March 7, 2002

 

We gathered, bolstered by one full table of Firefighters, and ELLIOTT TURNER led the Pledge.  Next up was the duo (and if you have been paying attention, that means TWO) of PP STEVE DAY and GREGG ELLIOTT - "I Been Working on the Railroad" which went well - but from the upper level, where I was, some of the Firemen didn't seem to know the words - ah, these generation gaps!  MAX LICHTENBERGER provided a short but excellent Invocation.  

I was up next, first forgetting my glasses, but once recovered, gave a brief bio of Captain Raul Miranda.  Before I could proceed, PP STEVE tried to take over my role, but I pulled him back from that disaster!  Captain Miranda joined the LA City Fire Dept. in 1981, and was promoted to Captain in April of 2000.  He has served all over the city, has done a lot of training of Firefighters in this area, and was one of the LA Firefighters chosen to help deliver a check for $2.5 million to the NY Fire Dept. Widows and Orphans Fund.  He also finds time to visit children at the UCLA Hospital - and that has to be a real thrill for them.  His wife, Terry, parents and brothers and sisters were also present, and they were introduced along with the dozen or so Firefighters who were able to attend.  PP STEVE DAY then assumed his RIGHTFUL role and presented Captain Miranda with a Paul Harris Fellowship  (and it should be pointed out, I didn't try to take over any of HIS role, OK?). Fair's fair…

There were no visiting Rotarians, but RALPH BEASOM brought along Special Guest Charles Magnuson, an attorney who is also a neighbor of RALPHS - this proves to YOE that some people do read this weekly diatribe, since we just reminded all that attorneys are indeed welcome as members. RAY ZICKFELD introduced his wife, Marjorie, and his son, Roger, plus Roger's daughter, Loren.  And, just to show how much the Zickfeld family is involved, PP HOWIE HENKES introduced our newest member, Sean McMilln   - he was sponsored by RAY.  Sean is an attorney in International Law, with offices in Santa Monica.  RAY, our thanks to you and the other active members who are bringing these new people in - let's all join this movement.

PP STEVE again appeared, this time to introduce his niece, Lauren Zickfeld . In addition to already being a Paul Harris Fellow, she was one of our exchange students who went to Japan last year - as did her dad, Roger, in the 70's. Lauren is a high school junior, a varsity basketball and volleyball player - and is typical of the outstanding kids who participate in this exchange program. She spoke briefly about her time in Japan, in which everyone lives with four different families for a week apiece. This provides an excellent opportunity to absorb a totally different culture, and Lauren, along with every alumnus of the program, gives it very high marks. Speaking personally, my daughter, Andrea, and stepdaughter, Jennifer, have participated and they, too, are confirmed boosters.  Please begin thinking NOW about your children or grandchildren (aged 16 to 20) who should consider this opportunity - it's a real winner.

Birthdays were next, with KEN LEVER as the MC.  However, it is only fair to warn one and all that KEN can switch from whatever he is supposed to do to something else - and when Pres.GEORGE asked him if he had a very happy occasion to report, he replied, "Yes, my wife came back".  This didn't seem to be what Pres. GEORGE had in mind, so KEN then reported that his daughter, Brena, works for the Frank Foundation in San Diego.  They arrange adoptions of kids from foreign countries, putting them together by using videos, etc.  She had a file on Sergei, a 4- year old, with club feet, from Vladakavkaz - and of course you all know that is in Russia, near Chernobyl. Brena has adopted Sergei, and he arrived in San Diego last weekend!  His feet will be corrected at Shriner's Hospital - and once KEN agrees to NOT try to learn Russian, the new arrival has a wonderful future.  Seriously, KEN, congratulations on having such a caring daughter - she serves as an example to all of us.

