The Flywheel

Program for October 24th, 2008

The YMCA Today

Children doing homework

Our own ‘Dandy Don’ Lau provides us with an overview of the ‘Y’ today, what’s happening, what’s new, what’s next. 

The ‘Y’ has been part of the West County community for a long time. Hank Covell and Don will tell us about how it’s evolving for the future.


MEETING OF October 17th, 2008

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Jim Young stood in for President Mark Howe, rang the bell, and called the meeting to order. Judy Kafka led the pledge of allegiance. Josh G., freshly back from an apparently awful trip (not!) to Italy and as sassy as ever, followed in the footsteps of Josh S. from the week before and provided a Joke for the Day. Although jokes inevitably lose something in Flywheel summary translation, perhaps due to bad scribing, this may at least encourage follow-up by those not in attendance. So Josh G. told us about his great uncle, a chicken farmer (and I believe a Republican?!), who devised a clever method for keeping track of rooster productivity. Due to the remarkable ingenuity of one of the roosters, the chicken-farming uncle was eventually awarded the “Pullets Surprise” and even the esteemed “No Bell Piece Prize”. (Aren’t you a bit curious now?)

Visiting Rotarians

  • Nobuko Mukai of El Cerrito Rotary joined us for lunch.

Rotarians with Guests

  • Charlie Fender introduced Clavel Fender, his wife of 66 years, and further revealed that he will celebrate his 90th birthday in November. Way to go, Charlie, on both counts!
  • Josh Genser had his wife, Elena, as his guest.
  • Rich Alexander introduced his guest, fellow Pt. Richmond attorney, David Vincent.
  • Henry Kelman had his son, Benjamin, join him for lunch.

Sunshine Report

Bill Koziol reported the following and asked everyone to keep positive thoughts for these fellow Club members.

  • Bob Dabney had heart surgery on Friday, October 10, and he’s doing well, according to his wife, Cheryl.
  • Elof Granberg is back in the hospital with an erratic heart beat.
  • Reyn Partridge recently suffered a concussion from falling in an accident while on his bicycle.
  • Charlie Wong is resting at home and would welcome Rotarian’s calls.


  • Don’t forget to purchase tickets for the Winehaven Halloween event on Friday, October 31 (replaces our regular Friday meeting at Mira Vista Country Club). Do it now, and do it here.
  • John Nicol reminded everyone to sign up for the annual Reno train trip, scheduled for Sunday-Monday, January 25-26, 2009. Could this really be the “last one”?!
  • Laura Kuhn reported that last weekend’s clean-up at the popular and wildly successful Rotary Peace Garden in Richmond’s Iron Triangle was a lot of fun and productive, too.
  • Michael Gill shared that his company, Transcept Pharmaceuticals in Pt. Richmond, is completing a so-called reverse merger with a South San Francisco company and, in the process, is going public without going through an Initial Public Offering (IPO).
  • David Vincent, Rich Alexander’s guest, is involved with the Save the Plunge project in Pt. Richmond. He reported that the basic Phase I of the project is fully funded with construction having started in August for completion next spring. Phase II, which involves a $500,000 matching grant primarily for upgrading and relocating restrooms and showers as well as restoring the building’s facade, will optimally start right after Phase I is finished. But David emphasized that strong community funding is still needed to make Phase II happen on schedule. David also thanked Richmond Rotarians for all their support over the years with the Masquers Playhouse.


  • Allen Baer self-reported his second-year Club anniversary.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Josh Genser had sad dollars for being back from Italy.
  • Michael Gill provided happy dollars for his 20th wedding anniversary.
  • Rafael Madrigal had happy dollars for the pleasant Indian summer weather and a chance to spend some time with his wife.
  • Jim Beaver offered sad dollars for the passing of fellow Rotarian, Bart Wallace, a “sweet and decent guy”.
  • David Brown had some cherry-tree-honest dollars as he fessed up to his cell phone being the live ringer moments earlier during the meeting. On a much more serious note, David said he attended the emotional funeral service for Richmond Police Officer, Brad Moody, and noted that a memorial has been set up at 1st and Nevin in Richmond to honor Officer Moody, a striking testament to the fact he was recognized as an “honest, sensitive, and good cop”.

Raffle Results

While not hotly contested, the ticket allegedly belonging to Dan Sanders (there was just a “D” on it!) was drawn and then Dan pulled the orange ball! With his proceeds, he’ll be spending the next week in the Caribbean (or maybe just coming to the next Rotary meeting).

Norm’s Nonsense

Two Polish astronauts were orbiting the earth in a space shuttle and one of them went outside for a planned space walk.  When he returned, the door was stuck and wouldn't open, so he knocked on the door.  A voice from inside asked:  "Who is it?" - Courtesy of PDG Werner Schwarz at his District Conference in 1989.



How Much Longer, How Much Worse?

Bottle of aspirin

Jim Young introduced Mike Pelham, his former colleague and Treasurer of Greater Bay Bank (before the merger with Wells Fargo). Mike has spoken at the Club before and came to share his perspective on the current financial crisis. Needless to say, it’s not a pretty picture!

Mike recapped recent financial sector carnage brought on largely by the sub-prime mortgage fiasco, including failures and takeovers of major institutions like Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, and Washington Mutual, not to mention the painful hits to our personal stock and bond accounts.

Mike expects financial system bad news to last for at least another year and wouldn’t be surprised to see an overall stagnant economy for several years, not unlike Japan through most of the 90’s. He thinks the institutional shake-out will continue as insolvency, not just illiquidity, proves to be the real problem. He says there are markets for various asset forms right now but for only cents on the dollar.

Interestingly, if Mike were “King for a day”, he said he would have used big pieces of the federal government’s rescue plan to start new banks with healthy balance sheets and fresh capitalization.

[As a quick Scribe sidebar to help put things in a global perspective, here’s an informative graphic displaying the growth over time of world financial assets and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Of the $195 trillion and $55 trillion shown, respectively, for estimates of 2007 world financial assets and GDP, USA subtotals for 2007 were about $44 trillion (financial assets) and $12 trillion (GDP). Among other things, it’s interesting to note how small the $0.7 trillion USA rescue plan is compared to the greater whole. Also, the graphic dramatically shows how, in recent years, total world debt has expanded much faster than the income (GDP) with which to service it.]

So what to do now? In simplest terms, Mike said to fasten seat belts and hold on tight!

- Rotating Editor, Tom Waller