Mar. 29, 2018

Minutes of the March 29, 2018, Meeting
The Rotary Club of Mobile

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by John Dukes at 12:15 PM. K. C. Constantine offered the invocation and Larry Sindel led the club in song followed by Tommy Blankenship who then welcomed visiting Rotarians and members’ guests.

Youth Merit Award: Jeff Luther introduced Patrick Darrington, a senior at Citronelle High School. Darrington spoke of his ultimate goal of working to bring this nation together.

Announcements:
• John Dukes announced that the Rotary District Conference will be held at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi on June 7th through the 10th. A limited number of members’ registrations will be paid by the club. Please contact Peggy for further information.
• John reported that our club has agreed to help sponsor 5 local students to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, a leadership program to be held at Camp ASCA from April 26-29th.
• Mark your calendars for Tuesday, April 17 for a Rotary after hours fellowship event at El Papi on Dauphin Street. At 5:30 PM this new restaurant will provide hors d’oeuvres while offering our members a cash bar.
• John thanked Claire McCarron for her role in the club’s donation to Prichard Prep allowing a new stage curtain in their auditorium. The students, who performed for our club in December are excited about the improved look of their performing space.
• Club members Michael and Rosie Chambers were recognized for their generous contribution as Major Donor II’s to the Rotary Foundation.

Program: James (Jim) Perdue: Our Opioid Crisis

Tom McGehee introduced former probate judge Jim Perdue, who previously served as director of the Alabama Department of Mental Health. In that position he had to try and tackle the growing opioid addiction and its many problems. According to Perdue, there are less than 5 million residents in Alabama , yet there are at least 5.8 million prescriptions for opioids in the state.

According to Perdue, the population of the United States represents 5% of the world’s but contains 90% of the opioid addicts. If the death rate from opioid abuse continues in a year it will have surpassed the number of U. S. casualties in the Viet Nam War, he added.

Perdue said that opioids arrived some 12-15 years ago and at their introduction, congress was assured by pharmaceutical companies that their use was not habit forming. That was soon proven to be completely wrong, he said, but congress gave the companies immunity from prosecution.

Money is the main solution, he said. The budget of the state’s Department of Mental Health has been repeatedly cut but there are ways to raise funds to improve things. One is properly valuing and selling some of the 15,000 acres owned by the department within the state.

Next, Perdue asked who should ultimately pay the cost. The answer: the ones who got us here. Is solution would be to charge a state fee on opioids of two cents per milligram. This would bring in an additional $100 million from the drug makers which would allow funding much needed prevention plans, he said.

After answering a number of questions, Perdue was thanked by John Dukes who presented him with a certificate noting that a donation has been made in his honor to the Rotary Children’s Foundation.

The meeting adjourned at 1:00 PM.

Tom McGehee