December 16, 2005

Crisis Ministry and Food Bank Meet the Challenge

December 13, 2005 - Two of Charleston's dynamic caregivers gave presentations that were well in tune with the holiday spirit of helping others. Stacey Deneaux, Director of the Crisis Ministry, told us that 3.5 million people nationally, of which 40% are children, are homeless. A major reason is the shortage of affordable housing. Thus, when it comes to a choice of food or house, they will give up their homes. On average 3000 people per day are homeless in the Charleston area, 2000 of whom come to the Crisis Center at some time during the year. Eventually, about 300 of these find homes.

Assistance takes the form of mental, physical and spiritual help. The center at 573 Meeting Street is staffed by 7 social workers, one nurse and other part time specialists. Despite these efforts, there are over 40% more women and children being served this year over last year, and an increase of 2% in men. The causes of homelessness are poverty, lack of housing, being a victim of violence, job loss and for 80% mental illness, 40% of whom it is very severe.

Homeless persons are 3 to 4 times more likely to die early, or at an age of 47 rather than the national average of 77. Chronic illnesses such as asthma or diabetes which many people live with can become fatal to the homeless. To combat such issues, the center teachers classes in cleanliness and diet. These classes have been highly successful.

Jermaine Husser, Director of the Food Bank, shared alarming statistics noting that 37 million people in America have inadequate food, with 450,000 being in South Carolina. The nation spends 1 billion per year caring for children born with low birth weight and another 1 billion on problems related to obesity. Thus, the dichotomy exists that 27% of the nations food is wasted. Still, the local Food Bank provides 10 million pounds of food per year.

In addition to giving out food, the Bank is training persons to get jobs in the food service industries, teaching children to eat more nutritiously and avoid obesity and providing education to expecting mothers. This area alone can save the nation billions in medical expenses later on.

The Food Bank sent 48 million pounds of food to Katrina victims. In so doing, it is recognizes that hurricane disaster always looms over Charleston and the help may come back again in another time. The bank operates on a low overhead cost of 2%, thus every dollar given turns into a donation of about $20, as the bank marshals food resources from all over. The goal is to end the time of homeless and hungry people in America.

Reported by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee

December 11, 2005

Truth and Ethics in Advertising

December 13, 2005 - Ed Wax, former Chairman of Saatchi, a most prestigious advertising firm, spoke to Rotarians today on the subject of truth and ethics in advertising. Ed was both informative, as well as entertaining, as he educated Rotarians about what is, and is not truth about this industry.

Ed began his talk hypothesizing whether, in this post-Enron environment, the term "business ethics" and "truth in advertising" had become oxymorons. He assured his audience that this was not the case and that the majority of advertising one sees is, in fact, the truth.

Unfortunately, that isn't the general perception shared by the consumers. In a survey of ethics intended to rank public perception of ethical behavior by industry, the advertising industry came in 23rd, followed only by that of the used car industry and by politics. Further, eighty- five percent of the public believes most advertisements are not truthful and sixty-three percent believes the government should institute regulatory controls on the advertising industry.

Mr. Wax pointed out that the fundamental issue should not be whether or not every single bit of truth is offered in an ad. Advertisers always wants to present their product in the best possible light and, after all, there is such a thing as offering too much of the truth. Rather, the real point should be whether or not it conveys the whole truth while not being misleading or not misrepresenting the truth it purports to tell. An ad which is either deceptive or patently false does a disservice not only to consumers but also to the advertising industry as well.

Members of this industry subscribe to a rigorous code of ethical standards and must follow a prescribed regulatory approval process. Each ad begins with a detailed storyboard which is then submitted for approval. Before the ad ever appears on television, the networks must also pass off on it according to the criteria they have established for truth and tastefulness. Additionally, any simulations which are shown in an ad must be documented with substantive evidence that the simulation is true and that it happened exactly as it appears in the ad. Proof is usually offered in the form of the simulation video and affidavits from those involved in the simulation . One particular ad which demonstrated stacked champagne glasses on the hood of a Lexus going 145 miles per hour was given as an example of this process.

Advertisers can also find themselves subjected to significant external pressures exerted not only by members of their own industry but also by watchdog groups. Ed presented an example of a Citigroup ad in which a woman talked about an action figure she went to great lengths to find for her son. At the end of the ad, she remarked that her son had broken the action figure, but "Citibank took care of it". American Express took exception to the ad and presented statistics they conducted indicating that fully 35% of respondents thought those words meant that Citibank would replace the little action figure. The ad was withdrawn.

So why do perceptions continue about the lack of truth in this industry? Usually, it is due to local advertising which is not regulated in any way. Ed calls for local groups to become more diligent in creating forums for discussion and to begin the process of self-regulation.

In concluding , Ed said the cost of cheating is very high. For whatever reasons advertising should not be misleading or untruthful whether the advertising is local or national, the primary reason should be because it is the right thing to do.

Submitted by Helen Harloe, Keyway Committee

December 2, 2005

Charleston's Port Expansion Project
Port Posting Dynamic Increases

November 29, 2005 - Bernie Groseclose, President and CEO of the SC Ports Authority, brought us a detailed report on the current status of the Port Expansion Project. Several years ago the long range forecast was for the port to increase by 4.3% per year. But at the end of the current fiscal year the port had increased by 14%, yet its operating costs rose but .3%! With ever increasing numbers of clients the port is literally running out of space. One third of the business is now Asian and India has surpassed most European clients in port usage.

Charleston is the 4th largest port in the U.S. and the 2nd largest on the east coast. Yet, unlike major competitors Savannah and Norfolk, who are tax subsidized, Charleston is a private venture.

Six years ago all eyes were on Daniel Island as the place for expansion, but the 2002 state legislature declared that Daniel Island was no longer under consideration. The focus today is the old navy base in North Charleston. Permanent applications are now in place with the Corps of Engineers and the state to expand the port on the old navy base site. $5,000,000 has been spent to date on the studies, much of which has repeated studies done in the late 1990's, but this is the way the public process works.

A major focus now is the mitigation plan for the areas affected:
- Marshes will be restored
- The Cooper basin will be preserved
- An oil spill recovery program will be put in place
- A 17 acre research site will be given to Clemson University
- A new park will be created
- Job training with scholarships will be set up

In addition, studies are underway to minimize the impact of increased transportation in the immediate area. And finally the expansion project will:
- Use space on a base which is largely a wasteland
- Create local jobs
- Provide economic development statewide
- Pump significant money into the local economy

In response to a question about railroads Bernie noted that about 25% of the freight is currently moved by rail, but 65% of the freight goes through the Wando terminal and there is no rail line to support it.

Reported by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee