Thought For The Day - Debo Sarkar
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.”
Speaker for the Day - Mayor Libby Shaaf
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 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 saving account with financial coaching to parents. Mayor Schaaf, now entering her last year as two-term, eight-year tenure, addressed the Club as Mayor for the last time today.
Mayor Schaaf opened with appreciation for all her longtime friends met during her time in the 1990’s as an active Rotarian sponsored by her late godfather Harold Lawrence. Mayor Schaaf shared her recommitment to Oakland, spending her final months addressing increased gun violence, public safety and homelessness spikes during the pandemic. She credits her experience as a HOPE Mentor as inspiration for creating Oakland Promise with too many personal shout outs to her Rotarian influences to name. Mayor Schaaf spoke to the prior vernacular’s aspiration of “Oakland’s Potential” and highlighted the many ways Oakland has grown in its values of equity and inclusion while increasing units of “deeply affordable” housing and welcoming the energy of new Oakland residents arriving to “taste the secret sauce”. She noted 17,000 new units of housing with 2,100 of those affordable housing units to be expanded in time.
Mayor Schaaf shared more and more large companies are relocating their Headquarters to Oakland including Blue Shield, PG&E and Credit Karma, lifting up the “Oakland Brand’ with more jobs that are “changing the skyline and headlines” by improving infrastructure with the historic passage of Measure KK which has now paved over 100 miles of Oakland roads with 350 more miles planned over the next five years. Building on our values, she detailed the success of Oakland Promise sending more than 500 students to college each year.
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 also noted success with a pre-school initiative for a new parcel tax to support three and four-year-olds to start preschool. 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.
Responding to questions from attendees, she encouraged anyone having problems with homeless sleeping outside businesses to call 311 or email public safety to send outreach workers. She also recommended the 211 Social Services hotline. She acknowledged problems experienced by Lake Merritt area residents where illegal vendors, events with amplified sound and unpermitted events are taking place. She further acknowledged concerns for the growing Snow Park encampment and said the concerns will be addressed.
Wendy Howard introduced our first new member of 2022, Kevin Hunter, VP of Johnstone Supply, a 3rd generation Californian, noting previous honors from the Boys Club and Coast Guard inspired his joining Rotary. Kevin generously rang the bell twice in honor of Gene Zahas and Wendy Howard. Thank you and welcome, Kevin!
Keith Giron also introduced newest member Jean Rains. A retired teacher, Jean enjoys taking kids out in nature and loves live music, especially east bay Jazz. Welcome, Jean!
Visiting Rotarians and Guests
Past President and Past District Governor Ed Jellen, announced visiting Rotarians including: Jennifer Pringle of the Dublin Rotary Club and District Governor Richard Flanders from Rotary Club of North Pleasanton, whose annual visit was to observe and rate us as part of his official duties.
Other visitors were Patty Pringle, Danielle Geong and Adam Pimentel, guests of President Elect Mary Geong; Bonnie Zita, guest of Allison Bliss; Bob Welch, guest of Linda Boessenecker, and Barry Donelan, guest of Keith Uriarte.
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.
President Elect Mary Geong rang the bell for Lily Charlotte Pimentel, first granddaughter on both sides of her family, born November 22nd. Congrats to Mary and the family!
Frank Brunk - Remembrance
Past President Jack McAboy shared a few words in honor local icon Frank Brunk’s recent passing at age 95. He was a long-time member of Rotary. Frank played on the UC Berkeley football team from 1949 and ran the kickoff in the 1950 Rose Bowl. He is credited with re-establishing Cal’s golf program raising $30M and leading the Bears to the AA Championship in 2004. Frank was a true hero and will be missed. A moment of silence was held to remember him.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ratification of Revised Bylaws and Constitution
President Dudley reminded us the last club meeting was our Annual Business Meeting. There are two more items for ratification. On December 10th, all members were emailed Amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws for review and vote today. Past President Michael Bruck, in his role as Club Secretary, confirmed we had a quorum in attendance. President Dudley reported no comments were received in the interim, then highlighted changes before the vote.
Rotary International approved a new Constitution, which was last approved by our Club in January 2017. In March 2021 our Board of Directors approved revisions and organizational changes including financial reports at meetings. Board of Directors Meeting Minutes will now be available in Club Runner. Noting that club membership should represent a cross section of business, civic, education and non-profit sectors to include a range of ages, genders and ethnic diversity, President Dudley asked for a motion. Past President Linda Boessenecker moved to accept changes as proposed, seconded by Trisha Connors, for the revised Constitution. Motion passed. Past President Jack McAboy moved and Debo Sarkar seconded the motion to accept the revised Bylaws including name change of Rotary magazine and other minor changes. Passed and adopted.
Michael Bruck rang the bell for being featured in the December Piedmont Living magazine.
Mary Geong rang the bell in honor of her first grandchild, Lily Charlotte Pimentel.
Kevin Hunter rang the bell in honor of Wendy Howard and Gene Zahas.
Joe Goralka rang the bell for Kevin Hunter in honor of Gene Zahas.
John Holmgren, Karen Friedman, Daniel Cheng, Linda & Jim Boessenecker, Nik Dehejia, Bob Breecker, Keith Giron, Ed Jellen, Ces Butner, Linda Chew, Steve Blair, Julie Fox, Gabe Bruck, Tom Limon, Gary Flaxman and Dudley Thompson rang the bell for Mike and Carolyn Bruck.
Ces Butner, Tom Limon, Isaac Kos-Read, Tommy Edwards, Derreck Johnson, Gary Flaxman, Joycie Mack, Steve Lowe and Dudley Thompson rang the bell for Libby Shaaf.
Keith Uriarte rang the bell for the 66 new police officers.
President Dudley adjourned the first meeting of 2022 at 1:38 p.m.
Next Meeting, January 13 – Roy Neal – Presidential Transitions
David Stein announced our featured speaker will be Roy Neal, Adjunct Professor at Vanderbilt University where he teaches courses on Presidential Transitions and Presidential Leadership. He served as Chief of Staff to Vice President Al Gore and Deputy Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton.