Burlingame Rotary Club
Founded in 1925

High Gear Bulletin


Zoom Meeting - Wednesday, September 23, 2020

High Gear Editor:  Frances Boscacci

Meeting SummarY

Welcome by President Emily Mathews
Pledge—Frances Boscacci
Invocation—Mike Heffernan, as follows:
"Deciding what the RIGHT thing to do is usually pretty easy, and usually we really are pretty much right. But right now, in our world, what seems so easy may not be so right. So, I checked with Alexa: "what Is right?"
LOTS OF SUGGESTIONS—including one-stop shopping- by just watching Spike Lee's 1989 movie "Do the Right Thing." But among the many other choices that Alexa gave me, these three lines struck me:
May we have the wisdom to KNOW what is right.
May we have the compassion to FEEL what is right.
AND...May we have the strength to DO what is right.
Thanks Mike!
Guests of the club—our speaker John McDowell.
General Announcements:
  • President Emily informed us that the Flockings continue—Order your flocking here—https://burlingamerotary.org/Page/fun-flock There was a fun discussion on the recent "flocking" experiences by Emily and Wendi. Placing the flock in the dark and almost missing the right address has made the experience quite exciting to say the least! Pierre threw my favorite question: Has anyone asked you… "what the flock are you doing?" fortunately, so far all has been fine, flocking volunteers are encouraged.
  • Car Talk—October 13th @ 7pm Alex Buljan will talk about Hillsborough Concours D'Elegance
  • Reminder about Fun with Fountain Pens, October 6 @ 7pm—Charles Voltz
  • Foundation raffle tickets—Bill Tiedeman – Please send tickets back with your check for your annual donation.
  • Reminder to check website for info about upcoming events  
  • Our next program committee meeting will focus on socials, like Car Talk.  If you'd like to join us at 8am on October 6, email Emily for Zoom info—emily@nolamarketing.com   
  • Golf update—Monday, October 12 at Green Hills Country Club. We're still looking for players and sponsors—lots of ways to support the tournament. Check out website for more info www.burlingamerotarygolf.com and info about sponsorship opportunities here.  Link to golf flyer—https://tinyurl.com/y58y7m4p
  • Fritz Brauner reminded us that today is the Autumnal Equinox: the day at which the sun crosses the plane of the equator, making day and night of equal length. There are only two Equinox days every year. The next one will be in March.
  • Saturday, September 26th is the "World Dog Surfing Championship" at the Pacifica Pier.
  • It appeared that Malcolm Gladwell or Mark Twain were attending our Zoom call, but it turned out that it was Mike Heffernan, sporting his new, pandemic hairstyle.
  • There is one more week remaining for submission of Burlingame Rotarians’ Inspirational Quotes. A couple of Previews: "Tough times don't last, tough people do.” “You can learn a lot by watching”- Yogi Berra
           Interview a Burlingame Rotarian: Phil Siegle- Thank you Phil!!
  • In the spirit of getting to know each other better, Fritz interviewed one of our newest members, Phil Siegle: Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, the beautiful Garden State. Attended University of Pennsylvania. Met Art Garfunkel while taking a year off to teach, then moved to Paris. Attended La Sorbonne University in the early 70’s. As a student in Paris, ate like a king. In those years, in which he sadly lost his father, he took a 3-month long trip to Africa. One favorite memory is a trek to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Three days up, two days down. After losing his mother in the mid- 70’s he took one full year to travel through Asia. These traveling experiences were immensely educational and would prepare him for his future career. While holding a job with Macys’ New York, he decided to move to San Francisco. There he started a clothing business, the “Mendocino Sweater Company” which became very successful, and took him on many trips per year to New York, Europe and Asia. Burlingame Rotary was a great find for Phil, as he had been looking to fill his time volunteering and meeting interesting people. Mark Johnson sponsored him, almost a year ago.  
  • Stay tuned for more amazing episodes of Phil Siegle’s life, and interviews with other Burlingame Rotarians.
Speaker Introduction: Jennifer Pence Introduced John McDowell. Thank you Jennifer!
Topic: California Counties’ “Civil Grand Juries”
In a show of hands requested by the speaker, very few if any of us in the audience knew about Civil Grand Juries in California. We knew from the start we were in for A LOT of learning today.
What is a Grand Jury, what does it Do? We do see headlines on the news about Civil Grand Juries’ findings, and report recommendations.
A Civil Grand Jury is a judicial body composed of 19 qualified citizen volunteers with diverse backgrounds representing people from the entire county. Every single county in California has a Civil Grand Jury. Note that only California has these juries. They are not criminal grand juries. They act a like a “Watch Dog” over local government. They investigate effectiveness and efficiency and problems of local government. It is a diverse viewpoint from diverse areas of the county and a super majority of civil grand jurors is needed to do anything. Civil grand juries investigate, research, interview, deliberate, all in confidence for life. Civil Grand jury volunteers cannot talk about their work. They can only talk about things they issue in their report. They produce well researched, substantial reports with recommendations for improvement based on their findings on local government. They produce from 5- 15 reports about their investigations, annually. They investigate the various government bodies specifically, county, city, school, and special districts. If you are someone who would like to know what’s going on in local government and “fix’ local government then a Grand Jury is for you.
How does a civil grand jury decide what to investigate? Hot topics in the news, such as “is our county prepared for wildfires” or are there any complaints by citizens of any problems in the Burlingame schools?  Is the school district doing its job?
If you are on a civil grand jury you also get to “go to jail”. Another task of the civil grand jury is to inspect every jail in the county, every year. No report needed but jails need to be inspected. One of the biggest San Francisco jails is located in San Mateo county, by Skyline college. So the grand jury inspects that jail, and the county jail, and the youth facilities. Grand juries need to inspect health services in San Mateo County. One of the biggest mental health services’ provider in the county is the jail system. Jails must take care of those mentally ill that get arrested, like, sometimes homeless. This is something the Sheriff needs to deal with. It is very eye opening to tour the wired jail and see what goes on in in the mental health wards. Burlingame Rotary could take a tour, once Covid restrictions are lifted. One of the most interesting things about serving in the grand jury is actually inspecting the jail and mental health facilities.
How does a civil grand jury do its job? Lots of reading and researching. If reading is not to your liking, a grand jury volunteer position is not for you. Lots of interviewing also. If the grand jury is investigating Caltrain, for example, and problems with its funding, then board members of Caltrain and the CEO would be interviewed. Then reports are written. It takes about two months to complete the writing of a report.
What is the consequence from the reports and recommendations presented by the civil grand jury? Important to note that civil grand juries hold a “carrot” but not a “stick”. Unless they use a multistep procedure called “accusation” of a government official, local government cannot be forced to follow the recommendations made by a civil grand jury. An accusation was made in the case of a Contra Costa County elected official who was illegally using campaign funds.
So if their recommendations are not enforceable, why have them?  Because they can make discoveries that can save taxpayers’ money, and they can correct inefficiencies and/ or fix problems in local government.
Several examples of grand jury investigation reports were mentioned. Burlingame local government recently received a report concluding that skyrocketing retiree pension benefits have been taking a bigger part of the city’s budget. It was concluded that nothing can be done about the pension payments as the state law requires those payments to be made. There were other examples of reports, to name a few:  homeless problems in Pasadena, mismanagement of the county’s Harbor District, Humboldt County accounting fraud possibilities due to lack of training, Menlo Park fire department problems.
From the audience questions, we learned a few more tidbits: Civil grand juries are part of the California legislature court system. They are not part of county government.  A civil grand jury is able to issue subpoenas in their research and investigation process. There is no “staff” supporting a civil grand jury. The office of the Assistance District Attorney works with the 19 volunteers and there is very little of expense reimbursing if any. This is why skills of the volunteer group are important, such as computing, writing, interviewing etc.
Citizens can and have made a difference in pushing for grand jury recommendations to actually be implemented. Local government only has a duty to respond to a report within 90 days. But they do not have to take any action to implement changes.
To be in a grand jury you need to be 18 years and older, have lived in the county for over one year, and passed the application process that actually includes being reviewed by a senior judge, your background reviewed and even pulling names out of a hat. A commitment of one year is required. About 5 of the 19 jurors usually cross over from one year to the next. If you are interested, you can find civil grand jury reports in the county website.
Emily thanked our wonderful speaker and announced the PolioPlus certificate to be delivered to him as a thank you. Five polio shots will be donated by Burlingame Rotary in John McDowell’s name. Another great Program adjourned.
To view this meeting use the link below::
https://zoom.us/rec/share/bEFILsV8zEYePtYquvtIe7RfSS5UhHFla0kFtN6dutX-rvv27cyZIrws3JQAVB8.hrHzbu_QLu-RYdMx Passcode: ??m0@g59
Car Talk Series
Check our website for more info.
Home Flockings
The flocks have been flying! Below are photos of our first two flockings. Details about home flockings and order info on the website.
Sep 30, 2020 12:15 PM
New/Old Garden- Vegetables at Filoli
New/Old Garden- Vegetables at Filoli