In recognition of this news, KEN was given FIVE HUNDRED Dea Dollars - but before he could plan his Las Vegas trip, Pres. GEORGE fined him SIX HUNDRED bucks. YOE is having a little trouble with the math here, but it appears that KEN will still owe something to the kitty.  However, this did serve to get KEN back on the track, that being the March birthdays.  First up was JIM BECHTEL, arriving in Philadelphia on the 1st. Then two on the 3rd - WALLY FISCHMANN in St. Louis, and PP MIKE NEWMAN in Santa Monica. TERRY R.WHITE came into being in Oceanside on the 4th, while BRUCE HARRIS - and you'd never guess he's from the south - checked in on the 5th in Chattanooga.  PP CHRIS GAYNOR (busy with taxes) started in Pacific Palisades on the 11th, while JULIE THOMPSON arrived on the 12th from Las Cruces, NM. URI HERSCHER is our out-of-towner, being born in Tel Aviv on the 14th.  Next we had PP JOHN SINGLETON, who graced the city of Salt Lake - also on the 14th.  SHARON RHODES-WICKETT hails from La Grande, Oregon, dated the 20th.  PDG ANDY ANDERSON was first credited with an 1827 arrival in Buffalo, but this was changed in the nick of time to 3/21/1927.  Last to arrive was MYRON TAYLOR, from Goodwill, W. VA, on the 26th.  The assembled honorees were then asked by the aforementioned Mr. LEVER to admit what their first memory was.  This gave most of them trouble (as you get older, memory can fade) and they picked various times not necessarily related to early in life. They were then presented with some sort of ballpoint pen, plus the usual touching song for such occasions.  And YOE is expecting that April will be a humdinger, now that Mr. LEVER has, so to speak, gotten his feet wet.

TED IHNEN was summoned forward to receive a Rotary Briefcase in anticipation of his need to keep things together as President next year - he is off to the PETS instructional this weekend.  This brought on PP TOM LENEHEN, who introduced our Speaker, Donna Silvestri.  Donna is a Staff Associate of the California Public Utilities Commission, and has been with them for the past fifteen years.  TOM pointed out that Mrs. Silvestri and he had some similarities in their careers - both graduating Summa Cum Laude (YOE thinks this means they did real good) in Accounting, and both being married thirty-one years.  She serves on eight important commissions and councils, either on their Board or as President - a busy lady.

Mrs. Silvestri began by telling us that the PUC was originally the Railroad Commission.  She named and profiled the present members of the PUC, and then asked how many of us lived in Los Angeles.  Most hands were raised, and she commented that we had a very fine local public utility in the person of our own Department of Water and Power - the famed DWP.   The rest of the state is divided between Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), which covers the northern half.  In the early 1990's the federal authorities decided to open wholesale selling of electricity to competition, which led the various states to begin implementing this new policy.  In 1996, California started this deregulation, which separated the three parts of the former system - generation, transmission, and distribution into their own units.  By 1998, the many new players were in place and separation was expected to reduce the cost to consumers by 10% or more.

The two California players were encouraged to sell off their power plants - which they did, to eager buyers at 2- times book value!  This action also started the process of trying to find loopholes in the regulations that were supposed to protect the public from price gouging.  In 2000, we had an early winter, thus increased demand for power, so the 'floating' price went up, of course. As prices rose rapidly, California began signing long-term leases to hold the price in check. By 2001, both Edison and PG&E were in serious trouble, having given up 40% or more of their production facilities.  Added to this, shortly, was the collapse of Enron, a major seller of energy.

In late 2001 and now, 2002, as all this was going on, Los Angeles made a very important contribution to price stability by starting to actively conserve energy - it worked, and as a result, the DWP was able to sell electricity to the rest of the state at more reasonable rates that they would have otherwise paid.  This prevented the predicted blackouts, and now new plants are being built, so the problem may ease.  

Q&A - PP STEVE SCHERER, Did you (the PUC) do anything wrong. We signed for long term contracts to bring prices down.  We will try to renegotiate these - but hindsight is always better, of course. MARK BLOCK, why can't the public utilities sign long term contracts now. We can sell to the Power Exchange and buy from them - they COULD sign long contracts, if they had signed earlier - and it might have helped.  GREGG ELLIOTT - The DWP maintained reasonable rates, even though they sometimes tried to raise them - is this a contradiction.  It was good business practice, but ignored the statewide problem. And someone asked, what is the future of nuclear power and renewable power.  Renewable power is particularly attractive, and has a great future.
Nuclear power is only provided by two plants, San Onofre and Diablo Canyon, and both will continue.  Disposal of their waste is not yet really settled.

Thank you, Donna Silvestri, for an informative visit.

A final note, if I may.  I parked on the first level above Stone Canyon, and they moved me to the second level.  There was a note on my windshield, saying "Don't park on the first level if it is full.  Park here. "  OK.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe