Conversely, Dublin residents learn about their city government from city employees for free, without the influence or politics of their Chamber of Commerce.
Through public records requests and personal contacts, I received reports of payments to the chamber, as well as a copy of an email to the city by Chamber President Steve Van Dorn, where he states, "one of the goals of the program is to develop leaders" and adding that this program has encouraged and equipped countless people who sit on city commissions, committee and task forces, and some who have run for local office.
Van Dorn is 100% correct since the chamber has controlled the City Council majority for over a decade, with this power, they were able to block the appointment of commissioners and committee members that are slower growth and put residents' interests first.
Refreshingly, in 2020 Pleasanton voters elected a non-chamber-endorsed majority, and these elected officials are willing to look at making major changes in the Leadership Pleasanton program to make it our own.
Pleasanton's future city leaders, plus all interested residents, should have the opportunity to learn about their city, without the political bias of the chamber.
We should thank Mayor Brown and councilmembers Testa and Arkin for shedding light on this tax dollar-subsidized program, one that has done everything possible to bring pro-growth and politically conservative chamber-endorsed representatives to office, while they vigorously block candidates for City Council or mayor who put residents' interests first.
Here are a few facts in the $10,000 city-chamber contract and the email from Mr. Van Dorn to city leaders:
*The contract specifies, the chamber will "interview and select attendees to participate." However, Mr. Olson's opinion piece states that members are selected on a first-come basis.
*There are nine daytime meetings, seven of them are coordinated or presented by city employees. Nighttime meetings would be more accessible to working residents.
*Most meetings are held at the city's offices, with city employees and using our city assets.
*City employees hold four spots on the steering committee.
*The fee for each applicant is $950.
So why is the city of Pleasanton spending $10,000 of taxpayer dollars if most people doing the work are city employees, and most of the meetings are on city premises? What is the chamber contributing that the city of Pleasanton does not already have?
The Chamber of Commerce's own website illustrates the grip they have on Leadership Pleasanton, which seeks to exert control on Pleasanton's government. The Pleasanton chamber maintains a political action committee (PAC) which supports their hand-selected candidates for office. Plus, the chamber has a "2025: A Community Vision" which is the chamber's plan for buildout and politics.
Let us support our elected majority that should kick-off a "Pleasanton Citizen Leadership" program, run by our own local government with our own resources without political interference. This program should be free and offered to all residents, for the benefit of Pleasanton.
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