NEXT MEETING: March 27, 2015

Understanding Public Employee Pensions

Dan Borenstein is an award-winning columnist and editorial writer for the Bay Area News Group, which includes the Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune and San Jose Mercury News.  He has worked for the Times and its affiliated newspapers since 1980, including previous assignments as political editor, Sacramento bureau editor, projects editor and assistant metro editor.  A Bay Area native and Contra Costa County resident, he holds undergraduate degrees in journalism and political science and master’s degrees in public policy and journalism, all from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dan Borenstein’s weekly column often focuses on public finance issues, including columns during the past six years on government employee pensions. Those columns have helped shape public policy at the local and state levels.  He is regarded by many as one of the most knowledgeable journalists in California when it comes to public pensions. His pension columns have won the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism Award for commentary and Freedom of Information Award for column writing, and the California Newspaper Publishers Association awards for column writing and public service.

MEETING OF March 20, 2015


President Stoney Stonework called to order the Richmond Rotary Club. Josh Surowitz was asked to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Stoney led us in the invocation, a silent prayer for Freedom, Peace & Justice on Earth. Sidney’s Thought for the Day: “Eventually you’ll reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.”

Rotarians with Guests

Felix Hunziker introduced local boy and Chevron engineer, Oscar Garcia. Felix…Oscar…that’s ‘odd’, I mean a coincidence.  Welcome Oscar!


  • Henry Moe on behalf of Alan Baer announced the club’s 95th Birthday Celebration at Alan’s house April 4th starting at 2 PM.
  • Henry also said the Salesian Interactors are hoping to send 10 participants to the Interact Boat Cruise May 23rd and are hopeful that Rotary could fund $550 of the total cost.
  • Felix ‘The Tree Guy’  Hunzinker announced that Richmond Trees is having another street tree planting event on Sunday, March 29th, meeting at Burg Park at 9 AM. BYO shovel and gloves.
  • Sid Chauvin, DDS (Dr. of Drains and Sewers) announced that the local plumbers union will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary April 4th at the Rosie the Riveter Museum and the Craneway Pavilion. The event starts at 5:30 PM and includes dinner and dancing for the easy to afford price of $125/ticket (if you’re a plumber!).
  • Jim Young announced that this coming Friday, the 27th, is the Dan Borenstein program about public employee pensions. A light turnout is unacceptable so everyone should come and invite a friend. Anyone who pays property taxes should hear what Borenstein has to say because unfunded public pensions are the single largest financial threat to local government. PLUS, he will explain ‘pension spiking’, the technique used to give many public employees $250K+ annual retirement incomes for life.
  • Prez Stoney announced that word has come across the Atlantic that Pam Jones is a new Grandmother and that daughter, granddaughter and grandmother are all doing fine. Stoney also reminded the club that Dave Calfee’s Celebration of Life will be Saturday the 28th  at the Calfee home in Meadow Vista, CA, and if you are going, to let Hank Covell know so he can tell the family.
  • Sid Chauvin also reminded those who didn’t already know that the baby pictures at the sign-in table were of his new granddaughter, Gabriella Diane Johnson.
  • Extra note from the Scribe. If you missed Menbere Aklilu’s “Who Am I?” last week and want more information about the GRIP-Salute Thanksgiving Celebration, click on this link. At the bottom of that web page, you will also be able to watch a short KTVU video news story about the 2012 Thanksgiving Celebration at Salute.


Happy and Sad Dollars

Norm’s Nonsense


WriterCoach Connection Richmond Update 2015

Prez Stoney introduced Beverly Roberts Charles, JD, the Richmond program Manager for WriterCoach Connection (WCC). Ms. Charles graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwester and has held many positions in advertising, medical administration and non-profits, including Chair of the Berkeley Art Center. She went back to school at San Francisco Law School, securing her JD in 2010, and has been WriterCoach’s Richmond Program Manager since 2014. Ms. Charles introduced her colleagues, June Pangelinan the WCC Richmond Volunteer Coordinator and Karen Larson, the WCC Site Coordinator for Richmond HS.

WirterCoach is no stranger to Richmond Rotary as some of our most altruistic members and their spouse/partners have supported the program for years. Ms. Charles provided a quick reminder of the one-on-one tutoring that each volunteer coach provides participating students. The basic concept is to provide the students with the attention to writing detail and critical thinking development they do not automatically get as part of their classroom education.

The program has an East Bay focus, having started in Berkeley and expanded into both Oakland and Richmond. It has grown from its first year of 150 students and 73 coaches to 289 students and 148 coaches, and is always looking for volunteers who can spend one or two hours with students once or twice a month. Expansion in Richmond has allowed the program to move beyond its initial start at Richmond HS to now include Kennedy HS. Members interested in finding out more about WCC and volunteering opportunities are invited to check out the WriterCoach web site and note especially the “Volunteer” tab.

Like most non-profits, WriterCoach is also looking for financial and corporate support and would greatly appreciate introductions to individuals and companies that are willing to support literacy education in our local high schools.

Cross those ‘I’s and dot those ‘T’s. Thank you, Ms. Charles and WriterCoach Connection in Richmond!

With a lick of the wrist, Prez Stoney adjourned our motley crew until next week and Journalist Dan Borenstein’s program about Public Pension Policy. Higher taxes? Did anybody say anything about higher taxes?

Jim Young, Rotating Scribe