Tuesday, March 29th

At this morning’s breakfast meeting at the SD Yacht Club, we welcomed and inducted new member Jon Colby who originally hails from Oregon.  We were also very pleased to have Mike Hansen, Director of Land Use and Environmental Policy for the City of San Diego, as our guest speaker.  Mike brought to us his unique inside view of City Hall, sharing with us some of the things he’s learned while working in the public realm of city government.

"Thank you!" to our guest speaker Mike Hansen, Director of Land Use and Environmental Policy for the City of San Diego.

“Thank you!” to our guest speaker Mike Hansen, Director of Land Use and Environmental Policy for the City of San Diego.

President Ken welcomes new Optimist Jon Colby, as fellow member Vince reads what being an Optimist entails.

President Ken welcomes new Optimist Jon Colby, as fellow member Vince reads what being an Optimist entails.

Tuesday, March 15th

(Click here for a quick slideshow of the event.)

The Ides of March is a notorious day for leaders of ancient Rome.  It is famous for intrigue, deceit and backstabbing.   Luckily, the future leaders of San Diego practice far more civility, good deeds and optimism.  This was quite obvious and the Annual Point Loma Optimist Club’s Oratorical Contest held this morning.

Led by Club Member Dan Williams, eight outstanding students from Correia Junior High wowed the capacity crowd at the San Diego Yacht Club breakfast meeting.  They each spoke to the audience of teachers, parents, family members and Club members for 4-5 minutes on the topic of:  “How my best brings out the best in others”.  The students were coached in public speaking by their teachers Keri Clark and John Snedden. A panel of three judges, including Jill Curtiss, Mike Carleton, and George Beall, had a very difficult time choosing their top three contestants. After a long deliberation, the judges awarded:


First Prize to Jordyn Duby                  Second Prize to Ila Komasa, and                   Runner Up recognition to Tristan Stafford.

Jordyn Duby

Jordyn Duby

Ila Komasa

Ila Komasa

Tristan Stafford

Tristan Stafford













According to Jordyn, she is “small but mighty!” Jordyn believes hard work and an ambitious nature brings out the best in her. “I don’t let others bring me down. The only thing that really matters is how I feel about myself!” By being her best, Jordyn inspires those around her to be better.

Ila has a passion for performing. She believes the best performances come from the leading performers doing their best. “This encourages each performer to do their best.” Ila has a passion for Irish dance. Many Irish dances are group performances, so judging is done based on how well the group performs. “Leading by example brings out the best in our team!”


Tristan Stafford has a favorite quote from newsman Charles Karult, “Good teachers know how to bring out the best in their students.” Tristan has a life-long friend with minor speech impediment. Tristan and his friend are “study buddies”. “I believe by helping my friend with his studies, he has become a better student,” he told us.

The other speakers included Tristan Cooper, Zack Greene, Isaiah Gabriel, Breegan O’Hearn and Fiona Byrne. Each of them spoke eloquently about their passions and what brings out the best in their friends and family members.

The passion and maturity of all the student contestants was quite impressive. Public speaking seems to come natural to them. They are poised and relaxed in their presentations. They speak with a natural rhythm and a polished delivery. The Point Loma Optimists want to thank all the students who participated in this year’s Oratorical Contest and wish them well with their future endeavors.


Dan Williams, contestants and family

Dan Williams, contestants and family

Tuesday, March 8th

He is a veteran prosecutor, a recognized leader and honored prosecuting attorney.  Now he wants to be the next City Attorney for San Diego.  His name … Robert P. Hickey.

Mr. Hickey (Bob) visited with the Point Loma Optimist Club this morning.  He shared his credentials and vision for the elected position of San Diego City Attorney.  Bob is a local, graduating from Poway High School, UCSD and USD School of Law.  He is also a  proud Point Loma resident!

Pres Ken and Robert Hickey

               Pres Ken and Robert Hickey

Bob has received many endorsements for his campaign, including those of Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Sheriff Bill Gore, Supervisor Ron Roberts and the San Diego Police Officers Association, to name a few.  He is one of five candidates for the June primary election.

“I see three primary roles for the City Attorney.  Managing civil lawsuits brought by or against the City.  Prosecuting criminal cases against misdemeanor offenders.  And, providing legal advice to the Mayor, City Council,  and City departments,” he told us.  Managing a department of 140 attorneys is a big job.  Protecting the City and moving it forward is Bob’s biggest goal.

