Attending (12): Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Terry Brewer, Peter Brown, Len Leonidas, Debbie Rodriguez, Dick Drumm, Jim Butterworth, Rommel Tolentino.
Guests (2): Brian Howard, Medora Jones.
Program: Brian Howard, State Senate candidate
Jim Butterworth introduced Brian Howard, Democratic candidate for the 43rd State Senate District that covers all of Rensselaer County and parts of Saratoga and Columbia counties. He is running against incumbent Republican Kathy Marchione.
Brian is a former longtime school administrator, having served in Queensbury, Berlin and Troy, among other districts.
He explained that he is running for office as a way of continue his lifelong efforts to improve the education of the next generation, and has no interest in a lengthy career in office.
Brian spent most of his talk on the problems of implementing the controversial Common Core program in schools. He said that, boiled down to its basics, it really is no more than a list of things to do, a list that can be tweaked but isn’t bad in itself. The problem as he sees it is the methodology of turning it into a mandatory program without proper input and consideration of teachers’ needs and various districts’ financial situations.
He said he would prefer to see a five-year, five-step program that would provide the ability to study the real-world impact of each step as it is experienced.
Brian also spoke about the loss of large numbers of teachers in Rensselaer County and other Upstate areas. Funding has been reduced in many upstate school districts.
Brian answered several questions from members on such topics as new teaching methods and Senate committee appointment potential. And, Brian said he believes political campaign financing must be changed to alleviate what he referred to as “corrupting influences” from so much money coming only from a small number of contributors.
He also said one of the major topics in his campaign is a reevaluation of the gun control measure known as the New York S.A.F.E. Act. He noted he grew up in the Adirondacks in a family of hunters in the Adirondacks, and owns a .22 rifle, shotgun and pistol. Brian said he would have voted against the S.A.F.E. Act, characterizing it as “a measure that has yet to prove that it will actually solve any real problems.” He said it must be replaced with common sense measures that keep guns out of the hands of the terrorists, criminals, and the mentally ill.
(A rundown of his his campaign positions is available online.)
EVENT CANCELLATION — President Bill Dowd noted that all members had been e-mailed a letter containing the consensus of the Board that we should drop the annual Rotary Run due to increasing costs and competition and decreasing participation. He said he had heard from only three members, but all are in favor of the action. He asked if anyone present wished to ask questions or make comments. Getting no response, he asked for a show of hands on his motion to drop the Run. It was approved without objection.
EVENT CREATION — Debbie Brown has agreed to coordinate planning a 55th anniversary celebration for the club in March 2015. April Dowd and Ray Hannan have volunteered to assist her, and Jim Mendrysa has been asked to help in acquiring a one-time liquor license or the event since he does that regularly as part of his catering business.
FOUNDATION DINNER — Reservations are being accepted for the November 14 Rotary Foundation dinner, this year called “Broadway Lights Up Rotary.” It will be held on the main stage of Proctors Theater in Schenectady, with the meal from Mansion Catering. Bill noted he had made his reservation at the $100 honorary committee level several weeks ago. Murray Forth and Jim Leyhane both said they subsequently have done the same. Jim urged members to attend the event, which is a fundraiser to assist program grants at the local level. Other tickets are $75. Reservations may be made online on the District 7190 website.
ROTARY HOME COOKING — Program coordinator Terry Brewer said he has at least four dates spoken for. Bill and April Dowd will hold a March 21, 2o015, dinner with the theme of “A Night In Casablanca.” Jim Leyhane, in conjunction with A.J. Amato and Roberto Martinez, is working on a dinner with a professional chef, to be held at Roberto’s house. Murray and Maggie Forth are planning to host a sauerbraten dinner. Pat Bailey said she will host a dinner. The latter three events need to firm up dates, coordinating them with Terry. He originally had established October-April as the six months for such dinners.
NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, October 16. The speaker will be Tom Stebbins, executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.