News Categories: Civic Thursday Video Recordings

Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, January 13, 2022

Past President Ces Butner took the helm for the Club’s 5,370th Civic Thursday meeting in place of President Dudley Thompson who was called away to civic jury duties.

Jason Wizelman gave us not just one thought for the day but several precious aphorisms from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: only light can dispel darkness; only love can banish hate; threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere; the time is always right to do right; and what are you doing for others?

Just as Past President & District Governor Ed Jellen bemoaned the absence of guests, Sandeepa Nayak chimed in to say that Pello Walker had joined us, and Ces noted that Dianne Dorn, Past President of the San Leandro Club, was also among the virtual attendees.

President Ces Bunter then turned the “mic” over to Nancy Williams, whose advertising firm, Money Pages of Oakland, sponsored today’s meeting. Nancy informed us that Money Pages is a full-service ad agency recently ranked #1 in the marketing field by a major advertising trade journal. The company handles both direct mail and digital advertising, and it has a team that will manage your social media marketing. 'Money Pages’ client list includes the Oakland A’s, the Oakland Ballet, the Oakland Marathon, and several Club members, including Derreck Johnson (Home of Chicken & Waffles), Jesse Schmidt (TNT Strength), and Ruth Stroup. When invited by Nancy to talk about her client experience, Ruth Stroup said that Money Pages hit a home run in getting the word out about the Shredding Day service that Ruth’s Farmers Insurance agency sponsors once a year.

Past President David Stein introduced new member Dawnn Hills of the DMH Insurance Group. Her key pastimes include board games and singing. She has an impressive collection of Monopoly games. David Kersten introduced new member Clive Worsley, the new Director of the Junior Center of Art and Science. Clive was previously with Cal Shakes and, though you wouldn’t guess it from his accent, is a native of Glasgow, Scotland.

Business Development Committee: Jesse Schmidt, Chair of the Business Development Committee, announced that the Committee is filling out the schedule of Thursday Meeting Sponsors for the first six months of 2022. Sign up to be a sponsor. There’s no better way to broadcast your brand to the Club! Jesse ended by reciting a quote from novelist Howard Zinn about the importance of both optimism and good acts when in the midst of a prolonged crisis.

Environment Committee: Joel Parrott took the “mic” as the Chair of the new Environment Committee. Joel reported that the Committee has an initial roster of 12 members, and welcomes others to join the committee. They have a mission statement and plan to soon conduct a survey of all Club members to ascertain our “carbon footprint” in the battle against climate change. If you’re interested in joining, email Joel at

Lunar New Year Celebration: Danny Mai announced this year’s Club festivity for the upcoming Year of the Tiger Lunar New Year will be an online “virtual” dinner starting at 4:30 p.m. on February 3. On the menu are delicious Japanese bento box servings from Sakura Bistro Tapas & Sake Bar in Oakland. A single dinner runs $30 including tax & tip, and you can either pick the dinner up at the California Ballroom or have it delivered to your home. Be sure to make your online reservation on the Club’s website ASAP before the February 1 deadline. Contact Danny Mai at or Pres. Elect Mary Geong at if you have questions.

Past President David Stein introduced our speaker Roy Neel, a distinguished Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. David noted that Prof. Neel has had major responsibilities in the political realm, including roles in the Clinton Administration, management of Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential campaign, and recent Presidential transitions, including the controversial “hanging chad” debacle that plagued the 2000 election. He is also the author of a novel called The Electors, which addresses the pitfalls of the existing Electoral College system. These were his observations:

1)  The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled a state can enact a law that binds an elector to vote for the Presidential candidate to whom he is pledged under state law. Thus, the “faithless elector” problem, which occasionally arises when an elector changes his vote to a different candidate has been resolved – at least for states that have passed the requisite “binding” legislation.

2)  On Jan. 6, 2021, there was an overt attempt by certain members of Congress to challenge the certified votes of several states’ slates of Electors. Had they succeeded, Joe Biden would have had fewer than the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win, and the outcome would have been decided by the House of Representatives. There is a pending bipartisan bill that would foreclose future post-certification challenges by confirming that Congress’ must accept the Electoral College votes that are certified by a state.

3)  If no candidate receives the requisite 270 Electoral College votes, the subsequent vote in the House is highly undemocratic. This is because a single vote is allocated to each state’s House delegation. Thus, the vote cast by Wyoming’s single representative would be given the same weight as the prevailing vote of California’s 50 plus representatives! The Founding Fathers agreed to this “one vote for each state” arrangement in order to placate the less populated states.

4)  It would take a constitutional amendment to eliminate the one-vote-for-each-state rule.  However, due to the high vote thresholds for such an amendment, it is highly unlikely that it could pass over the opposition of the small states and their Republican Congressmen. The only viable path to an amendment may require a massive episode of Electoral College corruption that engenders widespread popular demands for reform.

5)   Some Democratic states, including California, have entered into a compact that purports to minimize the risk of a Presidential election being decided in the House due to any candidate failing to garner 270 or more Electoral College votes. The compact commits each of the signatory states to allocating all of their Electoral College votes to the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote.