Jim Salyards is the Director of Horticulture at Filoli and is celebrating 25 years at Filoli in 2020.  He first joined the horticulture team in 1995, and has risen up the ranks starting out as Sunken Garden lead and serving as Greenhouse Manager for 13 years. As head of the department, he oversees Filoli’s thirteen horticulturists, garden interns and apprentices, plant collections, and designs a rotation of seasonal displays at the garden, including the famed spring bulb program. Jim holds a B.S. and M.S. degrees from UC Davis in plant science and horticulture, respectively. He is passionate about public gardens and all things related to plants and the natural world.

Oct 07, 2020 12:15 PM
Life Lessons Learned as a Cop
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Upcoming Events
Program Committee Meeting
Zoom Meeting contact Rotary@nolamarketing.com for access
Oct 06, 2020 8:00 AM
9th Annual Burlingame Rotary Golf Tournament
Green Hills Golf & Country Club
Oct 12, 2020
Virtual Wine Tasting
Oct 16, 2020
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
DARK - No Meeting
Oct 21, 2020
Program Committee Meeting
Zoom Meeting contact Rotary@nolamarketing.com for access
Nov 03, 2020 8:00 AM
DARK - No Meeting
Nov 25, 2020
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Member Birthdays
Sheryl Young
September 3
Suzanne Juptner
September 15
Maki Kobayashi
September 26
Bob Doerr
Ann Doerr
September 8
Duffy Offield
September 9
Ricardo Ortiz
Lauren Barranti
September 15
Charles Rosebrook
Nancy Rosebrook
September 24