The Flywheel

Program for July 14, 2006

Jump to July 7th Program Summary

The 1200 Foundation

The Founder of the 1200 Foundation, Lester Ellis, and its Director, Rosemary Corbin are this week's guest speakers.

The 1200 Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to advancing the lives of the working poor by:

  • Raising tax-deductible funds from individual and corporate donors.
  • Awarding grants to innovative, successful programs that directly benefit the working poor.
  • Advocating for change to local, state and federal policies that negatively impact the working poor.

 

Meeting of July 7, 2006

Newly minted President George Egan opened the meeting asking Paul Allen to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. X-Prez Stoney Stonework lead the group in a moment of silence for freedom and peace in the world. Our new Prez-In-Waiting Pam Jones thought for the day was, “don’t leave your thought for the day on your car seat."

Editor’s Note: While fretting over the late arrival of our guest speaker, and then getting him lunch and situated, I missed a lot. Please don’t take it personally if I missed your announcement, H&S Dollars or whatever. The Editor will gladly report anything missed last week, next week.

VISITING ROTARIANS

Visiting us from the Clayton Sunrise Club was former Richmond Rotarian Bill Reese accompanied by Maria Vinzon from San Pablo Rotary.

GUESTS

John Troughton introduced his son Chance and six interns from Cushman & Wakefield. Five of these interns are part of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. One was a visiting intern from Boston College. Eddrick Osborne from Kaiser Permanente was also John’s guest.

SUNSHINE REPORT

David K. said Norm Foley continues to improve, and while Elof was not at the meeting, he believes he is OK and that Since Herb is at the meeting we can assume he is reasonably OK after his stint in the Scandinavian Health Care system.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Pam Jones reminded everyone that there will be a poker night fund raiser at La Strada, August 5th, mark your calendars and sign up.
  • Salvation Army Capt. Frank Desplancke also needs volunteers on August 5th but he needs them at 6”30 Am to chaperon the annual Mervyn’s Back-To-School shopping spree for needy students.

HAPPY & SAD DOLLARS

While waiting for newly appointed permanent Recognitions Dude Don Lau to choke down his lunch, Prez George launched into Happy & Sad $$$

  • Paul Allen had Happy Dollars for his eminent departure from MBA Polymers as he is launching a new business to do photo-voltaic energy installations. Paul noted his happiness stems from not having to travel so much which he hopes will allow him to be seen more regularly at Rotary.
  • John Troughton was happy to have visited Rotary International HQ on his last trip to Chicago. John returned with much Rotary paraphernalia including a banner for the club, a gift of a Rotary pen for X-Prez Jon and a Rotary song book.
  • Herb “Dollar-a-Word” Cole, clearly still in a recovery mode from his Scandinavian adventure said only one sentence, “I have five sad dollars because I thought we permanently lost that Rotary Song Book.”
  • Jim Young had Happy Dollars for son Zebulon, lawyer-in-training who just won the McGeorge Law School Witkin Award for the highest grade in Constitutional Law.

RECOGNITIONS

  • Dandy Don "The Menehun" Lau asked Paul Allen if he’d done anything memorable lately? Paul allowed as how he’d just celebrated his 7th wedding anniversary. Menehune says, "Oh, it says here it was eight." Paul says, "I mean eight." Nobody tell, OK?
  • After thanking Prez George for the short notice and then affirming his position of permanent Recognitions Dude, Don also volunteered the Beav and Joey Bags to assist him throughout the year. A penitent President coughed up $40 to allay his conscience.

RAFFLE

Visitor Chance Troughton’s ticket was pulled from the raffle bucket. With a great sense of anticipation, Chance was disappointed to grab a white ball from the bag but one could tell he was really looking forward to claim his free lunch at a later meeting!

 

 

The Program

Jim Young introduced today’s guest James (Jim) Goins, Richmond’s recently appointed Treasurer and Director of Finance, noting that if an army travels on its stomach, a city travels on its cash flow.

Jim thanked the club for another opportunity to meet with Rotary. As County Administrator for Salt Lake County he regularly met with the Salt Lack City Rotary club met in one of the 27 original homes of Brigham Young (no relation to the Editor) which Young maintained for his many wives. Goins grew up in Utah, “the most conservative state in the USA”, attending the University of Utah and graduating with degrees in business administration and social psychology. He went to work for Salt Lake County and rather quickly rose to County Administrator. Jim said that in those days SLC had a revenue problem because the only reason people visited the metro area was to go the (Mormon) Temple. He sited as an example of how that problem was addressed was was the addition of the basketball franchise, the Utah Jazz, which stimulated additional tourism and allowed the community to develop a “small city” around the sports complex that has generated much revenue.

