October 29, 2013

Dr. Gene Budig - Athletics in Education

Oct 29, 2013: Dr. Gene Budig has served as both University President/Chancellor (Nebraska, Illinois State, West Virginia, Kansas) and as the President of Major League Baseball’s American League. He is also a Retired Major General in the Air National Guard. Now a part owner of the Charleston Riverdogs and local resident, Dr. Budig joined us this week to talk about intercollegiate athletics and their role in higher education.

Dr. Budig emphatically stated that intercollegiate athletics are “hopelessly out of control” and we, the fans, are the problem. Citing a new $8 billion cable television contract for college sports, he stressed that the money being paid for tickets and fan gear, as well as coach’s salaries, is outrageous. These spending patterns subsequently drive big money to schools for televised games.

He affirmed that college Presidents understand how alumni and athletics positively impact the bottom line, yet athletics aren’t the budget solution at many schools. Dr. Budig proposed that when schools say athletics draw attention to the school and help it financially, that is “utter nonsense”. He feels only 12 – 15 of the major programs actually make money on their athletics. The expense of building infrastructure and programs to entice key players and coaches as well as alumni is rarely met or exceeded by the revenue generated by the games. He predicts that the top universities (by size) will attempt to create their own exclusive conference and not share the benefits by playing outside that group, rationalizing that it’s a fair and competitive approach. In other words, why should the schools who draw the crowds (and money) share the proceeds with those that don’t?

Dr. Budig then turned to education in general, saying we should never minimize the importance of a community college. If a community is serious about economic development they better have a well-oiled community college, such as Trident Technical College. He also reminded the audience that the term “state-supported school” is now a misnomer. At best, our colleges and universities can be considered state-assisted. Most institutions now receive only 6 – 9% of their budget from state funding. Tuition and fee increases have made up the difference and this trend is likely to continue, albeit on a smaller scale.

Feeling strongly that education can’t be valued only in terms of dollars and cents, Dr. Budig stressed that it’s only right for our children and grandchildren to have the advantage of a good formal education, whether community college or university or both. He is a strong advocate of the humanities and fine arts as part of the curriculum, stating that is what sets us apart from other parts of the world. He also sees great potential in the health services fields, both as a source of research money and of jobs and is concerned about a deficit of interest in rural health programs. Finally, Dr. Budig encouraged higher education opportunities for older, non-traditional students.   

Submitted by Tammy Louise Coghill, Keyway Committee

October 25, 2013

Southern Cooking with Nathalie Dupree

October 22, 2013:  Ms. Nathalie Dupree, best-selling author, television star, and founding Board Member of the Charleston Food & Wine Festival, was the guest speaker at the Historic Charleston Rotary meeting on October 22, 2013.  Ms. Dupree is a prolific author, and her latest book, “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking”, earned her a third James Beard Award.  Rotarian Mike Sabo (another founding Board Member for the Festival), who introduced Ms. Dupree, noted that when any major food industry writer, chef, or restaurateur visits Charleston, their first stop is always Ms. Dupree’s house.  She has been featured in the New York Times, and various other major publications, and has performed segments on all of the major morning shows such as Good Morning America in addition to her own cooking shows on various networks. 

Ms. Dupree noted that she had two main messages for the day, first she wanted to address the issue of “food deserts” in Charleston and then discuss Southern Cooking.  On the issue of “food deserts” (holes in an urban environment where traditional grocery stores are not present – thus forcing local residents to shop for food at available convenience stores) Ms. Dupree reported that she was working with the Charleston Food Bank, as South Carolina has 80 food deserts in the state, to try to help facilitate lower-income folks being able to get better food than available at convenience stores.  She drew the comparison of food to power – indicating that to have control of access to food was power, and that lack of availability leads to poor choices when it comes to shopping.  She also challenged everyone to try to shop for their staples for their families by taking a taxi or a bus so that they could see just how hard it was to effectively procure what you would need in a weeks’ time.  She also linked misuse of assistance programs like food stamps to lack of availability of shopping options.  She reported that she was working to get a bus for the Food Bank to facilitate donation pick up and taking people who need food to locations where they could get it.  She stated that we need to make sure that we are working to feed “our entire community”.

