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International Business Network

On Friday, March 13th, our first event was a program about international market volatility put on by the International Business Network (IBN) at the KeyBank Campus on Tiedeman Road in Parma. We attended a similar event last year at this location wherein the speakers were KeyBank officials Mr. Greg LaMonica and Mr. David Renta who were the speakers for this program also. Current happenings and prospects for such currencies as the euro, British pound, Japanese yen, U.S. and Canadian dollars, the Australian dollar, the Mexican peso, and the Swiss franc were talked about. At the end of the presentation, the observations were made that U.S. growth is trending upwards; the Federal Reserve will certainly raise interest rates sometime this year but the question is when; the whole world is cutting rates; there is quantitative easing in the euro zone and Japan; U.S. imports have gotten cheaper; and U.S. exports are becoming more expensive which is a risk to foreign sales.

As interesting as this event was, not that many people attended it so we knew most of the people there like Mr. Richard Crepage who we see at the City Club, Mr. Neil Dick of Dick Group Consultants, John Senese of NEOTEC, Mr. Mike Carlton of Carlton and Associates, and Mr. Jim Krimmel from Zaclon. Also attending were Mr. Dick Erikson from Strategic Partners and Ms. Danay Johnson from Khmer Designs both of whom we saw the previous eventing at the networking event that the Cleveland Council of World Affairs (CCWA) held at Heinen's in downtown Cleveland. Mr. Erikson told us that his main reason for attending the event was to see the new Heinen's but, once he was there, he really enjoyed the networking aspect of it. We told Ms. Johnson about the Herb Ritts exhibit that we saw at the Rock Hall and she told us she can't wait until a friend of hers arrives here from Australia because she plans to take her.

Our friend Mr. Don Esarove, Chairman of IBN, said that he said Ms. Margaret W. Wong recently at the Cleveland Rotary. Before the program started, Mr. Esarove said that foreign exchange reflects what is going on politically in other countries and Mr. LaMonica said that global economies and politics are what moves currencies.

We then hurried over to the City Club to watch the "High School Debate Championship" between Mr. Sebastian Williams of Gilmour Academy and Mr. Chandler Koon of University School. This debate championship is an annual event at the City Club and for the past 15 years it has been sponsored by BakerHostetler, Counsellors at Law in honor of Mr. Patrick J. Jordan, one of their attorneys who is now sadly deceased.

When we first arrived we talked with Mr. Ken Wiley who works with students at Magnificat High School and a good friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong. He explained to us that the two young men debating today were the finalists in the Cleveland District Tour which involves students of both public and private schools. The winner would be the Cleveland District Champion. There would be three judges scoring today's contest so the winner would have to convince at least two out of three judges that he had the most compelling argument. The topic would be whether or not the federal government should enact a living wage. Mr. Wiley agreed with us that sometimes young people have a better grasp of such issues than older people because they can be more objective than someone who has, say, a financial interest at stake.

We also got to meet Mr. Nick Castele of Ideastream and Ms. Shamina Merchant, a debater from Richmond Heights High School who would be providing a commentary intermittently throughout the debate. Mr. Castele said that "when the debaters stop debating, I fill the air with my questions" about such things as what it is like to be a debater, how much work that it takes to be a good one, and how a debater's family can assist him/her and Ms. Merchant provided very articulate answers.

Prior to the start of the debate we met Mr. and Mrs. Henry Koon, the parents of the debater, Mr. Chandler Koon and Mr. and Mrs. Stan Vishnevsky the grandparents of the debater, Mr. Sebastian Williams. Needless to say, both were very nervous and rooting for their son and their grandson.

We shared a table several people that we knew already from our frequent visits to the City Club like Mr. Tom and Ms. Kirsten Hagesfeld; Mr. Ken Wall; Mr. Richard Crepage who was with us at the KeyBank event earlier; and Mr. Kenneth Hale, Counselor for the City Club Youth Forum who was there with Mr. Evan Valentine, a high school student that he is mentoring who is already taking college classes and hopes to get into the design field. Prior to the start of the debate, Mr. Dan Moulthrop, City Club CEO, asked Mr. Hale if he would like to be one of the judges because there was a last minute no-show of someone who had committed to it. Of course, Mr. Hale said no problem and readily agreed to help out.

After the debate, we got to talk to Ms. Merchant for a moment and learned that she is a first generation American because her mother and father immigrated to the United States from India after they completed college years ago. Ms. Merchant said she was exploring the possibility of being an attorney some day and we offered to connect her with an attorney with Margaret W. Wong and Associates if she wanted to talk to a professional about it.

As for the debate, itself, Mr. Moulthrop said that he was very happy that he was not up there on stage competing with Mr. Williams and Mr. Koon because they were both so good. After thinking about it, we have decided not to say who the winner was since both were very terrific; thus we are sure that Mr. Koon's parents and Mr. Williams' grandparents were both quite proud of their young man and respected the skills of his opponent which is how it should be.

Our last event for the day was the Painesville Rotary Reverse Raffle Spring Fling which was put together in partnership with the Painesville Area Chamber of Commerce and LaMalfa Party Center. Tickets were $100 a couple with no individual tickets but since we wanted to go even if we had no date for the occasion our good friend, Ms. Linda Reed of the Painesville Chamber worked it out so that we only to pay $50 and Ms. Mary Ann Janis of the Lake County Visitors Bureau paid $50 so we got to couple with someone that we didn't know and, unfortunately, didn't get to meet because Ms. Janis was unable to attend although she gave Ms. Reed some money for the Chinese Raffle with instructions for us to buy the tickets and drop them in whatever basket we wanted; then, if Ms. Janis won, Ms. Reed would accept the prize on her behalf.

We, ourselves, received a nice prize when we were invited to sit at the table of Ms. Debbie Remington who is an administrator at Lake Erie College. We sat next to Ms. Margaret Ladd, Ms. Remington's sister who was very glad that there are people like Ms. Margaret W. Wong who are trying to help immigrants. Ms. Ladd told us about a friend of her daughter's who was brought to the United States illegally by her parents when she was quite young. Needless to say the young women referred to is older now and unable to realize her potential due to our arcane immigration system. We told Ms. Ladd to tell the young woman to keep an eye on President Obama's executive order because it could possibly help her. Ms. Ladd is very active in the Painesville area and knows our good friend Mr. David Polakowski with the Downtown Painesville Organization. She would love to see an International Day in Painesville wherein the different ethnic groups would get together and serve food from their countries of origin. We believe this to be a fine idea.

We had another discussion about comprehensive immigration reform with Dr. Andrew M. Lucker from the Department of Political Science at CWRU. We both agreed that the prospects for getting it through at this time are not too good but we believed that the political sands may possibly shift by the time the next administration is sworn in around January, 2017. If Governor Jeb Bush were to win, he might be able to get something through the way President Nixon opened relations with China years ago.

We found out that this is the first time that the Painesville Rotary and the Painesville Chamber of Commerce have teamed up for this event and the results were beautiful because 300 people were there and 200 reverse raffle tickets were sold. We didn't win the reverse raffle, though, and we didn't win six free massages paid for by our friend Ms. Mary Jo Miller of Bella Donna Salon and Spa. If we had won the latter, we would have then donated the massages to our friends at Margaret W. Wong and Associates.

Another couple that we met at Ms. Remington's table were Mr. Lee Homyock, the Director of Recreation for Painesville and his wife Ms. Kathleen Homyock, who is on the board of Catholic Charities. They both knew Ms. Rose Wong before she opened Pearl of the Orient and admire Ms. Margaret W. Wong. In fact, Ms. Homyock said that Ms. Wong worked for "all that is good, right, and just."

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