March 15, 2011

Luncheon Notes

President Vivienne Carey opened the meeting with a sobering email message she and Roger received from friends in Japan, giving vivid descriptions of the devastation they are experiencing.  In Tokyo, the friend said, it will take weeks and weeks before life returns to something like normal.  In northeast Japan, it will be years and years.

Our sister city, Kanegasaki,, suffered structural damages but no loss of life. Students who were to have come to Amherst have cancelled their trip, but the party that had been planned for them will be held as a fiund-raiser.  Check the paper for further details.

Arthur Kinney said that he was unable to get in touch with Renaissance scholars from Japan who had been his guests at The Amherst Club in the past.

Happier news is that Hub Smith is back in Amherst after his difficult and successful surgery.  He is recovering at the Center for Extended Care for a few more days before returning home.  No visitors yet, but Hub and Linda are happy to receive email messages.

Jacqui Price was at lunch, not fully recovered from her ordeal, but well enough to be with us, for which we said hurrah.  Isaac ben Ezra was also with us and continues to be indomitable.

Arthur Kinney announced the 3rd annual pancake breakfast fundraiser at the Renaissance Center on Saturday, March 19th from 8 am til noon.

Two new members were formally welcomed to the Club today:  Paul Bacon and Signia Warner.  They were informally welcomed as well.

Phyllis Lehrer wore emerald green today to introduce our speaker, our new District Attorney Dave Sullivan.  Dave, however, did not wear green, perhaps because, as he said, he would like St Patrick's Day to be a National Immigration Day, to honor immigrants from all over who have been and still are central to the American experience.

Dave spoke about his vision of the District Attorney's role as more than prosecuting crime; rather it is to promote justice and act as the guardian of rights and liberties for all citizens.  He noted that we have received no reports of looting or theft from Japan because their societal norms inculcate respect for property.  He wants the District Attorney's office to participate with schools and other societal institutions to move our values in that direction.

But it will be a challenge.  Dave gave us saddening figures about the extent of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, and drug abuse.  He noted that on April 30th, there will be an opportunity to get rid of unused or expired medications safely so that they cannot re-enter circulation.  This will be at Wildwood School, from 1-2 p.m.

Dave also spoke of his office's efforts in the vast area of internet safety, again working with other community agencies to inform both young and elderly consumers about internet risks.

Dave is working hard to connect his office to the communities it serves.  He noted that he will soon be looking for volunteers to serve in a number of areas and that he has assigned two prosecutors to focus on Amherst, especially in light of the rash of breaking and entering crimes.

He ended his important talk by honoring his own UMass professors and telling us we are blessed to have such a fine and professional police department in Amherst.

Michael Greenebaum, note-taker