Ms. Dupree then shifted her focus to the Southern Cooking Movement, noting that she had participated in the Cook It Raw event held that week in Charleston.  She stated “Southern food has a rhythm of its own”, and by her estimation Charleston had the richest cooking history in the nation. She recounted owning her first restaurant, for which she grew her own food and had to locally source what she could find.  This led to an ever changing menu, but she learned she could put anything together understanding the basic methods of Southern Cooking. 

Biscuits were a trouble for her at first.  She said that she would watch a woman who worked for her, Kate, use a wide bowl to mix her ingredients, realizing the wide bowl allowed for an even mixing of the ingredients and a consistent combination of them – which led to “a perfect symmetry of liquid and flour resulting in a perfect dough, formed into perfect biscuits”, but that it took her a long time to observe and understand it all.  “It took forever to make biscuits like Kate”, she said.  Ms. Dupree suggested that if you want to learn how to make perfect biscuits, that you get a $10 bag of flour and lock the door to the kitchen until you have perfected it.  Her quick recall of the recipe for Best Biscuits is as follows:

Whipping Cream
Self- Rising White Lily Flour

Combine in a 2:1 ratio & mix (in a wide bowl)
Pat out
With ½ inch thick dough – cut out your biscuits
Place close together in a baking pan

Ms. Dupree also discussed fried chicken and why she did a book on it. “No one knows how to cut up a chicken anymore”, she said was the reason why people don’t cook it themselves.  Also, grocery stores don’t sell small chickens that are easy to cut up.  When talking about pre-cut chicken she said, “Those legs haven’t ever seen each other before!”  She stated that she was next going to focus on Low Country Cooking as her next project.

She directed the audience to look for a Charleston Magazine story next month on the history of baking in Charleston and its rich story.  When asked about her favorite Charleston restaurant, she demurred, “I hate to list them, but I can tell you that I have never had a bad meal at Hominy Grill or SNOB”.  When asked how a chef puts their signature on food in a big restaurant she said, “It’s hard, I’m not sure, but I’ve had three restaurants – and I’m over it!”

Author’s Note-Ms. Dupree’s Books are available for sale at the Charleston Preservation Society, and she will happily sign it for you if you place an order there.

Submitted by Christine Wilkinson

October 18, 2013

Representative Horne - Focusing on Issues Affecting Senior Citizens & Children

October 15, 2013: South Carolina Representative Jenny Horne was elected in 2008 to represent House District #94 (Dorchester and Charleston Counties). Currently in her third two-year term, she also has an employment and family law practice in Summerville. Representative Horne serves on a number of House Committees, is a Liberty Fellow, and has been named Legislator of the Year by several organizations.

A former Rotarian, Representative Horne kicked off her remarks with a nod to the Rotarian Service Above Self commitment. She feels her service has continued with her work in the State House. After acknowledging the many distractions that can bog down the legislative session, she stressed her particular focus on issues affecting senior citizens and children. Calling these groups our citizens with the least amount of power, Representative Horne discussed several key initiatives.

Education Funding Reform – A proponent of equalizing per capita funding across school districts, Representative Horne encouraged changing the state’s 30-year old school funding formula to provide each child the same opportunities for success. Our schools should reflect the global marketplace that today’s graduates encounter, yet many schools still lack basic technology tools. She emphatically stated that the success of our education system is a critical labor supply issue for the business community.

Child Welfare – After queries stemming from constituent complaints regarding the Department of Social Services (DSS) went unanswered for a year, Representative Horne asked for an audit of DSS operations. She is concerned about a failure to act, overreach of control by the agency, and outsourcing of risk assessments.  Essentially, she feels that DSS is not meeting what she considers one of the most basic functions of government, protecting our children.

Sex Education – Humorously introducing the subject by saying we learned in the 1960’s that “ ’just say no’ doesn’t work”, Representative Horne spoke about the public health and poverty impacts of teenage pregnancy and the bill she hopes to pass next year that will require a medically accurate focus in the sex education curriculum. She stressed that community health statistics improve with reductions in teen pregnancy. This is also an economic issue, as the current Medicaid cost for teen pregnancy is $200 million per year. She concluded that “knowledge is power” - data shows the more educated a young person is regarding sexual activity and its consequences, the less likely they are to display risky behavior.

Home Health Providers – Noting that in-home health care providers are the only health care service that is wholly unregulated, Representative Horne described a bill she has sponsored that would require licensure. They are currently not required to have workers compensation or liability insurance or to conduct background checks on employees. Speaking from personal experience, she urged the audience to only hire a licensed, bonded and insured caregiver, to protect your loved one and yourself.

