President Ed James composed a beautiful invocation (read by Dana Rebelein) which I’ve included in its entirety here:
It has been a year like no other. A year filled with many challenges, dashed hopes and promises.  It has been a successful Rotary year though from all indicators. More money was raised this year than any other year for Polio plus in our district.
Christmas is a season of hope and a time of giving. Millions of gifts will exchange hands in the next few days. Christmas happens once in a year but Rotary brings hope and gifts to millions every day of the year. During Christmas, people give gifts to families and friends and relatives. All year long, Rotarians give gifts to strangers and people they do not know and people they will never meet in every corner of the universe.
At Christmas, gifts are exchanged. Children receive gifts from their parents and they in turn give back to their parents and grandparents. School age children exchange gifts before the end of the year.  Spouses try to outdo each other by buying the most unique gifts for each other. Rotarians do not exchange gifts. Rotarians give without expecting anything in return. Rotarians send gifts to build houses they will never even know the location. They plant trees under whose shade they will never expect to sit according to Nelson Henderson.  They work so hard through ECHO to develop seeds that will be sent to other nations of the world for better yields and high turnover to farmers they do not know.
At Christmas, people give toys, electronics, gift cards, clothes and so on. All year round, Rotarians give goats, food, shelter, latrines and toilets, wash hand basins, education and medical supplies to millions of people all over the world. I have seen Rotarians in action locally in this community, around the country and around the world.
From that humble beginning in an office building in Chicago in 1905, Rotary has brought smiles to millions of faces around the world. It has brought hope to many areas of the world where hopelessness is the order of the day. Gifting is natural to Rotary. Rotarians give of themselves and their resources daily to make this world a better place and to promote peace across the globe.
As we end this year 2020, may I submit that as Rotarians, we make everyday a Christmas day not by words but by our actions. Merry Christmas to you all. Thanks for all you do in this corner of New Brighton and Mounds View. Your impacts are felt all around the world. Happy New Year and take care of yourself and each other as we wrap up this year 2020.
Let's do this again next year. God bless you all.
Edeth James
President 2020-2021
You’ll find the important Rotary dates for Dec 22 in your email, or you can download them here.
Note that there is no meeting on December 29th
President Ed James’ quote of the day: “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
― Calvin Coolidge
Our guests today were Ramsey County Government Affairs Specialist Melissa Finnegan and Ramsey County Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire.
John Ordway reported the following financial decisions from today’s Board meeting:  Donations will be made to Community Support Center (CSC), Community Partners with Youth (CPY), Ralph Reeder Food Shelf, Irondale Choir, Harvest Pack and Remember Niger.  John also noted that we have decided to re-structure our scholarship amounts to allow some of them to be used at 2 year colleges.  The Irondale specific scholarships will now be: One at $1,500 and two at $1,000.  The at-large $1,500 scholarship wasn’t mentioned but I assume it will remain the same.
John also asked that unpaid dues for this quarter be paid before the New Year.
The board recommended and members present approved the following changes:
 - Geoff Hollimon will assume the Community Service Directorship
 - Cindy Carlson will assume the International Service Directorship in addition to her existing Membership Director role.
The Board has accepted the resignations of Maddison Zikmund (joining Fridley club) and Chris Ledbeter (job transfer).
Geoff Hollimon said that the Suburban Ramsey Emergency Coalition made 20 grants in 2020, totaling $107,000.  The Coalition will need to raise about $100,000 in 2021 to continue its mission to minimize the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on our community’s most vulnerable citizens.
Geoff also noted that CPY has had to shut down 3 of 5 distance learning pods due to a very small outbreak of Covid-19.  Quarantine will be completed in time for full reopening after New Years.
President Ed noted that remote Tuesday noon meetings will continue until April 2021, when we will re-evaluate the safety of in person meetings.
Jed Hamoud has received the December report from the Rotary Club Beirut Cedars about the relief efforts after the explosion that rocked Beirut.  You can download the report by clicking here.
Nyle Zikmund introduced Ramsey County Government Affairs Specialist Melissa Finnegan, here to present “Legislative Engagement 101”.  Melissa said that Minnesota’s legislature has 201 legislators, 134 in the House and 67 in the Senate.  The Legislative structure is biennial, the first year focused on budgeting and the second year spent on funding building projects.  The actual sessions extend from January or February through May.
When a bill is introduced by a legislator, it is sent to the relevant committees(s) for discussion and the committee chairs decide which bills get a hearing in their respective committees.  If the bill is heard in committee, the author of the bill explains it and there is debate and a vote.  If the bill passes the committee it is returned to the full body (House or Senate) where amendments can be offered.  If the bill is voted up by the full body, it is sent to the other body, where additional amendments can be offered and a vote taken.  If the bill passes both bodies, a conference committee may be needed to reconcile differences in the two versions.  If there are no differences or if the differences can be reconciled, the bill is voted on by the full bodies.  If passed the bill goes to the Governor to be signed or vetoed.  If vetoed, a 2/3 majority in both houses is required to override the veto.
The legislative process is very important to county government because the county often has no control of the funding for programs mandated by the state.  The Ramsey County Platform is the set of legislative priorities for the upcoming state legislative session.  The platform begins to take shape in the summer before the upcoming legislative session and is finalized in December.  The County’s Government Affairs Division uses this platform to develop bills and support or oppose bills depending on their alignment with the platform.  The 2021 platform priorities are:
 - Covid Response
 - Housing Stability
 - Racial Disparities
 - Transportation
 - Mental illness and behavioral support
You can participate in the legislative process by reaching out to your County Commissioners and State Legislators.  You should have a plan and be prepared to be brief.  It’s best to have a combination of documentation and human stories if you expect to make a lasting impression on these very busy public servants.  It seems obvious, but be nice to staffers…it can make a big difference.  Use the link below to find your county commissioner.