In an effort to bolster their flagging reputation, the San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce issued an open letter to the general public via social media and their website.
By Cheryl Cabot
Unfortunately, it doesn’t even mention their finances. They are $78,000 in the red in their bank account, they still hold a $185,000 Small Business Loan on the books, and they have failed to pay their vendors, leaving them high and dry, while continuing to pay their Executive Director a six-figure salary.
In March, the Chamber sold $13,500 worth of advertising and sponsorships for a journal. It was never published and the money was not returned. An event was planned for September to raise money but was canceled without explanation. A vendor for this event told Councilmember Menchaca she is owed money and now realizes she will not get paid.
The Chamber doesn’t show any remorse for their misguided and misused finances. They deny the facts. Facts gleaned from the SG Chamber’s own minutes, e-mails, letters, and tax statements, all of which were turned over to the City and therefore public documents.
Executive Director Sandy Roscoe was given the opportunity to take a leave of absence or work limited hours, by the previous Board of Directors, in an effort to shore up the bank account. Roscoe refused and the Executive Board supported her decision. Consequently, three (and eventually more) Directors resigned, realizing there was no serious effort to improve the Chamber’s finances. The new Board’s only solution was to ask for money from the City of San Gabriel, with no strings attached. The $23,000 gift requested by the Chamber was offered as a special Presidential Membership, exclusively for the City of San Gabriel.
Dire financial straits
At the September 11 City Council meeting, Chamber member Gilda Mosher stated, “I want to make clear this is not a contract; this is a membership. It is not meant to be contractual.” Once again, trying to avoid accountability for their dire financial straits by avoiding a contract demanding accountability and transparency. But a contract is exactly what the City will require.
Make no mistake, the Chamber of Commerce is not a branch of government. It is a non-profit organization and should be self-supporting. If they receive the $23,000, as well as the $7,500 Business Relocation Grant from the City, it barely puts a dent in their bank account drowning in red. And how do they plan to pay off the $185,000 Small Business Loan? It is a loan, not a gift.
Drowning in red and blaming others
In the letter it states that the SG Chamber is the ‘Gold Standard’ throughout Los Angeles. If that is the Gold Standard for the Chamber of Commerce, they have very low standards.
They also state that they will continue to serve the community with “abundant faith, hope, and love.”
A business or organization cannot be run solely on faith, hope, and love. It requires financial stability. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, they want to place the blame on the articles written about them. Don’t shoot the messenger. The SG Chamber’s financial woes are nobody’s fault but their own.
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