Tom Butt
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  Summer Reading Program
July 2, 2017

At the Kate Wolf Music Festival last week, I polished off a couple of books, both of which were gifted to me.

The first, “Venetian Blood,” came from local Richmond author Christine Volker, who asked me to road test it. It turned out to be a perfect read for drinking beer on a hot day at a music festival. As Christine summarizes it, the book is, “..a story of a woman who goes on vacation to Venice and becomes a suspect t I the murder of an Italian count. She embarks on a journey to clear her name and in the process, discovers a secret that will change her life.”

Volker has a background in international banking and in a previous life became vice-president of a global financial institution. She lived in Italy for a while and made frequent trips to Venice.  “Venetian Blood” is light and entertaining reading. Perhaps Christine will entertain us at Kaleidoscope  after her book comes out in August.


The second was non-fiction and hot off the press, “Climate of Hope,” sent to me by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope. Bloomberg is, of course, the billionaire former mayor of New York and was appointed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as his first Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change to help the United Nations work with cities to prevent climate change. On June 30, 2015, Bloomberg and mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo jointly announced the creation of the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, which convened on December 4, 2015, which I attended. The Summit concluded with the presentation of the Paris Declaration, a pledge by leaders, including me, from assembled global cities to cut carbon emissions by 3.7 gigatons annually by 2030.

Carl Pope is a former executive director of the Sierra Club.

There wasn’t a lot of technical information in the book that was new to me, but I appreciated the spin Bloomberg put on fighting climate change. He makes the business case for greenhouse  gas reduction and recognizes the unique and critical role that cities and mayors have to play.

..mayors everywhere tend to be more pragmatic and less ideological than national legislators. The reason is mayors are most dircety responsible for people’s well-being. They have to solve problems and deliver essential services. When children suffer from asthma attacks because of dirty air, people call on the mayor to do something about it – not their congresswoman or senator.

Cities everywhere are increasingly demonstrating a phenomenon I often point out about New York: Talent attracts capital lore effectively than capital attracts talent. People want to live in communities that offer healthy and family-friendly lifestyles. And whwre people want to live, business wants to invest.

Bloomberg is a tireless campaigner for greenhouse gas reduction, and he has put millions behind it, like the $30 million Bloomberg Philanthropies invested in the Beyond Coal initiative, matched with another $30 million by other donors, to help secure the retirement of half of America's fleet of coal plants by 2017. Bloomberg also donates millions to local candidates, including Gayle McLaughlin in 2010. Bloomberg, however, is also an ardent supporter of charter schools and recently Bloomberg contributed $14,600 on Tuesday to the campaign of Marshall Tuck, Tony Thurmond's likely main opponent and supporter of charter schools. When it came to funding ballot initiatives for taxing sugary drinks in Oakland and San Francisco last fall, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was an ally of Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, who supported the initiatives.