6)  Another major problem with the current system is the language in the Constitution allows each state to govern the state’s process for conducting Presidential (and other federal) elections. Since the 2020 election, 19 states have passed laws that effectively suppress the vote, especially in low-income communities. Eight of these states have made legislative changes that transfer vote certification authority from independent commissions to partisan state legislators. These changes will bolster the Republican takeover of state and local offices. They also ominously increase the likelihood that future Presidential elections will be decided by the House under the current one-vote-for-each state rule. Note that the pending bipartisan effort to curtail Congress’ alleged authority to disregard a state’s certified Electoral College votes would have no effect on a state’s ability to cancel popularly elected outcomes by means of these recent state law changes.

7)  In response to questions from “the floor”, Prof. Neel said: A) He disagrees with commentator David Brooks’ assertion that studies have shown that state voting restrictions have no impact on actual voting. Consider, e.g., the effect of “poll tax” and similar laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction South and the obvious impact of more recent laws that curtain early voting options that many people need to exercise their voting rights. B) There are no federal voting audit rules.  Any audits are done at the state level. C) Most people do not understand how the Electoral College process works.  Among other things, we need to include better civic education in school curricula. D) If the Democrats succeed in passing a federal election reform bill, it could be repealed by a future Republican Congress, but would face a higher burden of proof. E) As Republicans have already done, Democrats need to become more engaged in filling state and local political offices.

President for the Day Ces adjourned the meeting at 1:31 p.m

Click here to watch Roy Neel video segment

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, January 6, 2022

President Dudley Thompson convened the 5,369th Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland, the third oldest club in the Rotary world among 36,000 clubs in more than 200 countries.

On this one-year anniversary of the insurgency at the US Capitol, Debo Sarkar shared a message of sanity and sanctity from India, the country of his birth, with an uplifting quote from Sri Ramakrishna: “An ocean of bliss may rain down from the heavens, but if you hold up only a thimble, that is all you receive. Wisdom leads to unity, ignorance to separation. Spirituality automatically leads to humility. When a flower develops into a fruit, the petals drop off on its own. When one becomes spiritual, the ego vanishes gradually on its own. A tree laden with fruits always bends low. Humility is a sign of greatness.”

Past President Ces Butner introduced our speaker, Oakland Mayor and Rotary Honorary Member Libby Schaaf, noting Mayor Schaaf has worked to address Oakland issues like public safety and homelessness by stabilizing rents and housing thus preventing 1,800 families from losing homes annually. She created Oakland’s first Transportation Commission to address infrastructure and make previously unsafe roads and neighborhoods better. She also founded Oakland Promise, the cradle to a college program, providing scholarships and mentors for more than 1,400 Oakland students annually and providing all babies born in Oakland with a $500 college savings account with financial coaching to parents. She noted 17,000 new units of housing with 2,100 of those affordable housing units to be expanded in time.

Mayor Schaaf is also proud to be partnering with Oakland Chamber of Commerce to pilot a new housing program, the “Cabin Community/Tiny Village” model, a shift away from “gym style” congregate housing shelters to more dignified housing options, nearly tripling the number of previously unhoused to now-sheltered Oaklanders. This model is now recognized for its success in housing more than other large cities and appears to be successfully executed via the “Keep Oakland Housed” program, now keeping more than 2000 households in homes per year. Calling herself Oakland’s “Chief Hustler”, she continues to secure more investment in Oakland from large institutions and national philanthropic organizations accounting for approximately $140M in accrued capital to date.

Safety continues to be at the forefront of her initiatives, with the City Council recently supporting her bid to increase the Oakland Police Department force with 60 more officers and redistribute police resources, especially to East Oakland, with a renewed goal to again cut gun violence in half, (towards pre-pandemic progress that had been made) by doubling staff to restore our nationally-recognized Ceasefire initiative. She suggested all homes purchase security cameras and angle them pointing to the street to help deter criminals and hold accountable perpetrators. She is honored to be the first Oakland Mayor (and first woman) to chair the Big City Mayors Council with other large cities, getting funding to address homelessness by creating public-private partnerships for housing vouchers.

She was recently honored to go to Washington, at the invite of President Biden and Vice President Harris, to attend the $1.3 Trillion Infrastructure Bill signing and shared a recent visit from the Secretary of Transportation to kick off “Town for All”, a comprehensive mobility system in key neighborhoods including Chinatown, Lake Merritt and Howard Terminal, Oakland’s new home to 18 acres of public access waterfront featuring 3,000 units of housing including many “deeply affordable” units, alongside multi-use interface with business, civic and other organizations coming together to attract excitement and greater investment in Oakland’s future.

Past President Michael Bruck was honored by President Dudley as former Mayor of Piedmont featured in a four-page article, plus a photo of Mike, Carolyn and their cat on the front cover of Piedmont Living magazine, prompting a multiple bell ringing spree reported elsewhere in the Live Oak.

