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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