Is the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce a despicable villain as the City Council claims?
Funny that for 30 years the Chamber has operated as they were originally taught and trained by the City. They have been under the scrutiny and jurisdiction of the City for all this time.
The City Council ordered an audit and found several items lacking. They are blaming Chamber Management rather than being responsible themselves.
The fact is, the City Council is responsible. However, it appears the current City Council does not want to accept this responsibility. They wish to make the Chamber culpable for their own oversights.
The Convention Center is a public property. It is, and always has been, under the jurisdiction of the City. If there are, or have been, issues at a public property, shouldn’t the City Council be held accountable? The answer is, of course, yes. But you must have Council Members that are willing to be held accountable.
Why has the City allowed these issues to go on for decades without addressing them?
It is easy to point the finger of blame at an unsuspecting victim like the Chamber. After all, the Chamber Board is made up of 20 volunteer business people from the City. They work hard for the Chamber, donate their time, invest in community projects, support local charities and greet new businesses to our City.
It is embarrassing the auditor painted these good people as bad through association; they were doing business with the Chamber which the auditor called “self-dealing.” It has always been Chamber policy to do business with dues-paying members who can provide services. This is not self-dealing, it is sound business practice.
The policies and practices the Chamber has applied are what was given to them in the beginning by the City. These same policies and practices have been passed down for decades and no one from the City has said a word, until now.
What is disturbing to the Chamber and its members is the premature firing of both the Chamber and the Convention and Visitors Bureau in July 2018. This was nearly three months before the audit was completed and released to the City Council. It raises the question; “Did the Council want to fire the Chamber and CVB regardless of the audit results?” It certainly looks that way.
If they did want to fire the Chamber, what better way than to hire an auditor that would find reasons to do that. Usually, however, you wait for the results to come in before making the decision.
Since the firing took place three months ago, it really tells us the Council had already decided against the Chamber and they needed the audit to provide substance for their actions.
This is a glaring error on the part of the Council since it gives the appearance of premeditation on their part. If it was premeditation, why?
Our informed guess is the Mayor was angry with the CVB that bought advertisements in the Weekly and this move against the Chamber and CVB was retaliation.
The audit also attempts to trash a Chamber Board Member for buying the UPS store in the Convention Center. That Chamber Member already owned three other UPS stores and this private transaction was totally independent of the Chamber or the Convention Center. The store was going out of business and he picked it up. It should not even have been an audit item.
It is interesting that our cemetery loses money but no audit. Our golf course loses money and no audit. The Convention Center makes millions and there is an audit and the Chamber is fired.
The far-reaching, straw-grasping accusations of this audit smack of bias and prejudice. These items alleged by the auditor are practices that have been going on for years under the oversight of this Council. If real issues exist, as the auditor proclaims, shame on this City Council for not addressing them earlier.
If the auditor is correct in her accusations, this City Council should be fired.
Miles Barber was president of the Chamber board in 1984. He has continued to serve on the board periodically over the years.