The passage of Prop 47 reduced penalties for certain non-serious property and drug offenses.  This action moved the prosecution of these now defined misdemeanors to the City Attorney’s office.  “There has been a 10-15% increase in the amount of misdemeanor cases handled by the City Attorney’s office,” according to Bob.  “We need to increase our staffing to handle this increase and adjust our procedures to effectively handle this new workload.”  Bob has a proven track record of case management and successfully managing attorneys.

As for advising the Mayor and Council, Bob would like to focus on making San Diego a more friendly and efficient place for businesses to work.  “The City Attorney’s job is to implement the wishes of the Council and Mayor.  I look forward to working with them.”  The Point Loma Optimist Club thanks Robert P. Hickey for the visit and wishes him good luck in the upcoming election.


Tuesday, March 1st

You found a piece of property.  It looks like a great deal.  You think you could create a wonderful neighborhood and maybe even a place for the local grocery store.  You want to be a California developer!

Well, maybe you should talk with Attorney John E. Ponder, from the firm of Sheppard Mullin, about your big dreams, before cashing in all your retirement accounts.  John visited with the PL Optimists this morning to talk about his work.

Mr. Ponder has been practicing real estate law in California since 1980.  He has worked on some of the largest real estate developments across the state, and some much smaller projects, maybe even the one behind your back yard.  He specializes in assisting land owners through the myriad of local, state, federal and special district laws and regulations.  He is an expert in the processing of environmental impact documents, such as the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.  Throw in some California Coastal Commission jurisdiction, maybe an historic district overlay, or and Americans with Disability Act issue, or a wetland with state and federal species present, and you haveyourself a typical development nightmare scenario!

Pres. Ken and Attorney John Ponder

Pres. Ken and Attorney John Ponder

Mr. Ponder provided a bit of insight and “behind the curtains” look at the processes involved in typical California real estate project.  “Over 20% of the cost of new homes in California can be directly attributed to government regulation and processing,” he told us.  “And, once the process is completed, then the real fun, the litigationn over the handling of the process, begins!”


His clients are diverse and their property issues are unique.  The entitlement process for each is challenging.  It begins with the local jurisdiction and existing community members.  Then, you are never quite sure where you will be headed, because each property has its own individual hurdles to overcome.  “It’s never a dull moment, when you are dealing with California real estate law,” he said.

So, do you still want to be a California real estate developer?

Tuesday, February 23rd

Founded by a group of civic and philanthropic leaders in 1975, the San Diego Foundation has grown into one of the Top 25 community foundations in the nation.  The Foundation has over 1,900 charitable funds designated for grant-making and creating opportunities to be WELL for all San Diegans.

WELL is an acronym that stands for Work, Enjoy, Live & Learn.  WELL helps focus the Foundation’s Mission to improve the quality of life in all our communities by providing leadership for effective philanthropy that builds enduring assets and by promoting community solutions through research, convenings and actions that advance the common good.

Leslie Klein, Roger & Leslie Harrington

       Leslie Klein, Roger & Leslie Harrington

Over the last 40 years the Foundation has provided over $930 million in grants to non-profits around San Diego, California and the United States, including over $48 million distributed in 2015.  The total assets managed by the Foundation were valued at over $685 million as of June 30, 2105!

Leslie Klein, the Director of Charitable Giving and Leslie Harrington, the Philanthropic Advisor for Donor Relations, provided the overview of the Foundation to the Optimist Club.  “Last year the Foundation provided over $10 million to support education in San Diego.  Over $3 million was given out as scholarships to local youth,” Ms Klein told us.  “Education is a major category for the Foundation and many of our directed endowments.”

Ms Harrington told us that Health and Human Services received over $9 million, ‘Civil Society’ received over $8 million, Arts & Culture over $7 million, Environment  over $5 million and Youth Development over $4 million.  “My job is to work with some of the major endowments that have been created at the Foundation.  We provide research and technical assistance to these endowments to assist them in their philanthropic goals,” she said.

The goal of the Foundation is to make grants that total 5% of the endowment values, to focus these grants on the WELLness of San Diego  and provide other services to encourage philanthropic activity in the community.  From everything we saw this morning, the PL Optimists want to say “Well done! And, keep up the great work!”

