The Flywheel

Meeting of June 4TH

Supervisor John Gioia

Supervisor John Gioia

This year's county budget has been as strained and stretched as any budget in recent memory.

Supervisor John Gioia will help us understand the demands and compromises that shape the Contra Costa County budget. As we all know, this year's budget has been as strained as any in the best.


Last Meeting: May 28th

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Club President Glenn Daggs rang the bell and called the meeting to order. Pam Jones led the pledge of allegiance and Stoney called for a moment of silent prayer for freedom, peace, and justice on earth. Henry Kelman had this thought for the day: he wants to watch closely when the Justice Department gets its fangs into BP about the Gulf oil disaster.

Visiting Rotarians

Jack Freethy joined us from El Cerrito Rotary.

Rotarians with Guests

Nick Despota introduced his wife, Nel.

Sunshine Report

Don Lau reported that Dan Tanita’s recent triple-bypass heart surgery was successful and that Dan is doing fine. Dan expects to be back at work in early July.


  • Ted Abreu attended the Salesian High School end-of-school-year assembly and reported that three $1000 college scholarships were awarded to graduating Rotary Interact Club seniors. Interestingly, the original plan was for two $1500 scholarships to be awarded. There were four applications submitted, including three equally superior ones. Richmond Rotary member, Henry Moe of Salesian, suggested that an Interact student committee review the applications and provide a recommendation, which was that three scholarships of lesser value be awarded rather than two of higher value. Unselfish sharing – very nice!
  • Bags with baby supplies

    Teen moms
  • Jan Brown reported on the successful completion of this year’s Rotary Teen Moms project, which provides a variety of infant-care supplies to local stay-in-school moms. Deliveries were made to teen moms who are part of the school district’s Adolescent Parent Program and use child care centers at Richmond and Kennedy high schools. Herb Cole urged more Rotarians to directly participate next year and then heaped well-deserved praise on Jan for her excellent project coordination again this year (including collection of information about needed diaper sizes, arranging materials purchases, organizing packing operations, and setting up delivery schedules). This was the fifth year for the Teen Moms project since Rhonda Harris started it up again. Herb recounted how it all began in the mid-1990’s when Richmond Rotary helped convert a couple of classrooms at Richmond High School into infant-care rooms. Jan thanked Rotarians for underwriting the project again this year and gave special appreciation to Linda Campbell (wife of last year’s Rotary District Governor), who provided hand-knitted teddy bears from Weaverville Rotary Club volunteers, The Read Aloud Volunteer Program for their contribution of books, Pinole Rotary for their contribution to the cost of books, and Dan Tanita for dental hygiene items. On hand for the delivery and presentation of care packages at the schools were Jan and her husband, Byron, Herb and his wife, Norma, Rhonda Harris, and Linda Campbell. This great story of another beneficial project says a lot about Richmond Rotary’s caring support and encouragement for these young moms to stay in school and pursue their education.
  • David Brown read parts of a letter from The Read Aloud Volunteer Program in which the organization expressed sincere appreciation to Richmond Rotary for the $1000 contribution to the program.
  • Alan Baer once again called on members to regularly check the Club’s online calendar of upcoming events. Simply click the “Members” tab above and scroll down slightly, looking to the right side for the “Richmond Rotary Calendar” link under “Upcoming Events”. Note particularly the Saturday, July 17, late-morning tour of the renovated, newly reopened Oakland Museum and the Saturday, August 7, evening baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum (Athletics vs. the Texas Rangers).


Don Lau handled Recognitions and Happy/Sad dollars.

  • David Brown celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary on May 18, the same day (also 30 years ago) that Mt. St. Helens erupted.
  • Herb Cole celebrated his 46th wedding anniversary on May 30.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • George Egan offered some happy dollars for his “second” annual birthday on May 25, the anniversary of him coming out of a 9-week coma following a serious car accident several years ago.
  • Jan Brown provided happy dollars for having seen Joe Bagley interviewed briefly on TV during the protests that accompanied President Obama’s recent fund-raising stop in San Francisco for Senator Barbara Boxer. Joe humbly acknowledged the applause for his brief moment of TV and radio fame and then offered some happy dollars of his own. Joe said that, on the day of the various protests, he simply wanted to share his sign’s basic message: “The # 1 priority is our Gulf not your Boxer”.
  • Herb Cole again expressed his happiness about the Teen Moms Project and Jan Brown’s great work to make it happen. He said all care package recipients were very appreciative.
  • Glenn Daggs offered happy dollars for his recent enjoyable round of golf with Stoney. Among other things, Glenn said he learned a lot about Ronald McDonald Houses and the many other good works of the McDonalds Corporation.
  • Markku Pelanne happily remembered the June day some 30 years ago when, not knowing the rules, he just showed up for a Richmond Rotary Club meeting to explore possibilities for donations to his then new and still current employer, the Christian-based Richmond Seamen’s Center on Harbor Way. Werner Schwarz greeted him, asked some questions, and invited him to be his guest. Markku joined the Club soon thereafter.
  • Don Lau provided a sad perspective on the possible future of public child care services under the Governor’s latest budget proposal, which would eliminate all needs-based child care and affect many working families.

Norm's Nonsense

Yes, another lawyer joke...

-Three surgeons were taking a coffee break and were discussing their work. The first one said, "I think accountants are the easiest to operate on. Everything inside is numbered."

"I think librarians are the easiest" said the second surgeon. "When you open them up, all their organs are alphabetically ordered."

The third one said, "I like to operate on lawyers. They're heartless, spineless, gutless, and their heads and their behinds are interchangeable."


Birding in the Bay Area and Beyond

American Avocets matingAmerican Avocets mating

Nick Despota introduced Bob Lewis, a highly respected birding instructor and world-class photographer of birds around the world.

Bob has been involved for years with the Golden Gate Audubon Society in Berkeley (Golden Gate Audubon website and Wingbeats Bob Lewis's web site).

As he clicked through a large flock of stunning images, Bob outlined the phases of becoming a "birder". A novice starts by noticing the most common birds. He or she buys a field guide to local birds, binoculars maybe. Increased awareness leads to discovery of differences among birds and their groupings. More observation leads to a deeper awareness, including discoveries of new and unusual birds, how different species deal with their young, and how birds interact with other creatures (including the birder, who's been learning to get close without spooking the critter).

As a person discovers more rarely seen birds, questions arise about migration, which can mean that a birding trips begin to appear on the calendar. Another field guide (or guides), more advanced classes, maybe a camera with a telephoto lens, or a tripod-mounted scope—the possibilities mulitply. Before long, birding can become all-consuming so beware!

For those who like to travel, birding opens up many new destination possibilities since fewer than 10% of the world’s 10,000 different bird species are in North America.

With informative commentary and beautiful slides of various bird species, Bob Lewis provided an interesting and enjoyable program on birding.


- Rotating Scribe: Tom Waller