The Democratic Party in South Carolina
We all have responsibilities no matter what our party

April 5, 2005 — Our speaker, Joe Erwin, is the new Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He spoke to Rotarians today about the Democratic Party, what needs to be done within the Party, and what it means to have the kind of responsibilities we have today as a free citizen of South Carolina and the United States.

Erwin’s speech was not necessarily motivated by a “Democrat versus Republican” mindset; rather he noted that we are all quite similar because we discuss our is- sues in reasonable formats such as debates, unlike many countries around the world who kill each other over sim- ple policy differences. Republican or Democrat, we all have responsibilities to our state and country, even if we are not in the military.

Erwin earned his position by wanting to make a difference for South Carolina, although the state Democratic Party at the time was deeply in debt and its candidates were not doing well in recent elections. However, he felt this was the time to fight hard for the Party and make changes. He stated, “when things look their bleakest, that is the time for greatest opportunity.” With that said, he ran for the position (after being talked into it by his wife, a self-described

“Independent”) and now he is charged with rebuilding the Party and recruiting “good men and women”. He will also be charged with finding a Democratic candidate to run for Governor in next year’s election. He even mentioned a few names as possible candidates, including Senator Tommy Moore from Clearwater and Senator Anson McGill from Kingstree. Erwin also offered his thoughts on Howard Dean as a national party leader who understands grassroots politics.

Erwin admits the issues are different between Democrats and Republicans, but
ultimately we all have a responsibility to elevate democracy for everyone.

In other business. . .

Jake Burrows gave the invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Jim Geffert welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests. Richard von Werssowetz offered Health & Happiness, and Ellen Jackson made an announcement regard- ing the upcoming Open House. Four new members were inducted: Jeremy Cook, Gordon Jones, Wayne Outlaw, and Chaun Pflug. Andy Brack introduced our speaker, Joe Erwin.

— Amy Riley

The Future of Social Security
What are the issues?

March 29, 2005 — Our speaker, Robertson Wendt, is a Charleston attorney who specializes in disability benefits law. Wendt began by pointing out that he is here not to engage in ideological warfare, but rather to discuss the serious issue before us. Social Security has problems, and it is important to the South Carolina economy: In 2003, 17.5 % of South Carolinians received benefits totaling $598 million every month.

SC Senator Lindsay Graham and Senator Shaw of Florida have emerged as the two leaders in reform pro-

posals. Neither proposal calls for private accounts, but both use index funds, similar to the federal retirement system. Wendt noted that we must be careful for what we wish for: one of the ramifications of investing Social Security monies in the stock market is the role and potential impact of the federal government being so deeply involved in the stock market.

Wendt noted that the Social Security website is rich with historical material dating back to the founding of the system that during the depth of the Great Depression. Among the principles of Roosevelt outlined were that the plan would be tied to work and that the program would be funded. His intention was to soften the blow of the “vicissitudes of life.” The plan was to start collecting taxes in 1937 and start paying benefit to 1942, after accumulating assets. In 1938, a group of Republicans changed the law to start paying out benefits and added disability as a benefit. The result is a mix of a trust and a pay-as-you-go system. In 1983, several changes were enacted to shore up the program, such as slowly increasing the retirement age, increasing the payroll tax, and scaled back benefits.

The real issue, Wendt says, it that human behavior does not lend itself to private accounts. The experience with 401(k) plans has been people make poor investment decisions and use retirement funds for current needs. In addition, the stock market entails risk and timing is everything. If someone has a bad fortune to retire during a down market, they could be left with considerably diminished retirement income.

Wendt thinks that the outcome will be similar to the federal retirement system, which has three or more index funds to choose from and purchase an annuity at retirement. There would be a minimum payout guaranteed by the government. The funding for these plans differs – Graham’s would increase the payroll tax, while Shaw’s would rely on current taxpayers.

Wendt also noted that the key question is what are expectations and whether this will work. The federal government would be the biggest investor of the private stock market, which has enormous ramifications. In addition, there are increased costs administrative costs of transition of politics, which will the objections to what companies are invested in such as tobacco companies, while cigarette so on: the public pressure for exemptions, which is already happened in 401(k) plans; and the impact of risk the role of government in the stock market or a lot in our lives in general.

Regardless of what we do, Wendt concluded, it will cost.

In other business. . .

Patterson Smith gave the invocation and led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Sue Sommer Kresse welcomed visiting Rotarians and guests. John Bleecker offered Health & Happiness, and Paul Welborn made an announcement regarding the 2006 District Conference. Joan Ustin introduced our speaker, Robertson Wendt.

— Amy Riley

Report from Japan, details of Spring social
President-elect Smith offers glimpse into convention trip

JUNE 1, 2004 – The Club held a Spring Social this week at the City Gallery in lieu of its normal business meeting. Attendees were treated to good food, good art, and good company. Because there was no speaker on which to report, the Keyway is instead including the following report from Mark Smith, who attended the Rotary International Convention in Japan this month.

Mark’s Report:

My wife, Elayne and I recently attended the 95th Annual Rotary International Convention in Osaka, Japan on May 23-26th. The Convention Committee and Host Organization Committee did an excellent job with the agenda, programs and social events considering there were 45,560 Registrants and 111 Countries represented and in attendance.

