The Flywheel

Program for OCTOBER 26th

School Superintendent Bruce Harter

WCCUSD School Superintendent (and Richmond Rotarian) Bruce Harter will update us on the state of the schools.


MEETING OF October 19th, 2007

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Prez Pam started the meeting with, of all things, a working microphone - what will the Mira Vista think of next?  Rafael Madrigal led the Pledge.  Henry Kelman provided a thoughtful wish, wishing they’d just knock off the divisiveness in Washington.

Visiting Rotarians

Future raffle winner Monica Shaw was visiting from Pinole Rotary.

Rotarians with Guests

There wasa strong response to the Flywheel call to invite a literate friend to this weeks meeting, no doubt explaining the large number of wives in the audience.  Dr. Werner Schwarz brought his lovely Lea.  Mark Howe introduced his workmate Karen.  Barbara M. brought her mariner husband and fellow winemaker Gary.  Erle Brown introduced the very literate Phyllis.  Margaret Morkowski  brought longtime friend of the Club, author Marsha Tomasi.  Don Hardison brought Betty, who grew up in the Napa Valley.  Jim Young brought work colleague John Alred and also his eldest son Zeb, esquire.     

Sunshine Report

David K was not onsite, but it was great to see Elof Granberg out of the hospital and back in action.


Prospective President Mark Howe gave a status on the Rotary Centennial Garden, and provided a reminder of the gastronomic event scheduled for 4 November – the Glenn and Mark Barbeque at his newly remodeled house.

Don Lau announced the date of the annual Holiday Party.  15 December at the Rockefeller Lodge.  The party will have a luau theme, cost $75 per couple, and will feature a hula dancing.  Can’t everyone hula?  For those needing encouragement, Phyllis Brown offered to demonstrate the dance and I heard Erle volunteer to be on the alcohol committee.

Margaret Morkowski announced the date for the Marsha Tomasis wine tasting and cooking event, from the last Holiday Auction fundraiser.  Your scribe was expounding on something to Lydia Stewart at the time and missed the date.  But it is coming up soon, and there is room for two more couples if you contact Margaret promptly.  Jan Brown attested to the excellent escargot last year.

Special Events

New member April Jordan was officially brought into the club by PDG Werner, in the classification Child Care Services.  April received a red badge and learned that she now has 1.2 million new friends in the world.  April was welcomed with a standing ovation.   

Recognitions and Happy and Sad dollars

Joey Bags led Recognitions, that flowed seamlessly into Happy/Sad Dollars.  Elof Granberg was happy to be back at a meeting.  David Ninomiya had some happy dollars for being back with the group as well.  Jim Young found some dollars for the pot to celebrate attorney Zeb’s starting his new job as a clerk for  the Ninth Circuit Court in Las Vegas.  Margaret  Morkowski put in dollars after a successful canine event in Richmond.  Erle Brown had a bad week, but is convinced Cal will turn the tables on UCLA this weekend.  Lydia Stewart thanked the Club for the $250 donation to help with her Charm School project;  with the help of 5 sponsoring churches, Lydia organized a training program for 55 local youth that was very successful and received lots of media coverage.  Jon Lawlis had a contribution for the Sergeant-at-Arms because he was happy to see everyone.  Your scribe was delighted to see all the Rotary pins on John Nicol’s authentic Richmond Rotary ballcap. 

Raffle Results

Visiting Pinole Rotarian Monica Shaw won the chance to locate an orange ball.  And did!  And won a free lunch for a return visit to Richmond.  What a day.


John Gioia

County Supervisor John Gioia

Director Jim Young introduced the speaker.  Julia Flynn Siler is the author of “The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty”, now on the NY Times Best Seller List.  Julia is an engaging speaker, and a past business reporter for both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Julia told of tensions over business in her own family that led to her interest in telling the story of the Mondavi’s.  The business aristocracy of Napa is a closed society, and Julia told of her challenges getting people to talk with her.  She went back to Italy to the start of the Mondavi family trail, then Minnesota, Lodi and finally Napa, talking to as many people as she could.  14 months later, she was able to talk to or learn the stories of each of the key figures in the story.

Julia told how using the corporate account to pay for a mink coat led to a knock-down, roll in the dirt fight between Mondavi brothers Peter and Robert at a family gathering.  Robert was banned from the family winery, and went 5 miles down Route 29 and started his own business.  In time, his Mondavi Winery eclipsed the successes of the original Charles Krug family winery.  Julia summarized the complex set of events that ultimately led to the Board of Directors taking control of the Mondavi business from Robert, and forcing his family’s sale – for about a billion dollars.  The morals of the story could be “think twice before joining the family business”, or “don’t go public”.  In any case, it was a fascinating story about business in Napa Valley.  Julia’s presentation was followed by a brisk business selling books by the exit door.    

Semper Paratus