My cell phone alarms had been set for 6:00 am. But they did didn’t wake me.
I was sleeping in the pod when all three of my phones (two cell and a land line) began ringing and continued ringing one at a time until they broke my sleep like a sword. I wandered out into my office and saw that it was 7:15 am.
I answered the phone. “I have to go.” I picked out a tie and threw on a suit. Then I ransacked my closets to find a pair of brown socks. I couldn’t find any. There were only white sweat socks. What was I going to do?
I wore the white sweat socks and hurried out of the office in Arlington to meet with King County Council Chair Larry Gossett. Virginia, my campaign manager, had told me our meeting with Councilman Gossett was at 9:00 am. I found out later she told me the meeting started earlier so I would not be late. I was grateful.
I had met Councilman Gossett on a couple of other occasions. First, at the Ranier Beach High School Tour of Champion Event honoring Coach Michael Bethea. He was there to represent King County at this event designed to show off Ranier Beach High School to potential new students and honor Coach Bathea. Betty Patu, a school board member was also there. Mayor McGinn also attended on behalf of the City of Seattle. Representative Tomiko Santos was there on behalf of the state legislature.
Meeting with Larry Gossett in the morning was the best part of my day.The debate that followed was the worst part of my day.
I was asked who most inpired me most about the law. I answered “my Dad”. I stumbled around after that. I mentioned that my Dad, who did not handle divorces, once had a couple come to him seeking a divorce. Dad, who was the second signatory on the Asbury Methodist Church Charter (my mom was first), did not believe in divorces. So he suggested the couple should stay together. They did and ultimately killed one another.
I am told that when I said this the other candidates jaws dropped. I am told Judge Hilyer looked the most shocked. Virginia thinks everyone watching the forum on television will see the other candidates reactions, which were probably like those I observed in the audience.
Dad never counseled others involved in marital disputes again.
I don’t know why that particular truth came out of my mouth during the forum.
Many of the candidates probably do not know what practicing law was like back in the fifties and sixties. It was different. There was a lot more civility in the judicial system; both among lawyers and the judges and lawyers. Dad was a master at civility. His best friends were the attorneys he opposed in court.
Virginia is right. I did not explain myself well.
Dad was the foremost authority on municipal annexations. He was an accomplished personal injury lawyer and renowned in the art of compromise. As Kathy McCarthy, an editor at the River City News wrote when he died:
The ancient methods of self-governance inspired Al to go to law school and eventually into public service. Al was the first city attorney for Bettendorf, where he served the community with distinction for more than 30 years, after which he had a successful and prestigious private practice. He is commonly known as the state’s foremost expert on annexation. (Al fought for Bettendorf’s annexation of Riverdale where Alcoa is located.) Al also formed a local board composed of doctors and lawyers to handle malpractice through arbitration and negotiation – the “art of compromise” as he frequently called it. His records and papers on important events during his career are archived at the Bettendorf Public Library and City Hall.
Dad was passionate about the law. He passed that passion on to me. That is why my Dad is the person who has most inspired me as a lawyer.
His inability to restore that failed marriage had tragic consequences, which he regretted for the rest of his life. But it was part of his nature to conciliate and to try to restore. We now know from experiences like his that lawyers should respect the will of the legislature in resolving domestic disputes.
I don’t know what the law was in Iowa at that time. But, I would have expected that my father’s attempt to reconcile these folks was well in keeping with the laws of that era.
And now I am caught up with my blog. Its after 1:00 am.
Dottie is back. And I am going to bed.