To start this 20th meeting of the 23rd year of the La Quinta Rotary Club, President Frank presented us with some priceless observations from a number of famous and not so famous people of the past. The one that stuck with me, and I am sure it hit home for Steve Robbins, was the quote from W. C. Fields; "I never drink water because of what the fish do in it." And now for the rest of the meeting.

We welcomed visitors from British Columbia, Eugene, Livermore and La Quinta. We were also pleased to welcome Jeff's wife, Mary, who arrived with an ankle boot as a result of a skiing injury sustained in the Alps.

It seems that Friday was a day for announcements. Top on the list was a request from President Frank for members to submit any suggested noon meal changes. How about soup or chili? Robert offered the opportunity for a member family to be a co-host for an exchange student from New Zealand. She will be here from January, 2010 through January, 2011. This is a great opportunity to share your home and our way of life with a young person eager to learn.

Judith reminded us of our commitment to Olive Crest as a recipient of the District Community Service Grant. As part of the grant, we have committed to a relationship with the program at Olive Crest for the coming year. With the approaching holidays, she requested that we bring games and books for the kids at Olive Crest. Time is short, so make your purchases now and bring them to the next meeting. Games and books should be aimed at engaging the whole family.

Next Friday is the District Governor's annual visit to our Club. He will meet with the Board, Directors of Service and Committee Chairs in the morning and will be our speaker at our regular meeting time. Please plan on attending. The Governor will share with us his vision for our District and, most importantly, we will show him what a great club we are. The following evening is the District Foundation Gala. We already have 24 members, spouses and club guests attending. If four more people sign up, we will have three full tables!

Our Holiday Party is just around the corner. Nora is the coordinator for this event and you can call her or sign up on line. The party will be hosted by Bruce and Christie Franklin and is on December 6, starting at 5 p.m. The cost is $30.00 per person. It will be a great way to kick off the holiday season.

Andy reported that raffle ticket sales are ramping up. Great opportunities for sales have opened up with our ability to have a table at the College of the Desert Street Fare for seven Saturdays beginning in January. Andy is also personally committed to visiting all of the Clubs in our District to solicit their support. We will be taking a breather from selling tickets at Trader Joe's while we ring the bells for the Salvation Army. Please contact Dick Jandt to sign up for a bell ringing day.

Our Sergeant at Arms, Sandy S., took control of the meeting to recognize and collect from the willing attendees. Our birthday bunch for this month includes Lee, Phil and Diane with Adrian, Doug and Allan celebrating spouse birthdays. Jeff was also recognized for an upcoming anniversary. A number of happy dollars were collected for failing to greet our secret greeter. Dick contributed happy dollars for Navy's win last weekend over Notre Dame. Tom paid for his new badge and was also recognized for his receipt of the John Frank Award. This is an annual award given by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to the best Federal Court lawyer in the western United States. Congratulations, Tom.

Ken Young, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, was our speaker. He prefaced his talk with a moving experience this past Tuesday, when he presented high school diplomas to thirty veterans, reaching back to World War Two, who had their education interupted by a call to duty.

Our County covers 7,200 square miles and serves 430,000 students. It is the fourth largest District in California, with 23 districts and 470 schools, including 50 high schools. After years of increasing enrollment, the District experienced its first decrease last year, losing 1500 students. The loss was attributed to our economic climate, but this year enrollement is again turning positive.

Ken's priority for education in Riverside County is to focus on the graduation rate and preparing students for both college and the work force. Not satisfied with a graduation rate of 80.5%, his goal is 95% in ten years. This year has seen the District score the highest test score increase in the State.

He also shared with us the impact of the State's fiscal crisis on public education. In the past two years, the District has lost $700 million dollars to budget cuts. While the State lottery was expected to supplement the education budget, in practice the State's education budget is reduced by the amount of money the schools receive, not only from the lottery, but also from Federal grants. In closing, he stated that the pubic priorities are safety first and education second, but there are no priorities in Sacramento. Thanks for a great presentation, Ken.