International Affairs Committee: 2006 year in review

Bob Kass
Public Works Director
City of Campbell, California
Chair, APWA International Affairs Committee

At our annual Congress in September, I will celebrate the completion of five years (although not consecutively) as a member of the International Affairs Committee (IAC), the last two as Committee Chair. The IAC has made great strides to bring more international focus and attention to APWA over the last decade. Our international partnerships are growing stronger, interest in the Jennings Randolph Fellowship program is keen, and our efforts to involve our general membership in international experiences and endeavors are expanding. I am very honored to be part of this committee and share in the satisfying results of its good work. However, when I reflect on my experiences and accomplishments as a member of the IAC over the past years, it is the friendships and professional relationships that I have made with my committee colleagues and APWA staff that I find the most satisfying and enduring.

This past year has been an exciting and successful one for APWA's International Affairs Committee. APWA representatives again attended public works conferences in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Mexico, and for the first time ventured to the land of the Kiwis to participate in New Zealand's Public Works Conference.

Some additional highlights from the past year include:

  • Awarded 2006 Jennings Randolph Fellowships to four members: John Lisenko of Richmond, California (Czech Republic and Slovakia); Patricia Bugas-Schramm of Portland, Oregon (New Zealand); Julio Fuentes of San Diego (Mexico); and Tammy Qualls of San Jose, California (Mexico).

  • Continued fundraising to expand resources available for future Jennings Randolph Fellowships; $6,100 was raised from chapter contributions.

  • Proposed a new Award for International Service to the Awards Review Committee which was approved by the Board for the 2007 Awards Program.

  • Refined Jennings Randolph Fellowship guidelines, criteria and application process.

  • Discussions were initiated with Asociaci┬ón de Municipios de Mexico, A.C. (AMMAC) and the Texas Chapter regarding promotion of the 2007 San Antonio APWA Congress in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

  • Began working with Region VIII delegates to hold their 2007 spring House of Delegates meeting in Mexico.

  • Worked with the KC Metro Chapter on the International Reception to be held at the 2006 Congress.

  • Coordinating the hosting of a 17-member Czech and Slovak delegation at the Kansas City Congress.

  • Past President Dwayne Kalynchuk participated in a People to People exchange to China in the fall of 2005.

  • Continued work with People to People on an Ambassador trip to India in October 2006 which will include the cities of New Delhi, Agra and Jaipar.

  • The INGENIUM Conference was held June 8-10, 2006. APWA President Bob Freudenthal presented on the APWA Executive Committee trip to the Gulf Region following Hurricane Katrina. Patricia Bugas-Schramm, Jennings Randolph Fellow, and Ric Robertshaw from Canada also presented sessions.

  • Presentations were made at the June 2006 Czech Recycling Conference by Past President Dwayne Kalynchuk and APWA members Guy Cicon, John Lisenko and Helena Allison.

  • A number of educational sessions proposed by the IAC will take place at the 2006 APWA Congress including the following: "Transformation through Privatization—Public Works Delivery Systems in the Czech and Slovak Republics" by Helena Allison and George Neuzil; "Australia—Lessons to be Learned from Our Friends Down Under" by Larry Lux and Brian Pettet; and "An International Crisis: Recruitment and Retention of Public Works Staff" by Chris Champion, Gary Downing and Richard Kirby.
For all of us, September 2006 will also mark a more sober anniversary: five years since terrorists struck our country, killing thousands of innocent people, destroying the World Trade Center Twin Towers, damaging the Pentagon, and forever changing the way we view our world and ourselves. This brazen act shattered our sense of security. It stunned us with the realization that we are part of a global society where conflicts anywhere can just as easily affect us at home as they affect others abroad. Our national psyche was shocked, and we are still recovering from the trauma.

For many of us, the events of September 11, 2001 and the days that followed will forever be linked to the Philadelphia APWA Congress. I happened to be attending a meeting of the APWA/AMMAC Task Force when I first learned of the horrific events which began unfolding that morning. Others of us were attending educational sessions, catching up on e-mail, having breakfast with friends or family, or preparing for the day's activities. Perhaps we received a phone call from a loved one or colleague, or were drawn to a crowd in front of a television. However we learned about what was happening, we were all profoundly affected. And as we look back over these past five years we should each take a moment to reflect on the events of that day, our personal response to those events, and how they have affected us, be it personally, spiritually or professionally.

