February 6th at Westwood Rotary

Festivities began with the Pledge, led by HENRIETTA LIAN.  She preceded the actual Pledge by reminding us that this statement means different things to each of us - a thought well taken, HENRIETTA.  The Song was next - and as with last week, it was again You're a Grand Old Flag.  JACK HARRIS and LENNY FRIEDMAN led us, despite LENNY'S caution that this was one of the few songs JACK can play - careful, LENNY, we don't got a lot of accompanists.  DICK ROBINSON, who also appeared later as a panelist, provided the Invocation, based on Smiles - they are catching, and next time he is up there he wants to see nothing but Smiles!

We had a bunch of visitors.  PP JIM COLLINS brought his neighbor, Bob Greer, who apparently felt he needed some investment advice.  PP JIM SUMNER was with Doris, while LILLIAN KLIEWER was accompanied by Carl.  BRIAN BUMPAS brought 
a Special Guest, Duke Russell, who originated the idea of an actor performing the Gettysburg Address on Lincoln's birthday.  This is the 11th year, and on Wed, the 12th, Hal Holbrook will provide the remembrance.  12 noon to l p.m. at the Los Angeles National Cemetery - should be a worthwhile event to witness.  We did have a Visiting Rotarian, Bill Bestman, from Marshalltown, Iowa - Bill tells me they have almost 200 members, and the town itself only has 30K people - not a bad percentage, right?  PETER MORE brought Shirley, and SALLY BRANT had her friend, Barbara.  PDG ANDY ANDERSON was with Pat, and it was good to see SALLY PHILIPPS - Come around more often, SALLY, please.

You will be surprised to know that PP RON LYSTER sometimes sends out emails.  This one reminded us that former President Ronald Reagan will be celebrating his 92nd birthday.  And on the subject of emails, RUDY ALVAREZ pointed out that the Carol Tree Cafe on San Vicente in Brentwood will be offering a free tasting, from 4:30 to 7 on Tuesday the 11th - you can't beat the price!  And speaking of openings, Joy and I stopped by to see the new Whole Foods Market on Gayley in Westwood - opened just yesterday, and it's impressive.

Our annual Japanese Youth Exchange will take place from June 23rd thru July 26th this coming summer.  For those who may not be familiar with this fine event, we send some of our high school kids over there, and in turn, the Japanese send back some of their kids.  The program in Japan starts with some sightseeing including Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima, and then a series of home visits, usually for a week each, in four Rotarian's homes.  This is in Tochigi Prefecture, about 60 miles outside of Tokyo.  Last year, WVRC had
FIVE kids involved - the age range is from 16 to 20 - and this is the only Rotary program where relatives can be involved without compromising our non-profit status.  It's open to sons and daughters of Rotarians, plus grandchildren. 

PDG ANDY ANDERSON'S granddaughter was one of our exchangees.  She enjoyed it so much that she decided to study Japanese, only to find that her high school offered Japanese Literature, but not the language itself. (On that subject, the kids spend several weeks getting ready for the trip, including memorizing a short speech in Japanese, which they give to the Rotary Clubs they visit - it's a real cultural experience). PP RON LYSTER'S daughter, Cindy, also went, and she came back glowing with praise.  PP CHRIS GAYNOR'S daughter, Nicole, didn't want to go - but she, too, loved it, and now Scott will be going this summer. PP JOHN SINGLETON will have two grandsons applying - one in Los Angeles, and the other from Connecticut. And while I wasn't on the program, I must report that both my daughter, Andrea, and my stepdaughter, Jennifer, have gone, and they certainly join the others in their praise for the trip.  SO - think about your children or grandchildren joining the group this summer.  It's a real winner!

Speaking of PP JOHN SINGLETON, a medical update.  He is back in the hospital, at Scripps in Encinitas.  They are doing some tests, and he expects to be released by the weekend. Cards would be nice - and as I've said before, none of us do as many nice things as we should.  Try it, you'll like it.  A belated Thank You to DANNY SKINNER for his help with the lovely flowers on
the tables at the dinner for R.I. President Bhichai Rattakul at Riviera.  And one last announcement - the February WVRC Board of Directors meeting will be on Monday the 24th - please save the date.

Fearless PP STEVE SCHERER came forward as the Chair of our 11th Annual Financial Advisors meeting.  STEVE reminded us that we have just completed our 3rd consecutive year of a declining stock market, which ties the previous record, and thus a 4th year of decline would be unexpected - but this decline was preceded by another record, the nine years of rising markets.  Last year alone, the DOW dropped 16%, the S&P 500 declined 23% and NASDAQ fell 31% - while US Treasury Bonds gained 12%.  He asked for a show of hands from the audience on our opinions:  In 2003, we seemed to indicate we expected about  a 5% increase in the market, with interest rates up slightly.

DONN CONNER believes the economy IS improving, with the last four quarters all going up.  Bonds are on a bubble - a caution here.  One year treasuries ending at 2.25, ten years 4.4, the Dow up 6% and NASDAQ flat. His dividend stock pick is RPM, a company that makes Rustoleum and Bondex plus industrial adhesives.

LEE DUNAYER suggested protecting yourself on bonds, since if your holdings are coming due too far in the future, you may want to shorten their terms.  He expects both the S&P and Dow to go up about 8%, but not much increase, if any, in NASDAQ.   His stock pick is BofA, which is a much more efficient (and thus, profitable) bank than before it was taken over.  Current price is 68, may go to 85.

DICK ROBINSON picks the Southern Company, a Utility.  The market should go up 4 to 5 %, but only in the 2nd half of the year, Dow ending at 8676, S&P at 915, and NASDAQ to 1388.  He thinks interest rates will stay low, (and I now quote), "I'm not going to spend a lot of time like some people I know". And he sat down.

LEO TSENG pointed out that interest rates depend on whether we have a war in Iraq - and if so, rates will go up.  One year Treasuries 2.42, ten year ending at 4.15, Dow up 6 or 7%, since earnings are improving.  S&P up 10%, to 930, and NASDAQ may decline to 1250.  I thought I heard him say his stock pick was "Dogs of the Dow" and upon my much ridiculed inquiry, this title was indeed confirmed!  Seems they gather the ten best-producing stocks and you can buy into this package.  It varies as to content, depending upon what is performing well at the time, but should average about 4%.

JIM BECHTEL was unable to attend, due to the continued fragile condition of Ellen - he spends about eight hours a day at the hospital, and when I last talked to him, she is slowly responding to rehabilitation.  They did celebrate her 13th birthday at the hospital a few days ago.  JIM, we admire your caring tenacity, and certainly hope for the best.  He did send a report which PP STEVE read, as follows: in 2003, S&P 500 ending at 900, Dow to 9200, NASDAQ at 1300, and his stock pick is the Federal National Mortgage

And finally, PP STEVE.  His stock pick is Monsanto, currently at 16, with a low of 13 and a high of 34.  They are leaders in genetic engineering of crops, which increases the yield considerably - but there are those who fear such 'tampering'.  He expects a war with Iraq - short, but victorious, and believes the stimulus package will pass.  Overall, he expects an increase of 7 to 8% across the board.

Carl KLIEWER, husband of LILLIAN, rose to ask about the continuing decline in value of the dollar.  LEO TSENG bravely stepped forward, reminding us all that its value does, indeed, go up and down.  SALLY BRANT asked what to sell and the consensus was, long term bonds. 

So that covers it - and we thank our professionals, who have to deal with these matters every day.  Personally, I don't envy them their burdens.

YOE, Ernie Wolfe