The Flywheel

This Week's Program: October 2nd, 2009

An Update on the State of District SchoolsWCCUSD logo

WCCUSD Superintendent and Rotarian Bruce Harter gives us a current update about our public schools in light of the massive state budget reductions and staff layoffs.



Last MEETING: September 18th, 2009

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

President-Elect Alan Baer welcomed Rotarians and guests. Past President Mark Howe led the Pledge to the Flag, and Past President Herb Cole asked for a moment of silence for peace and freedom on Earth.

Rotarians with Guests

  • Past District Governor Werner Schwartz introduced his daughter Donna, visiting from New York.
  • Richard Alexander brought his son Nathan, a student at the California Maritime Academy.
  • Josh Surowitz introduced his law firm partner Bobby Bell.
  • Nick Despota introduced his wife Nel and his guest John Tysell.
  • Club Treasurer David Brown introduced his neighbor David Moss.
  • Ted Abreu introduced his and Henry Moe’s guests, Cristiana Cobus and Rida Kazmi, Salesian High School seniors and the Club’s 2009 Camp Royal attendees. Rida’s mother, Mrs. Kazmi, was also a guest.

Sunshine Report

A card was passed around among the members for Rafael Madrigal who is ill.

Past President Erle Brown, in his capacity as Foundation Chair, awarded Henry Moe his first Paul Harris Fellowship. As is the custom, Club members gave Henry a standing ovation. Erle reminded new members that the club matches new member Foundation contributions up to the first $500.


Bulleted lists work best here, like this

  • PDG Werner came to the microphone to endorse the nomination of Club Secretary Jon Lawlis to the committee which selects the next District 5160 Governor.  Club members heartily acceded to his request.
  • Mark Howe gave details regarding the Halloween celebration, “Ghosts of Shipyard III” to be held at that location on October 30 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Activities will include lunch, a live auction of fine wines, and a costume contest and show. Admission is $35 online and $50 at the door. Proceeds from this event benefit the Richmond Rotary Peace Project. Mark also commended Nick Despota for his work on the Flywheel link regarding this event and for the flyers distributed on the tables.
  • Judy Morgan gave details regarding the Home Front Festival events on October 2 and 3, 2009.  Friday night a “USO” will be held at the Ford Assembly Plant at the end of Harbour Way S. Past President Don Lau’s wife Shelly is the Chair of the event. Saturday’s festivities will be at the Craneway Pavilion and Lucretia Edwards Park.  Rotary members will assist festival goers with boarding the two vessels (the Potomac and the Red Oak Victory) at the festival.  A signup sheet was passed around the room for those who wish to volunteer.

Josh Genser announced that the last “Music at the Point” would take place that evening in front of his office.


Don Lau conducted recognitions which included—

  • Bob Dabney celebrating a 79th birthday,
  • Markku Pelanne a 34th wedding anniversary,
  • And Alan Baer his 3rd year Rotary anniversary.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Past President Horace “Stoney” Stonework had happy dollars for Cal’s victory over Minnesota, the Raiders over Kansas City, and the 49ers over Seattle.
  • Josh Surowitz was happy about his alma mater’s rare defeat of Michigan State.
  • Jan Brown praised the recent Richmond Art Center show and Alan Baer for having hosted Russian visitors in his first year as a Rotarian.
  • Laura Kuhn was happy to be feeling better and able to be back at Rotary again.
  • Herb Cole was happy about a phone call from his son in Afghanistan and about his and Norma’s departure next week for a trip to Switzerland and nearby parts.
  • Henry Moe was grateful for a good start to the school year and for the presence of Salesian grad Javid Best on the UC football team.
  • This induced Erle Brown to give five happy dollars for USC’s defeat at the hands of Oregon and another five for the hoped for victory for Cal at Saturday’s Oregon game.
  • April Jorden was happy to have her kids back at school and especially that her daughter was in Josh Surowitz wife’s class.
  • Don Lau is happy that his son has now started college at UC Irvine.

Norm’s Nonsense

Some notes on life and death ...
-Some say that my life is a Cinderella story.  And it's not just because I have two ugly sisters.
-When they execute a criminal by lethal injection, do they use a sterilized needle?
-On his eightieth birthday, Groucho Marx remarked, "If I had know I was going to live so long I would've kept better care of myself."

Raffle Results

Stoney drew an orange ball to win his portion of the pot.



Camp Royal: a "life changer"

Our two Camp Royal attendees were called to the microphone to describe their week at camp.  Both described their experience as fun, instructive, and life-changing. Both students felt they gained skills and knowledge which will be useful as they lead the Salesian Interact Club this year. Their presentation was enhanced by presentation of most of a video of this year’s camp. Visitors who wish to see it at their leisure will find it at

Single Payer Health Care in CaliforniaOld hands, young hands

Nick Despota introduced Pat Snyder, PhD, chair of the Contra Costa chapter of Health Care for All – California (HCA), an organization that advocates a single payer, publicly financed system of health care for all Californians. As such, HCA is supporting SB 810 (Leno), The California Universal Healthcare Act. (Learn more about this bill.)

Dr. Snyder explained that the bill provides comprehensive health benefits for all. including medical, dental, prescription drugs, vision, and mental health care. Everyone would be free to choose/continue with their own providers who would continue to practice in the setting of their choice—private, public, group, or clinic. Treatment would be determined by medical professionals—not insurance administrators.  The cost of the system would be supported by taxation of the users and of employers, the rates based on means for the former and by the number of employees of the latter.  Dr. Snyder argued that everyone, under this system, would have high quality care without an increase in the aggregate amount now spent.

Richmond Rotary members had many questions for Dr. Snyder which she fielded with aplomb. When questioned about why everyone couldn’t have Kaiser, or something like it, she explained that Kaiser is an excellent provider, but it is also an insurance company, and, as such, it is having cost containment problems similar to other insurance companies.

- Rotating Scribe, Ted Abreu