Category Archives: 2. Meetings

Pevehouse: International Order is Costly But Necessary

–submitted by Valerie Johnson

Jon Pevehouse 4 5 17Jon Pevehouse, UW Political Science Professor, asked and answered the question, “How should the Trump administration balance power with constraint to maximize our legitimacy and prosperity?” at the April 5 Rotary meeting.

With graduate student Ryan Powers and Carnegie Foundation grant-funded opinion polls, Pevehouse has a wealth of information on what Americans want in international trade policy:

  • The last 5-6 years have found more people interested in trade barriers
  • Older, non-college educated people are more interested in trade barriers (these tend to be Trump supporters)
  • People want to keep jobs in the US, a platform Bernie Sanders also ran on as evidenced by the many “NO TPP” signs seen at the Democratic convention
  • Most American still want free trade (12% margin) even with job losses
  • Both political parties are pro-free trade; Hillary Clinton ran on this and Bill Clinton began NAFTA
  • Interest in trade barriers follows the economy; people like trade better than trade agreements.

Trump has indicated an interest in re-negotiating NAFTA.  Wisconsin has a positive balance of trade with Mexico, even though US does not.  The rules of origin Trump complains about were already re-negotiated by Obama as part of the TPP, but Trump threw that out; it would increase the percent of product manufactured/labeled required to be created in Mexico (for example) from 65% to perhaps 85%, decreasing what can come from China.

The concern is the Trump administration likes the power of the US economy, but not the traditional constraints we have used with other countries, such as the foreign ad Bush quietly used or the traditional tools such as the World Bank, WTO, etc.

“But without constraint,” Pevehouse said, “the fear is our power endangers our foreign policy.  International order is costly, but gives us legitimacy, as we have had with the last 60 years of prosperity.

Professor Pevehouse’s research in the areas of international relations, international political economy, American foreign policy, international organizations, and political methodology. Topics on which he has recently published include regional trade agreements, human rights institutions, exchange rate politics, and international organizations. He is the author, with Joshua Goldstein, of International Relations, the leading textbook on international politics. He is currently the editor of International Organization, the leading journal in the field of international relations.

Pevehouse has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Ohio State University and a B.A. in Political Science from University of Kansas.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

New Member Event at HotelRED

–submitted by Mary Romolino; photos by Jorge Hidalgo

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Photo 1: Charles Tubbs and Jeff Quinto; Photo 2: Haley Saalsaa, Jason Ilstrup, Karla Thennes, Leslie Lochner & Craig Bartlett; Photo 3: Leslie Overton, Jennifer Weitzman & Mary Romolino

20161213_080843It was a game of Find the Member Who… that had experienced Rotarians and new club members alike learning fun facts about each other’s unique and sometimes quirky life experiences at the new member event on December 13 at HotelRED. Thanks to Jason Beren, who organized the game, attendees mixed with literally every person in the room in order to match the experiences listed on our game sheets with the Rotarian who lived that experience. It was a terrific way to get to know our newest members and learn surprising facts about those we’ve known for years.

With members like ours, it’s no wonder our club is so dynamic! For instance, new members Jorge Hidalgo marched in President Reagan’s Inauguration Parade, Chris Rich saw a ghost at age eight, a sighting confirmed later in life by his mother; and Jennifer Weitzman has donated a kidney. Leslie Overton started at UW Madison as a music major but instead became a CPA and lived in Washington D.C. for years before returning to Madison.  Jeff Quinto’s family motto is “Often wrong, but never in doubt,” while Karla Thennes’s Minnesota-dwelling parents gave their children names beginning with the letter K. By the time Karla was due they were running low on names. Luckily Karla’s dad saw Miss Minnesota on TV and you guessed it, her name was Karla with a K.

When you meet a new club member, please extend a warm welcome and discover the experiences which led them to where they are now and to our club.  And, thanks to Jason Ilstrup and HotelRED for hosting our event.



One of 63 Talks: District Governor Dean McHugh

–submitted by Valerie Johnson; photo by Jeff Burkhart


District Governor Dean McHugh pictured here with Club President Michelle McGrath

Dean McHugh, District Rotary Governor, addressed the October 12 meeting of the downtown Rotary as one of his 63 talks of the year.  Dean is from Holmen, a club of 38 members and ten years old, where he runs an excavation business with his father. Dean shared three stories, powerful to him, that illustrated why Rotary is important.

Dean’s first story was that he was asked to Rotary meetings twice before he attended, because he didn’t see the value proposition immediately.  They didn’t give him the complete story, so he declined.  Having been a foreign exchange while at UW-LaCrosse, he was in Colombia for 7 months.  He came home with a greater understanding of the world, with a love for a second country and with a second family.   “Holmen Rotary tapped that interest, asking me to help with our exchanges, so I joined,” he said.

