The Flywheel

Meeting of May 14th

Nuclear Power in a Warming World

cincodemayoElectrical engineer & physics teacher Karen Street presents her view of the need for nuclear power in our future world as it faces the challenges of global warming.

Ms. Street is author of the article “The Nuclear Energy Debate Among Friends: Another Round” and maintains the blog A Musing Environment



Last Meeting: May 7th

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

President Glenn Daggs rang the bell and called the meeting to order.  Proud new papa Bill Koziol led the pledge of allegiance. Stoney called for a moment of silence for peace and justice on earth. Henry Kelman had a thought for the day: pity those poor people who sold out of the stock market in Thursday’s (May 6) wild downdraft.

Visiting Rotarians

Joining us for lunch were visiting Rotarians Mac Lingo from Berkeley Rotary and Patricia Toddhunter from El Cerrito Rotary.

Sunshine Report

Bill Koziol reported that Ralph Hill had been hospitalized with an infection but he’s now out of the hospital and recovering. A couple of Rotarians had spoken with Ralph by phone and he seems to be on the mend.


  • Soon-to-be-President Allen Baer called everyone’s attention to the May calendar of activities. He thanked those who participated in the Cinco de Mayo parade and Rotary booth, which made some money thanks largely to Laura Kuhn’s crowd-attracting signs that arrived late in the day. Alan also encouraged everyone to attend the Rotary Family Foundation Fun Day on Saturday, May 22, at the Yin Ranch in Vacaville.
  • Also regarding the May 22 Family Fun Day, Erle Brown mentioned again that anyone who contributes $100 to the Rotary Foundation by May 15 will be entered into a drawing for one of two trips for two on a Rotary Project. Go to to sign up and get directions for the Fun Day.


Jim Beaver handled recognitions and happy dollars.

  • Bill Koziol was hailed for a seldom seen triple-recognition combo: birthday on April 4, 2nd wedding anniversary just a few days later, and birth of first child (Lauren) on April 9. When asked how things are going, Bill replied with quiet understatement, “Been busy.”
  • While not in attendance at this meeting, John Nicol was recognized for his wedding anniversary, which was used as a way for Jim to highlight what a sweet lady John’s wife Felicia is (which doesn’t mean John’s not sweet, too).
  • With a little prodding, Mike Winter acknowledged his photo (from a St. Patrick’s-day dinner) appeared in the recent issue of MarketPlace magazine. Of course, such publicity cost him.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Nabil Wahbeh offered up some happy dollars for what sounded like a victorious encounter with a nefarious virus-embedded “email message from a friend.”
  • Jan Brown was happy about good things happening at the Richmond Art Center and also for the Rotary Teen Moms project, which provides local stay-in-school moms with infant-care supplies. Jan acknowledged Linda Campbell, wife of last year’s Rotary District Governor, for the many hand-made dolls that will also be included in this year’s Teen Moms goody bags. In addition, Dan Tanita donated dental hygiene items for the Teen Moms, Walmart has been very helpful, and the Read-a-Loud program made some book donations. Teen Mom packages will be delivered May 26.
  • Glenn Daggs was happy to simply be at lunch with good friends.
  • Jim Beaver made mention of your humble scribe feverishly scribbling notes and offered some happy dollars for his fond memories of once doing the same.
  • With great fanfare, Herb Cole stood with happy dollars, hesitated for a moment, and sat down confessing that he had forgotten the particular happy item he was going to share. It’s ok, Herb. They say memory is the second thing to go.
  • Stoney had happy dollars for two Richmond Rotarians (Judy Morgan and Tom Butt) who were quoted in a Thursday, May 6, article in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Jim Beaver offered happy dollars as a proud father of a son who’s a successful VP of Business Development and a masterful Apple iPad user.

Norm's Nonsense

-The penniless artist was cornered by her landlord, who demanded several months back rent. "Just think," the artist pleaded, "some day tourists will be pointing at this building and saying, 'The great abstract painter Susan Krechevsky used to live here.' "

The landlord shrugged. "And if you don't pay up, they can come by tomorrow and say that."


Cinco de MayoJim Young introduced our own Rafael Madrigal as program speaker about the Cinco de Mayo Festival.

With a BA and MA in history from UC Berkeley and experience teaching history at what used to be called Cal State Hayward, Rafael first clarified the historical significance of Cinco de Mayo. It seems that on May 5, 1862, an out-numbered Mexican army unit defeated an invading French military force in the city (and state) of Puebla, just east of Mexico City. The battle postponed what eventually became a relatively short-lived French take-over of Mexico. While Puebla residents have typically celebrated Cinco de Mayo through the years, the holiday has apparently not taken on national significance throughout Mexico.

By the way, Mexican independence is celebrated on September 16, the date in 1810 when Mexico declared independence from Spain.

As for the beginnings of modern Cinco de Mayo celebrations here in the United States, Rafael points to southern California in the 1960’s, where eager commercial sponsors encouraged party-making on an increasingly large scale. The holiday became another “California thing” and eventually spread throughout the United States as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of those with Mexican ancestry, not unlike other similar holidays with ethnic origins such as St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest, and Chinese New Years.

Before 2007, local Cinco de Mayo celebrations were handled by the city of Richmond although most gatherings were impromptu and often disorderly or worse. Incidents of violence, crime, and police arrests only added to the negative perceptions of Richmond and the surrounding area.

It was that year (2007) that the newly formed 23rd Street Merchants Association, with Rafael Madrigal as Association President, stepped in to take control and organize an alcohol-free, family-friendly Cinco de Mayo Festival on 23rd Street.

In 2007, the festival occupied only four blocks on 23rd Street and Rafael estimates there were about 6000 people in attendance. The festival has successfully grown in popularity and size each year (including many more city blocks, a parade, and lots of other activities).

Rafael estimates attendance as follows: 20,000 in 2008, 40,000 in 2009, and 60,000 in 2010. He says that Richmond’s Cinco de Mayo Festival is now arguably the biggest one in the Bay Area. And there was even national coverage by Spanish media this year.

One statistic stands out during each of the last four years: no police arrests associated with the festival. It’s a wonderful tribute to all those who have worked so hard to make Richmond’s Cinco de Mayo Festival one that everybody can enjoy and be proud of.

- Rotating Scribe: Tom Waller