Trisha Connors excitedly announced our 2022 Gala will take place Thursday, April 28, in-person, at Sequoyah Country Club with indoor and outdoor attendance options. The theme “In the Mood with Gratitude” salutes our health and fellowship in the Club. The fundraising goal is $100,000 net and Sponsorships are now available. Please contact Trisha Connors at

President Dudley adjourned the first meeting of 2022 at 1:38 p.m.

Click here to watch Mayor Schaaf video segment

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, December 16, 2021

President Dudley Thompson convened the 5,368th Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland where we unite with 36,000 Rotarians and 10,000 Rotaractors across the United States to make a difference. President Dudley welcomed members attending in person in the California ballroom and those attending via Zoom.

Gary Flaxman shared a personal thought in honor of today’s speakers. He observed that the club is filled with individual members who provide service to the community but together we make up an orchestra of service.

Past President Robert Kidd introduced our two speakers, Mieko Hatano and David Moschler. Mieko is Executive Director of the Oakland Symphony where she manages the business, human and financial resources of the symphony. She is currently leading the search for the musical director to replace Michael Morgan.

David is the Musical Director of the Awesome Orchestra which performs in traditional and non-traditional venues and strives to bring the orchestra to people and places that are not familiar with symphonic music.

Mieko and David shared thoughts on the joys and tribulations of symphonic music. While the music director and business director occupy distinct functions within their organizations, the jobs often overlap. Decisions on who plays, how long they will play, and how to ensure that tickets are sold impact the overall success of the symphony. Commenting on “Why an orchestra exists” David shared his vision that an “orchestra wants to take the listener on an adventure”. The Awesome Orchestra ensures this by providing an adventurous repertoire, adventurous venues, and adventurous people to play with. The Oakland Symphony also strives to inspire listeners through adventurous music.

Both speakers emphasized the importance of live performances to truly experience the pageantry and excitement of orchestral music. Orchestras have become somewhat “ossified” exemplifying the need to bring the symphony to new and diverse audiences and the willingness to take risks. One test of music being bad or good is if you want to hear it again. It is important to erase the perception that symphony is only for a certain segment of the population.

Pres. Dudley reminded members that he shared his three major goals at his inauguration. They include bringing the club members back together, ensuring that we are the best service organization in Oakland, and engaging members to the fullest extent.

Committee work is the backbone of the Club and efforts are impressive especially given the challenges with COVID 19 restrictions. These include:

KinderPrep Committee continuing to support TK classes although OUSD does not allow for visits. Alternate support includes supporting teachers with gift certificates and supplies and funding specific projects. Interact is active in 4 High schools.

HOPE is currently mentoring 5 students who had the opportunity to attend a Warriors game with courtside seats during warmups.

Saroni Lena Scholarship Committee is supporting 25 students. Enterprise Institute is planning the 40th Anniversary Camp in April.

Speech Contest will be held at the last meeting in February.

Service Committees are funding many projects locally and internationally. A trip to Mexico to distribute wheelchairs is planned for the summer.

Housing Insecurity is negotiating for a property. Food Insecurity is working with Laney College to provide food baskets.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee is developing tactics to encourage the club to appreciate and respect differences.

Board of Directors has developed reciprocal relationships with five Chambers of Commerce in Oakland. The board has developed a method to resolve member disputes. The Club’s financial position is strong. The Oakland Rotary Endowment has reached $5 million.

Joel Parrott shared that the new Environment Committee is being established to increase awareness that we all must become carbon neutral. Dr. Parrott shared several recent examples of environmental actions (tornadoes, drought, etc.) that highlight the need to focus on the environment.

President Dudley announced the following upcoming club events:

1. December 23 & 30 - no lunch meetings – Happy Holidays

2. January 6 - first meeting of 2022 with Mayor Libby Schaaf and District Governor Richard Flanders

3. January 7 – Stand Up Broadway Comedy Night at the Sound Room, Oakland

4. January 15 - High Adventure visit to the Pacific Pinball Museum, Alameda

5. February 3 - Lunar New Year dinner at Peony Seafood Restaurant, Oakland

6. February 27 - Dinner with RI President-elect Jennifer Jones at Blackhawk Museum,

Danville President Dudley adjourned the final meeting of 2021 at 1:34 p.m.

Click here to watch Mieko Hatano and David Moschler video segment

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, December 9, 2021

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,367th meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland to order at 12:30 p.m. He recognized Wayne Goodroe who announced that long-time member Bob Peltz, who was attending his first in-person meeting since 2020, celebrated his 90th birthday on December 7th.

Due to last week's tech glitches, President Dudley re-recognized all of last week's bell ringers on Zoom. Kim Cohn rang the bell for meeting speaker Scott Stephens and her father, Don Cohn, a 40-year professional in fire management who was attending via Zoom, for their critical work.

Kerry Hamill shared two food and hunger thoughts: hunger is not a charity issue, it is a justice issue (U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization) and "Food is national security, Food is economy. Food is history. Food is everything." (Jose Andres, World Central Kitchen founder)

C J Hirschfield introduced Chris and Jana Pastena. Chris Pastena has been in the restaurant business for 35 years and is the owner/operator of Oakland restaurants Calavera and Chop Bar. His previous restaurants included Tribune Tavern and Lungomare. He is a James Beard award winner. Jana Pastena is a graduate of Mills College and Golden Gate Law School. She serves on the Children's Fairyland board of directors.

