Chamber woes….



Baldwin Park Councilwoman Marlen Garcia has some serious concerns about the city’s Chamber of Commerce:

Councilwoman has concerns about Chamber of Commerce
By Tania Chatila, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 06/27/2008 10:26:08 PM PDT

BALDWIN PARK – A councilwoman wants to rescind the city’s membership in the Chamber of Commerce, citing growing concerns about how the group is run.

Marlen Garcia – who has served as the city’s representative to the chamber for about eight years – said the group struggles to be self-sufficient and engages in activities that could potentially expose it to litigation.

Garcia also said she has received complaints from business owners that the chamber does not provide them with the support they need.

“A lot of things are happening that are going to expose the chamber to some legal issues,” she said. “It seems like they can’t get their act together.”

Chamber officials refute the claims.

“That’s her opinion,” said Jose Barrera, the chamber’s vice president. “Everybody is entitled to their opinion. We have close to 300 members. Believe me, if something was wrong with the way we treat our members, we wouldn’t have that many members.”

At a June 18 City Council meeting, Baldwin Park business owner and chamber member Greg Tuttle – who is also spearheading a recall against Garcia and two other council members – accused Garcia of threatening to disband the group, and take it over.

Tuttle, of Pomona, claimed Chamber Executive Director David Luevano told him Garcia threatened his job security at an informal meeting a few weeks ago.

Luevano could not be reached for comment Friday.

Garcia said the claims were false.

“I can swear on 10 Bibles I never said that,” Garcia said. “My intention is not to come in and rule the roost. My intention is to come in and help.”

Barrera, who was at that informal meeting in which Garcia wanted to discuss a personnel matter she felt was mishandled, also said Garcia did not threaten Luevano.

But, Barrera said, Garcia did accuse him and Luevano of being unqualified.

“She was upset,” Barrera said. “She straight out was very disrespectful … She insinuated she was going to the have the council come in and supervise (the chamber).”

Because the chamber is a non-profit organization and does not receive a subsidy from the city, Barrera said the council really has no say in the chamber’s actions.

Garcia said about two years ago the city loaned the chamber $10,000. They have since paid back that debt.

Still, Garcia worries the chamber may not have the funds to continue in the future.

“This chamber has had a tainted history,” Garcia said, adding that she believes it may be time to consider some kind of new association for businesses.

“I think the Baldwin Park Chamber has a negative connotation to it,” she said. “Let’s hear from the rest of the community. If they want to start up a group, as a council, we’ll sit back, listen and hear what they have to say.”

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