Op Ed: Encinitas Chamber of Commerce deserves clean slate

The Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, which has represented the city’s business community for 45 years, has come under fire recently.
As a result, the city has held up funding of the Visitor Center, which is operated by the chamber. This decision has the effect of crippling the chamber making it difficult to pay its bills as many of the Visitor Center’s financial obligations, such as the lease, are under the chamber’s name.
There have been allegations of commingling and even misuse of city funds brought to light by a recent report. I believe the report and trust the honesty of the person who prepared it.
It is extremely important for all of us to remember that the dirty deeds that were done, if any, were done by former CEO Gary Tucker and Marketing Director Mike Andreen, not the current staff. But the withholding of funds punishes only the current administration.
The new CEO, Marshall Weinreb, is trying to move forward in a positive manner while dealing with the mess left by the former regime. He has accomplished much in a very short period of time.
With limited resources, he ran the most successful Oktoberfest in history. He is in discussion with Linda Benson to bring the Women’s World Longboard Championships from Biarritz, France, to Encinitas. Last week, he persuaded Tony Hawk to appear at an event in May, he has formed an alliance with MiraCosta College to help small businesses, and much more.
In my opinion, he has accomplished more positive things for Encinitas in three months than have been accomplished in the last three years.
Andreen is now in the process of starting his own “chamber” focusing on the El Camino Real corridor. He calls it the New Encinitas Chamber of Commerce.
This is an obvious copyright infringement and it is illegal. The ability to confuse is the first test of copyright law violation.
Andreen is using the confusion, an e-mail address associated with the 45 years of chamber existence plus other information he obtained while working for the original chamber to advance his breakaway “chamber.” Many businesses that are joining his new organization believe they are joining the original — and only — Encinitas Chamber. This hurts the original chamber.
He is openly being supported by former Encinitas Chamber CEO Gary Tucker and Encinitas City Councilman Jerome Stocks. This adds to the confusion.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Stocks is the only council member that has not shown up for a single event held by the original chamber since Andreen left.
I recently counted all the pictures of City Council members that appeared in the last 20 issues of Encinitas First, the 45-year-old chamber’s newspaper, while under the editorial leadership of Andreen. The results were: 0 for Maggie Houlihan, 0 for Teresa Barth, 3 for Dan Dalager, 4 for James Bond and a whopping 30 for Jerome Stocks. What’s that say?
Personally, I question the integrity of Mr. Andreen.
Negative stories of Andreen’s actions are rampant, but I won’t mention them here as I don’t have firsthand experience with all of them.
I will say that I had occasion to fire him for lying to me and putting at risk the good name of this newspaper.
Some years ago, while still a columnist for The Coast News, he approached Mossy Nissan and asked to borrow a convertible to chauffeur a dignitary in the Christmas Parade. Mr. Mossy said yes as long as he displayed a sign on the car announcing it was courtesy of Mossy Nissan.
Come Monday morning, I got a call from a very upset Mr. Mossy. He said Mike Andreen lied to him. He was at the parade and saw his donated car sporting a huge sign showing the name, “Mike Andreen” and in the car was Andreen’s daughter.
I called Andreen. He said, “Jim, I don’t know what that guy was smoking, but I definitely had the Mossy sign on the car.” Turns out the city had taken pictures of all the entrants. You guessed it. The picture showed a big, smiling Mike and his daughter with a huge “Mike Andreen” sign, but no Mossy sign on the Mossy car. Needless to say, we never received any Mossy advertising.
My intention here is not to bash, but to educate and warn anyone who might become involved with this supposed new chamber to be careful. It is not a real chamber because it lacks nonprofit status as well as state and national affiliation, and is run by a person of questionable ethics.
The Encinitas City Council was set to meet in closed session Oct. 21 to determine the fate of the funding for the Visitor Center.
I feel strongly that the council should continue the funding. If in the future the chamber and Visitor Center need to be separated, it should be done in an orderly manner.
I also feel the council should bail the chamber out of its current financial situation including funding any legal action necessary to keep Andreen from further harming it.
Let the new chamber leader, CEO Marshall Weinreb, continue making a positive difference in the business community of this great city of ours without being dragged down by past issues.
This whole mess happened on the current council’s watch. Let them clean it up.

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