Greater Transparency Needed in Port Orange Chamber of Commerce Proceedings

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ChamberRay Donadio
President
PO/SD  Chamber of Commerce
I believe in the open governance of any organization that takes money from its members or the general public.
The Chamber is such an organization and yet it is not being run in a transparent fashion in that you advised me this morning  that meetings of the Board of Directors and of the Executive committee of the BOD are not open to Chamber members.
When asked,   you refused to even advise if minutes are kept of the  meetings of  either the executive committee or the BOD   and whether those minutes if kept  are available to chamber members.   You further refused to advise if any of this is sanctioned in the in the Articles or Bylaws of the Chamber.  Indeed the only thing you said and you said it  repeatedly was that you would ‘respond to me’
This is of importance because of recent one sided  Chamber  decisions  to both strongly support sharing the tax increment derived in the Town Center CRA  with one developer only without apparent care or concern for  other developers in that CRA,   AND  to strongly defend  a Manager whose  solution to solving undeniable problems was to deny their existence and silence any criticism,  again without apparent care or concern with the efficient administration of taxpayer dollars.
The justifiable concern is whether the Chamber is beholden to certain interests, and if so what  those interests are.
Chamber members such as myself deserve an understanding as to the considerations that are being factored into these decisions and others that  are being made on our behalf.
The last thing  any Chamber needs,   and in particular this Chamber – taking large public monies as it does,   is an internal struggle amongst members dissatisfied with decisions being made in proceedings where general members are denied access as was my experience when I attempted to sit in and observe  your 8am Executive Committee meeting this morning.
I  would urge  you to shed this veil of secrecy and provide for transparency  and discussion of all Chamber proceedings.
Ted Noftall
J&M  Moving & Storage
700 Oak Heights Court
Port Orange,  FL  32127
(386) 761-6181 Ph
(386) 322-0808 Fax
www.jandmmoving.com



From: Ted Noftall [mailto:Ted@americanforwarding.us]
Sent: Sunday, July 13, 2014 7:19 PM
To: Debby Connors (dconnors@pschamber.com)
Subject: Chamber Meetings
Good evening Debbie and Ray,  ( assuming you will forward it Debbie as I do not have Ray’s e-mail )
After reading the  attached letter I fear my recent conversation with Debbie has been somewhat mischaracterized.  I apologize if I was unclear.
My purpose at this juncture is not to “request that the Chamber take action on a matter “ but rather to  understand how the Chamber governs itself.  I have two questions
1)  Are meetings of the Board of Directors and meetings of the executive committee of the Board of Directors open to Chamber members ?
2)  If they are open to Chamber members do  the agenda’s for those meetings include a provision for Chamber member comments ?
Beyond that information request  Debbie and I had a far reaching discussion and for clarity I will recount much of it in this e-mail.
I  have a growing  concern regarding what I have  always seen as to cozy a relationship between the Chamber and the City of Port Orange, and  that in recent weeks seems to have  mushroomed into a full court press in support of the City Manager and his senior staff.   I do not care to see  one thin dime of my annual dues spent for that purpose.
J&M Moving  is a member in good standing of the Chamber and it expects  the Chamber’s core missions to be  one of  strong advocacy  with local government on behalf of its  members  on a wide range of matters that affect local business including    licenses and fees,  permitting and inspections,  zoning  and keeping one  of my largest annual expenses down  – property taxes.
If the Chamber is doing any of this  I must not be aware of that activity, and I attend most Council meetings.   What I am aware of are permitting and inspection procedures and the problems they create  that are little changed from when Debby and I met with the Manager and his staff  a ½ dozen years ago to review and discuss same.  The latest rendition being recounted by a SE Regional phone store manager bemoaning the difficulty his firm had with a build out in a mall in Port Orange.  Something to the effect that his firm opens 100 such stores a year and he never experienced the difficulty and delays he did in Port Orange.
These are the kinds of problems businesses experience and that the Chamber needs to be weighing in on.
Speaking of weighing in  I am disappointed that  the Chamber’s support to return a portion of the tax increment to the Riverwalk developer was limited to just that project .  If the Chamber believes as do I that sharing the tax increment with those who  create it is  good economics then it should be advocating on behalf of all  CRA developers  and not just one developer  no matter how pretty his pictures nor how  close his ties with the City.
It is for reasons such as these that I have decided to better understand the Chamber’s  decisions reaching process.
Regards
Ted Noftall
J&M  Moving & Storage
700 Oak Heights Court
Port Orange,  FL  32127
(386) 761-6181 Ph
386) 322-0808 Fax
www.jandmmoving.com



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