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Ms. Rendon Presents: Pursuing Justice; Festa Italiana

On Friday, September 30th, we went to the City Club to Ms. Carole Rendon, Northern Ohio's new U.S. Attorney, give a presentation titled "Pursuing Justice." img_4915 Ms. Rendon was introduced by our friend and hers, Mr. Steve Dettelbach, former U.S. Attorney who now practices law at BakerHostetler. Mr. Dettelbach said that he had known Ms. Rendon for 30 years and they worked together for 7 years (from 2009-2016) in the U.S. Attorney's office where Ms. Rendon was First Assistant. After Mr. Dettelbach resigned in February, 2016, Ms. Rendon served as acting U.S. Attorney until July, 2016 when she officially took the post enjoying the bipartisan support of U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman.

Ms. Rendon started her presentation by stating the quote that is inscribed on the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C.:

"The United States Wins Its Case Whenever Justice is Done One of Its Citizens in the Courts."

She then reminded us that in the Summer of 2016 many events had taken place in the downtown Cleveland area (i.e. the CAV's parade and the RNC) and they came off quite peacefully because so many people img_4920from so many walks of life "stepped out of their comfort zones" and worked together to bring them off successfully which is exactly what must happen in order to achieve national security both against terrorism and cyber warfare, successfully fight the war on drugs namely against heroin and opiods, ensure that civil rights are properly enforced, and combat hate crimes.

She was very proud of the role that the U.S. Attorney's office had played in the shaping of the consent decree and believes that the process has been started for Cleveland's police force to ultimately become a model for other departments throughout the country. Likewise she has been involved in the creation of very diverse task forces that show great promise in areas concerning the national security issues and unsafe often illegal drug usage.

On the latter point, she talked about how some people have developed a chemical dependency on opiods because too often more pills are prescribed than necessary for pain relief and thus it is very easy to become addicted to them when so many are accessible.

She talked for a bit about human trafficking and we were glad that she mentioned how vulnerable undocumented people are to being exploited and harmed.

During the Q and A, we asked her about her role in making the bilingual ballot more accessible to foreign-born now U.S. citizens who are still struggling with English. Ms. Rendon said that it was the duty of her office to enforce the voting rights act and that citizens should not be disenfranchised because their knowledge of English is limited. For instance, living in Cuyahoga County are a number of people who have moved here from Puerto Rico and should have all the rights and privileges of other U.S. citizens. Therefore, she talked about how the U.S. Attorney's office worked to ensure that Hispanic people access to bilingual materials as well as other forms of voter assistance in Cuyahoga County and Lorain County as well.

Ms. Rendon went on to tell us about how she once took her young daughter to the polls with her when she voted. The youngster saw two Asian women at the polls and was concerned about them getting help voting too.

Just as Thursday's Youth Forum at the City Club was attended mostly by young people, it seemed that the program Friday was attended mostly by lawyers. Among these was Mr. Tom Mlakar, Deputy Director for Advocacy at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. Mr. Mlakar was also at Thursday night's program for Ms. Alida Struze at the Lakewood Library so we talked about how much we both enjoyed it.

Another person that we talked to was Ms. Harriet L. Fader who had her own table there. As it turned out, not only was Ms. Fader the mother of Ms. Rendon but she was the Executive Director of the Women's City Club back in the late 1970's-early 1980's when Ms. Margaret W. Wong was involved. We asked Ms. Fader if she received Ms. Wong's annual holiday letter and invites to our holiday party. Ms. Fader didn't believe that she did and we said that we would soon remedy that.

We didn't have anything scheduled for Saturday afternoon, October 1st, so we checked the Ohio Festival Guide and found out that the annual "Festa Italiana" was taking place at the Italian American Veterans Post 1 on Oberlin Avenue in Lorain. We had never been there before so we decided to check it out. As things turned out, we had a meal of some of the best eggplant that we have tasted this year and got to listen to some very moving tributes to img_4961 longtime members.

When we first arrived, we didn't think that anyone that we knew would be there and so it was a pleasant surprise to encounter Mr. Michael and Ms. Dina Ferrer who we knew from their role in organizing Hispanic Leadership Day at Lorain Community College. We were also welcomed by Mr. Daniel P. Gillotti, Quartermaster of the Post, who gave ussome literature about the happenings of the day. Later, we introduced ourselves to Mr. Mathew Maniaci the Secretary of the Post who served as master of ceremonies for the day, and Mr. Leo J. Citro, the President of the Post.

Mr. Maniaci began the awards ceremony by saying that he was proud to honor either people who immigrated to the United States from Italy and Sicily and/or their children because they "showed what can be done" in the United States of America which, in his opinion, was the best country that there is. We watched and applauded as four long-time members of the Post were honored for, as Mr. Maniaci and the program notes stated, "their Italian heritage, their dedication and contributions to IAV Post #1 and also their service to the community."

These people were Ms. Yolanda Argenti and Ms. Eileen Chiaramonte of the IAV Ladies Auxiliary; as well as Mr. Arthur Astorino and Mr. Louie Leone who were Italian American Veterans of World War II. All four were children of immigrants.

img_4966And then tributes were paid to two local businesses that were founded by people who immigrated to the United States almost a century ago and have since become staples of the community. These were DeLuca's Place in the Park, a bakery founded in 1925, and Januzzi's Footwear Solutions founded the same year. Both businesses are still family-owned and run and are thriving to this day.

The materials given to us by Mr. Gillotti contained some valuable information about Italian Americans. It was good to be reminded that Mr. Filippo Mazzei, a friend of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, wrote a thesis on the equality of man which was written into our Bill of Rights; Mr. William Paca signed the Declaration of Independence; and Mr. Constantino Brumidi created the Dome of the U.S. Capitol.

There was also "An Abbreviated Italian-American History Lesson" whose author was "unknown" but says a lot about the immigrant experience. It reads:

"My roots are deep in an ancient soil, drenched by the Mediterranean sun, and watered by pure streams from snowcapped mountains. I am enriched by thousands of years of culture. My hands are those of the mason, the img_4968artist, the man of the soil. My thoughts have been recounted in the annals of Rome, the poetry of Virgil, the creations of Dante, and the philosophy of Benedetto Croce. I am the million strong who served in America's armies and the tens of thousands whose names are enshrined in military cemeteries from Guadalcanal to the Rhine.

I am the steelmaker in Pittsburgh, the grower in the Imperial Valley of California, the textile designer in Manhattan, the moviemaker in Hollywood, the homemaker and the breadwinner in over 10,000 communities.

I am an American without limits or reservations, loving this land as only one who understands history, its agonies and its triumphs. I will not be told that my contribution is any less nor my role not as worthy as that of any other American.

I will stand in support of this nation's freedom and protect against all foes. I am proud of my heritage and I shall remain worthy of it."


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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