Tuesday, February 9th

Mara Elliot and President Ken


The City Attorney’s Office is the legal advisor to the City Council and Mayor’s office.  The City Attorney’s position is an elected position for the City of San Diego.  The election provides for a four year term and a maximum of two consecutive elected terms in office.  Mara Elliot is a Chief Deputy City Attorney for San Diego.  She has nearly 20 years of public sector legal experience and she works directly for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Jan Goldsmith will be termed out this year.  Mara Elliot is running for his position and stopped by the Optimist breakfast this morning to share with us her thoughts on the job and her plans if elected.

As a Charter City, San Diego’s City Attorney is responsible for items such as how local elections are handled, how the City adopts new ordinances, contracts out work, compensates its employees, finances public improvements, handles land use and zoning issues and prosecutes misdemeanor offences.  The San Diego City Attorney’s office has a $47 million annual budget.  It employs 355 people, which includes 144 attorneys.  The office is divided into four departments, Civil Advocacy, Civil Litigation, Criminal  and Community Justice Divisions.

Primary issues of importance within the City Attorney’s office today include dealing with Storm Drainage and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, implementing the new Climate Action Plan, Pension Reform, Infrastructure Financing and the future of the Charger football team in San Diego.  Ms. Elliott gave us brief insights into each of these areas and explained how the City Attorney’s office works with the City Council, Mayor and Departments to protect the City and its citizens.

The election in June will set the table for a runoff in November.  We wish Mara Elliott luck with her campaign and thank her for her time this morning.

Dr. Michael McQuary – 2/2/2016

The Optimists celebrated the 97th birthday of our senior member, Jack Wartes, at breakfast today.  Congratulations, Jack!

Dr McQuary, thanked by President Ken

Dr McQuary, thanked by President Ken

Our guest speaker at breakfast was Dr. Michael McQuary, Board President of the San Diego Unified School District.

His impressive background covered a wide range of experiences from longshoreman to teaching in Tibet.  He described his passions for community, schools, education, and students doing well.  Everywhere he worked he  connected with the community by his participation in at least one local service club … the Kiwanis, Rotary, and Lions Clubs, as well as being the founding chapter president of the Optimist Club of Lindsay, California.  His past successes include improving the math skills of students at each locale to which he has been assigned.  Today he leads the second largest school district in California, San Diego Unified, in pursuing their vision of  quality schools in every neighborhood for their 133,ooo students.  He expressed sincere appreciation for the contributions our Optimist Club has made in that regard, and most recently, the large donation to fund the new math and science lab at Dewey Elementary School.


Grand Opening of Math and Science Lab at Dewey

Grand Opening of Dewey Elementary School’s Math and Science Lab, 1/12/2016.


Speaker Michael Oddino From Fox Sports San Diego – 1/26/16

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

You can hang a star on that one!

Famous words from a famous San Diego superstar, obviously we all recognize the tag line of our beloved Col. Jerry Coleman, retired US Marine fighter pilot, famed second baseman for the New York Yankees and Hall of Fame radio broadcaster for the San Diego Padres!  Those words drew pictures in our mind, lasting memories for a lifetime.

Today, we find the pictures are brought to us in high definition, from 22 different angles, for every single pitch.  We have Fox Sports San Diego to thank for this bounty of images and we have Michael Oddino in particular to thank for directing those cameras and their replays, historical look-backs and statistical facts to keep us informed and entertained.Micheal Oddinno and Ken

Michael brought his perspectives and experiences to the Optimist breakfast meeting this morning and shared his insights and passions with us.  Think about it … guys, sports, tv!  What more could you ask for????  Michael is a Director for Fox Sports San Diego.  As he described it, “I get to sit in a 53′ trailer, outside the ballpark and direct 9 cameramen and 13 robotic cameras to bring the audience the best experience on every pitch.”

Michael meets with Dick Enberg and Mark Grant before each game.  They talk about the plan for the game and key issues for discussion, statistics and playbacks.  “A great general once said, ‘The first casualty of war is the Plan,” he told us.  “And, the great ones adjust!”  So directing the television broadcast of a baseball game is all about adjusting.  Michael listens to Dick and Mark as they talk to the audience.  Then he and his crew try to provide them with the camera angles, replays, statistics and historical footage they need to convey their messages more clearly.  “I love my job!” Michael shared.

