Former Chamber of Commerce content with business as usual in Santa Ana

Would you expect a Chamber of Commerce to endorse City Council incumbent candidates who have:

  • Driven their city into a $28 million deficit
  • Handed out huge raises to the City Manager and City Clerk despite having a massive budget deficit
  • Handed out a huge pension spike to the public employee’s union despite having a massive budget deficit
  • Allowed crime to spiral out of control with daily shootings, knifings, graffiti and even carjackings
  • Taken half the City Council meetings off T.V.
  • Raised water rates twice in less than one year
  • Taken pains to fix only major streets and those in key neighborhoods while ignoring some of the worst streets in the city
  • Allowed the city to become the county “leader” in home foreclosures
  • Allowed major businesses to locate elsewhere in the county, including La Curacao and Best Buy
  • Built NO new libraries in 20 years – the City still has only one library and one little learning center
  • Allowed the City to become overbuilt – with not enough parks and fields!

Ordinarily you would think that an organization that purports to represent a city’s business community would say “no thanks” to City Council Members with a sorry record like that.  However the organization formerly known as the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the Santa Ana City Council incumbents, Carlos Bustamante and Claudia Alvarez, as well as appointed City Councilman Vince Sarmiento – despite their very poor record on the City Council.

But the “Greater Santa Ana Business Alliance’s” Political Action Committee didn’t stop there.  They also decided to oppose two experienced, moderate Latino candidates running for the Rancho Santiago Community College District’s Board of Education.  They said no to Santa Ana Housing & Redevelopment Commissioner Lynette Verino and EPIC/Gang Commission member Dr. Art Lomeli.

This despite the fact that the RSCCD incumbents had an awful year.  Their disasters included:

  • Doing nothing after student reporters found out that Santa Ana College President Erlinda Martinez and her staff had ignored fire sprinkler and alarm problems.  No one was fired and one guy was upgraded to Vice Chancellor!
  • They also failed to act when Martinez was caught building a secret non-approved shower in her office!  Perhaps that is how she was planning to survive a fire – by jumping in her shower!
  • They also blew $30 million dollars of public bond money on the Carona Sheriff Training Facility

Yet the former Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce decided to endorse the RSCCD incumbents and challenger Mark McLaughlin.  And they ignored a longtime member of their Chamber – Lomeli – despite all of his activism as a Chamber member, and even though he owns a business in Santa Ana, while the RSCCD incumbent he is running against, Lisa Woolery, has NO connections to Santa Ana.

Of course we should not be surprised by any of this.  The head of the former Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce, Mike Metzler, is on the board of directors of the Santa Ana Business Bank.  And guess who sits on that board with him?  That’s right – Bustamante and former RSCCD Trustee Al Amezcua.  The latter allegedly wants McLaughlin to win so that he can vote for contracts for Cordoba, the company owned by George Pla, who also sits on the Santa Ana Business Bank’s Board of Directors.

Metzler is the same guy who regularly holds Chamber events OUTSIDE of the City of Santa Ana.  Way to support Santa Ana businesses Mike!  And he was not happy with the Orange Juice when our former blogger, Sean Mill, went after his contract with the City of Santa Ana, which resulted in the cessation of that contract.  The agreement had the City paying to publish the Chamber’s official propaganda newspaper, City Line.  Now Metzler’s organization has to pay to publish their own newspaper.  Good!  They should never have been given handouts from the City.

I am tempted to start a new Chamber of Commerce in Santa Ana that will REALLY represent business interests.  In my humble opinion a REAL Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce ought to have the following platform:

  • Working to make it easier to open businesses in Santa Ana – right now that is a daunting process – the City of Santa Ana is infamous for being unfriendly to new businesses!
  • Backing City Council candidates who will push for open, transparent government.  There is NO REASON not to televise ALL the Santa Ana City Council meetings – and the video footage ought to be archived on the City’s website and made available to the public.
  • Seek to work with local Latino owned businesses – which actually had to open their own Chamber of Commerce, the O.C. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, several years ago when Metzler kept ignoring them.
  • Support building better homes for families – it is a shame that so many young couples have to leave our city because they cannot afford the expensive luxury condos and town homes that Metzler favors.
  • Have a board of directors that reflects the community in Santa Ana – when I was interviewed by Metzler and his PAC there were NO Latinos in the room except for me!  That is simply ridiculous!  And the former Chamber’s Executive Team has ZERO Latinos on it!  How is that possible?
  • Oppose new City taxes and fee increases that hurt businesses and residents
  • Call for the City Council to balance its budget
  • Support opening local libraries throughout the City

The City of Santa Ana is lurching, yet the former Chamber of Commerce is content with business as usual.  How very sad.  What a bunch of changos!

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.