September 28, 2007

Positive Downsizing-Jim Gray

September 25, 2007: This afternoon, Jim Gray gave an excellent talk entitled "Positive Downsizing". Through a relaxed discussion, Jim shared a formula for going through the anxiety inducing process of layoffs and cutbacks. When asked by a show of hands, many of our Rotarians have either been victims of downsizing or have been on the management side of it.

Jim states that the most important part of the process is to remember human decency. He shared the four steps to making the experience a positive one.

1. Tell the truth
2. Make sure that there are no hidden agendas
3. Let people know that you care
4. Treat them fairly

By following these four steps, employees will feel more in control of their futures. Even when severance packages are not available, employee assistance programs and outplacement services should be considered. When managers and employers explain downsizing in terms of business rationale, employees are more understanding. It is also important to let employees know that they have done nothing wrong and that the downsizing is not their fault. The reasons for the downsizing should never be sugarcoated but should always be explained in terms of the company's viability.

In addition, the path from the downsizing announcement to the actual layoffs should be highly visible. The earlier employees are notified, the better.

In closing, Jim advises us to know the legal issues and keep the end goal in mind for a positive downsizing experience.

Submitted by Angie Johnson, Keyway Committee

September 21, 2007

Lunch with Bobby Harrell

September 18, 2007: Bobby Harrell spoke to our club about some hot issues faced by the South Carolina legislature in the past years and those likely to be visited in the upcoming year. He stressed the fact our state government must focus on economic development in the coming decades as its top priority. Mr. Harrell noted that business development should be a priority today so SC can attempt to build existing businesses and new ones, small and large.

Some key issues the legislature faced in the past years were: workers compensation reform; tort reform legislation; funding and other issues relating to the Department of Transportation; and taxation issues. There was talk in the past about South Carolina being unfriendly to businesses from the viewpoint of workers compensation insurance. Mr. Harrell discussed how this was addressed in workers comp reforms with an eye towards being more fair all around. He also touched upon tort reform legislation, a related issue that has affected insurance and businesses.

Mr. Harrell gave a refreshing look into how he views the taxes assessed upon citizens of South Carolina. He discussed the sales tax on groceries that is soon to be eliminated. He also touched upon income tax, cigarette tax, and gas tax, which should continue to be important issues. Immigration will probably be an increasingly important issue for the state. Mr. Harrell discussed the possibility of our state taking a more active role in immigration reform if the Federal government continues to stall on progress. Mr. Harrell graciously fielded several questions from the audience. We were also pleased to have Mr. Harrell's father join our meeting.

Submitted by Jackie Grau, Keyway Committee

September 14, 2007

Maritime Security: Past, Present, and Future

September 11th, 2007: Bernie Groseclose introduced Captain Michael McAllister as a senior officer and commander in the US Coast Guard who has witnessed "significant changes" since the day he was commissioned. Captain McAllister has a very distinguished career and continues to serve our country as the Captain of the Port and Sector Commander to the other ports in SC and Georgia. He is a graduate of the USCG Academy and holds Masters Degrees from the University of Illinois and MIT.

Captain McAllister gave a thought-provoking discussion that began with a reflection on September 10th, 2001 where he was notified of a Congressionally dictated 58 percent cutback in the USCG maritime budget. The very next day they were protecting the Statue of Liberty and overseeing a "call to all boats" that evacuated 3/4 of a million people, ferried over 5000 first responders, and delivered over 800 tons of supplies during the first few days after 9/11. They conducted the largest port security effort since WWII. Captain McAllister explained the significance of conducting "national policy in real-time" and aiding the Mayor of NYC and Governor of NY to stand up a new incident command center. He further described the evolution of responsibilities from 9/11 until today: 96 hour pre-notification of arrival; commercial inspection as far off-shore as possible; escorting potential targeted ships; expanded maritime intelligence; USCG as a charter member of the 22 agency, 182,000 Department of Homeland Security; the new focus on container security from point of origin; 24 hour advanced notice of manifest (compared to the past where manifest changes could be up to 30 days after arrival in our ports!); and implementation of TWIC, transportation workers identification card.

After an excellent explanation of why port security is so much more complex and difficult than air or rail, Captain McAllister talked about the future need for: a stronger suite of legal boundaries through a coordinated legal framework; increased layered security through maritime domain awareness (more sensor systems); faster disaster recovery capability; and most importantly, international engagement.

Submitted by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee Chair

September 7, 2007

Healing Love

September 4th, 2007: Jim Geffert introduced Fouchena Sheppard as a strong community advocate who served on the SC Arts Commission for over 18 years and expresses her art through poetry, dance and entertainment. Ms. Sheppard introduced herself as a native of Charleston whose native language is street Gullah and expresses her art through poetry and motion. She explained that "Healing Love" is the language developed on plantations to communicate among the various individuals who originated from all parts of Africa and didn't speak a shared language or dialect. Fouchena went on to explain that when she was in grammar school, teachers taught English as a second language.

Ms. Sheppard then began a story about a young Gullah-speaking woman with a "very strong personality" named Lena and an older man who was "frail, profane speaking, and not clean" named Professor Christopher Givens ("Fessor"). As the story of two cultures unraveled, we became aware of "Healing Love". The words Fouchena spoke served as a framework for the understanding that "Fessor" and Lena gained for each other. The "Lord gave Lena a job" and "I'm going to do it!" The "Fessor's" wife had recently died and he needed "Healing Love". Thus, began a new story of understanding.

After the story, Ms. Sheppard related a poem and ended with a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace. Her story telling would be impossible to ponder in a history book, but truly wove a very descriptive and moving tale related to history, art and how two cultures melded together through individual encounters that built trust and understanding. We have to know where we've come from and how we got here in order to know where we are going.

Submitted by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee Chair