Second, Dean told the story of a signature Rotary project that caught his attention.  Holmen Rotary raised $7,000 for a project in Lima, Peru.  This was turned into a $25,000 through Rotary matching funds.  They used bio sand water filters to give 15,000 people clean water.  They have now done five clean water projects impacting up to 50,000 people.  “It’s powerful to go see what one small club can do in the world,” McHugh said.

For his third story, McHugh told of trying to recruit Scott Ryan, a friend of 40 years, to join Rotary.  Ryan attended eight meetings before joining, thinking he wasn’t qualified.  Scott joined, but didn’t really become a Rotarian until he went on a Peru trip.  His daughter sent him hair clips to take to people he met. When distributing them, the girls hugged him; he saw they appreciated his caring and he wept.  It was a real Rotary moment.  Scott went on to become youth exchange officer and then club president.  He started four new clubs and is now a district officer.  McHugh says, “I’m proud I gave him the gift of Rotary.”

Dean warned 10% of members drop out each year and challenged the club to bring in at least 50 members.  He closed with, “May Rotary friends and Rotary ways continue to help you serve.”

If you missed our meeting this week, watch the video here.

Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken

–submitted by Linda Baldwin; photos by Will Anzenberger

Good, Better, ____.   Never let it _______.  ‘Til your Good is _________.  and your Better is _________.  Fill in the blanks from Carl Olson’s presentation this week.

Carl, “our bring your kids to Rotary today” speaker was a terrific hit with all, young and old.  Clap Once.

He’s a motivation speaker, magician and all around positive guy with this message…Young folks can be whatever they want to be…with self confidence, being around great folks and being ready to take on the world.  Clap twice.

He entertained us with a message…with card tricks, fire in a book, and best of all, the magic plastic glass…Clap 3 times.

Check out the photos that follow.  Sorry you missed it.

And if you missed our meeting this week, watch the video here.


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Today in History: Saying Farewell to “Brownie”


–submitted by Rick Kiley; photos by Valerie Johnson

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June 29 was the annual Changing of the Guard “Roast” of outgoing Club President Ellsworth Brown hosted by Club members who have joined during the past year, a.k.a. the Roast Committee.  All agreed it was very creatively staged and “hit all the right notes.” Several veteran members said it was among the best they’d seen.

President Ellsworth Brown began the program thanking the Rotary Office staff and those who supported him during the past year: his wife Dorothy, Assistant Julie Schultz and members of the club.  He thanked the Club for it’s commitment, action, willingness to say “yes” and volunteerism, ending with a quote from Yogi Berra, “It isn’t the heat that gets you, it’s the humility.”

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President Ellsworth then ceremonially passed the President’s pin to incoming President Michelle McGrath, and she passed the Vice President’s pin to Donna Hurd.  Past President Tim Stadelman welcomed Ellsworth to the Past President’s Club; Renee Moe presented him the Past President’s plaque and Wes Sparkman presented him a Paul Harris Fellow pin.


The Roast was a Jeopardy-style TV game-show theme.  Of course, one of the contestants was 50-week reigning champion Ellsworth “Brownie” Brown.  The show kicked off with a video from Reno, Nevada, of a trauma helicopter pilot, Ellsworth and Dorothy’s son, Lincoln, and his wife Tia.  Lincoln then made a surprise entrance in his flight suit.

The game show’s categories of Jeopardy-style answers included Early Ellsworth, Hysterical Society, Rotary Rites of Passage, 50 Shades of Brown and Word of the Day.  Of course, the winner was Ellsworth Brown.

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Winner’s prizes included a collection of pens donated by Club members (to enhance Ellsworth’s own collection), a historical pen from a sycamore tree at the place President Lincoln and General Grant once met, and a special edition of the Isthmus with Ellsworth’s caricature on the cover.

Finally, a parting video featured new President Michelle McGrath donating a unique “artifact”, Ellsworth himself, to the Wisconsin Historical Society.


Tax Incremental Financing, a Remarkable But Poorly Understood Urban Development Tool

–submitted by Dave Mollenhoff; photo by Valerie Johnson

TIF Panel 6 22 2016

[Pictured here from left: Mike Barry, Natalie Erdman, Dan Thompson and Steve Walters]

Few Wisconsin voters understand what tax incremental financing (TIF) is, but since its introduction in 1975, it has proved to be one of the most powerful and effective urban development tools in Wisconsin’s history.  On Wednesday members were privileged to hear a panel explain this poorly understood topic.  Speakers were: Dan Thompson, former executive director of the Wisconsin League of Municipalities;  Natalie Erdman, Director of the Madison Department of Planning, Community and Economic Development; and Mike Barry, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services for the Madison Metropolitan School District.  The panel was artfully moderated by Steve Walters, with WisconsinEye.