Looking to expand his horizons beyond Utah, Jim accepted the Compton City Manager-ship which he described as ultimately a rewarding challenge. He said he did not know anything about Compton when he took the job, but became a little concerned when his job interview was conducted on the freeway. Given Compton’s problems he said he was very pleased to have been able to participate in rebuilding the city’s downtown and the construction of over 1,000 new low income housing units.

Most recently Jim was the Managing Director of Public Finance for Holfer Arnett in San Francisco. He accepted the position of Treasure in Richmond because of the new team building that was underway at the time and what he believes is the tremendous up-side potential of the community. He believes the combination of a good leadership team (including a nod to Councilmember and Rotarian Tom Butt) and room to grow and continue its development provide Richmond with the brightest opportunities of any city in the Bay Area.

The challenges facing the Finance Department & Treasury are pretty basic and fit nicely with his conservative background including:

  • Being able to know and report on a daily basis the status of the city’s funds, revenues and expenditures. This has been a historic challenge, but is being addressed the replacement of the antiquated information system and the inappropriate SAP software most recently purchased.
  • Funding basic services within the context of stable property tax revenue, shrinking State subventions and waning federal support for cities. Goins said the city has to maximize its yield on its public deposits while it effective collects property taxes and maximize revenue recovery and opportunities from the Port of Richmond and the Housing Authority which have historically been net users of general fund revenue.
  • One challenge, the restoration of the city’s investment grade credit rating (as well as a balanced budget and funded operating reserve) have already been met by the new management team.

Challenges noted, Goins moved on to the opportunities Richmond may wish to pursue.

Jim said his interest in revenue development on behalf of the city is entrepreneurial. He sited the example of the City of Chicago which owns the Chicago Skyway, a 7.8 mile toll road connecting the Day Ryan Expressway with the Indiana tollway. Cities often own/control assets with large potential, unrealized values. Chicago went to the local capital markets to raise funds using the Skyway as collateral. They received loan offers of $40 million in loans for the $70 million in repairs they knew they had to do on the Skyway. Chicago then went to the equity markets and was able to raise $1.4 billion for Skyway maintenance and a myriad of other public projects.

Goins then described a dramatic possible opportunity that could have a similar revenue affect on the City of Richmond. Jim noted that right now the city is struggling with the land use issues of more industry versus more homes. He suggested that the possible movement of the Port of Richmond from the south side Inner Harbor area to the largely undeveloped, heavy industry area along the north shore could support both efforts while allowing Richmond to benefit from the continuing massive expansion of Pacific Rim trade.

Jim noted that West Coast ports are all operating at virtual capacity.. Ships are anchored off Los Angeles waiting for berth space just as trucks are lined up for hours in Oakland waiting to receive containers. If West Coast ports do not create additional capacity, all the tariff revenue and jobs that will be created by expanding trade are going to go to Canada or Mexico. By way of example Jim noted that expanding auto imports at the Port of Richmond have it now operating in the black and generating $1.5 million a year. By comparison the Port of Long Beach generates $1.5 million an hour (day-in/day-out, 365 days a year). Goins noted that this project would be a huge undertaking, requiring billions of dollars and a tremendous amount of review and oversight. But it is a real opportunity for Richmond. It also has very strong interest from global investor/pension funds, could generate thousands of new jobs, millions of dollars in city/Port revenue and facilitate the complete renovation of the historic harbor area.

Jim then took questions from the club and there were a bunch. We note one in particular from several members regarding the proposed Gross Profits Tax now winding its way through the City bureaucracy. Goins noted that it’s his job to give the city policy makers good information and good advice. It is their job to set policy like taxes. He said new entrepreneurial revenue development in the city requires expanding business activity and it fair to say that a gross profits tax is not considered business friendly by business people.

It was a pleasure to hear from Jim Goins, a Richmond public servant that sees the potential as well as the problems facing the city. We will just have to have him back again to cover in more detail the many things generally discussed today that will continue to affect the development of the City of Richmond.

- Submitted by rotating Flywheel editor, Jim Young