Won’t it be fascinating to watch the relationship between the town of Oro Valley and the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce, now that the town council has ended its $27,500 funding support for the business organization?
It will be. We’re hoping for high roads on all fronts. But there’ll be bumps along the path, no question.
Readers may recall that members of the newly seated council were upset with recent public advocacy by the chamber’s political action committee. The chamber PAC, using money derived from private and not public sources, endorsed incumbent Councilman Terry Parish, who lost in the most recent Oro Valley Town Council election. That position was not forgotten by the victors, who decided to end Oro Valley’s contractual relationship with the chamber for visitor and business promotion services.
The business community should recognize that this is a decision of the elected, not the appointed. Town staff had recommended the chamber relationship, and the funding, be continued. Town Manager David Andrews and his staff don’t deserve criticism over this one. That said, it might be uncomfortable to see Andrews in front of a chamber crowd, the way new Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson was at a Marana chamber luncheon last week. Davidson expressed his regard of and consideration for the Marana business community, and encouraged a partnership. He was well received. The Marana and Northern Pima chambers are very different, in size and tone. Yet you wonder – can Oro Valley staff approach the chamber given the council’s funding decision?
While the loss of money no doubt has a financial effect, it also frees the chamber to be more politically active, if it so chooses. Endorse candidates? Why not? Take positions on public issues of concern to the business community? That’s what chambers do.
The issues are terrifically important, for Oro Valley, its government, its citizens and its business community. A particularly big one is the November bond on Naranja Town Site park bonds. If those bonds pass, Oro Valley’s residents and business community alike would accept a $48 million property tax liability. Certainly, the chamber should take a position on that subject, and many others.
The political pendulum continues to swing, in new and remarkable directions.
President George W. Bush came to the Northwest last week, had breakfast and posed for pictures, and raised a half-million dollars (!!!) for Republican Tim Bee’s Congressional campaign. That’s a real shot in the wallet for Bee, who trails Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in fund-raising for the 8th Congressional District seat.
Bee showed some courage in inviting Bush, who like most second-term presidents has become beleaguered. Bee is wisely careful to publicly separate himself from the president. But the visit is a real triumph for Bee, who recognizes the political power of the presidency and received much-needed revenue.