I can now understand why many area businesses in our city refuse to take part in our local Chamber of Commerce. The new Director of the Chamber of Commerce is obviously attempting to make political hay out of something that was designed to clarify and open lines of Communications between her and the city Administration. If I am not mistaken is this not the job of the Director of the Chamber?
The e mail referenced below was sent to the city from the local Chamber of Commerce Director. This was after an unannounced presentation made by Chamber Director in the public comment portion of a City Council meeting. As we citizens know, the comment period at the city council meetings is limited to 3 minutes and no electronic aids are allowed by those commenting. No one objected to this unplanned presentation and slide show during the comment period at the Council meeting for the obvious reason that they did want to hear from the director even though this presentation was unplanned and not on the agenda. Allowing the director to continue was the right thing to do by the Council and the Mayor to avoid the obvious.
Apparently the Chamber Director was approached by the Mayor after a Downtown Merchants meeting. I made several attempt to contact the Mayor VIA phone and finally received a phone call from him this afternoon to get his side of this. He would not confirm anything beyond the fact that it did happen and that he was only attempting to open a line of communication with the Director of the Chamber to make sure that her interaction with the council would be easier in the future. Apparently this did not go over very good with the new Director of the Chamber as she penned the following letter to the Council and administration:
“Dear Oak Harbor City Council Members,
I wanted to take a moment and thank all of your for the overwhelming support you showed the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
I must also beg your forgiveness, as the mayor followed me out of the Downtown Merchants meeting the following Wednesday evening to tell me my presentation was not on the agenda, and I didn’t follow Council rules when I began speaking before public comment had been closed. As I told the mayor, I did not mean to circumvent any rules nor cause any disruption. It was my misunderstanding and lack of knowledge regarding council protocol.
As for my presentation not being on the agenda, I must also plead ignorance. When I read the newspaper article in which the mayor said he had invited the director to speak to the Council in October and that the Council would instead consider the Chamber contract on Sept. 17, I thought my presentation had also been moved, as the Chamber’s annual report is typically delivered when the Council takes the contract up for consideration. Being relatively new to my position, this was my first time in front of the Council and I misunderstood exactly what I should have done and when I should have done it.
Please accept my apologies for all of the misunderstanding.
I would also like to ask that future conversations, like the one I had with the mayor on the sidewalk Wednesday evening, be conducted during normal business hours and in a regular business setting, or failing that, via email. The venue at which the mayor chose to approach me was awkward and uncomfortable, seeing as he followed me out while I was in conversation with another person and then followed us down the sidewalk, waiting until I was alone to speak to me. I am happy to discuss business matters in the proper manner and at reasonable times.
Again, thank you for your support of the Chamber. I look forward to giving my budget presentation to the Council in October.
Kathy Reed Executive Director
Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce”
At a time when the Chamber of Commerce is looking to the City of Oak Harbor for a major portion of their funding it seems quite odd that the director of the Chamber would pen a letter to the administration and Council letting them know that it would not be appropriate talking to her in any other way besides during normal business hours and in a regular business setting, or failing that, via email. A person in her highly visible capacity should not have a problem being approached by our city council, Mayor, anyone in the city Administration or business owners in our city. If she is uncomfortable speaking with the Mayor of our city I wonder how she would react when approached by one of our local business owners.
Maybe this is part of the problem with our Chamber of Commerce being dependent on the City of Oak Harbor for funding instead of funding itself by the local business community which it seems they have a hard time convincing to join.