September 25, 2008

CSO MAESTRO: "Music affects lives!"

September 23rd, 2008: Maestro David Stahl, Music Director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, grew up in NYC and had his musical debut in Carnegie Hall at the age of 23. He became a conductor fellow with the New York Philharmonic and was mentored by Leonard Bernstein with whom he had a personal working and conducting relationship. He now celebrates his 25th year with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

The CSO, founded in 1930 presently has 46 full time musicians. Each musician had to audition with up to 50 others to achieve his/her appointment. These 5 minutes of playing time were done behind a screen without identification. When the field was reduced to 3, identities become known. Auditioning from afar, at their own expense, they follow the same procedures as is true with the nation's top orchestras.

David Stahl believes that music affects all our lives and has been at the center of Charleston's history through wars, fires, earthquakes, loss of the navy base and other upheavals. He believes in the power of music to change lives and that the presence of the CSO has been vital to bringing in industrial firms from around the world to this area. The orchestra is a positive factor in our economy.

The CSO gives over 100 concerts a year, including many children's concerts in area schools. The program closed with a memorable musical presentation by a string quartet playing Jerome Kern melodies. Members wishing to provide financial support to the CSO should contact them at their website:

Reported by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee

September 19, 2008

"Pulleys & Piano Wires ... a New & Better Cure"

September 16th, 2008: Dr. Scott Wingo's credentials for minimally invasive surgical treatment of cancer are extremely impressive: Georgia Tech, Emory, MUSC, and the University of Miami provided the foundation for implementing his vision: an intuitive surgical robot system. Today, his vision is implemented in the Lowcountry using the deVinci robot.

Our Club (often queasy) was treated to a new surgical technology slide show presentation: a capability best designed to work in small confined areas "requiring a great deal of precision and dexterity." Using prostate cancer as an example, Dr. Wingo walked us through a visual, or better yet, virtual prostate operation with the deVinci robot as the center stage participant.

Originally designed for the military in an attempt to keep the surgeons out of the line of fire, the daVinci robot (in commercial use) ensures multiple benefits including:

- Shorter hospital stay
- Less pain
- Less risk of infection
- Less blood loss and transfusions
- Less scarring
- Faster recovery
- Quicker return to normal activities

Dr. Wingo emphasized the deVinci system is powered by state-of-the-art robotic technology in order to allow a surgeon's hand movements to be scaled, filtered, and translated into precise movements of micro-instruments within the operative system. It enhances surgical capabilities ... BUT cannot be programmed nor make decisions on its own. Every surgical procedure/technique must be performed directly by your surgeon.

For more information see or call 402-CARE. Additionally email

Submitted by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee Chair

September 11, 2008

Welcome District Governor S. Anne Walker!

September 9th, 2008: The District Governor of District 7770, S. Anne Walker, says she loves to drive and she loves to talk. It follows naturally that she was happy to come to Charleston to speak to our club -- and, of course, we were happy to host her! Ms. Walker was born right here in Charleston and described many fond memories she has of the area. Her travels as District Governor have taken her around the region, but she loves coming back here to visit.

Ms. Walker vivaciously gave us a pep-talk about recruiting new members to Rotary and keeping alive the spirit of fellowship and membership. Her husband once caught her "selling" Rotary to a near stranger and accused her of constantly recruiting. As she described that story to us, she proudly said that she is, indeed, always recruiting. She encouraged us to take recruiting more seriously.

She wisely told us that a Rotary club should be thought of like a business. Advertising is a good way to attract new "clients". She recently visited a club in Myrtle Beach that has made pamphlets to distribute so that people can get to know their club. Ms. Walker described a fun way to remember our commitment to recruitment, in this anagram that spells "R-O-T-A-R-Y": "R" and "O": reach out, "T": take by the hand, "A": asking people, "R": retention, "Y": you, as in all of us club members.

More information about our district, 7770, can be found at the website: District 7770 is comprised of the 25 eastern counties of South Carolina. There are more than 78 Rotary clubs in our district. There are more than 5,000 Rotarians in our District. We thank Ms. Walker for her visit to our club and for all of her work and dedication.

Submitted by Jackie Grau, Keyway Committee

Day of Caring, Sept. 11, 2008

Here are some photos of members of the Rotary Club of Charleston working at Fraser Elementary School during the Sept. 11 Day of Caring:

Thanks to all who participated....It was a great day for the school and club.

September 6, 2008

"In South Carolina, Insurance is Becoming Assurance"

September 2nd, 2008: Having spent 3 terms in the state House of Representatives, a term in the Senate, and over 20 years in the world of insurance, Scott Richardson, is well qualified for the appointment our Governor made in 2007 as the Director of the State Department of Insurance.

Scott began his talk by noting that about 80% of all citizens think the same way on most issues. The recent hurricane watches brings potential damage and insurance claims to our attention. He believes his role is to keep "insurance" issues off the front page, but also be a facilitator of good insurance programs for the good of the citizenry. Right now, the Coastal Insurance Market is generally good and South Carolina has successfully placed insurance in a market driven position. It is important that the state set an environment in which the insurance industry is willing to work and invest. He notes auto insurance is currently in a very good position in our state. Over 100 industry leaders in insurance are selling in the state giving us a real competitive market.

Scott credits the legislature for the current market-driven rating plan. He notes that many companies will "cannibalize" each others ideas; we do not need to tear into them; they will compete furiously on their own.

The commercial insurance market [condos, hotels, etc.] is doing very well, with premium costs having fallen 60% in the past several years. Family housing markets are much slower to react to change. After Katrina, insurance costs rose severely. In Florida alone the big companies of Allstate and State Farm saw 45 years of profits disappear in 8 hours when the big storms hit that state. Here the premium for a $250,000 house in Greenville is about $650 annually, but in places like Hilton Head or Sullivan's Island it can be over $4500. These variations are of course due to the potential for major loss in a hurricane. Additionally, workman's compensation rates have been high but are down some. Few cases actually go to trial, but the "multi-million dollar" cases can drive premiums out of sight. South Carolina pays 1.8% of AMA guidelines in insurance settlements as compared with 1.3%, the country average.

Long term care is a huge problem and is being worked on. The premiums initially charged in recent years were dramatically under priced. People are living longer and medical costs are rising so it is hard to afford such insurance today. Health care is a major national concern, but the figure that 43,000,000 people are without health care is misleading. The actual figure is about 20,000,000 people being without insurance, still a huge amount. But even so, most of those people do get basic care from hospitals and public assistance, but the nation needs to deal with this issue. It is impossible for the states and the Federal government to afford to provide coverage for everyone at the "Cadillac" level of coverage, but basic coverage is feasible. The legislative process often does not come up with good solutions, but they must continue to vote and try to solve the problems.

Life insurance is a partnership between the person who pays for it and the beneficiary who will receive it. This is a special relationship. Caution should be observed to avoid having insurance companies sell large bundles of such policies to companies who have no relationship with the beneficiary as representation will diminish. In the future, proper regulation is the key to watching out for the public be it life insurance or credit card debt.

Finally, with the potential huge storms on the horizon, home owners must understand that damage caused when wind drives rain up under the eves of the roof and into the house, that IS NOT FLOOD DAMAGE. But he strongly urged that everyone who lives east of I-95 should have flood insurance. If a 15 foot storm surge along with 100 MPH winds comes into the Charleston harbor, a huge portion of the city will disappear.

Submitted by Fred Sales, Club Historian