years; Dave Coleman 30 years; Mo Sarram 31 years; and Dave Reames at 40 years.
            Announcements included the District Conference May 4, 5, 6th with no meeting on Friday, May 4th. We are going to be packing food in the afternoon with a few people who wanted to do it before lunch with other clubs. Chief Zaro won the end of the year raffle, which was worth $1,025.  President Don called the chief up to present the check. Chief Zaro told a story about Greg Rediske who bragged about winning just under the amount he had to report for taxes. So Chief Zaro decided to go big and donate the entire check to Paul Harris.  Way to go, Chief! Sally and Don went to Gig Harbor Rotary to talk about food packing and they were 120 members strong. Don related that a woman came to speak about the impact Rotary made on her life six to seven years ago when she was an inmate at the Women’s Correctional Center at Purdy. Thanks to Rotary tutoring inmates, she was able to learn enough life skills to succeed on her release from prison. Don shared his pride about being a member of an organization that made that kind of impact.
Above: Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson
            Joe Quinn introduced our guest speaker, Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General. Joe cautioned that Bob gave him only 30 seconds for an introduction so he started talking a lot faster. Bob is a fourth generation Washingtonian who lives with his wife Colleen and twin nine year old boys. He is a Husky and a graduate from NYU Law School. He clerked for a couple of federal judges and then spent about five years at Preston Gates, a Seattle law firm. He was on the King County Council for nine years. When he first was elected to the position of Attorney General in 2012, he won with 53% of the vote but when he ran for reelection in 2016, he won with 69% of the vote, the highest margin recorded.  Bob is both an outdoorsman, enjoying hiking, camping and birdwatching, and an indoors man as an avid chess player. His rating is as International Master. In fact, he was so into chess that he decided to forego college and go abroad to play chess. After a couple of years, he returned home and went to UW. He loves going around to Rotary clubs and we are his 112th. Bob thinks of his position and Rotary as both public service.
            As the state Attorney General, he is in charge of a 600-lawyer law firm with 700 staff members. In a nutshell, their job is to defend and enforce state law. His attorneys are independent in their work. Bob is proud that the five department chiefs stayed on the job after the change in administration, a rarity when different political parties are involved.  Generally, his attorneys give legal advice to clients and clients make decisions from there. There are some areas where he makes decisions independently of any other attorney, such as in the area of civil rights and consumer protection, which is the largest division in the office with 30,000 complaints each year. 
            An example of a case handled by the division is when about 50,000 small and medium businesses received letters demanding payment of late fees for failure to file corporate minutes. The letters came from an out of state business and looked very official as coming from the State of Washington. Out of expediency, about 2,900 businesses paid the fine rather than spend time fighting about it. Others complained. Bob’s attorneys sued and won. The defendant had to repay all fines paid plus costs and $1.2 million in penalties. This example shows that the division is self-financed.
            Another example is Bob’s decision to sue Purdue Pharma over its deceptive practices by encouraging doctors to overprescribe opioids. Not only did it tell doctors the drugs were not addictive, they responded to complaints about symptoms of addiction by saying patients were really exhibiting symptoms of pseudo addiction, were in more pain, and needed more drugs. Club members discussed doctors who do prescribe too much, limiting doctors to a seven day prescription unless condition involves cancer, and the bill calling for a Prescription Monitoring Program requiring doctors to check a patient’s drug history.
            Members had questions. One asked about the conflict between state and federal law over marijuana. Bob is committed to defending state law legalizing marijuana.  Under the Obama Administration, Attorney General Holder agreed not to prosecute in states with legalized marijuana as long as children were not affected and the marijuana stayed in the state.  Now under Attorney General Sessions, the so called Cole Memo rescinded that agreement. Letters and notices come from that office with much incorrect information and so far Bob has been unsuccessful in securing a meeting to discuss the issue. He also discussed the problem with marijuana businesses using banks, which are reluctant to open such accounts due to the conflict with federal law. He is introducing bills to the legislature to protect banks in Washington.
            Bob alone decided when to sue the federal government. He last sued the Obama Administration over the unsafe work environment at Hanford. He filed 21 lawsuits in 2017, winning most of them. Another example pertains to DACA (dreamers) and the feds' use of information against the young people if they make themselves known, such as in a police report.
            Finally, the inflated car tabs came up. Bob said his hands were tied as it was properly passed by the state legislature. There has to be some illegality for him to act. There are bills that will be introduced to try to fix it.
            Thank you, Attorney General Bob Ferguson for a fascinating peek into the world of the Attorney General.