September 13-19, 2006

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By Patricia Lynn Henley

Deutsche bank dupes?

A Marin County couple who hired Bankers Trust of California to manage a $19 million trust fund to aid Jewish charities were shocked to discover that the company is wholly owned by Deutsche Bank, which had financial links to the Nazi regime. Lawrence and Regina Lawrence of Ross sued, saying the bank should have disclosed its Nazi connections before agreeing to manage a Jewish charity trust fund, especially since relatives of Regina Lawrence perished in the Holocaust. In 1999, Deutsche Bank acknowledged its archives show that it financed companies that built the Auschwitz death camp and that it also handled accounts for the Gestapo, accepting deposits from the auction of Jewish property. The bank joined other major German companies to create a $5.2 billion compensation fund. The Lawrences' suit also alleges mismanagement of their money. They're asking for more than $4 million; if they win, the money will be donated to Jewish charities. A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 27.

Lest we forget

About 30 Holocaust survivors from Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties will be honored on Sunday, Sept. 17, at Congregation Ner Shalom. Many of these folks endured the Nazi death camps; others hid during the war, were part of the Kindertransport or were able to leave Europe prior to 1939, says Larry Carlin, spokesman for the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust. Founding members of the Alliance will also be recognized at this fundraising event for Sonoma State University's Holocaust Lecture Series, which holds its 24th season beginning next January. "Many of the Holocaust survivors who share their stories now are in their 80s and 90s," says Elaine Leeder, dean of SSU's school of social sciences. "We want to honor them now."

No good deed . . .

City officials at American River Canyon are coping with a couple of long delays. Last year the city council voted to send $10,000 to aid hurricane victims in Abbeville, La., about 150 miles due west of New Orleans with a population around 13,000. But because of the logistics of getting the money directly to people in need in Abbeville, the $10,000 remains in the city's coffers. In a separate challenge, playground equipment bought for $66,600 in 2003 remains in the city's corporation yard. The city tried to hire a contractor to install the equipment in four parks in conjunction with other projects, but the lowest bid was $240,000 over budget. Robert Weil of the city's planning department said the project will be divided into two parts--site prep and actual installation-- in an attempt to attract lower bids.

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