Sports broadcasting still has its challenges.  Cable fees are being cut through the loss of subscribers and “cutting the cord”.  More and more the audience is leaving “pay for cable” providers and moving to online sources.  Technology is a big game changer and the broadcasters have to find new ways to keep the audience entertained and connected.  This concern is driving to innovations in broadcast procedures.  “We are doing more remote directing of games,” Michael explained.  “I can sit with my team in San Diego and direct the broadcast of a game in Arizona.  We use local cameramen for the manned cameras, but my team is with me, here in San Diego for the rest of the operation.  This saves the company the travel costs for the production.”

Michael says the Padres and Fox have a great relationship.  They are working together to create the best experiences for the viewer.  We wish Fox and SDSU could get together, and so does Michael.  “I’m an SDSU Grad.  My dream is to be directing Aztec football and basketball games.”

Well, you can hang a star on that idea!

Cathy Gallagher – 1/12/15

This Tuesday, January 12, 2016, the Point Loma Optimists were pleased to have the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute’s (FBEI) executive director, Cathy Gallagher, give a presentation on rising housing costs in and around the San Diego area and possible actions we could take to lower these costs. Assisting Mrs.Gallagher was the FBEI’s Assistant Director, Paul Gentry. Paul and Cathy presented a summary of what they, along with the staff at FBEI, discovered in their study Opening San Diego’s Door to Lower Housing Costs. In the study they discovered that regulations, government fees, and requirements on the cost of new single and multi-family housing, are responsible for 40% of housing costs.

Executive Director of Fermanian Business and Economic Institute

Executive Director of Fermanian Business and Economic Institute

Possible solutions presented included:
– streamlining the entitlement process to lessen litigation and political risks, which in turn, reduces time and financial losses
– standardizing Title 24 requirements
– putting in place a “No Late Hits” policy to avoid challenges or comments from being submitted after the final project has been approved
It was an insightful and entertaining demonstration and the Optimists all enjoyed Cathy and Paul stopping by early Tuesday morning!

Nate Spees – 1/5/16

Good morning and Happy New Year to all our Optimistic Friends!

Is there a better way to start off the New Year, than with a discussion of the future of San Diego?  Nate Spees, a Partner and the Creative Director for Made by Grizzly, challenged our full house of Optimists to become more creative.  According to Albert Einstein (and Nate), “Creativity is intelligence having fun!”  Of course, we all want to have fun!

Randy, Nate & KenMade by Grizzly (ie Grizzly) …”is an independent creative agency that builds meaningful, impactful experiences for adventurous brands.” Grizzly is also championing the Creative Movement is San Diego.  Nate is currently the Host for Creative Mornings in San Diego.  Creative Mornings “…is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community.”  There are over 130 chapters of Creative Mornings spread around the world.  San Diego is the 100th Chapter.  Creative Mornings offers a free meeting once a month to meet, greet, communicate, socialize, network and get your creative juices flowing.  Almost 300 people per month participate in the San Diego meetings.  The meetings are generally held at the Moniker Warehouse in the East Village, but future meetings may be moved to the community space in the new Downtown Central Library.  For more information on these meetings, you can sign up for the local newsletter here.

Creative Mornings

To grow the creative culture in San Diego, Nate is focusing on 4 key elements.  Culture, Community, Industry, and Economy.  This is not to say the San Diego scene is not creative.  Just look around at the work of telecom, bio-tech, SPAWARs, universities, the arts community, etc.  San Diego is loaded with creative people.  People who are very good at working creatively within the area of expertise.  Nate wants to break down those silos for creative work and expand the universe of creativity into a network of all San Diegans.  When creativity becomes a way of life and not just a way of work, then the potential for creative growth across all members of society is limitless.

The next step for Nate is the creation of the San Diego Creative Foundation.  It is Nate’s hope that the awareness of the need and the value of creativity can be spread through the work of this Foundation.  “In our business world today, creative people have been relegated to the kid’s table”, he told us.  “I want to bring creativity to the head table and Create the Future San Diego!”  These are the words of Nate, the “Creative Evangelist!”