January 11, 2010 Rotogram

TODAY

Doug Yelverton, Lowndes Co. Cattleman’s Association, is our speaker.

NO MEETING NEXT WEEK

In observance of Martin Luther King Day, there will be no meeting on Jan. 18.

JANUARY 25

It may still be the depths of winter, but visions of the baseball diamond can warm things up. John Cohen, MSU baseball coach, will preview the 2010 season.

LAST WEEK

Invocation and Pledge: Omis Avant
Attendance: Attendance improved with 114 members (33 exempt, 1 honorary) present and 78 (16 exempt, 11 honorary) absent.
Guests and visitors: In a rare moment, we had no guests of members. Club guests were Paul Sims, Starkville Daily News, and Kasper Eriksen and Francesa Scaravelli, Youth Exchange Students.
Kudos: President Martha congratulated Gary Jackson on daughter Kelli’s becoming Miss Rodeo America 2010.

INTERACT’S SOUP’ER BOWL

Our Interact chapter has chosen hunger as the target of its first community service project. In the lead up to Super Bowl weekend, the students will collect canned soup for local food pantries.
Francesca, Interact vice president, announced that the collection will go to food ministries at Calvary Baptist Church and Peter’s Rock Church of God in Christ. The collection drive will be from Jan. 25 through Feb. 6.
Rotarians are urged to bring soup to the Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 meetings and to place collection boxes in their places of business. Interact members will collect cans outside of WalMart and Kroger on the two Saturdays before the Super Bowl.

DISTRICT WATER PROJECT

President Martha reported that our contributions to the district’s Kenyan water project now stand at $11,656 ($3,536 from fall social, $4,060 from contributions, and $4,060 from the Club budget match). She reminded us to note the latest Rotarian cover article’s focus on worldwide water and sanitation needs.

ROTARY CLASSIC RODEO

The fourth annual Rotary Classic Rodeo is Feb. 12 and 13 at the Mississippi Horse Park. This year’s beneficiary is the SOAR tuition guarantee program at East Mississippi Community College.
Loren Zimmerman, rodeo chair, reported that most sponsors are in place. Rotarians will need to volunteer to work at the event. Each member will be responsible for ticket sales again this year.

ROTARY FELLOWSHIPS

In a Rotary Minute, Joe Thompson reminded us of Rotary fellowships. There are more than 100 such interest groups recognized by Rotary International. Joe proposes to organize a local affiliate of  the Wine Appreciation Fellowship. He encouraged participation of members with a strong interest in “learning, not just drinking, wine.”

BUCKLE YOUR SEATBELTS FOR A THREE-YEAR POLITICAL ROMP

Assuming that the Democrats nominate Barak Obama for a second term, what will the Republicans do? Marty Wiseman, Mississippi State University political science professor, floated his Haley Barbour theory as he spoke to the Club last week.
“My wife has said you probably need to keep your mouth shut or people are gonna think you’re crazy,” quipped the long-time political observer.
In a talk that covered the next three years of elections – 2010 mid-terms, 2011 statewide, and 2012 presidential – he noted that smoke-filled-room decisions at national conventions are gone. Party primaries and caucuses have made the presidential nominating process more of a popularity contest with nominations decided well before conventions.
On the Republican horizon, Wiseman says Sarah Palin is going to be hard to stop. So he sees Barbour as the go-to person for the party establishment.
The governor was architect of the `94 Republican congressional takeover and National Republican Party chairman. He has, for a couple of decades, said that the party has to make its case in the governors’ mansions. Governors are titular head of their states’ parties.
Now, as chair of the Republican Governors Association, he is viewed as a successful chief executive thanks to the state’s Hurricane Katrina response and a couple of other things that have gotten national recognition. He has said that he will be involved in virtually every one of the 37 governors’ races between now and 2011 where a Republican runs.
“The potential for a Sarah Palin–Haley Barbour ticket is not foolish,” said Wiseman. “If Republicans can’t stop the people’s votes for Palin, they will be looking for a rock-solid vice president that they can ‘hang their hat on.’ Nobody will have more credentials than Haley.”
“You don’t run for vice president. You run for president or are a player,” continued Wiseman. “He is definitely a behind-the-scenes player. Probably taught Karl Rove everything he knows.”
To back his prognostication, he cited the upcoming Newsweek feature “The Anti-Obama: Could a Wealthy, White, Well-connected Southerner Grow Up to be President?”
In contrast, he said, “The Democrats’ hearts’ desire is that Palin fall just-short and run as third-party candidate; perhaps as a Tea Party candidate and split the Republicans as Ross Perot did when Clinton won.”
Addressing the state budget situation we’re facing, Wiseman said, “I can’t find any figures that ever looked like this before in my life. Combined figures over the next 12 to 24 months show we may be approaching a billion dollars shortfall.”
“Talking with Gov. Tuck just before the meeting, I can tell she is very relieved to be sitting here with y’all and not down there in that capitol where things are going to get hotter than ever before,” he continued. “The State of Mississippi is in dire straits.”
Noting that it is rare that the executive budget is getting ten times more play than the legislative offering, he explained that the legislature, with 174 districts, house and senate combined, can’t be making any grand pronouncements about something to cut or consolidate when they are simply putting out a temporary budget. On the other hand, the governor can startle.
“I have been waiting half-way through his second term for somebody to call Haley Barbour a lame-duck, but he just won’t be lame. He knows how to get into the spotlight and make it work for him,” said Wiseman. “The legislature doesn’t mind that the governor has to take cuts when they can say, ‘We appropriated and he cut it.’”
However, if the legislators agree to his requested 10 percent cut, they will give up more authority.
For Wiseman, the most ominous sign is in support of education. Mississippi is last in per pupil expenditures, yet near the top in portion of budget appropriated to education – roughly 64 percent of the entire budget.
“You say, ‘Big deal, cut it anyway, school’s aren’t performing,’” he said. “However, that’s a  troublesome approach.
Citing conservative pundit George Will, Wiseman noted that in our country’s first 100 years, wealth was created by land; in the second 100 years, capital, equipment and buildings created wealth; now it is created by gray matter, brain power, not assembly lines. Today, ideas make the money, not the product. In a state that has struggled so long, it’s frightening to have to cut into the flesh and bone of education, the only thing that can help us as gray matter does become the valued commodity.
Wiseman is particularly concerned about the rural brain drain where states like Mississippi are losing the best and brightest. When jobs that require brains don’t come, the brains go looking for them. Those left behind have lesser ability to build a tax base.

A fine sub — Introducing our speaker, Rotarian J.C. Patton said, “Today is a clear indication that Haley Barbour will be running for president. He needs Southern Democrats to vote for him, so has sent a bi-partisan representative.”
Because of a miscommunication, we didn’t have the advertised representative of the governor’s office. So, Marty Wiseman, director of MSU’s Stennis Institute and father of Starkville’s mayor jumped in on short notice.
Quoting another club’s introduction of him, he said he’s viewed as “always good to come when they can’t find anybody else. He added, “I’d bet if Barbour had known I was standing here in place of someone from the governor’s office, he would have gotten here himself!”

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