Meeting in Review: March 26, 2014
- Nina Alber, Director, Community Affairs, Walmart, guest of Donnie Shaw
- Elia Cusimano, analyst at Taylor de Jonah, guest of Jennifer Hara
- May Geadah, Information Officer at the World Bank
- Doll Gordon, retired from Howard University, guest of Donnie Shaw
- Darryl Hayey, Host of Fitness Friday on WHUR
- Dan Kapner, with Shapiro, Lifsshitz and Shram, guest of Abe Helal
- Terrance Lovelady, Relationship Manager with PNC Bank, guest of Dr Sam Hancock
- Stefan Maier, Mangement Consultant with Omnitop, Inc, guest of Kathy Ward
- Marcus Soriano, Contract Administrator with Booz Allen Hamilton, from DC Rotaract
Sergeant at Arms David Treadwell gave the birthday announcements:
Larry Pressler, March 29: Former Senator Larry Pressler joined our club just a few months ago, sponsored by Tim Hurd. He is on Leave of Absence, running for U.S. Senate in the state of South Dakota. His classification is Education: Government.
- Abe Helal reminded us of the event sponsored by the Horinko Group on a water project for Jerusalem, and a Happy Hour event. He has details.
- The Ambassador from Uganda, a Rotarian, presented the club with a banner from her home club.
- President Shaun presented a Paul Harris Fellow to Mike Carmichael.
- President Shaun presented Blue Badges to Lenore Jacobs and Arrel Olano.
Max Salas introduced Vincent Gray, the Mayor of the District of Columbia. He noted that the Mayor had been recruited by Major League Baseball, but had chosen public service instead. He signaled the themes of education, development, safety and sound finances. He touched on the Mayor’s work to permit undocumented residents to get driver’s licenses.
Mayor Gray, charged up with campaign energy and looking sharp in a dark suit and white shirt with cuffs embroidered “Vince,” took the podium and addressed the club.
Yes, he tried out for the White Sox and the Dodgers, he said, and he’s always felt he should take the plunge when an opportunity arises.
He complimented our David Treadwell on the work of the Central Union Mission – David saves lives, the Mayor said.
The state of the District is good, he said, launching into what was clearly a campaign speech summing up his many accomplishments. The audience was sympathetic and enjoyed his banter and local references, applauding the high points.
He talked at length about the improved financial condition of the District, which now has a substantial reserve of $1.65 billion. He was able to repay DC employees for wages lost during the furlough, which he criticized and used as an argument for statehood. He’s proud of his pushback during the sequester and boasted of picking up the trash at 300 Federal parks. Morale is high among DC workers, he said. S&P has upgraded the bond rating.
In education, two national organizations have rated the District schools “most improved.” He’s pushing for early childhood education, art, music, vocational education, and a longer school day.
In city development, he points to all the cranes above the city, the completion of the O Street Market, and the buildings on the old civic center site. He welcomes Costco and Loews to the city, and says the Walter Reed site will be redeveloped soon, along with the SW waterfront and the Strand Theater, vacant since 1959.
He gave employment stats that show progress, even in Ward 8. He said the District’s success should not come at the cost of making the city unaffordable for less fortunate residents. The District’s opulation is increasing by 1100 to 1200 a month.
He wound up with his plans to reduce homelessness in 4 categories: single on the street, veterans, youth and the 700 families that are now in city shelters. He’s looking to local congregations to help these families in a 1 on 1 effort.
In questions and answers, we got an advance scoop on an upcoming announcement involving Chinese tourism. There are fulltime DC offices in Shanghai and Beijing. The Mayor said that delays in turning over vacant schools for the use of charter schools are not a problem on his watch. He called the outlook for DC Statehood frustrating and un-American. He believes progress on the issue will come incrementally.
The crowd gave him warm applause. President Shaun gave him a tree planting certificate.
When Isabelle Ardelean brought up the raffle bucket, the Mayor drew the ticket belonging to Max Salas, which produced a certain amount of hilarity. The amount was only $26, though, and since Max drew the 5 of Spades and lost out on the $695 large pot.
The Hospitality Table was staffed by Balraj Gupta, Ted Hamady and Stu Shalloway, and the greeters were Ken Kimbrough and Susan Pausky. The closing bell rang at 1:30 pm.