The Flywheel

Program for OCTOBER 19th

Julia Flynn Siler and "The House of Mondavi"

Author Julia Flynn Siler visits Richmond Rotary to share some of the bigger story that is the subject of her book, The House of Mondovi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty (4-½ stars, Amazon).

Invite a literate friend, this is another “outstanding” Richmond Rotary program. 

MEETING OF October 12th, 2007

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Your scribe negligently missed the opening minutes, but purportedly Prez Pam started the meeting with a loud ringing of the bell.  Rafael Cartagena led the Pledge.  Henry Kelman, never a fan of the unctuous, gave his thoughts, which, alas, went unrecorded.  As did the list of guests and visiting Rotarians.

Sunshine Report

David K had bad news.  First, he reported that Elof Granberg is back in the hospital.  And Rhonda Harris was recently in a serious automobile accident.  We wish you both quick recoveries and hope you are back in circulation in record time.


Joey Bags led a dynamic recognitions session.  Ren Partridge reluctantly admitted having a birthday on the 13th , and no surprise, 13 is Ren’s lucky number.  I believe Bruce Harter also used the lucky number 13, but for 13 happy years of marriage.  Bruce celebrated on the coast, north of Gualala, but south of Mendocino.  Yours truly had a 14 year Club anniversary to acknowledge.  And Tom Butt, who also joined the Club on 10 October, has had 27 productive years with Rotary.      

Happy and Sad Dollars

David Brown had a donation for the Club – his son is getting married in a week and he made a donation while he still has some cash in the bank.  Erle Brown was gloating at the Stanford victory over USC, which seems to move Cal up to #2. 

There was unfinished business from the Rotary Historic Ships fund raiser 2 weeks ago.   Bob Dabney was delighted to recover the ballcap he left at the event when he switched to a Rotary hat, and made a donation hinged to the value of the recovered cap.   John Nicol, known to bleed Rotary blue, bought a rare Richmond Rotary ballcap with a generous donation.  And thanks Joey B. for donating the colorful and effective signs for the event.

Tony Thurmond thanked the club for strong support for his CA Assembly campaign.  Bob Dabney then blackmailed some members when he produced a series of revealing 8x10 color photographs from several community events.  There were Cinco De Mayo participants, including Rafael Cartagena and Rafael Madrigal.  Fourstar General  Jim Young, an ex-free speech movement guy, owned up to enjoying the military salutes and offers for VIP parking at the Rosie the Riveter dinner.  Tom Butt paid big time as well – luckily Shirley was also in the photograph providing some class and good looks.  Some generous donations were made to the Club.

Who Am I

Rafael Cartagena, already a Paul Harris Fellow, gave his Who Am I in pursuit of a blue badge.   Rafael told a fascinating story.  Born in El Salvador, he was one of 11 children.  He immigrated to the U.S. in 1977, and experienced the challenges of a non-English speaker in the Bay Area work environment.  He held a job in a Union Square hotel for awhile, until he parked 3 times in the alley behind the hotel and was fired.  He was a carpet layer, overcoming difficulties of not getting paid for work performed.  And he gambled, drank and led a life that sounds a bit like the Rotary Reno train ride.  At age 37, his life changed.  With a new wife, a new focus on family, and quickly learning business lessons in the U.S. economy, he now owns two companies and has a real estate portfolio.  He sees himself as a mentor and views Rotary as a way to give something back to the community.  This was an inspiring story.  Welcome to the Club Rafael C.

Raffle Results

EJ Shalaby won the ticket draw.  And won the $609 in the raffle bag!  Or at least 10 percent of it. 


John Gioia

County Supervisor John Gioia

Jim Young introduced the speaker.  Jim stated he had received many requests for a “sewage worker” program, and was delighted that club board member E.J. Shalaby was available.  E.J.’s topic was  “Special Districts” with a focus on his own West County Wastewater District.    

E.J. defined a special district as a governmental entity focused on one essential service.  Independent districts generate their own revenue and have an independent board of governors.  Dependent districts are funded by tax dollars.  There are enterprise districts that operate like a business, and non-enterprise districts, such as mosquito abatement or fire districts.  All districts are accountable to either voters or customers, or both.

The mission of the WC Wastewater District includes promoting environmental responsibility, providing efficient services, and providing responsible management.  It is an independent, enterprise district formed in 1921.  The District maintains one of the lowest residential rates in the Bay Area, about $180 per year per household.  Operations are solvent, on a $10M per year budget. 

Chevron has been a stalwart partner in developing systems to use community wastewater and has plans to greatly expand wastewater use.  This may allow the District to become a “no discharge” district in the future, at least during the summer months.   The District is also working with EI Solutions to install a 1 megawatt solar facility.  This will consist of 4000 solar panels that track the motion of the sun.  There were many questions following the PowerPoint presentation.  Thanks E.J. for an enlightening and articulate presentation.


Semper Paratus