The Flywheel

April 28, 2017

NEXT MEETING: April 28, 2017

Consul General of Mexico Gemi José Gonzalez

The Consul General of Mexico Gemi José Gonzalez will address current issues affecting Mexico-US relations. With the election of President Trump, these issues have risen to the forefront. The Consul General will help us understand what is happening on the diplomatic front.


  • On May 20 a bocce ball tournament will be held in Martinez. Sorry, we didn’t note who you should talk to if you want to try your hand at it. Ask around at next Friday’s meeting. But we did record this encouraging claim: “You’re 95% as good as you’ll ever be the first time you play.”
  • Josh Genser bowled over 200 in two games. He’s excited to contribute his skills to earning money for Rotocare at the upcoming bowling tournament. (Ask him if you’re interested in participating.) Josh Surowitz pledges $50. An anonymous donor has pledged another $100.
  • Ric Ambrose announced an Open House at the Richmond Art Center the following day, April 22, with food truck and art exhibits.



President Josh Surowitz presided over the meeting. Members dutifully pledged allegiance to the flag. Herb Cole led an invocation. And Sid offered a thought-for-the-day, one spoken by a former Californian: “The most terrifying words in the English language: I’m here from the government, and I’m here to help.” -Ronald Reagan

Al Nero was welcomed as new Rotary member. To earn his Blue Badge Al will need to attend a Board meeting, attend a meeting at a neighboring Rotary club, join a committee, and present a “Who am I”.

Old Timer’s New Stories

Speaking of which, Sid kicked-off the first of a series of Old-Timers’ “Who am I” presentations. (Been in the club since the end of the Paleolithic? Then think of this as an opportunity to spotlight an updated version of yourself.)

Sid was born in Spindleltop, Texas on December 12, 1938. His grandma earned money working on Louisiana shrimp boats, and his grandpa lost it gambling. His dad was a Richmond carpenter. Sid attended Richmond High School. He recently attended his 60th high school reunion, which prompted this quotable observation: “What they tell you about retirement is a lie. It’s a 1,000 times better.”

Sid joined Rotary because of poker buddy, Herb Cole. He’s been asked 8 times to be president and has yet to do so. (But the threat of his changing his mind remains.)

Visiting Rotarians and Guests

Edgar de Leon was once again a guest, though his status may soon change. Edgar introduced a friend, Greg Collins, of San Francisco Achievers, which promotes scholarships for African American.

Liliane Koziol introduced UC Berkeley students Chadlia Jerad (from Tunisia) and Hsjen-Wen Kuo (from Taiwan).

Recognitions and Happy and Sad Dollars

Ric Ambrose presided over a recitation things happy and sad .

  • Pam Jones was sad because she’s playing for a different Rotary team this year… part of a deal with her significant other from the San Ramon club.
  • Jerry Feagley had reason to be happy—his 37th wedding anniversary. He married Jan twice for a total of 41 years. Jerry donated $20 for the first good twenty years. And if word gets back to Jan, Jerry may have to cough up another 20.
  • Josh Genser was ecstatic about his great bowling but sad that his daughter has returned to New York. He misses her already
  • Nick Despota had 3 happy dollars. One for the success of his Holiday Auction item, an entertaining tour of the SFMOMA with Mark, Shana, Linda Young, and Ann Killibrew. (See below.) He offered another dollar for the great experience he’s having at a figure drawing class at the Richmond Art Center (even though Alan Blavins is a far more accomplished classmate). And the third dollar was given for the opportunity to encourage others to attend the March for Science in San Francisco on Saturday (one of over 600 such marches around the country on that day).


  • Mey Saechao was happy she survived another tax season.
  • Jon Lawlis announced that the “other” Darlene is recovering from gall bladder surgery. Josh S claimed he was glad because he never liked the other Darlene’s gall bladder.
  • Gina Fromer happily invited folks to come to Hilltop YMCA.


Looking Back and Ahead on California Droughts and Floods .

Liliane Koziol introduced Tim Stroshane, an environmental planner and expert in California water policy with Restore the Delta, based in Stockton.

Mr. Stroshane is the author of “Drought, Water Law, and the Origins of California’s Central Valley Project.” The book relates the history of struggle over water rights and the legacy of monopoly power over its usage. The 1977 drought triggered Mr. Stroshane’s interest in this subject.

Mr. Stroshane’a book explains that the Central Valley Project was designed to address the ongoing issue of water rights in California. Along sixty miles of the San Joaquin River, from Gustine to Mendota, four corporate entities called “exchange contractors” retained paramount water rights to the river. Their rights descended from the days of the Miller & Lux Cattle Company, which amassed an empire of land and water from the 1850s through the 1920s and protected these assets through business deals and litigation. Many in the San Joaquin Valley regard that company’s practices as wasteful and unreasonable.

Drought and legal conflict have shaped statewide economic development. The grand bargain of a San Joaquin River water exchange was forged out of this natural and legal landscape, and set the stage for future water wars.

Technology to the rescue? Desalination, extracting water from the air, and wastewater reclamation all show promise as potential long-term solutions.