The Flywheel

Next Meeting: November 12th  
NOTE: We meet at the Courtyard Marriot, in Hilltop  Directions

Illiteracy and poverty

Cheering boy at computer
Children use the AutoSkill program at the Nevin Community Center each Saturday, sharpening their reading and math skills.

John Bernardin of the El Sobrante Rotary returns to discuss the close links between illiteracy and poverty around the world and here in Richmond.

John has lead the way in bringing the computer-based learning program, AutoSkill, to schools and community centers in the East Bay.

The Richmond Rotary supports this work with volunteer and monetary support for AutoSkill licenses and contributions to expenses for Saturdays at the Nevin Center.


Last Meeting: November 5th

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

President Alan Baer rang the bell and called the meeting to order. The pledge of allegiance was said and Herb Cole called for a moment of silence for peace and justice on earth. Henry Kelman’s thought for the day was to praise the passage of State Proposition 20, which takes responsibility for determining boundaries for congressional districts away from the state legislature and transfers that authority to a recently-authorized 14-member redistricting commission.

Visiting Rotarians

Mac Lingo from Berkeley Rotary visited our Club today.

Sunshine Report

Herb Cole provided an update on Ted Abreu, who discovered in early October that he has colon cancer, which seems to be spreading to other parts of his body. Ted will probably start chemo-therapy soon. He’d really appreciate calls from fellow Rotarians.


  • Save the date (and plan to bring interested guests) to a blockbuster 2011 kick-off speaker program on January 7.  A veteran scientist from the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will offer a stunning but still user-friendly talk entitled “Star Power: A Clean-Energy Game Changer for Planet Earth”.
  • Also save the date, February 4, for a special Rotary lunch and tour at the Chevron refinery. Please sign-up up today.
  • The Richmond Rotary Club meeting on November 12 will take place at the Courtyard Marriott at Hilltop.
  • Peres School Rotary bedtime reading will occur on Wednesday, November 17. Happenings at the school include dinner from 5:00pm to 5:45pm, reading from 6:00pm to 6:45pm, and computer raffle at 6:45pm (courtesy of Jon Lawlis). The school is requesting that Rotarians sign up this week, preferably by end of day, Wednesday, November 10, since there is no school on Thursday or Friday. Reply directly to Dave Cowen, Community Outreach Coordinator at Peres, email or phone 510-231-1407, extension 22891.
  • Everyone’s encouraged to provide a donation for one or more illustrated dictionaries to be distributed in Africa, a project that’s being emphasized by Rotary District 5160 Governor, Karl Diekman, who will speak to the Club on November 19. The donation for each dictionary is just $7. Give the money to Sid Chauvin and fill out the sticker to be placed inside the dictionary.
  • Also talk with Sid about signing up for the annual January Rotary train trip through the beautiful, snowy Sierras to Reno.


Don Lau recognized Erle Brown for his 34 years as a Richmond Rotary member. Congratulations, Erle, and thanks for all you do with the Rotary Foundation!

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Tom Butt was happy about the election season being over as he congratulated Rotary members Jovanka Beckles for her winning a seat on the Richmond City Council and Rhonda Harris for her good, clean campaign.
  • Josh Surowitz had happy dollars for his enjoyable recent river cruise in the delta area with some other Rotarians who apparently displayed incredible imbibing capabilities for which there is only one explanation: practice, practice, practice.
  • Bob Dabney also offered happy dollars for the end of election campaigning and congratulated those who participated as candidates.
  • Rafael Madrigal was exuberantly happy about the Giants and their World Series victory.
  • Michael Gill and Alan Baer each provided happy dollars and a big thank you to Sid Chauvin for his work in mounting various mini banners from Rotary Clubs around the world on larger material pieces for display at Richmond Rotary meetings.
  • Jan Brown had a variety of happy dollars for the World Series’ Giants (which she saw play the Texas Rangers earlier in the year at Spring Training), for a memorable bay sailing experience on Mark Howe’s boat during Fleet Week, for a delicious and fun Rotary auction dinner at Leslie Levy’s, and for a robust schedule at the Richmond Art Center (including this year’s two-day Holiday Arts Festival on December 3-4).
  • Don Lau exuded fatherly happiness (while lamenting a diminished bank account) for his oldest daughter’s wedding on October 22.

Norm’s Nonsense

It was Mr. Ryan's funeral and the pallbearers were carrying the casket out from the church. When they bumped into a pillar, one of them heard a moan from inside the casket. They opened the casket and found that Mr. Ryan was still alive. God be praised. He lived for 5 more years before he finally died. Another funeral was held for him and, as the pallbearers were carrying the casket out, Mrs. Ryan said, "Watch out for that pillar!"