Jana's connection to food and social justice goes back to her childhood when she helped deliver food baskets during the holidays. During the pandemic shutdown, Chris and Jana paid their staff and continued health insurance coverage until their savings and resources were exhausted.

Prior to the pandemic, Chris had no experience in preparing hundreds of meals to go. He and his staff worked with World Central Kitchen, founded by chef Jose Andres, and learned how to produce a large volume of meals, helping them to retain staff and keep the restaurant doors open.

Chris and Jana are now involved in the local Community Kitchens which is a collective of restaurants whose mission is to feed the community. The organization serves 10,000 meals each month with a goal of serving 10,000 meals per day. Partner restaurants add a 1% surcharge to guest checks and these funds help provide meals for the local community. If the group receives sufficient funding from Alameda County, it can solve the food insecurity crisis in the county.

Allison Bliss introduced her guest, Kacie Stratton, Executive Director of Harbor House.

Jason Wizelman, substituting for sponsor Wendy Howard, introduced Mary Ray Brophy. Mary Ray is an immigration attorney. Wendy's two interesting facts: she speaks Spanish and has seven grandchildren. Welcome, Mary Ray!

President Dudley announced eight upcoming club events:

1. Niles Canyon Holiday Train - Oakland members joined a train full of other local Rotarians (and Santa) for a beautiful holiday train ride last Thursday.

2. December 16 - Annual Meeting to elect directors and the president-elect-nominee

3. December 23 & 30 - no lunch meetings

4. January 6 - first meeting of 2022 with Mayor Libby Schaaf and District Governor Richard Flanders

5. January 7 – Stand Up Broadway Comedy Night at the Sound Room, Oakland.

6. January 15 - High Adventure visit to the Pacific Pinball Museum, Alameda

7. February 3 - Lunar New Year dinner at Peony Seafood Restaurant, Oakland

8. February 27 - Dinner with RI president-elect Jennifer Jones at Blackhawk Museum, Danville

C J Hirschfield kicked off the 2021 Feed the Hungry campaign by reporting that food insecurity continues due to increasing demand and surging food costs. The Alameda County Community Food Bank serves 70,000 people each day. One in four Alameda County residents faces food insecurity. President Dudley then firmly grasped the gavel in anticipation of the forthcoming bellringers. The bell rang for about 15 minutes with countless donations.

Wayne Goodroe rang the bell twice (2) in honor of Bob Peltz celebrating his 90th birthday. Lorna Padia Markus rang the bell on behalf of all the wonderful Rotarians in the room, online and their generosity.

President Dudley adjourned the penultimate meeting of 2021 at 1:30 p.m.

Click here to watch Chris and Jana Pastena video segment

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, November 18, 2021

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,365th Civic Thursday meeting of the 3rd oldest Rotary Club in the world. Members continued to prove how flexible they are with the greatly improved, but not ideal, sound system. When the podium mic didn’t work, and Zoom participants couldn’t hear the meeting, President Dudley used the one portable mic which he held throughout the meeting, sharing it with Rotarians who introduced their guests from their seats in the Ballroom. Kudos to Pres. Dudley, and the AV Team who spend 3½ hours Wednesday night in the Ballroom setting everything up with the guidance of a consulting team skilled and experienced in working with other Rotary clubs and their hybrid meetings.

Lewis Griggs provided the thought for the day from the writings of our speaker’s book “The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice”.

Lewis Griggs returned to the Zoom podium to introduce our speaker, Fania Davis. Dr. Davis is nationally renowned for her role in restorative justice. Restorative justice is based on a desired set of principles and practices to mediate conflict, strengthen community and repair harm. She is a long-time social justice activist, Civil Rights trial attorney, writer, scholar and the author of “The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice: Black Lives, Healing and U.S. Social Transformation.”

She explained that Restorative Justice asks who was harmed, what are the needs and responsibilities of all affected, and how to bring all affected parties together to address needs and repair harm. Restorative Justice is also rooted in indigenous practices. It is reparative, inclusive and balanced.

Dr. Davis identified three core values: respect, relationship and responsibility. A paradigm shift needs to take place in how things are handled. She shared an example of changing the prevalent “school to prison pipeline” – when a student exhibits adolescent behavior, they don’t get a suspension, which can ultimately lead to expulsion, and arrest. Instead, the issue is addressed up front in a reparative way.

Past President Sean Marx shared the inspirational story about how Global Grants have served two communities in Kenya. Called WASH projects, the most recent grant totaling $63,686 was a collaborative project with the Rotary Clubs of Los Angeles and Louisville, Kentucky as well as the Suna Rotary Club in Kenya. Oakland Rotary’s financial investment was $18,750. We saw a short video that showed prior to the project, the girls (not boys) fetched buckets of water every day from the lake to their village. The water was polluted and the latrines were unhealthy. This project provided two water systems to extract and clean the water from Lake Victoria for two villages totaling 28,000 inhabitants. Previous grants have included focusing on schools.and students’ needs such as providing desks.

