HORSE’S MOUTH: About Debbie Ching at JACCC

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

And the controversy at the JACCC continues.

Bill Watanabe, who was tabbed as the interim CEO until a permanent one is selected, sent me an email about his situation:

“Dear George: In reference to a previous ‘Horse’s Mouth’ column regarding the hiring of Debbie Ching to be the interim COO for the JACCC. I would like to explain why Debbie was hired to be the interim COO for the JACCC in the aftermath of the departure of Greg Willis from the JACCC. Many people may have questions similar to yours as to why a Chinese American was hired for this position.

“When I was asked to step in as the interim executive director (ED) of the JACCC, I was reluctant to do so even though I had been an ED of the nonprofit Little Tokyo Service Center for over 30 years. Stepping into an ED position that was suddenly vacated was new for me, so I asked my good friend Debbie Ching if she would serve as interim manager together with me.

“Debbie had been the executive director of the Chinatown Service Center for many years and lately has been a nonprofit management consultant. She has served in the capacity as the interim ED for other nonprofits and has also conducted ED searches for a number of community groups. I felt that the two of us combined would bring much greater resources for the JACCC than just myself.

“Since the beginning of September, the two of us have been working on a part-time basis and she brought her many skills and knowledge to help the JACCC towards management stability and searching for the next executive director of the JACCC. Once the new person is hired (perhaps as soon as the end of December), Debbie will go back to full-time consulting and I will go back to full-time retirement.

“Also, a question was raised about Jeff Folick, who is chairing the JACCC Executive Search Committee. Although Jeff is a Caucasian, he is no stranger to the JA community and he comes with a fine record of management skills. He was the CEO of a major health insurance company before retiring and he also chaired the Orange County Buddhist Temple Board and serves on the Keiro Board.

“Jeff’s wife is Japanese and their daughter is currently Miss Nisei Week. The JACCC is fortunate to have someone like Jeff to oversee this important process of selecting the next JACCC executive director.”

Thanks for your letter, Bill, and the info on Debbie Ching and Jeff Folick. I’m sure most were not aware of their background.

Yes, because those who read my blabbering know I like to write about eating out, I get a lot of mail on popular dining-out places that I have never tried.

The latest of these places is called Hokkaido Buffet. There are four of them located in Burbank, Encino, Long Beach and West Los Angeles. Perhaps it’s because of the locations that I haven’t tried this eatery.

They serve sushi, teppanyaki, roast beef, Chinese and seafood dishes. It’s an all-you-can-eat restaurant.

Lunch is $11 and dinner $18, with seniors getting 10 percent off.

They host in-house parties for all occasions.

Before I forget, I have to apologize to Maggie, who types my column for publication in The Rafu.

(Maggie’s comment: Mr. Y, I type your column, but it is J.K. Yamamoto who deserves the credit for your published column. He is the one who checks my errors and actually fills in the “blanks” and corrects the “mess,” as you say, in your articles when I am unable to reach you. I am grateful to J.K. and I am sure, after you read this, you will be, too.)

For reasons I’m trying to figure out, my computer doesn’t print the material I type, which is giving Maggie a headache.

I wasn’t aware of it until I started to read every page I typed and realized that what I typed wasn’t being printed.

So now, after finishing each page, I read what’s on the page and discover some pages are a mess, which means I have to retype all the mess.

My son is looking around for a new computer and printer at a reasonable price. Hopefully, I’ll be able to produce a non-messy page until I get my new computer and hopefully,

I’ll correct the pages with the mess so Maggie won’t lose her sanity.

Hey, maybe it is time to retire.

(Maggie’s comment: Mr. Y, perish the thought of retirement. I have to tell you when I go to a social gathering and tell them I am a typist at The Rafu, your name and praises for your column always come up. Now you can really chew your cigar.)

Just read an article in a major newspaper that said that there are more and more workers still toiling away past the age of 65.

I know I retired at age 60, but The Rafu talked me out of it and asked me to write my column. So, here I am 23 years later, joining those past 65 who are still working. That’s 16 percent more than in 2001.

Yeah, you may call me “Oji-san.”

Speaking of stats, the number of people who use pay phones has dropped from 2.1 million in 1999 to 55,125 in 2010.

