Chamber might probe finances

Here’s the latest on the ongoing drama between the Baldwin Park Chamber of Commerce and the Baldwin Park City Council.

Looks like chamber officials are taking the council’s suggestion of an internal financial audit seriously:

Chamber might audit its finances
Councilwoman suggested group conduct probe
By Tania Chatila, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/19/2008 11:33:55 PM PDT

BALDWIN PARK – Two weeks after a City Council suggestion, the Chamber of Commerce is considering auditing its internal finances.

Chamber Executive Director David Luevano said group officials discussed the issue at a meeting last week and are mulling the idea.

“We haven’t come to any conclusion on that yet,” said Margaret Salonisen, the chamber’s newly-inducted president. “I really don’t want to have any conversation at this time until we do our own looking and figure out what the problem is.”

Officials would not provide further details, or say whether such an audit would be conducted by an internal or outside agency.

At a July 2 council meeting, Baldwin Park Councilwoman Marlen Garcia said the group – which receives no money from the city – should take a look at where their funds are going.

She suggested an independent firm perform a review.

Garcia said Friday she was happy the chamber was considering such an action.

“It’s a long overdue requirement and I’m glad to hear finally they are following through with it,” she said. “I think as a organization that is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, it’s the responsible thing to do.”

At the July 2 meeting, Garcia also brought up concerns about the way the chamber was being run and said that she believed chamber officials were engaging in activities that could potentially expose them to lawsuits.

Other council members also spoke to questionable practices within the chamber, including allegations that a former director may have been taking chamber money.
“If you look at the way it was run when the previous person was there, it was extremely controversial,” Mayor Manuel Lozano said. “This would be a very clear, transparent general auditing of the way the funds are being disseminated.”

Luevano said the chamber performed an audit two years ago, and the directors approve the finances every month at board meetings.

He also backed the chamber’s commitment to the community, and said its members are happy.

“We got more members than we ever had in quite a long time,” Luevano said. “Maybe (Garcia) does things her way, but we do things a different way here.”

Luevano accused Garcia of threatening his job at an informal meeting last month, and said he has a signed affidavit from a chamber employee backing his statements.

Garcia has denied the claims.

Because the chamber is a non-profit organization, the city has no say in how its board conducts business.

But council members have stressed the importance of working with the chamber in making sure it is reinvesting back into the business community.

Lozano said he did not anticipate any scathing discoveries if an audit were performed, but if there were issues, the audit would identify them, he said.

“I think the outcome will be very interesting to see,” Garcia said. “I hope the information will become available to all the members once its completed.”

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  • Anonymous

    It is funny how council knew about the issue with the old director but seem not to care or get involve. Why all the interest now? I suggest they take their own advice and reinvest into the community and not their own pockets. They should definately worry about themselves and not meddle in what they never bothered with before. Garcia was on the board for the Chamber before was she not? Than obviously she approved of the finances when it was presented on a monthly basis as stated. Is she having doubts about herself? Or did she not know what she was approving?

  • Anonymous

    The last person that made the comment is right. Why now? Tania my dear, you are writing this Chamber issue to the ground. Frankly I am tired of hearing about this.

  • Chamber Member

    The truth is that the present ex.director was not at all inclined for an audit to be made. This audit is great news for the Chamber. I’m glad that the council and Marlen have helped pushed this. This is what they should be doing. The majority of us in the Chamber want it too. And if your tired of hearing about it why do you look for it to read it? Scared maybe?

  • Anonymous

    I have been reading the Tribune for years how can I not but see it. If you know anything at all as a chamber member than you know that the directors make the decisions not the ex.director. Hello, get a clue. By the way I did not say if I was for or against the audit they will have to work it among themselves but I feel the public does not have to suffer through it.

  • Chamber Member

    The exec.dir. can not make certain administrative decisions. But he can make decisions that effect the chamber. There was also a time when he ran unchecked and help from his staff that he hired (his decision) allowed him to do things that would be deemed at least selfserving. Since the Chamber is for the community of the city then yes the public should know what is happening with it’s Chamber.