This is the final meeting highlighting The Rotary Foundation annual campaign held every November. The Every Member donation goal of reaching 100% participation by December 31st will be matched by a challenge grant of $50,000 made by six club members. Sean Marx made a donation to provide a second level Paul Harris Fellow to Renia Webb.

Pres. Dudley shared a couple of stories about the influence Rotary International has had in world affairs. In 1948, they were one of the founders of the United Nations and still have an important relationship with it. Some years ago one of the countries where polio was rampant was Sudan, which was at war in 1997-98. A four-day ceasefire was negotiated so children could be accessed and given polio vaccine. The challenge was buying the vaccine on such short notice. Moraga resident Cliff Dochterman was Rotary Foundation President at the time. He was able to authorize $400,000 to pay for the vaccine ($500K was the limit) on the spot, and the project moved forward successfully.

Renia Webb presented 350 articles including gently used coats, scarves, hats and gloves to We Lead Ours (WELO). Accepting the donation were Dwayne Aikens, Executive Director and Andrea Smith, Board Member. Renia gave a shout-out to everyone who donated items and especially thanked Teresa Weyand who knitted 100+ caps for families.

Arriving just before 1:30 pm, the Cal Straw Hat Band made their annual appearance in advance of the Big Game against Stanford on Saturday. Instead of the usual three musical songs, the 20+ student musicians treated us to an expanded program and a new repertoire plus some dance moves for nearly 20 minutes. As always, their enthusiasm, energy and musicianship were well received. Go Bears!

With the club now in overtime, Pres. Dudley quickly reminded everyone of several upcoming activities.

Click here to watch Dr. Fania Davis video segment

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, November 11, 2021

President Dudley Thompson called to order the 5,364th Civic Thursday meeting of the 3rd oldest Rotary Club in the world. We are a diverse group of some 300 business, professional and community leaders dedicated to Service Above Self. Rotarians proved how flexible they were when there was a momentary glitch with the sound system. President Dudley entertained the Ballroom attendees with some imaginary card tricks.

Joycie Mack led us in the Pledge of Allegiance in honor of Veterans Day. Phil Holt served with the Navy SEALS. He shared a story about Kevin Harris, a gifted high school student and athlete who received many college acceptance letters. He deferred his schooling and then 9/11 happened. Kevin loved this country, joined the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan. His jeep hit an IED and his sergeant was killed. Kevin was badly wounded. He still suffers from his injuries, PTSD and opiate addiction. Phil delivered food to his homeless shelter yesterday. His story is all too common. This is the price some Veterans have paid. Phil still has serious concerns. Veterans have sobering statistics – 50,000 are without shelter; black veterans are 30% of the unsheltered; 17 suicides per day; military women committee suicide at a rate of 500% more than non-military women. We need to take better care of our veterans. Thank you for your service and the sacrifices you have made. We salute you.

Past President Peter Sherris highlighted a grant we are sponsoring in the dry corridor of Guatemala. Rain has failed. This is a project for farmers to adapt to climate change and change to drought tolerant crops, survey what crops will grow and grow coffee. Our club supports Voces y Manos and we have given them money for scholarships. They are managing a $125,000 grant over two years to save nutrition in Guatemala. This project is now being supported by 9 Districts, 10 Rotary clubs and 10 to 12 individuals. Over the last 20 years our Club has given 39 global grants in 22 countries totaling $1.6 million.

Past President Ces Butner noted that last year we raised the participation level of giving to The Rotary Foundation from 30% to around 90% participation. This year we are looking for 100% participation. Six generous Rotarians have banded together to pledge $50,000 if we can get to 100% participation by December 31st. No donation is too small, the minimum is $25. He asked each of us to participate so we can enjoy the gift of giving.

Renia Webb introduced Oakland Police Department Chief, LeRonne Armstrong, who was live from his squad car.

Chief Armstrong gave us an update on the current state of affairs of the Oakland Police Department and some of the challenges they are currently facing. Violent crime is up, gang related problems have increased, and drug related crimes have also increased. What has decreased are the number of available police officers to deal with over 2,000 calls the department receives each day. The department currently has 680 police officers, down from 740 last year. As of this morning the city of Oakland reached 100 homicides.

These challenges are being met in a variety of ways. Police officers who have left the department are being surveyed to determine what led them to leave and what changes they recommend in order to retain new officers. With regard to the drug situation, the department is working with the FBI and the Alameda County Drug Enforcement Agency. The Chief noted that you cannot arrest your way out of these problems. Community involvement is important, and resource officers are being dispatched to nonviolent situations. The department is also seeking assistance from the state and federal level. Our department of violence prevention has grown. They recently acquired additional violence interrupters going out into the community to help meet again some of these conflicts that are leading to violence.

Forty new recruits will begin the next Police Academy on November 15. The Chief entertained questions from the Ballroom and on Zoom. He recommended that business owners contact the City Council and work with local representatives to find solutions to the problem of the unhoused in business districts. He also believes that the department needs at least 1,200 officers in order to respond to community needs. The department is working on accountability, transparency and de-escalation strategies.