Ethics Reform – Representative Horne briefly noted her service on the House Ethics Committee. She acknowledged that the proceedings are generally confidential but only until probable cause has been determined. She anticipates an ethics reform bill to be presented in the fall.
Audience questions continued the themes of teen pregnancy, public education, Medicaid and home health care. Representative Horne then gave a call to action for women to run for local or state elected office. She concluded with a proposal for a state Children’s Bureau and asked for suggestions from professionals working with children on how this should be structured.

Submitted by Tammy Coghill, Keyway Committee

October 11, 2013

SC Ports Authority - Important for Charleston and the Region

Oct 8, 2013:  This week Rotary Club of Charleston welcomed James Newsome, President and CEO of South Carolina Ports Authority, to share his insight on the role of the Ports Authority on not only Charleston but on regional and national levels. Mr. Newsome received a bachelor’s degree in Transportation and Logistics in 1976 and an MBA in Transportation and Logistics in 1977 from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and became CEO of South Carolina Ports Authority in 2009.
Mr. Newsome’s discussion highlighted not only the importance of the port for Charleston and the region but also the strategic benefits the port offers relative to other ports and transportation hubs.  The Charleston port is the 10th largest US container port creating 1 in 10 jobs indirectly as a huge growth engine for global sourcing and manufacturing.  The port is also a major economic development engine for the state. Mr. Newsome pointed out the a major deciding factor for BMW’s locating in South Carolina was the port, as Nebraska was also being considered as a potential site.
He went on to explain that the port represents about $2 Billion in investment from both the State Ports Authority ($1.3 Billion in improvements) and the State ($700 Million for harbor deepening, new port access road among other projects).  The private sector is also investing heavily in the local economy as well with companies such as BMW, Adidas, Harbor Freight, Michelin, Amazon, Bosch (and the list goes on) having a significant presence in South Carolina. This also illustrated the importance that companies place on ports for global business.
Charleston is uniquely positioned to grow its cargo base. Charleston as a location is ideally suited to serve the Southeast which is the fastest growing region in the US in population, consumption, and manufacturing.  The future for the port lies in the Post Panamax vessels which require 50’ minimum depth in harbor. Currently only New York, Baltimore, Norfolk and Miami are authorized to be 50 feet. The Southeast needs a 50’ deep harbor and Charleston can provide that. Savannah, for instance, can only go to 47 feet deep. 1’ of draft equals the ability to handle 100 containers.
Additional strategic upgrades include the inland port in Greer with overnight rail from Norfolk Southern, the intermodal container transfer facility, more short haul rail, and distribution centers making the Port of Charleston the logical South Atlantic port for the Post Panamax era.

Submitted by Don Baus, Keyway Committee

October 4, 2013

Duffy: Third branch of government important, too

Oct. 1, 2013 -- This past week, the Rotary Club of Charleston was pleased to share time with United States District Judge Michael Duffy. Judge Duffy is a native Charlestonian and Citadel Graduate.  He was appointed to the federal bench in 1995 by Bill Clinton and has worked on significant cases throughout the US.

Judge Duffy helped to shed light and insight into the trials and triumphs of the United States judicial system.  He informed us that the United States is highly fortunate to have an independent judicial system.  We were reminded that our founding fathers specifically sculpted a system with inherent checks and balances to ensure this critical independence.  Judge Duffy also explained that the success of this system resides upon the intrinsic trust of the American people toward our judicial system.

From this unique perspective, Judge Duffy also informed about the ‘creeping dangers’ to this essential branch of US government and society.  He let us know that our judicial system is facing several hidden dangers that could undermine this essential aspect of our society.

An interesting nuance is that our judiciary system is the one branch of government that does not have official constituents. Because of this, our judicial system does not have votes like the other branches of government.  This particular issue makes our legal system vulnerable to the ‘blame game’ in Washington, particularly from other branches of government.  Judge Duffy reminded that attacks and undermining tactics from the political sphere can easily chip away at the public’s inherent trust of this system.  Once the public trust is eliminated, we no longer can have a fully functioning judicial system.

Judge Duffy closed by reminding us all that we cannot take for granted our system of government and an independent judiciary.  And we cannot allow intrusion from the other branches of government that at times try to undermine this system for their own purposes. 

-- Submitted by Elinor Averyt, Keyway Committee