The Facts on Point Molate

Pt Molate aerial photograph

Jim Young introduced Steve Duran, who wears a couple of management hats for the City of Richmond: Community and Economic Development Director as well as Executive Director of the Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency.

Not limiting himself to Point Molate, Steve initially shared information about these other items of interest.

  • State Proposition 22 passed, which will prohibit State government from delaying distribution of redevelopment funds to local communities. During the recent economic crisis, the State borrowed (for later return) $12 million from Richmond’s $18 million redevelopment fund.
  • While still working on the revitalization of the inner-city corridor along Macdonald Avenue, Richmond’s next key project area is along San Pablo Avenue toward El Cerrito.
  • The 756-space garage at the Richmond BART station is about a year and a half from completion, after which the second phase of the Transit Village project will move into high gear.
  • Funding is in hand for the railroad grade separation (under-crossing) in Marina Bay. Among other things, this is a prelude to the hoped for return of bay ferry service to Richmond, the provision for which is already in the Water Emergency Transportation Authority’s plans.
  • A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is expected in the next few weeks from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for a possible expansion of lab and office space for clean energy and other research (perhaps up to two million square feet over coming years). Richmond should be well positioned to benefit from these expansion plans, which are not expected to be limited to just the current 90-acre Richmond Field Station owned by UC Berkeley.

As for Point Molate, Steve offered the following information.

  • The end of the US Navy’s ownership of prime Point Molate property began in 1991 with the Federal Military Base Closure Realignment Act. The Navy finally decommissioned the Point Molate Fuel Depot in 1995.
  • A long process ensued as the land was transferred to the City of Richmond for development purposes and eligibility for remediation funds was determined (eventually amounting to $28.5 million from the Navy).
  • In December 2003, the Richmond City Council approved the current development team (headed up by Upstream Point Molate LLC) as master developer for the site. A casino-based project was not at the top of the list of development options initially but developers then partnered with the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians in pursuing various federal and state approvals needed for an eventual Indian casino as part of a destination resort at the Point Molate site.
  • A Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) for Point Molate has been signed with a $50 million sales price set by the City. Upstream has made a $15 million option payment and the LDA expires in April 2011.
  • Richmond would receive up to $20 million per year from a Municipal Services Agreement with an operational Point Molate resort.
  • The Richmond City Council placed Measure U on the November 2 ballot as a non-binding advisory proposition seeking voter opinion about the casino-based resort project for Point Molate. A majority of Richmond citizens who voted indicated “No” (see below for more information).
  • The last community outreach meeting for brainstorming alternative development concepts for Point Molate will occur in November and an independent consultant will then present ideas to the Richmond City Council in early December. The City Council is still in charge of approving a final project concept. Given the Council’s new makeup and expressed views, odds are not good for a casino-based Point Molate project to be approved.
More about the proposed Point Molate project,
offered by rotating scribe Tom Waller

The proposed Point Molate destination resort project that was on the November 2 ballot as Measure U includes the following:

  • An estimated $1 billion development with huge economic impact (jobs, taxes, etc.) and extensive, carefully planned environmental benefits
  • A bay ferry terminal
  • Two hotels with about 1100 rooms
  • A conference center
  • An entertainment and performance center
  • Retail shops and restaurants
  • A parking structure with much of it underground
  • Restoration and preservation of historic Winehaven buildings and cottages
  • A kayaking center
  • A 35-acre shoreline park with public art, recreation areas, and a segment of the Bay Trail
  • More than 140 acres of largely undeveloped open space with some trails, restrooms, and picnic areas.

The proposed project also includes a casino, the primary economic engine that makes it all work.

The population of Richmond is a little over 100,000 residents and there are about 40,000 registered voters, 40% of whom cast ballots in the recent election.

Gayle McLaughlin, who won reelection as Richmond’s Mayor with a plurality of votes (40.4% of the total 15,539 votes cast), was quoted in Sunday’s newspaper saying that the proposed Point Molate project in Measure U “was not something that resonated with the community at large”. Measure U was defeated with 9041 “No” votes (57.5%), a number that corresponds to less than one in ten Richmond residents.

There were 6680 “Yes” votes in favor of Measure U and 6282 votes in favor of Gayle McLaughlin for Mayor.

At least two of the three top vote-getters for Richmond City Council have been openly opposed to the proposed Point Molate project along with sitting Council members Tom Butt and Jeff Ritterman and reelected Mayor McLaughlin. Here are the three people recently elected to the Richmond City Council and their votes received: Corky Booze (5885 votes), Jim Rogers (5665), and Jovanka Beckles (5245).

- Rotating Scribe, Tom Waller