The Flywheel

Program for August 18, 2006

Mercenaries in Iraq

Col. Gerald Schumacher (US Army, ret.), author of "A Bloody Business: America's War Zone" and "To Be a US Army Green Beret," discusses private military contractors and their work in Iraq.

Learn more about the Col. Schumacher, his books, and his background. Read an interview in which he discusses the threat of biological and chemical weapons systems.

Meeting of August 11th, 2006

George Egan our old new president opened the meeting today and led us in the invocation. Mark then was asked and then agreed to lead the crowd in the pledge of allegiance. Pam Jones, in light of last evening’s poker game revised her thoughts for the day:

  • When Rhonda shows up and says she does not know how to play “Watch out”.
  • While on the subject of the poker game, the actual winner reported the following:

"Oh, no, grasshopper, you must focus on the truth!"
"Tell me, Master, what is the truth?"
"Da truth, grasshopper, is that rockin' David Brown won the poker tourney"
"It was he and Margaret and Rhonda at the end, then he and Rhonda, and then just he, with all the chips"
"Oh, Master, can it be?"
"Yes grasshopper, it is so. Even the Cajun bowed before his awesome might. It was a pair of deuces that swept the board".
"Master, will it be so next year?"
"We shall see, grasshopper, we shall see."

David Brown also auctioned off a $50 dollar Hotel Mac certificate to celebrate his good fortune which Beav purchases for $60. The Poker game raised $1,000 and was consider quite a success.

Guests (Full house today)

  • Rhonda brought the director of GRIP (the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program), Art Hatchett today.
  • Captain Verner S. brought two folks from the new Intero Real Estate Office: Mario Paucar and Jimmy Paucar.

Sunshine Report

David K reports that Dan Tanita is recovering nicely and is expected to go to work at least one day this week.

Happy & Sad Dollars

  • Dan the doc celebrated his B day but would not divulge his exact age.
  • Nabel Wabeh contributed some happy dollars to celebrate his vacation.
  • Rich Brandes, the previously retired Coast Guard Officer, and a member that looks too young to be retiring, is apparently retiring again, but this time from Valero Partners, the pipeline folks, whose pipelines, they say, aren’t rusty. It just means more time for the Red Oak Victory says Earl Brown.
  • Margaret, the ever shy gal from the Point recognized the fun and recent successes with the Save the Plunge program with a gift to Rotary.
  • Jim Young donated some sad dollars to recognize the fact he did not attend Captain Frank’s Mervyns school clothes event.
  • Ren recently completed a grueling motorcycle trip over the Sonora Pass and did not crash – quite an accomplishment and a lot less painful.


  • Herb announced that the museum would be auctioning items that have been donated to them that are not of historical interest to Richmond. The date of the preview sale is Sunday August 20, 2:00PM


The Program

Kris Hunt discusses the Richmond Business License Tax

Jim Young introduced Kris Hunt the executive director of the Contra Costa Taxpayers association. She talked about the recent vote by the Richmond City Council to place a revised Business License tax on the November ballot.

The revisions can be separated into three parts: the first part of the tax places a $.03/SF tax on industrial properties in the city. The second part of the tax revises the way landlords are taxed on their rental units. Under the old system rental properties were taxed by address. For example if you had a duplex with one address you paid $253 per year; but if you had a 1,500 unit apartment complex with one address you also paid $253. The second revision of the tax seeks to rectify this inequity by placing the business license tax on each unit. The new tax per unit starts at $90 per unit and drops to $50 per unit once you have more than 50 units. The third part and most controversial section of the Business License Tax revision involve a 1/8th of 1% tax on raw materials. This part of the revision is projected to raise the bulk of tax revenue, $8 million dollars, and is directly aimed at the refinery which is expected to pay 99% of the tax.

Kris Hunt, Cal Tax and the California Chamber feels the tax is a disguised property tax and thus violates Proposition 13. They also think that since it is illegal it will challenged it in the courts if it passes especially because it has wider implication for the state as a whole. Kris is also concerned about provisions in the ballot measure that index the various tax rates to the CPI leading to ever increasing taxes.

The tax revision was supported by the city council on the grounds more money is needed to hire additional police officers to overcome the recent rash of violence in the city. But when the police chief was asked is he needed more money, he said he had all that he could spend. It is simply hard to find people that want to be cops in Richmond. (I can understand that. I don’t like being shot at either.) When the staff was asked if there was a real need for more money, the staff could not provide a strong argument that more revenue was needed.

Many think that the issue was raised by the Green party to be used as a campaign issue in the upcoming mayoral election. The Green candidates think running on a anti-oil platform will be popular. (Hello, have you been to the gas station lately!)

Well we will all just have to wait and see what happens.

-Submitted by your faithful scribe (with only a few editorial comments), Mark Howe