I want to thank the 2005-2006 International Affairs Committee members, Board Liaison and staff for an exciting and profitable year working together to increase the awareness of APWA members to international public works issues. Members of the 2005-2006 International Affairs Committee are:

  • Robert Kass (Chair), Public Works Director, City of Campbell, CA
  • Martin Basta, Operations Manager, City of Great Falls, MT
  • Chris Champion, CPEng, Chief Executive Officer, IPWEA, Sydney, NSW
  • Vanessa Conrad, Manager of Administration, City/County of San Francisco, CA
  • Geoff Greenough, P.Eng., Commissioner of Engineering & Public Works (Retired), City of Moncton, New Brunswick, CN
  • Dwayne Kalynchuk, General Manager of Environmental Services, Capital Regional District, Victoria, British Columbia, CN
  • Rachel Lazarus, Manager of Lead Services Replacement, D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, Washington, D.C.
  • Lawrence Lux, President, Lux Advisors, Ltd., Plainfield, IL
  • Zeferino Sanchez, Principal, Vertice Asesores, Tijuana, MX
  • Ross Vincent, Chief Executive, INGENIUM, Thames, NZ
  • Diane Linderman, P.E. (Board Liaison), Director Urban Infrastructure & Development, Vanesse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., Richmond, VA
  • Kaye Sullivan (Staff Liaison), APWA Deputy Executive Director, Kansas City, MO

Bob Kass has chaired the International Affairs Committee for the past two years and is a former director of the South Bay Area Chapter. He can be reached at (408) 866-2150 or

Experiences from the 2006 International Public Works Conference in the Czech Republic

Helena K. Allison
Design Manager
Sacramento, California

What can one envision, expect, experience, observe and learn when attending a public works conference in the Czech Republic? How different are people, culture and problems in the large or small towns in the Czech Republic as they relate to public works? Our U.S./Canadian delegation was able to experience all this first-hand in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic, in June. Hradec Kralove welcomed us with sunshine, mild temperatures and friendly people.

One of the first challenges that anyone would face attending a conference in a foreign country is the language. Czech is a very difficult language. Thanks to our colleagues who speak both English and Czech, we were able to communicate with ease.

  Czech Republic Public Works Association meeting

The first day at the Czech Public Works Conference we all attended a board meeting. This meeting consisted of eleven board members and approximately eighty committee members and chairs. The president of the organization called the meeting to order. Then he introduced the board members. After that, he welcomed and individually introduced our delegation from the U.S. and Canada. He presented us with small gifts to take back home with us: a very nice picture book about the region, a beer mug and also a Czech soccer jersey (as we all were looking forward to the soccer World Cup). The beginning of the meeting focused on membership. Members shared their opinions and described their role, involvement and benefits this public works organization provides. Committee chairs presented their committee reports and reviewed, discussed and approved their treasurer's report.

Following the meeting several members made presentations on collection, waste removal and recycling. Two of our delegates from Canada presented their PowerPoint presentations. Past President Dwayne Kalynchuk's presentation was entitled "Solid Waste Management Programs in the Greater Victoria Area" and Guy Cicon's presentation was entitled "Solid Waste Management in a Small Western Canadian City." Both presentations were very interesting.

Our American colleagues presented the following day. John Lisenko gave a presentation entitled "Disaster Recovery and Relief in a Small California Community Using Local, State and Federal Funds" followed by Helena Allison whose presentation was entitled "Hurricane Katrina from a Public Works Perspective." Both presentations were given in a large lecture hall with about 250 in attendance. The translating booths made presenters feel as if they were at a political world gathering. Members of the audience were able to listen through headphones to an English or a Czech translation.

  The equipment display at the Czech Recycling Conference

The conference center and exhibit was similar to what we experience here in the U.S. but on a much smaller scale. We were able to see some very interesting equipment and exhibits. One that piqued our interest was the leaf vacuum called "OTIK." In the U.S. the equipment used to remove leaves is called a leaf blower. OTIK is a very nice, simple and easy-to-use piece of equipment. It consists of a trash can with a motor, small wheels and a hand-held hose. The hose at the end is equipped with a small wheel for easy movement along the street or sidewalk surface, and picks up leaves. These leaves stack into the trash can. When the trash can is full, the operator simply empties the trash can and continues his work. This leaf removal equipment eliminates dust. The engine of this vacuum is not loud at all. If you would like additional information, please visit a website, This website is in English. Click on OTIK, Komunalni Vysavac. We hope you like what you see.

In closing, we would like to thank all the members and hosts of the Czech and Slovak Public Works organizations for being generous, friendly and exceptional hosts. They provided all meals and conference registrations and on many occasions treated us to after-dinner fun, including world-famous Czech beer. I would encourage everyone to get involved and join the delegation of people attending public works conferences in other parts of the world. We are better able to understand the technical and public works issues their communities and cities deal with when we can experience the culture and life in another part of the world first-hand.