Click here to watch LeRonne Armstrong video segment

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, November 4, 2021

The Ballroom was full of Rotarians and many others watched via Zoom as President Dudley Thompson called the 5,363rd Civic Thursday meeting to order. We are a group of local business owners and community leaders all dedicated to community service. Strict Covid protocols are being followed in the Ballroom for the safety of all in attendance. We’ll have live meetings through the end of the year.

Allison Bliss opened the meeting with two quotes, one from Winston Churchill and one from Muhammad Ali. The theme of both resonates with the Rotary purpose. From Winston Churchill -- “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”. From Muhammad Ali – Service to others is the rent we pay for the room we live in.”

Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen was excited to announce that we had quite a few visiting Rotarians this week. Jill Duerig, Livermore Valley Rotary Club and our District 5170 Lieutenant Governor was visiting in the Ballroom as well as Martha Goralka, Charter President of the Rotary Club of Delta. On Zoom was Patrick Coyle of the Livermore Rotary Club and District 5170 International Service Director. Other visitors included Wendy Howard’s guest, Kevin Hunter, a soon to be member.

The focus of today’s meeting was The Rotary Foundation annual campaign. Leeann Alameda and Joe Goralka are heading our campaign. Leeann posed a question to us with a prize for the correct answer. What is the difference between The Rotary Foundation and the Oakland Rotary Endowment? The winner was soon-to-be inducted Kevin Hunter.

Oakland Rotary Endowment (ORE) funds our local programs and The Rotary Foundation (TRF) funds our international service projects that impact lives around the world. Over the years, Oakland Rotary has funded 39 Global grants with $1.6 million that have reached people in 22 countries.

Programs we have funded include virtual learning, the purchase of advanced surgical equipment, sustainable farming, and providing medication to eliminate malaria.

Renia Webb joined Oakland Rotary with the intent to become involved in international programs. She immediately joined the Karl F Stucki World Service Committee and made her first international trip to El Salvador. This trip had a profound impact on Renia and she encouraged us all to get involved because there are so many people in need.

President Dudley’s goal this year is 100% Participation Challenge! Six Rotarians have come together to donate $50,000 to The Rotary Foundation if we get 100% participation by December 31st. No donation is too small and we want to fund as many projects as possible. During the meeting several Rotarians made pledges via Zoom: David Stein, Joycie Mack, Lois Corrin and Ruth Stroup.

President Dudley announced that hard copies of our Membership Roster are available. Contact Jesse Bowdle at to get one. (All members were sent an Online Roster in August.)

We will continue to receive lightly used coats, scarves, gloves and hats through our November 18th meeting to help the needy.

Cocktails with the President will be on November 18, 5:30 – 7:00 pm at the Moxy Hotel, 2225 Telegraph Avenue. Come have fun and socialize with your fellow Rotarians.

Ed Jellen introduced our speaker, Vicki Puliz, a Rotary International Director and past president of the Rotary Club of Sparks, Nevada. Vicki has held many leadership positions in Rotary. She gave us a great overview of what’s going on with Rotary International.

New this year to Rotary is Programs of Scale. These are projects that are long-term and high impact. The first Program of Scale was launched this year. A malaria program in Zambia received a grant of $2 million to be used over the next 3-5 years. Submissions have been received for the second round of funding. Some of the other programs Rotary International has supported include: the environment, education and literacy, eye tests, water and sanitation, disease prevention and life changing heart surgery. Vickie noted that “sometimes our lives are the ones changed the most by the work we do”

Last year Rotary International gave over 2,000 grants for $130 million. Our club members contributed to this total. Vickie gave a shout out to Past President Ces Butner for his generous donation and challenge last year.

Click here to watch Vicki Puliz video segment

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, October 21, 2021

President Dudley Thompson called the 5,362nd Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland to order at 12:31 p.m. He reminded us that under Alameda County’s health protocol, everyone in the Ballroom must wear a mask when not eating or drinking.

Tommy Edwards encouraged us to maintain a life-work balance. His observation is that everyone is working 1 ½ to 2 FTEs per month. Instead, knock off at quitting time, go home and start enjoying your life. Take your vacation – ALL of your vacation. He also shared a quote from the Dalai Lama: “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other one is called tomorrow. Today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

President Dudley then led us in reciting the Rotary International Vision Statement

On Zoom, Fiona Doyle was a guest of Steve Blair. In the Ballroom, members introduced their guests.

Past Pres. and Nominating Committee Chair Sean Marx instructed members on voting for the individuals who will serve on the Nominating Committee. Two weeks ago, 12 candidates were nominated. At this time seven are to be elected. Those elected are tasked with coming up with a slate of Board Directors for a three-year term beginning July 1, 2022, and a nominee for Club President for the year 2023-2024. Rotarians in the Ballroom were provided with paper ballots and those attending Zoom were provided with an electronic ballot. Members could cast seven votes for the individuals of their choice. At the end of the meeting the following members of the Nominating Committee were announced: Ana-Marie Jones, Robert Kidd, Jack McAboy, Elida Scola, Pat Williams, Shannon Hackley and Karen Friedman.

