The Flywheel

Program for September 26Th, 2008

Bay Area Crime Stoppers

Tony Fasanella, founder of the Bay Area Crime Stopprer, visits Richmond Rotary to talk about this anonymous tips hot line and reward system, and its implementation in Richmond.

To learn about this organization, visit their website.


MEETING OF September 19th, 2008

Welcome, Invocation, Thought or Joke for the Day

President Mark Howe called the meeting to order and following the Pledge of Allegiance, Mark asked John Nicol to provide a “salty joke” and John accommodated Mark’s request, to the delight of the members.   

Rotarians with Guests

Jim Young’s guest was his son Zeb and Hank Covell welcomed his son Jason who is Capitan with the Vallejo ferry service.  It’s always nice when members invite their families to meet with us.  Thanks gentlemen.

Sunshine Report

Jan Brown was not able to be with us today. She has a case of bronchial phenomena.  Elof Granberg missed last night’s dinner at the Hotel MAC restaurant and the performance of the Petrified Forest, but a phone call this morning proved that all was well with Elof.    


  • Mark, along with other members of Richmond Rotary, has been “participating” in the Richmond Yachet Club’s Wednesday evening “Beer Can Races” during the Summer.  Mark’s boat & crew were awarded the “perfect attendance” award… a framed charcoal sketch which Mark brought to the meeting.  The “subject” of the sketch was left to the “beholder.” 
  • Alan Baer, events coordinator, extended an invitation to all Rotarians to join in our Rotary project at the Home Front Festival by the Bay.  Rotarians will be greeting and assisting festival attendees to board the historic boats moored next to the Harbor Master’s building in Marina Bay.  Please call Alan or EJ Shalaby if  you would like to join the crew.
  • Rafael Madrigal reminded everyone that tonight, September 19th is our Rotarian night at the A’s Game.  He said extra tickets were available, just give him a call.  The $30 tickets include great seats and “all-you-can-eat” privileges.  What a deal.
  • April Jordan has graciously taken on the role of lead contact person for the Richmond Rotary educational committee this year.  She met at Peres School with Dr. Scott and has been exchanging ideas with Ms. Harris (Sixth grade teacher) on the program for this school year.  They are preparing a survey to be sent home with the children to determine various details of the program.  In addition, April delivered the teachers’ checks to Peres School.   Thanks to all of you who were so generous with your individual contributions.  Each teacher will use those funds to buy classroom supplies.   
  • Mark reminded everyone of the “Ghosts of Winehaven” for the October 31st Rotary meeting/event (buy tickets now).  We’ll meet in Point Molate at 12 noon to share in the “Witches Winehaven Brew,” have lunch, hear about the history of Winehaven, enjoy the Wine Auction and tour both the historic Winehaven building and the Wine Master’s Cottage.  This is a fundraiser for the Richmond Rotary’s Peace Project.  Invite all of your friends and family and Rotarians from other clubs.  Dress-up for Halloween.  $35.
  • Mark announced that the weekly, Friday afternoon wine-tastings will continue at least through October.  Next Friday, September 26th, from 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm, the wine-tasting will be at Josh Genser’s Office, at 125 Park Place, Point Richmond.  This tasting is combined with Josh’s on-going invitation to Rotarians to join him on the “Balcony” to enjoy the Point Richmond Summer Concert Series festivities.  Taste a little wine, enjoy a little music and make a contribution to the Richmond Rotary Peach Project and received a bottle or a case of wine as a gift.
  • Mark also announced that plans are being made for this year’s Holiday Party to take place “aboard” a ship, boat or tug.  The current “save-the-date” is Saturday, December 13th.  Details are still “evolving.”  Stay tuned.


Bob Young’s birthday is Saturday 20th and Bob Dabney’s birthday was last week.  Both were a little hesitant about acknowledging their birthdays but each came through with nice contributions to the club.
John Nichol asked the club to “recognize” the “Newest Newlywed” in the club.  John announced that Dan Sanders recently was married after a short, 18 year courtship.  The “blushing” groom then mentioned that he and his bride were married at the beautiful San Francisco City Hall.  Congratulations Dan.  

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Hank Covell thanked everyone for attending our annual dinner/theater fundraiser at Hotel MAC and The Masquers Playhouse which will be Thursday, September 18th.  Josh Genser had some happy dollars stating the food and the play were “pretty good” and the “company was excellent.”
  • Josh Surowitz, “was so bold to mention” that he, Josh, has “earned and received” his Blue Rotarian Badge BEFORE his sponsor, Rafael Madrigal.  Rafael states that he likes the color of his Red of his Badge better than the Blue on the other Badge.      
  • Jim Young’s happy dollars included high praise for his daughter who has just “nailed” a great part as an interviewer in “Kids Simple,” a stage play in Philadelphia.  Way to go. 
  • Hank Covell said the next 8 days will be busy for him and his family with birthdays and anniversaries.  Sounds like fun to me.
  • David Brown and Earle Brown were pleased to announce that they had heard from Dave Calfee.  Dave has sent two checks to the club.  One $500 check for the Carl Rufus Fund and one $1,000 check for the Paul Harris Foundation.   Thanks very much Dave for your very generous contributions.  Judy Kafka and we all say “Hi.”

Raffle Results

Josh Surowitz’s ticket was selected in the drawing and he selected a “white ball” for a free lunch.


The Cosco Busan Oil Spill

Hubble image of galaxy

Our speaker was Bill Robberson, Commander in the Public Health Service Corps, assigned to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) Region 9. His subject was the allision (not collision) of the Cosco Buson into the San Francisco Bay Bridge and its aftermath. Bill is with the EPA Region 9 Emergency Response Team. He was assigned to represent the agency on the combined Federal, State and local agencies response team lead by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The November 7, 2007 incident occurred about 8:30 am on a cold and foggy morning. The Chinese owned, Cosco Buson is a container ship and the first report on the amount of the fuel oil spilled was estimated to at 55-142 gallons. The sounding tubes within the fuel tanks had been damaged during the impact and a first “guess” was made based on the amount of fuel oil that Pilot and crew could see on the surface of the water. Because of the fog and the angle of the sun, the fuel was not easily seen on the water and so the estimates were low. Even with the Coast Guard on site within 45 minutes, communications among the crew, with the pilot, and Coast Guard were very bad. Even the reports from passing vessels and from the shore to the Coast Guard were delayed. The size and extent of the oil trajectory was not determined until much latter in the day when observations could be made from the air.
The allision left a 200 foot gash in the side of the ship. Luckily the Bay Bridge had relatively little damage. With in his Power Point presentation, Bill was able to show us a animated video recreation of the path that the ship took from its dock in Oakland and into its appropriate approach to the bridge. The ship then took an unusual turn south to parallel the bridge before it turned back north to approach the bridge in a normal course to sail beneath the towers. It was as this point that the allision occurred.

Bill also showed us an animated model of the trajectory the fuel oil took during the next 48 hours based on the bay tides and actual observations. Bill also showed many pictures of the tremendous damage and the resulting clean-up efforts that resulted from the spillage. This incident has resulted in more than one lawsuit and it will be interesting to see further details of the investigation as they are revealed.
Bill was given a warm round of applause for the very his informative program.

Editor’s note: I would like to thank Rich Brandis for arranging for Bill to join us. Rich first met Bill while racing in sail boats on the Bay. I’ve known Bill for years. We used to work together at the EPA. You never know when someone you know will turn out to be a great speaker for Rotary. Give Jim a call when it turns out that one of your friends has a whole, interesting life you never knew about.

- Rotating Editor, Margaret S. Morkowski