After a San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce meeting on June 8, 2023, President Joanna Jimenez, Vice President Carina Rivera, and Immediate Past President, Alexis Salamanca sent letters of resignation, effective immediately to the Chamber Board of Directors.
By Cheryl Cabot
June 6: San Gabriel City Council meeting
The Council voted to accept the $23,000 “Presidential Circle Membership,” offered by the San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce.
During the June 6 meeting, both Councilmembers Tony Ding and Denise Menchaca questioned the legality of the Chamber ‘s request for $23,000, since it was not on the agenda nor was public comment allowed. The vote passed as part of a larger budget proposal.
June 8: Chamber of Commerce meeting
At the Chamber of Commerce meeting, on June 8, Chamber President Jimenez asked to have a “financial audit completed by June 30, 2023, as required by the (Chamber) by-laws.” Her motion was removed from the agenda by the Board of Directors.
“I now know that my approach to help the San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce and remedy its severe financial situation is not appealing to some of the Board of Directors,” said Jimenez, “because it requires making difficult decisions and doing the right thing.”
The three Chamber officers suggested, at the meeting, that the Executive Director position (held by Sandy Rosco,) be changed to a part- time position, “to help lessen the financial strain on the San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce.” This too, was denied by the Executive Board. Following the meeting, the three chamber officers (Jimenez, Rivera, and Salamanca) resigned.
June 20: San Gabriel City Council meeting
Councilwoman Menchaca revisited the issue by requesting the Chamber’s $23, 000 membership be placed on a future agenda for further discussion.
The following is her transcript, taken from the video of the City Council meeting of June 20:
All city monies to the Chamber should cease and not be distributed until the Council deliberates and votes on this Agenda item. City Monies includes any grant funding.
Council received three resignation letters from long-standing Board members that show that further due diligence is necessary. As a Council we have a fiduciary duty to our taxpayers. This membership fee can be considered a gift of public funds without public review or input. I suggest the item be brought back in two to three months so Staff can gather information so we can deliberate and allow the public to also view the material.”
San Gabriel Councilwoman Menchaca also requested the following Chamber of Commerce documents and information be placed on the City Council Agenda:
- Financials: Profit/Loss Statement. How is the money being spent? Who are the employees and how much are they being paid? Other individuals being paid?
- Audit: Why was the audit, suggested by -then President Jimenez, waived by Chamber Board member and Mayor of Arcadia (Paul Cheng)?
- Chamber Executive Board: Copies of the resignation letters of three long-standing Board members, a list of the Chamber Executive Board, and the Board’s responses (if any) regarding the resignation letters.
We’ve seen this before
As reported in ColoradoBoulevard.net in 2020, “public records show that from at least 2011 until 2020, San Gabriel City Hall has been providing an annual subsidy of $31,680 to the San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) through the City’s General Fund.”
In 2020, when the City requested a contract and complete yearly audit of the Chamber of Commerce, in order for them to receive further funding, the Chamber refused, and the annual subsidy stopped. Now, the Chamber of Commerce is again requesting monies from the City without a contract or an audit.
Discussion and public comment
At the June 20 meeting, the San Gabriel City Council voted 3-2 to place discussion about the Chamber of Commerce on the Agenda for future meetings, and that no monies will be distributed to the Chamber until further discussion by the Council, with time allotted for public comment.
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