I guess cell phones are one of the reasons for the million-and-a-half drop in pay phone use.

Just considering that all my four sons and wife have cell phones makes me realize that pay phones will eventually disappear completely.

Heck, even my granddaughters (ages 14 and 17) have cell phones.

While touching on stats, the percentage of adult Americans who smoke has decreased from 22.8 percent in 2001 to 19 percent in 2011.

I guess those anti-smoking commercials on TV must have some effect on those who smoke.

If the rate continues for the next 10 years, smoking might drop another 3 percent.

That’s cigarettes, but the number of cigar smokers hasn’t changed. I guess cigar smokers like me, who chew more than light up, keep cigar fans continuing on their present pace.

That is, chewing rather than lighting up, which keeps cigar fans not spending as much as cigarette smokers.

Hey, have you noticed what a pack of cigarettes cost these days?

I remember when my Issei father used to send me to the store to buy him his cigarettes, two packs for 25 cents.

Today, one cigarette costs more than that.

Oh well, a gallon of gas used to cost 17 cents in those days.

Well, it’s almost time to think about sending Christmas greeting cards. Man, it’s tough to believe time has passed so quickly.

So, how will folks be sending greetings?

According to a survey, 80 percent will still use the postal service while 20 percent will send their greetings electronically via their computers, and 8 percent won’t send any greeting cards.

I guess with postage stamps going at their present high rate, email use will continue to grow.

Stamps these days are 44 cents. Remember when stamps were 5 cents?

The postal system says they’re still losing money.

Oh well, let me toss in another survey since I’m touching on the issue.

This one is on the percentage of U.S. births to unmarried females. In 1990, the percentage of unmarried females who gave birth was 28 percent. In 2008, the number leaped to an unbelievable 41 percent — that’s four out of ten.

This year it was reported that more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

All I can say to this is WOW!

I’m pretty sure a lot of Japanese Americans are fans of McDonald’s. I just read that the popular fast-food chain is suddenly struggling and announced its first monthly sales decline in a decade.

McDonald’s has faced tougher times, but the current problems will ultimately lead to performance-enchancing changes such as new products that are a bit less fast-foodish.

Dinner is where McDonald’s struggles most. They could provide something more inviting, not like just another sandwich shop, such as a more upscale chopped steak platter.

And they could serve breakfast all day. Such a strategy will bring back customers who come for more than burgers.

Also, bring back the $1 bratwurst, not just a hot dog.

Food also got too expensive at McDonald’s. They need to reinstate the $1 price for some items. And what about home delivery?

Hey, I’m for all these suggestions. I used to be a McDonald’s fan but not anymore.

I’m a Denny’s fan. I feel like I get a real meal there, something I don’t feel going to McDonald’s.

Many of my Nisei friends feel the same way as I do.

I remember McDonald’s on Redondo Beach Boulevard in Gardena used to be a weekly meeting place for a Nisei club, but they moved to another site where they feel more comfortable.

Oh well.

Let me get back on a topic I touch on frequently. That is age.

It is reported that people 80 and older are involved in 5.5 times as many fatal crashes per mile driven as middle-aged drivers. But asking older people to give up their car keys is a sensitive issue.

Being in the so-called “older” age category, I often think about my driving skills.

It seems to me that I have altered my driving style and doubled my concentration.

Take my monthly visit to Las Vegas. I used to drive both ways nonstop. But now, I ask my son to drive for us (my wife and me). Not because my driving skills have diminished — it’s just that I do get a little tired.

Experts on the issue say that older drivers should have smaller vehicles that provide accommodations for senior citizens.

I wasn’t sure just what “special accommodations for seniors” really means, but an expert says they include things like good visibility, adjustable driving positions, straightforward access to controls, and some electronic stability features.

The cars listed include the Acura RDX, Honda Accord, Lexus RX, Infiniti M, Nissan Alima, Subaru Impreza and Toyota Avalon.

No wonder drivers in Japan are so old. All the so-called cars for senior citizens are Japanese, so I guess Japanese seniors don’t have to worry.

Yeah, my car is a Toyota Avalon.

Las Vegas, here I come.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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