The Flywheel

Program for OCTOBER 27th

Proposition 90: Private v. Public Benefits

Dennis Ciocca, Senior Managing Director of Sutter Securities talks about Prop. 90, urban renewal and private vs. public benefits.

Meeting of October 20th, 2006

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Prez George called us into a moment of silence for peace. Glenn Daggs led the Pledge of Allegiance and Prez-In-Waiting Pam Jones thought for the day went something like: "Age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill." (But now that I read it, I must have gotten it wrong or Pam’s a bigger cynic than I thought.  Oh well, it’s an election year.)

Visiting Rotarians

Doreen Covel was our visiting Rotarian from Pinole.

Rotarians with Guests

Just back from a trip to Spain (& Italy) attending their son's wedding, Hank (again) introduced his wife, guest, and traveling companion, Doreen. Markku Pelanne introduced his wife Mary as his guest. Werner Schwartz introduced his guest (whose name escaped the note taker) and Jonathon Lawlis introduced his son Nick.

Sunshine Report

No news is good new sand it was a sunshiny day.


  • It’s time to dig into those treasure trunks and get out those collectable treasures (Autographed Guy Lombardo records, Studebaker hubcaps, still in the original box Vegematic, half empty bottle of Southern Comfort autographed by Janis Joplin) and limber up your wallets because Richmond Rotary's legendary Holiday Auction is Dec. 15.  EXPECT a call from the two Jims (Jim Beaver & Don Lau) and be prepared to give ‘til it helps!
  • The train ride to Reno is January 21-22. Get your $ and reservation to John Nicol.
  • NIAD reception and open house is October 26 from 5:30 to 7PM.  This is highly recommended for members who can not wait until we have a program about NIAD.
  • Friday, December 1 is the Annual Rotary Christmas Party at the Richmond Country Club.  We will again be celebrating with the El Cerrito Rotary Club. Time and cost TBA.

Special Recognitions

DAB, otherwise known as David Brown Esq., wearing his Treasurer’s Hat, recognized the day-in day-out efforts of the Peres School teaching staff by presenting Peres Principal Dr. Scott 24x$100 checks from Richmond Rotary for the Peres teachers to help purchase some of the supplies the teacher personally provide their students.

David was on a roll so he also recognized the Escape Club of Adams Middle School with a $750 “buy gas” check.  The money will be used to reimburse parents and others who drive the Escape Club members to outings like Yosemite, Tahoe and other places many young people in West County never experience.

Of course these contributions like all club contributions were approved by your Rotary Board and not the product of DAB’s otherwise good works. -Editor.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Tony Thurmond gave gracious recognition to Jan Brown for her volunteer graphic design work for Beyond Emancipation, a program for Alameda County Foster Youth (where Tony serves as Executive Director).
  • Erle Brown was sad to miss the Cal game this weekend, but figured that his daughter's wedding was well worth the preemption! Congratulations Erle and Phyllis, and we hope the event wasn’t a cliff hanger like Cal's rough victory over Washington.
  • Past Prez Jonathon had a great time at the District Conference but was sad that only two other Rotarians (Werner and Pam) attended.
  • Herb Cole had double happy dollars as he enjoyed a day on Mike Winter's yacht and collected on a fabulous auction item (along with Prez-elect Pam).  And, ready to travel again, Herb looks forward to going to Ghana next week with Jon Lawlis to hand out anti-malaria mosquito nets and Sabin Polio vaccine on behalf of Rotary (Herb No-Sturgeon-Left-Behind Cole, did you notice how Mike Winter’s boat trip actually happened before the next Holiday Auction?). Werner Schwartz had happy dollars that somehow related to Herb Cole and Jonathon Lawlis (and it may be best that none of us know exactly how).
  • George Egan was happy to celebrate a birthday with his sweetheart before the Opera, at the Lincoln Center in NY.
  • Ted Abreu is happy to be here, back from Italy.

Raffle Results

There was a raffle for $530. Nabil “Bill” Wabeh got another chance, a white ball and a free lunch.

The Program

Past President and retired (Praise the Lord!) WCCUSD Superintendent Herb Cole welcomed Rotary rookie and new WCCUSD Superintendent Bruce Harter to the program podium.  Herb gave an unusually short and succinct description of an educational professional that has managed schools and school districts all over the US, Michigan, Delaware, Florida, California and several states in between.  Herb made the point that managing our school district isn’t just about education, its big business.  WCCUSD with a $288 million budget, 3,000+ employees, a $1 billion capital improvement program and 30,000+ students is a major economic force in West County.

Bruce, taking up his projector remote and laser pointer, acknowledged that Herb’s “big business” characterization of the district was accurate, but that all of that “big” served the needs of providing education to the community, both young and old.  Bruce first pointed out his school uniform, like the ones that have been adopted by 90% of the schools in the district.  He went on to use the PowerPoint to show the dramatic improvements that $1 billion can make in our now renovated, otherwise fully depreciated schools, and, the much less dramatic but measurable improvement in student proficiency evidenced by modest improvements in State API elementary reading scores.

Bruce said student/school community safety and student learning achievement are the core focus.  The district is going to reduce the “achievement gap” that exists between its Anglo/Asian and Afro/Latin American student communities.  Bruce also characterized this difference as “economic predictability gap” and made the point that his goal is to make socio-economic status less relevant to student achievement. Bruce’s presentation used graphs to simultaneously show that recent improvements are real, but the district has a long way to go to meet State objectives for student performance. Bruce’s graphs also documented the performance difference between the district’s ethnic groups, showing the gap starting in kindergarten and extending all the way to graduation.  He stated his goal of seeing those two performance tracks intersect.  The intersection is going to happen because the district is going to raise the performance of the low performing students without reducing the performance of successful students.

Another important and disturbing demographic trend Bruce identified was the general drop in student enrollment, 7% at WCCUSD, 14% in local private schools, a statewide trend and a train wreck in the making for a district that is trying to increase educational resources and classroom time for its student population.  The Editor reminds the members that unless we approve new general or specific taxes, school district revenue is solely determined by student attendance.

Bruce really had a lot to say so we will bullet point other main topics:

  • There needs to be more time for school.  Time for teacher collaboration. Time for parent involvement, and;
  • Time for more classroom learning, i.e. a longer school day.
  • All graduating students should be able to begin post secondary education without any remediation.
  • Career Academies and career focus are going to evolve from Richmond and Kennedy HS’ to all the high schools.

Important Q&A followed:

Q: With all that BIG in your introduction, is the WCCUSD “too big”?  A: Maybe, if we can not deliver the education and other services our students need.

Q: Are we ever going to see electives in the middle schools again?  A: Yes, and that’s another reason to extend the school day.

Q: What’s your biggest challenge? A: Finding quality teachers. It’s the hardest job in the world and you can’t “buy” them.  It’s a calling. You have to find people that are mission driven.

Thank you Bruce and welcome again to Richmond Rotary.

Bruce is looking for more opportunities to share this presentation with other groups within the community. If you can help him make connections with those groups, please give him a call. Better yet, send an e-mail to Debbie Haynie his Executive Secretary, at    -Editor.