Thompson reminded the audience that by the 1970s the suburbanization of homes and factories left huge swatches of once valuable central city land vacant and blighted.  City leaders sought financial incentives to revitalize downtowns and closed-in neighborhoods.  This was why Governor Patrick Lucey encouraged the legislature to approve a TIF law for Wisconsin.

Erdman explained how the law works by using Tax Incremental District #36, known as the Capital East District.  She noted how this sprawling area along East Washington Avenue from Blair Street to the Yahara River, long known for its car dealerships, had great potential.  However, developers could not undertake projects there because squishy soil required expensive foundations and contamination from old factories had to be remediated.  When the City created TID 36 its real estate was assessed at $75 million.

To realize the district’s extraordinary potential, the City developed a comprehensive plan. Projects included expensive high-rise mixed use projects such as The Constellation and the Galaxie, the renovation of Breese Stevens Field, street improvements, and Central Park refinements.

By 2015 assessed values of land and improvements in TID 36 had soared to $132 million and many more large projects are about to break ground and are being planned.  This huge increase in real estate values caused an additional $1.5 million to flow into the city treasury every year.   Under tax incremental financing these increased taxes are used to pay back the City’s front-end development costs.

During the district’s life—typically about 13 years in Madison—taxes continue to get collected and distributed to all taxing jurisdictions, but at level of the district before redevelopment.  Then when the district is terminated, all taxing jurisdictions start getting the bonus taxes created by the increased values.

Barry explained how school districts and cities work together to enjoy the increases in real estate taxes generated by tax incremental districts.

“Thank God for tax incremental districts,” exclaimed Rotarian Bob Miller who is also mayor of the city of Monona.  “Without it we would be in a sorry state.”  Miller explained how his suburb was able to use TIF to do a $20 million upgrade to Monona Avenue.

Special appreciation goes to Carol Toussaint and Roth Judd for fomenting and producing this exceptionally informative program.

For more information on TIF visit this link:

Our thanks to Michael Barry, Natalie Erdman and Dan Thompson for serving on this TIF panel with Steve Walters of WisconsinEye moderating.  We also thank Dave Mollenhoff for preparing this review article and WisconsinEye for videotaping.  CLICK to watch the video.

Goal of Zero Suicide as a Model for Community Transformation

–submitted by Jerry Thain; photo by Valerie Johnson

Edward CoffeyDr. Edward Coffey, President & CEO of the Menninger Clinic, as well as Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences & Neurology at Baylor College of Medicine, was in Madison June 7-8 for a collaborative meeting of 150 health and other community organizations to discuss treatment of depression and the goal of zero suicide.  He spoke at our meeting of June 8th about his work in this field.

Assisted by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, research and work to reach a goal of Perfect Depression Care (PDC) has been a focus for Dr. Coffey in recent years.  He noted that suicide rates in the US  have increased over the last 15 years, especially among middle-aged white males, and the rate in Wisconsin is now at 13.5 per 100,000, although Dane County has a lower rate.

PDC became a goal of both the Institute of Medicine & the American Psychiatric Association when each issued reports indicating that the mental health care system was in chaos and needed a total overhaul.  Dr. Coffey said there are six dimensions to achieving PDC:  Safe; Effective; Patient-centered; Timely; Efficient & Equitable.  He described rules developed to attain these goals.  As to why perfection is sought, he noted that a 99.9% effectiveness rate would result in 12 babies delivered to the wrong parents and 2 unsafe landings at Houston airport daily, among other things.  Therefore, the goal to deal with suicide is to eliminate it, not just to reduce it dramatically.  There must be a planned care model for treatment of depression that will be a system in which an informed, activated patient who has productive interaction with the health care professional treating the patient is the result.  The six dimensions to achieve PDC are achieved only when treatment is perfectly safe and the patient is 100% satisfied that the other five dimensions have been met.  Efforts to implement such a system at the Henry Ford Behavioral Health Sciences where he works have seen significant decreases in suicide rates there.  The audacity of seeking perfection was noted by Dr. Coffey but he emphasized that anything less is unsatisfactory.  In 2012, the US government adopted the concept of zero suicide in its report on suicide.  In Wisconsin, there is a state wide suicide prevention strategy, but it has not endorsed the zero suicide goal to date.

Dr. Coffey concluded his presentation with a challenge to the Madison community to become the healthiest community in America even as he works toward that in his own community of Houston.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  CLICK to watch the video.