On July 17, 2012 the City Council approved a new Agreement to hire the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce “Chamber” with Bob Cantor, “CEO” specified as the principal to carry out the Agreement.
The City will provide up to $25,000 assistance to the Chamber in the form of a service contract. The Agreement says the Chamber will (1) Assist with Enterprise Zone development. (2) Assist with business attraction, retention, and business expansion opportunities. (3) assist with workforce development. (4) Marketing and Outreach (5) Broadband and wireless upgrades citywide. hold business meetings, distribute information, and etc.
The Emeryville Property Owners Association “EPOA” is opposed to this Agreement for the following reasons.. ?
1. There are no performance standards for outreach to all Emeryville businesses. The previous contract only yielded 5% response from Emeryville businesses.
2. The Chamber & City Staff collectively market the economic Development Resources. Most of the recipients appear to be select Chamber Members. Large business and property owners, such as Wareham. who don’t need economic assistance. Little effort is made to identify Emeryville business owners who need economic assistance. Eligibility standards should be developed to receive economic development assistance.
3. Public money should not be provided for closed door business meetings with City Staff/ Such meetings are not subject to public disclosure, conflict of interest laws, and there is no public record of actions taken. Do these meetings give the “impression” of unfair influence.? The meetings could be a violation (city manager) ethics.
According the the International City Manager’s Association, “ICMA” code of ethics “IMPRESSION OF INFLUENCE”- Members (City Manager’s) should conduct their official and personal affairs in such a manner as to give the clear impression that they cannot be improperly influenced in the performance of their official duties.”
4. Why does the Agreement specifically prohibits the Chamber from disclosing any information about the City, without the written approval of the City Manager..?
The Agreement states, “The Consultant agrees that such reports, information, opinions or conclusions (about the city) shall not be made available to or discussed with any individual or organization, including the news media, without prior written approval of the City. The Consultant shall exercise reasonable precautions to prevent the unauthorized disclosure and use of City information whether deemed confidential or not.”
5. The Agreement allows the City Manager to “ORDER” the Chamber, and its CEO, to carry out tasks, in the form of change orders, which they may not necessarily agree with. The Agreement says, “If the parties cannot reach an agreement on the terms for performing the changed work within a reasonable time, to avoid delay or other unfavorable impacts as determined by the City in its sole discretion, the City shall have the right to determine reasonable terms and the Consultant SHALL proceed with the changed work.”
6. This Agreement allows the City and the Chamber to maintain an improper business relationship, not open to all city business owners. Th The lack of disclosure of the Staff meetings with the Chamber, fosters an environment for potential “back room deals.”
Some describe the recent attempt to create the North Hollis underground Utility District as a “back room deal.” The City Staff worked with Wareham, in private partnership, for two years, behind the scenes, to create $8.3 million assessment district which would legally force 18 other unsuspecting minority property owners to pay millions of dollars for a public works project, they had no advanced knowledge of. (See separate story about the North Hollis Underground Utility District). Earlier Post about North Hoilis Underground Utility District
In conclusion. We find this Agreement contrary to good public policy. It fosters Chamber dependence on public money for their operations. It limits the Chamber’s ability to act as an independent business organization. The Agreement also lacks public accountability, and it appears to provide unfair economic benefits to a small number of Chamber business and property owners.
We urge the City Council to prohibit the Staff from having closed door meetings with any private organization without welcome City Council oversight and public accountability. We also ask the Council to establish an Economic Development Committee with City Council participation and public accountability, where all city business owners have the opportunity to participate. These changes are necessary to open new ideas for economic development for Emeryville. We hope you agree.?
A full copy of the Approved Consultant Agreement can be found by clicking the below link or visit our web page at www.EPOA.US