www.mybaycity.com November 30, 2008
Rotary Article 3307

Mr. Mayor Tells All About His Trip to Washington to Try to Save Auto Giants

Rotarians Get Inside Story on $849 Trip That Cost GM $20,000 on Private Jet

November 30, 2008
By: Dave Rogers

Last Weeks Meeting - November 25, 2008

"Let's see," Mayor Charles Brunner added up in his head: "$455 for airfare, coach; hotel $180 a night, total $360; one salad, $8.95; 1 hamburg, $9.95; Metrorail pass to get around, $15; -- total cost of Washington trip, $849."

"Contrast the cost of my trip, paid for half by the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and half from the mayor's budget, with the $20,000 it cost auto executives to fly their corporate jets," reasoned Mr. Brunner.

The point was that the Big Three chiefs could have opted to go low budget, as he and the other 16 mayors did, and could have spared themselves the horrid public relations debacle of their visit to Washington last week.

The fact that the execs chose to go by private jet seems to have had the negative effect of causing a distraction, said Mr. Brunner before a Rotary Club of Bay City audience last Tuesday. He was introduced by program co-chair Eric Jylha.

"The legislators seem to be losing focus on the jobs lost," he opined.

The trip by 16 mayors of cities that would be affected by bankruptcy of the auto industry was arranged by a lobbying firm specializing in government, the Ferguson Group, of Washington, lined up by the Lansing mayor's office, said Mr. Brunner. Ferguson officials also briefed the mayors and others in the contingent.

Local incentive for his trip was given by Mike Seward, president of the Chamber, and Dan Ryon, manager of the Bay City PowerTrain plant, Mr. Brunner said.

About a dozen senators and representatives were visited, a press conference by the mayor's group received coverage by national media, and four mayors including Mr. Brunner gave statements about the importance of the auto industry to the economies of their cities.

Bay City's mayor gave three interviews to national media, Fox Business Network, ABC and CBS radio networks.

Although the lobbyists had hired couriers to stand in line as placeholders outside the Senate Banking Committee hearing room, the group was unable to get even one spokesman inside.

The Automotive Mayors' Coalition, as the group tagged itself, will continue to communicate and plan strategy through the Ferguson Group, he said.

"Did we make a difference?" Mr. Brunner asked rhetorically. "Absolutely! The legislators knew we were there and that the auto dealers were there." Dealers plan to return in a caravan this week when the Big Three present rescue plans to support their request for $25 billion in loans.

City officials here have been working behind the scenes with officers of the Bay Future public-private economic development group, the Chamber and other leaders, meeting with General Motors officials about the future of the local PowerTrain plant, he said.

The local plant may be in line to bid on work for the projected Chevy Volt electric hybrid car, he said. The city has put in place a 100 percent tax break for 50 years on additional equipment if added to the local plant.

Bay City's GM plant established one of the best records of cooperation between labor and management under onetime manager Patricia Carrigan and the positive attitude has persisted here, he said. Mr. Brunner noted the local GM plant has one of the best attendance records in the company.



  • Rotary Exchange student Luis Sales introduced a cook book assembled by this year's class of exchange students. The book features favorite recipes for each student's home country. Proceeds from sale of the $10 book will be donated to an international charity.

    Rob Monroe announced that Kim and Mike Prime have volunteered to host Luis for the period from Christmas to Spring Break.

  • Food for Families. Last week Barb Engelhardt issued a challenge to the club to increase giving to the Food for Families by offering to match gifts up to $500 through Christmas. The challenge was matched within the hour giving a total of $1,013 for the day!

  • $5,000 to be donated! It was recently noted that the Million Trees Plantation project in Senegal was cancelled by Rotary International. The International Projects committee has recommended that the club take $5,000 of the budgeted $9,000 and distribute it among local charities for use during this holiday season.

  • Membership Drive: Remember to invite your prospective Rotary members to the orientation at noon on Wednesday, December 3, at the Stein House.

  • Vocational Days are fast approaching. Pinconning schools will be added this year so that will mean more students. Contact Griff or Ralph for more information. You can download the form from the club web site.

  • Congratulations and thanks to Cindy Chadwick who was presented her Paul Harris Fellowship PLUS THREE in recognition of her contributions to the Rotary Foundation.

    Upcoming Programs

    (See the official schedule at RotaryBayCity.org )

  • Nov 25: Auto Industry Bill Bay City Mayor Charles Brunner will speak on his trip to the nation's capitol. Brunner was one of several mayors from communities with auto industry plants to lobby Congress for support of aid legislation.

  • Dec 2: Wings of Mercy Founder and President Cody Welsh will speak about the program where pilots fly people to hospitals around the country for specialized care, at no cost. Cody has just retired from a career as a Northwest Airlines pilot.

  • Dec 9: General Housing's Brad Light will speak about the company's recent experience hosting and educating a delegation of workers from Russia's growing manufactured housing industry.

  • Dec 16: The new "green" DEQ building at the foot of Johnson St. Speaker Tim Diebolt, Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality will discuss the building's features and will comment on wind power on the bay.

  • Dec 23: Annual Holiday Program lead by our own Maestro Leo Najar.

    Visit RotaryBayCity.org

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