Chamber committee actions upset SGI proponents
October 8, 2002
Proponents of the growth initiative are upset a chamber committee drafted sample letters to the editor opposing the ballot question.
Judy Sturgis, co-chair of the Sustainable Growth Initiative Committee, claims a chamber committee was deceptive by distributing draft letters for members to use to voice opposition to a ballot question limiting growth. The sample letters are designed to be used for letters to the editor in area publications.
In a separate action, the board of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Authority sent a survey to its membership last week to determine if it should take a position on ballot Question 4 DEthe growth initiative. The initiative limits new construction to 280 units per year in Douglas County.
The chamber’s Economic Development Committee sent sample letters to its members to voice opposition to the growth initiative last Friday.
“I think it is very deceptive for the chamber to author letters and ask members to send them out in their own name,” said Sturgis.
“It is an abuse of power by the director of the chamber who just assumes members are going to vote against it.”
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Suzanne Rosevold, executive director of the chamber, said she was directed by Chamber President Daryl Reedy to distribute the sample letters to members of the Economic Development Committee.
She said she sent the four sample letters to 12 members of the committee. Rosevold noted the chamber has a membership of 535 strong.
“We were not telling them to do anything,” she said. “I want to make sure it is really clear that we feel we were following correct procedure.”
Rosevold said if there was a request for draft letters supporting the measure, she would also “put (interested parties for the growth initiative) in touch with the correct places,” to do so.
Reedy and Jeff Bucklew, who heads the committee, did not return phone calls for comment by press time.
Judy Kohz, a member of the chamber for more than 20 years, who is also a member of the SGI Committee, claims the timeliness of the chamber correspondence proves it does not represent its membership.
The sample letters, distributed to committee members last Friday are in opposition to the growth question. They say a limit would cause higher property prices, increased traffic and lost revenue as reasons to oppose the SGI.
The survey has two questions: whether the chamber should take a position on ballot question 4, and if the chamber takes a position, should it support or oppose the question.
The survey was distributed to the membership last week, with a deadline of 5 p.m. today for response, according to Rosevold.
The board has scheduled an emergency meeting tomorrow morning to review survey results. She said the board will decide at that time whether it will announce a position on the ballot question during the election debate at CVIC Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The debate, sponsored jointly by the chamber and the Business Council of Douglas County, will feature county commission candidates and presentations on Douglas County-related ballot questions 1, 2 and 3.
Rosevold said there was no conflict of interest involved in providing the sample letters to members of the committee.
“We are not jumping the gun on any information,” she said. “When the demand is there D people want to oppose it D that is what we provided.”
Sue Knight, of Genoa, who has been a chamber member for more than four years said recent actions by the chamber is “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“I question the chamber being involved in any political action,” she said. “I am upset the chamber has the assumption to give opposition that reflects the membership. It is very biased.”
The chamber board has surveyed members and taken a position on issues in the past, such as support for ballot questions 1, 2 and 3 for increased taxes for road improvements.
n R-C Staff Writer Regina Purcell can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org