The opening Plenary Session was most impressive. We were welcomed by the Prefecture Governor and the Mayor of Osaka, followed by the Presentation of the Flags of the Rotary World. The past presidents were introduced, and then Rotary International President Jonathon Majiyagbe (from Nigeria) delivered a wonderful presentation and recap of Rotary’s good work in vocational and international service, water management, population and health concerns, literacy and education. There were lots of celebrations of Interact and Youth Exchange, RYLA, The Rotary Foundation, and the family of Rotary, as well as several other causes and programs close to Rotarians’ hearts.

The second plenary session spotlighted the Centennial and the many ways Rotarians can celebrate this Rotary milestone while preparing for a new century of success. There was a Centennial book signing by all the past presidents present and the author, and a president and president-elect recognition luncheon.

The third plenary session opened with a presentation of the Rotary World Peace Award for Understanding and Peace to the Tim Parry Jonathan Ball Trust. Then the Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair, James Lacey, addressed the convention with an inspirational overview of the Foundation’s work to do good in the world.

The fourth and last Plenary Session looked to the future of Rotary, and President-elect Glenn Estess addressed the convention about the areas of focus for the Centennial Year of Rotary.

I would encourage everyone to get involved this year in our club in some capacity. I could not be more honored than I am to lead us into the Centennial Year of Rotary as your President-elect. I look forward to working with each and everyone one of you as we celebrate together the 100th Anniversary of Rotary. God Bless all of you and all the good work Rotarians do in our community, country, and world.

— Amy Jenkins

Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy
Pastoral care and counseling for those who risk their lives for us

July 27, 2004 – – Rob Dewey, Senior Chaplain and Founder of Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, spoke to Rotarians about the counseling needs of our fire, police and EMS rescue professionals and the stress they undergo everyday in the line of duty. CCC ministers to these fire, police, and EMS professionals, but also to others including their families, rescue crews and emergency victims themselves.

Founded in 1990, CCC also provides on-scene early intervention at emergency scenes by responding with trained clergy. Oftentimes, if a victim of an accident or other emergency situation requires ministering, the patient’s priest from his/her church can be called by a Chaplain. CCC’s 15 current volunteers also network with Chaplains from area hospitals and Chaplains at the Citadel. Emergency personnel and their families also benefit from CCC counseling for on-the-job stress and pressure. According to statistics, suicide takes more emergency personnel’s lives than duty, so this ministry is especially important.

CCC responds to emergencies locally, statewide, and nationally. Locally, Chaplains respond to automobile accidents, suicide attempts and other emergency situations in the Charleston region thanks to a team of local clergy, volunteers and networks of other area Chaplains. Through the South Carolina Association of Chaplains and SLED, Rob and his team also respond to events on a statewide level, such as the recent death of an Orangeburg police officer. Staff Chaplains helped the Orangeburg Police Department and supported its officers during this time of grief at the loss of one of their own. CCC even responds nationally, and this was evident when Rob went to New York after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Among his many other hats, Rob is also a Chaplain for the FBI and ATF where he routinely trains for potential terror attacks and hostage crisis negotiations.

We are proud of our fellow Rotarian who has formed the first Crisis Chaplaincy program in South Carolina, which is only among 100 other programs in the U.S.!

Charleston in the era of Porgy and Bess
Local author and professor explores Charleston’s rich literary heritage

July 20, 2004 – – Jim Hutchisson, Ph. D., author and Professor of English at the Citadel, enlightened Rotarians this week with a unique glimpse into Charleston’s literary “Renaissance era of the 1920s and 1930s. His journey to this often overlooked time in Charleston’s history was initiated by a friend’s suggestion to research Dubose Heyward, the author of Porgy and Bess which was famously adapted as a folk opera by George Gershwin in 1935.

While Professor Hutchisson was involved professionally in many endeavors and had written books on such figures as Sinclair Lewis, he claimed that finding a good book topic was somewhat of a challenge. When his friend suggested Dubose Heyward as a subject, Hutchisson did not know much about the author, except that he had written Porgy and Bess. He knew even less about Charleston’s popularity in literary circles in the 1920s, which came to be known as the Renaissance era of Charleston. What he would later find out was that Heyward in fact collaborated with Gershwin to create the opera which would catapult Charleston into the literary limelight and open up the Charleston Renaissance as a historical movement.

Hutchisson wrote his biography of Dubose Heyward in 2000 with research from the South Carolina Historical Society, which housed most of Heyward’s letters and correspondence. This research also revealed how Heyward was a full partner in the production, writing many of the lyrics for the songs in the opera as well as the libretto, and finding the actors and actresses to portray his characters. Porgy and Bess brought fame to Charleston and cemented the city’s reputation as a literary and cultural center. Professor Hutchisson credits the Charleston Renaissance for producing many literary talents from this area and creating a whole movement of poetry, literature and visual arts in Charleston and in the South. The Spoleto Festival is surely a testament to this movement, and Hutchisson believes that Charleston is perhaps in the middle of another Renaissance.