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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In Print, 'Emeryville Connection' Dead & Gone Says Chamber

Chamber Claims It's OK To Receive Public Money: 
'Emeryville Connection' Print Version Gone, To Restart In Digital Form

In the topsy-turvy world of Emeryville politics, apparently it's A-OK for public money to be doled out to a private company for the production of an on-line newsletter nakedly assisting favored council members but a print version could be problematic.  The Emeryville Chamber of Commerce says public monies given to the organization for its newsletter to help promote certain City business does not constitute a "restart" of its formerly printed newspaper the 'Emeryville Connection'.

In response to inquiries from Councilwoman Jennifer West, The Chamber's president Bob Canter insists that the defunct Emeryville Connection, published on newsprint and "mailed monthly to every address in Emeryville", will not be restarted but instead a new on-line newsletter will be produced, maybe with a different name.  For purposes of receiving public money, that, apparently is a critical difference.

The response letter sent to Councilwoman West and forwarded to the Tattler appears to attempt to put to rest concerns that the Chamber will receive taxpayer money to further its partisan politicking displayed by the Emeryville Connection because it will not be printed in "hard copy format", Mr Canter noted.  He said that the Chamber intends on enhancing their digital communications and he stressed, "The fact is that the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce does not have, and never HAS had, any plans whatsoever to restart the Emeryville Connection in any form other than digitally".

A $25,000 contract between the Chamber of Commerce and the City stipulates that the Chamber help forward the business promotion scheme the City has started called an 'Enterprise Zone'.  The contract mandates the Chamber must, "assist with the Enterprise Zone implementation" and to  "Disseminate information about the Enterprise Zone to the business community through Chamber newsletter".

Mr Canter insists the Chamber "does not require any sort of up-front capital investment from any source" to produce the digital newsletter, however the City will, in fact pay the Chamber to do exactly that.  The arrangement provides that the Enterprise Zone promotion earmarked for the newsletter over a one year time span, combined with organizing a seminar, represents 30% of the paid contract work to be performed by the Chamber.

Apparently, president Bob Canter isn't the only one who thinks that the new digital format for the Chamber newsletter is somehow salient to the question of public money supporting a private organization's partisan politicking and influence peddling.  A city staff member who wished to remain anonymous stepped into the fray, "The contract does not include paying for the Connection", the staffer told Ms West in a letter to the councilwoman .  Mr Canter was more definitive, "NO restart of our old newspaper, period".

The Emeryville Tattler first reported the story of the public money going to finance the Chamber's newspaper in a December 27th edition.

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