The Commonwealth Club of California
595 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
Contact: Riki Rafner, 415.597.6712

Commonwealth Club “Week to Week” Current Affairs Program
New Friday Noon Event

Dr. Larry Gerston, Debra Saunders Lead Panelists;
Plus Special Guest Each Week

IN PHOTO (left to right): Larry Gerston, Debra J. Saunders, Michael Fox
PHOTO CREDIT: Steven Fromtling

SAN FRANCISCO (March 1, 2012) – Following a motto of “less shouting, more talking,” The Commonwealth Club successfully launched its ongoing Week to Week program series in February, devoted to discussion of current affairs. Featuring prominent local experts and special guests, Week to Week also incorporates audience involvement in an informative and entertaining hour designed as a counterweight to much of the public affairs programs around the country that feature polarized guests and endless arguing.

“This is a new project for The Commonwealth Club: a regular, ongoing series of programs. We know that Bay Area residents wanted to hear and engage in conversation about topics in the news, so we created Week to Week to give these people a place to go where they can be with people who are also interested in the same issues, even if they have a variety of viewpoints amongst them,” said John Zipperer, creator and host of the new series, and The Commonwealth Club’s vice president of media and editorial operations.

In the series’ first program on Friday, February 24, panelists Dr. Larry Gerston of San Jose State University and Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle discussed the week’s events, ranging from the GOP presidential primaries to the Occupy movement to a poll showing that California was the nation’s least-favorite state. Movie critic and journalist Michael Fox joined the panel in the second half of the program to talk about overlooked films in the Academy Awards season – and why he thought George Clooney was all wrong for The Descendants. The hour-long program also featured lively questions from the audience and wrapped up with a quick news quiz.

The program series was inspired by a couple of things, according to Zipperer: “There’s a real thirst for something that brings alive the sometimes contentious issues in the news, and at the same time we wanted it to be civil, intelligent, and enjoyable. Judging from the feedback from people who attended the first program, we hit our mark.”

Week to Week is launching with a semi-monthly (twice a month) frequency, but it will soon increase to weekly frequency. The second program will take place Friday, March 16, 2012, at 12 noon in The Commonwealth Club’s main auditorium at 595 Market Street in downtown San Francisco. The main panelists for the second program will again be Dr. Gerston and Ms. Saunders.

Dr. Larry Gerston is a political science professor emeritus at San Jose State University, where he examines the public policy making process at the national and state levels. His book Recall! California’s Political Earthquake (with Terry Christensen), was selected as “outstanding academic book of 2004” by the American Library Association. His other books include American Federalism: A Concise Introduction and Retreat from Reality: Ten Problems Threatening to Implode American Society (and How We Can Fix It). His eleventh book, Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California, will be published by Taylor & Francis in March 2012. Dr. Gerston is the political analyst at NBC11 (the Bay Area NBC station) and is a frequent commentator in print and broadcast programs.

Debra J. Saunders has written a thrice-weekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle opinion pages since 1992. Saunders column is syndicated throughout the country by Creators Syndicate. Her Token Conservative blog appears on Her work also has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard and National Review. She is a frequent guest on national television and radio programs. In 2002, the prestigious National Journal’s “Talking Heads” column listed Saunders as a member of the A-team of the top political journalists working outside the Beltway. Vaughn Ververs wrote, “An independent voice working for a left-leaning newspaper, Saunders covers California and national politics, as well as the state's political personalities. Her column is frequently a welcome change in tone from the rest of the editorial page, and she regularly throws punches at both sides.”

John Zipperer manages The Commonwealth Club’s media and editorial departments, including editing its member’s magazine The Commonwealth. He is a frequent contributor to Northside San Francisco and The Marina Times.

Attendees are invited to suggest topics for the panel to discuss at the W2W page:

The “Week to Week” programs take place at the Commonwealth Club’s main auditorium in downtown San Francisco (595 Market St, 2nd floor). They are free to Commonwealth Club members, $10 for nonmembers; premium tickets (including lunch) are available for $12 for members and $22 for nonmembers.

Founded in 1903, The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation’s premier public affairs forum, with more than 16,000 members. Based in San Francisco and San Jose, the Club hosts more than 450 speeches, debates and discussions each year on issues of regional, national and international significance. At least half a million people hear The Commonwealth Club’s weekly radio broadcasts on more than 230 stations across the country. The Club also podcasts its programs, with more than 1 million of its podcasts downloaded every year. The Club’s programs are televised on Comcast Premium Digital Cable, Fora.TV and ABC7, and The Club hosts live interactive broadcasts of select programs online. For more information, visit