Has the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce Become Irrelevant?

The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce recently announced its endorsement of all four incumbents for re-election to the Town Council. The Chamber has had a cozy relationship with three of those incumbents–Linda Abbott, Dave Crozier, and Les Presmyk–over their 34 years of combined experience together, providing lunch at all of their mutual meetings. The meetings are called by the Chamber to “advise the Council on what’s important to businesses.” I’m guessing that the incumbents know the speel by heart and have mastered the art of looking interested. After all, it is a free lunch.

On one hand Chamber President Kathy Tilque speaks out at public meetings against the burden of taxes on business owners, but does an about face and endorses a sales tax increase (Prop 406) for “public safety.” Thankfully, the citizens of Gilbert have not lost their ability to recognize fear-mongering when they hear it, and voted NO. That sales tax increase would have raised the commercial leases of every storefront in Gilbert. Those leases include a TPT (transaction privilege tax).

Kathy stamped her foot in opposition to the Use Tax (9/9/2008), but the incumbents she supports tried passing it again in 2009. The Gilbert Small Business Alliance (GSBA) fought it down in 2008 and again in 2009, along with many Gilbert residents.

Kathy, representing the Chamber, objected to a 6% across the board increase in business fees at a 5/27/2008 Town Council meeting, but the incumbents the Chamber endorses passed them anyway, on 6/10/2008.

Representing 600 local businesses by golly, Kathy argued against an increase in water rates, reclaimed water rates, wastewater rate, and solid waste rates (5/27/2008). You guessed it, the incumbents raised the rates anyway.

So now, the Chamber is endorsing incumbents who have repeatedly supported raising taxes, introducing new taxes, raising business fees, and water rates? (That isn’t all they’ve done to stick their finger in the eye of business, but this is a short article.)

Through all of this abuse of business by Council Members Abbott, Crozier, and Presmyk, the Chamber president cites “experience and vision” as the reason for the Chamber’s endorsement. What?

In contrast the Gilbert Small Business Alliance (GSBA) has steadfastly opposed new taxes and higher fees on business. They said NO to Prop 406. They endorse new leadership in the Town Council: Eddie Cook, Victor Petersen, Jordan Ray, and fairly new incumbent Ben Cooper.

I think the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce has thrown businesses under the bus.