Let the finger pointing begin. The war of the Encinitas chambers is on, and you can be certain this is only the beginning of a long, drawn-out process. Somewhere in the blame game are the answers we’ve been waiting for: Who is responsible for this mess? And what are they guilty of?
As many The Coast News readers may know, the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce finally released a long-awaited financial review. City Council and a sizeable number of folks in Encinitas have been waiting on this bad boy for too long. Covering a four-year period — from the summer of ’05 to the summer of ’09 — the review seems to focus on the financials doings of former Chamber CEO Gary Tucker and former membership director Mike Andreen (to see the review in all its glory, visit www.coastnewsgroup.com).
These findings are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, as there are more movers and shakers to be held accountable in this wicked chamber weave. I find it hard to believe just two men could create an environment of fear and financial distress in the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce community. And Andreen himself was quick to point out the subjective nature of the review conducted by Colleen Walsh, owner of Encinitas-based CFO To-GO and a newly appointed Encinitas Chamber of Commerce board member. Sounds a little fishy to me.
Andreen and Tucker have every right to defend themselves. But while they’re busy saving face, we’re still without answers.
Tucker wouldn’t talk about the review with The Coast News, but he was quoted in the Union-Tribune saying, “This whole thing is just a misleading attempt to cover up for the inadequacies of the board of directors.” It is the type of reaction one might expect from the accused, but it does little to explain the glaring financial inconsistencies found in the review. They may be lies, Mr. Tucker, but do us the justice of explaining why you believe it so.
The chamber drama really kicked into high gear when Andreen formed the New Encinitas Chamber, a yet to be formally recognized chamber targeting businesses in the El Camino Real corridor. By all means, this is a democracy and the man has the right to do as he sees fit. But his motives remain questionable. Why sever ties with an organization you worked so hard to promote? Why divide the Encinitas business community into Us vs. Them, New Encinitas vs. Old Encinitas? Imagine how strong the Encinitas business community could be with a united front!
It’s a shame Encinitas can’t get its chamber act together. And it’s not entirely impossible, as the Carlsbad chamber appears to be doing just fine. Talk about a chamber that is relevant, helpful, strong and cohesive.
Business leaders of Encinitas have lost sight of the nature of a functioning, healthy chamber. How can they possibly promote local business interests while they’re engaged in petty squabbles and pledges of allegiance?
Which leaves us asking what an honest, hardworking business owner is to do in Encinitas? Do they side with the readjusted chamber of old? Do they scamper off to the newly formed El Camino Real chamber? Or, do they pick up shop and move to Carlsbad?
The truth of the chamber will emerge in the end, we hope. But we shouldn’t expect retribution, for even our own Councilman Dan Dalager was quoted in the same U-T story saying he’s “not interested in internal workings of the chamber as long as the organization runs the center effectively.” This should be interesting.
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