Guest Speaker: Councilmember Chris Ward

Chris WardToday we heard from Chris Ward, our Third District Council Representative.  He had a wide-ranging presentation touching on his priorities: homelessness, housing supply, fire stations, the Mission Hills library, sidewalks, and Balboa Park.  Most of the discuss focused on the homelessness problem that San Diego faces. He admitted we have a serious problem, but after only a few weeks on the Council it is understandable he hasn't yet formulated a plan.  Mr. Ward mentioned that his staff is available by phone or a click away. He urged us to visit his website to learn more about what he is working on. You can visit his website by going to http://www.voteforward.com.

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Science and Engineering Fair Winner Visits Club

Today we were blessed to have our Greater San Diego Science and Nadia SalahEngineer Fair winner, Nadia Salah, a 7th grader at the Islamic School of San Diego.  Her topic dealt with first impressions based on appearance and was titled, "Is Your Sight Controlled by a Stereotype?"

Her test group consisted of 50 students ages 10 to 13.  Each student was shown two views of the same person but not sequentially, one of the person in an attractive pose and the other person in a not so attractive pose.  They were asked to rank the person on a declining scale of 3 to 1 for two characteristics, do you think the person is smart and do you think the person is successful?  An answer of 3 was a definite yes.  Not surprisingly, those with a pleasing appearance received mostly 3's.  The interesting result was that more women than men received 1's, indicating that a woman's appearance affects our first impression more than a man's appearance.  Nadia received a plaque and a $50 check. She was then on to a State Contest.  What really excited our club was Nadia's excellent speaking skills.

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Guest Speaker: C.L. Hoang

CL HoangWe had a most entertaining and informative program today, presented by C. L. (Jim) Hoang, author of “Once Upon A Mulberry Field”, an historical fiction novel about the Vietnam War. He is a native of Vietnam and his book is self-published.  He came to the U.S. in 1974 after graduating from high school to attend college, arriving on Thanksgiving Day, about six months before the April, 1975 North Vietnam offensive that overran the South.  His younger brother escaped in 1980 by sea and was rescued and taken to refugee camp where the Red Cross arranged for him to travel to the U.S.  After ten years of red tape, C. L. was able to bring his parents to the U.S. in 1989. C. L. contacted U. S. veterans to get their perspective on the war and his book is written through the eyes of an American soldier.  A story ignored by the media is that of the many servicemen who volunteered their free time to help the locals.  As is typical, he found that vets are reluctant to talk about their experiences in the war.  Their children, however, are curious about their father’s experiences and he has been contacted by many of them thanking him for writing the book.  C. L. is an engineer and he goes by Jim because when he would talk with people on the phone and gave them his name, to them it sounded like Jim.  His book is available on Amazon for $15 and it is a must read story.  

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Guest Speaker: Mr. David Akin, the Public Utility Advocate

Our guest speaker was Mr. David F. Akin, the Public Utility Advocate. We have 28 reservoirs and 9 lakes in our water storage system, all of which are so low that it would take years of very substantial rainfall to return them to their former levels. For residents, he recommended installing water pressure regulators on homes to prevent pressure surges from damaging old piping and causing leaks, which are the most likely cause of sudden changes in your water bill. He listed five levels of drought: California is currently at level two (ALERT). When asked about agricultural water use, he cited the interesting fact that almonds were the single most water-intensive crop, requiring 1 gallon per almond! He reminded us of the newly enacted water restrictions in San Diego of two watering days per week with 5 minutes allowed per station. Also, the City is offering free advice on irrigation and solving wasteful water-use practices, along with $3.50 per square foot for installation of drought tolerant turf. Rebates for grey water systems is coming. If you have further questions, you can contact him at Dakin@sandiego.gov.  

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Today is Helen Keller Day

  “I appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness,” Helen Keller addressed to the Lions at the International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1925. The video above is a reenactment of her speech from the 1925 convention.

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Guest Speaker: Bettina Hausmann, United Nations Association

Today’s guest speaker was Ms. Bettina Hausmann, representing the United Nations Association, San Diego Chapter, located in the International Village in Balboa Park. The San Diego Chapter of the United Nations Association was established in 1946, and at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt, was granted the historic building in Balboa Park by the City of San Diego.  It houses their office, the global classroom, and a unique gift shop.  Six members of the San Diego Chapter staffed the original United Nations as volunteers.  The United Nations Association advocates for important U.N. issues and works.  They provide educational venues providing such interesting activities as mock U.N. Security Council debates involving current world issues (e.g. – Israel/Palestine two-state solution, Syria/ISIS, Ukraine/Russia/Crimea) Ms. Hausmann is an East German Jew who grew up firmly believing in communism and socialism.  She is as lovely as she is articulate, and her personal story is instructive.  Community service is her passion.  She was 19 years of age when the Berlin Wall fell.  Now an American citizen, she accepts capitalism as a viable alternative, but still embraces community activism and sharing (socialism) of resources as necessary to forestall future world conflicts.