Helena K. Allison can be reached at (916) 924-7000 or

Mexican Public Works and Services Congress and Exhibition
November 16-18, 2006
Merida, Yucatan

The main square or "zocalo" in the center of Merida. On Sundays, the streets come alive with music and artisans selling their wares.

APWA's International Affairs Committee invites you to become part of APWA's delegation to this year's Mexican Public Works and Services Congress, which will be held November 16-18, 2006 in the beautiful colonial city of Merida, capital of the state of Yucatan, Mexico. Leading the delegation will be President-Elect Bill Verkest, who will be accompanied by two of this year's Jennings Randolph Fellows as well as a number of members of the International Affairs Committee. The theme of this year's conference will be "Clean Cities," with presentations and exhibitions focusing on environmental stewardship and management aspects of public works.

Merida, with a population of nearly 1,000,000, is a major Mexican tourist destination, in part due to its proximity to the Mexican Caribbean resorts of Cancun and Cozumel, as well as numerous Mayan archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Tulum. Merida is also renowned as a center of art and culture, with numerous music, dance and theater groups performing throughout the year.

Sponsored by the Mexican Municipalities Association (AMMAC), one of APWA's international partnership organizations, the annual Mexican Public Works and Services Congress and Exhibition draws attendees from throughout Mexico and Latin America. APWA members wishing to participate in this Congress as an attendee, exhibitor or presenter should contact Julio Fuentes, chair of the APWA/AMMAC Task Force, at (619) 533-3092 or by e-mail at

Call for applicants for 2007 Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Program

The APWA International Affairs Committee (IAC) is pleased to announce the call for applicants for the 2007 Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Program. This fund was originally established by the APWA International Public Works Federation (IPWF) at the Eisenhower World Affairs Institute in May of 1987. In 2006, four APWA members were funded for study tours in New Zealand, the Slovak and Czech Republics, and Mexico.

It is the intent of the IAC to award two to three fellowships per year for APWA members to travel to countries with which APWA has formal international partnerships with other public works associations.

The criteria for the program are as follows:

APWA members will present public works/infrastructure-related papers at APWA's international partnership countries' public works-related conferences; coupled with a one-week or more extended study tour of public works facilities in that country; a paper regarding that tour presented at the next available APWA Congress and other professional organizations; and preparation of an article in the APWA Reporter.

At this time, it is the intention that fellowships be made available for attendance at the IPWEA, INGENIUM and SPWA/CZPWA conferences every other year and the AMMAC conference annually. The Jennings Randolph Fellowship will be awarded on the basis of funding available each year through interest earned in the fund without taking the fund below $50,000. Some years may be more lucrative than others and the committee hopes to be able to award more than one fellowship per year.

APWA international partner conferences are generally held as follows:

  • Slovakia Public Works Association (SPWA) and Czech Republic Public Works Association (CZPWA) - March/April of every year (Fellowship for 2008)

  • Asociacion de Municipios de Mexico, A.C. (AMMAC) - usually May/June of every year (Fellowship for 2007)

  • Association of Local Government Engineering New Zealand (INGENIUM) - June of every year (Fellowship for 2008)

  • Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA) - August of every odd year (Fellowship for 2007)

The proposed study topic should be mutually relevant to the specific country and to APWA members. The fellowship will generally cover the airfare expenses. The registration fee for the host conference will be complimentary.

For additional information and an application form, please access APWA's website at and locate guidelines and an application for the Jennings Randolph Fellowship program on the "About APWA" page under "International Activities." Or you may contact Kaye Sullivan, APWA Deputy Executive Director, at (800) 848-APWA (2792) or To be eligible for 2007 fellowships, applications must be received at APWA headquarters by 5:00 p.m. Central on October 31, 2006. The successful applicant(s) will be notified by January 31, 2007.


Factoid: One of the most famous of early public works officials was Sextus Julius Frontinus, a water works superintendent, who was appointed "curator aquarum"—Water Commissioner of the City of Rome—by Emperor Nerva in A.D. 97. The aqueducts of Rome were constructed over a 400-year period prior to A.D. 90, by which time the system was servicing a population of 1.2 million and was providing about 85 million gallons of water per day. (Management of Local Public Works, p. 10)

Cultural Proverbs:

"Better a mouse in the pot than no meat at all." - Romanian Proverb

"Fear not a jest. If one throws salt at you, you will not be harmed unless you have sore places." - Latin Proverb

"He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything." - Arab Proverb

"Love and eggs are best when they are fresh." - Russian Proverb

"When your finger is in pain, your sight is not lazy." - Ekonda Proverb