Ana-Maria Jones introduced a new corporate member, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and two members, Maren Amdel and Isa Chu. She shared two fun facts about each: Maren is originally from Seattle and is an incredible singer. Isa is a marketing maven with a love for purses and bad jokes.

Keith Uriarte introduced Liz Ortega and Cathy Jackson-Gent. Liz has been at the forefront of keeping the A’s in Oakland in her work as Executive Secretary-Treasurer at Alameda Labor Council. Cathy is Founder/CEO of Global Investment Company. Welcome Maren, Isa, Liz and Cathy!

Past President Ces Butner presented a check for $1,000 to Jen Liggett of the Salvation Army. Last year, Oakland Rotary partnered with the Salvation Army to provide necessity item kits to homeless individuals in Oakland. The Salvation Army was instrumental in distributing the kits via its network of services. This is part of a $3,000 gift the Club has given to the Salvation Army for this project.

Ralph Sklar came to the podium to join Pres. Dudley is recognizing several generous donors to the Rotary Foundation who have become Paul Harris Fellows by donating $1,000 or more to the Foundation. They are:

Robert Spencer – Paul Harris Fellow

Isaac Kos-Read – Paul Harris Fellow

Sean Marx – Paul Harris Fellow +4

Robert Kidd – Paul Harris Fellow +7

Karen Friedman – Paul Harris Major Donor, Level 1

Alex Poulsen – Paul Harris Major Donor, Level 1

Ces Butner – Paul Harris Fellow Major Donor, Level 3

Isaac shared with us the importance of supporting The Rotary Foundation.

Bruce Nye introduced our speaker, Sabrina Landreth, General Manager of East Bay Regional Park District. Sabrina is no stranger locally. Previously she has served as Budget Director for the City of Oakland, and later City Administrator. She also served as City Manager for Emeryville. She joined East Bay Regional Parks in March 2021.

Her topic, What’s Right about Regional Parks, provided a broad overview for this district that was founded in 1934 when in the depths of the Great Depression, citizens in Berkeley and Oakland voted to tax themselves in order to save the local ridge tops from development.

Today, the District manages 73 parks, serving 3 million residents in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. There are 1,500 miles of trails, 55 miles of bay shoreline and over 1,000 employees. When the pandemic shut down local parks and playgrounds, the two counties deemed Regional Parks as a vital resource and it stayed open during this time. As a result, there has been an increase in use over the last 18 months and it now welcomes 30 million visitors a year.

Some of the newest parks include Thurgood Marshall Regional Park, currently in land bank status in Concord, the Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline at the Bay Bridge, and the new Dumbarton Quarry Campground near the Dumbarton Bridge.

Partnerships and stewardship of wildlife species will continue to be priorities. Maintaining and strengthening partnerships with the 33 cities within the District’s boundaries will be important.

Click here to watch Sabrina Landreth video segment

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, October 21, 2021

President Dudley Thompson called the 5,361st Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland to order at 12:31 p.m. He reminded us that under Alameda County’s health protocol, everyone in the Ballroom must wear a mask when not eating or drinking.

Sarah Chavez-Yoell invoked the wisdom of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who said, “Success has its special reward; but failure will teach us valuable lessons and should not be feared.”

President Dudley then led us in reciting the Rotary International Vision Statement.

Past Pres & Past District Governor Ed Jellen reported that no visiting Rotarians had checked in on Zoom, but later Sandeepa Nayak reported a very special guest on Zoom – Concha Delgado Gaitan, Pres. Dudley’s wife. Members in the Ballroom introduced their guests.

President Dudley informed us about World Polio Day that will take place on Sunday, Oct. 24. For this important anniversary, he reminisced about a time during his childhood when his family took a detour around a local town that suffered from a polio epidemic; and he recalled a neighborhood friend’s gallant efforts to overcome the debilitating effects of polio. Turning to Rotary’s Polio Plus campaign, Dudley emphasized that, although polio has now been eradicated from over 99% of the world, we have to keep working hard with more immunization drives to cross the 100% goal. Still, we should feel pride in the many lives and $ billions that have been saved as a result of Rotary’s initiative.

Ruth Stroup came to the podium to join President Dudley in recognizing several generous donors to the Rotary Foundation who have become Paul Harris Fellows by donating $1,000 or more to the Foundation.

President Dudley announced that starting next week and continuing to Thanksgiving, all Thursday meetings will be held in the Ballroom. Be sure to bring gently used coats, hats, scarves and gloves for the Winter Wear Donation Drive.

Past President Robert Kidd then introduced our speaker, Margaret Gordon, the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP). Margaret gave an inspiring talk about her long history as a community activist and her organization’s successful battles against the air pollution that has long plagued the West Oakland community, especially the toxic diesel particulate pollution from diesel trucks and other vehicles going to and from the Port of Oakland.

Under Margaret’s leadership, WOEIP has focused on the strategy of conducting careful research producing convincing data that educates the community and policymakers to take action to mitigate the sources of this insidious pollution. For example, using state-of-the-art scientific measuring instruments, WOEIP has demonstrated that diesel exhaust and other airborne toxins are dramatically more prevalent in West Oakland than other areas of Alameda County. Their research further demonstrated that this heightened exposure is correlated with corresponding high rates of cancer, asthma, and other debilitating and fatal illnesses in the community.

Largely as a result of WOEIP’s environmental advocacy, the Legislature passed AB 617 in 2017 that requires local governments to collaborate with local residents in devising solutions to a community’s air quality problems. Through AB 617, WOEIP has played a leading oversight role in the West Oakland Community Action Plan that is forcing significant reductions in deleterious emissions. Because of the Action Plan and related legal initiatives, vehicular, train, and cargo ship diesel emissions are expected to decline significantly over the coming years due to the transition to electrification of motors and other improvements. WOEIP has also been engaged in other environmental issues that affect West Oakland, including its advocacy for mitigation work to protect the low laying parts of the community from the rising sea levels that will likely occur due to climate change.

In addition to many other awards, Mayor Dellums recognized Margaret’s preeminent role in the environmental justice movement by appointing her to the Oakland Port Commission on which she served from 2007 to 2012, and she was also appointed to the panel of clean air advisors to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010. It is not surprising that she has a large seat at the table where the Oakland A’s ballpark plan or any other issue that affects her community is on the agenda.

For more information, see WOEIP’s website at:

Click here to watch Margaret Gordon video segment

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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, October 14, 2021

President Dudley Thompson called the 5,360th Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland to order at 12:32 p.m. He welcomed Rotarians and guests and invited us to join him in reciting the Rotary Vision Statement.

Lou Rigali offered some short, sweet and effective words to live by: “nurture yourself, others and nature, each and every day for the rest of your life.”

Rotary Foundation Co-Chair Joe Goralka introduced recognition of the club's newest Paul Harris Fellows. The Paul Harris Fellow is named after Rotary's founder and acknowledges individuals who contribute or who have contributions made in their name of $1,000 or more to The Rotary Foundation. Multiple Paul Harris Fellow recognition is extended at subsequent $1,000 levels and those who reach the $10,000 level are deemed major donors. Joe noted four lives are saved with every $1,000 donated to The Rotary Foundation. This means our club’s collective total donations have saved 660 lives.

Joe started the recognition by awarding Dudley Thompson his Paul Harris Fellow +4. President Dudley then introduced the additional new honorees

Shannon shared how grateful she is for the flexibility as well as the comfort in knowing her gifts to the Rotary Foundation made a difference when disaster struck around the world. She invited all of us to share in making an impact and the good feeling she has enjoyed.

President Dudley asked for a moment of silence to honor the passing of Bob Hamilton, a former 20-year member of our club. His interesting life story is presented in an online tribute by his daughter-in-law and Club member Linda Hamilton, available here:

Keith Uriarte introduced new member Jason Toro, noting that Jason was Keith’s guest at a recent meeting. He is currently the Director of Diversion and Reentry Programs at La Familia Counseling Services and has expertise in serving previously incarcerated individuals. Welcome, Jason!

Even though we are just beginning to feel a chill in the air, our Saroni-Lena Scholarship Committee Chairs are inviting club members and their businesses to offer a 2022 Paid Summer Internship to a Saroni-Lena student. The internship program was successfully launched two years ago as an additional real-life learning opportunity for Saroni-Lena college scholarship recipients, who receive a $2,000 per year college scholarship for each of their four-year undergraduate degrees. Last year nine out of 30 students were able to be placed as paid interns, so more opportunities for placements are desired, as are the variety of industries being offered — insurance, law, real estate, financial services, retail, hospitality, nonprofits and more. Rotarians interested in the details can contact Fred Morse at , Steve Blair at or Pat Williams at

Allison Bliss invited everyone to sign up for the first of three Community Service Days this year being organized by the Community Service Committee. The first is Saturday, October 23 when we will help prepare meals for the unhoused clients of St. Vincent de Paul in Oakland. Sign up on the club website calendar page if you are fully vaccinated, and can help make a difference with some of the more than 500 meals a day served to the hungry. A signed waiver form is also needed.

Sean Callum introduced our speaker, Linda Mandolini, President of Eden Housing, where Sean serves as a member of the all-volunteer Board of Directors. Eden has worked in partnership with cities and other partners to develop or acquire more than 10,600 homes in the state, currently serving a diverse population of 22,000 low-income residents from all cultures and backgrounds. Collectively it has served over 100,000 since its founding years ago. Mandolini stated the three key ingredients necessary to provide more affordable housing in California: money, land and the political will to make affordable housing and low-income housing a reality. One of the biggest problems is the fact that land in California is priced at approximately $1 Million per acre, notwithstanding mitigation and offset fees that can run as much as $200,000 per project.

More than anything, Mandolini stated, there must be the political will to commit to the affordable housing challenge. Our Governors Newsom and Brown have been willing to work on this challenge and help fund it. Oakland has done a reasonable job of committing to funding more affordable housing elements from planning to permit stages, but there are challenges in money availability.

Click here to watch Linda Mandolini video segment

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