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Weekly Program: Tribute to Dogs

In honor of Radar, we had a program where members related stories about their pets.  Kim led off with stories about the mischief inflicted on his house by the numerous dogs he has owned including ruined furniture, toilet paper rolls consumed and stuffing removed from a comforter.  Marcia related stories about the several guide dogs she has had.  Each has had idiosyncrasies but they all have been wonderful companions providing Marcia the freedom she never had before she received her first dog.  With Moxie she actually can tell Moxie a destination in the city they have visited before and Moxie will take her there.      Here is a picture of our sponsored guide dog Radar. radar

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Guest Speaker: Ben Nichols from Hillcrest Business Association

Today we heard from one of our Flag Program supporters, Ben Nichols, President of the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA).   He is a kiwi because he comes from New Zealand and you can hear a little of New Zealand in his accent.  Ben has been running the Association for seven years.  It has 1200 members, consisting of all the businesses in Hillcrest.  It is 95 years old and its membership exceeds that of the Gaslamp and North Park associations combined.  It has an annual budget of $1M.  Only $100K comes from dues, the rest comes from special events.  Ben filled us in on three major projects involving the Association.

  1. In conjunction with Councilman Todd Gloria, it is sponsoring a homeless outreach program. Hillcrest is a natural magnet for the homeless.  The Scripps Mercy emergency room is nearby where most of the homeless go for medical treatment and the community is sympathetic and friendly toward them.  With $20K from the city and $30K from the HBA, members of the Alpha Project have been contracted to provide an outreach team to interface with the homeless and be an influence for them to change their lifestyle.  The Alpha Project has the resources the city and the HBA lack to make these contacts and it has leverage by requiring certain actions in return for receiving certain benefits.
  1. The city, starting with Hillcrest, has received a $40M grant from SANDAG to create bicycle pathways. Unfortunately, the original SANDAG plan involved converting much of the on street parking into bike lanes.  Obviously this was not welcomed by the merchants and the HBA is working on other options.  One involves diverting much of the traffic now on University to Washington by reducing University to two lanes, thus making room for bike lanes.
  1. Creating neighborhood parks. Hillcrest has none at the moment.  One idea is to reconfigure Normal Street which is a very wide four lane street because it once was intended as a through street.  Washington now serves as the through street.  Normal would be converted into two lanes with the space thus created converted into multiple use park land.

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Special Meeting: Honoring Those Who Helped Our Flag Program

Our special guests were those whose help was invaluable in getting our holiday flag program back on track.

City Councilman Todd Gloria accompanied by his assistant Anthony Bernal.  Among other things, Todd reimbursed us for the approximately $2,000.00 cost of our permit and helped steer us through the city’s legal maze. Thank you Todd!  Four members of the University Heights Commercial Association:  President Bernie Horan, Maryann Stevens, Nan McGraw and Ron Oliver.  Not only did the Association go to bat for us, but they started a whole new route, sold subscriptions, obtained the permission signatures from all of our accounts, not just theirs, as required by the city, wrote us a nice check, and their members now personally put flags out on their route on each of our holidays with all the subscriptions going to our charity treasury.
  • Ben Nichols of the Hillcrest Business Association who was a great supporter in our cause. His association has added flags to the Hillcrest route.  
  • Mike Turco of KUSI TV who took our plight to TV which shook things up at City Hall and helped us to continue with the program until we received the required permits.
  • Bill Snipes who helped us through the city’s legal maze.  And last but not least:
  • Bob Duggan with his wife Laura.  Bob is a multiple flag customer and when he received our letter advising him we were going to have to discontinue the flag service and the reason why, I think he called everyone except the White House in protest, getting the attention of City Officials who then overrode the bureaucrat who sent us the cease and desist letter, allowing us to continue until we were able to jump through the required legal hoops.  As he said, “Don’t mess with an Irishman.”
Each of these wonderful people was given a plaque, a LIONS pin and a loud round of applause.

Our Speaker:

Our speaker today was Councilman Todd Gloria who touched on some of the highlights in the city.  We have come a long way since the great recession when all city services had to be severely cut back.  Many of those services have been restored and the city is on much better financial footing.  The budget now being considered by the Council totals $3,200,000,000 (yes, that’s billions).  Of that, $1,200,000,000 is discretionary.  A primary focus is on infrastructure repair such as deferred road maintenance.  Another hot button is police retention.  Thirteen officers are lost each month to other agencies in the county with higher pay scales.  It costs $100,000 to train a new officer so retention is critical and funds have been allocated to raise the pay scale.  On the Chargers, Todd wants them to stay and generally supports the current task force process although he has some reservations on the way it is organized.   

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Junior Science Fair Winner: Shruti Verma

Today we heard from our Junior Science Fair winner Shruti Verma.  Ms. Verma is a 14 year old 8th grader at Marshall Middle School.  She explored the influence that genetics and elements of the environment, such as TV viewing and computer time, have on the need to wear glasses.  She studied 423 subjects using questionnaires and interviews with friends, classmates and on the street interviews.  Her hypothesis was that if neither parent wore glasses, the subject had a 6% chance of needing glasses; if one parent wore glasses, the subject had a 25% chance of needing glass; if both parents wore glasses, the subject had a 40% chance of needing glasses. She discovered that heredity had an overwhelming influence on the need for glasses: If both parents wore glasses the subject had a 56.7% chance of needing glasses; if one parent wore glasses the subject had a 30.2% chance of needing glasses; if neither parent wore glasses the subject had only a 19% chance of needing glasses.  TV viewing had no influence but, interestingly, long periods of gazing at a computer screen correlated with a 4% increase in the need for glasses.  She also discovered that the earlier the parent started wearing glasses, the stronger the influence on the child.  If the parent started wearing glasses later in life there was no correlation.  Ms. Shruti plans to enter the Fair next year with a related project. Her parents are from India and her father is a computer engineer.  She received a check for $100 and we will send her plaque to her when we receive it.

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