Chamber Of Commerce Is A Corporate Welfare Union - And Response

Friday, July 19, 2013 - by April Eidson

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce opposing unions is a laugh out loud moment, for sure.

Let’s examine the local Chamber of Commerce just for a moment.  These are the facts:

1)      The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce is a registered non-profit with membership that pays dues for the privilege of calling themselves a member. In return, the Chamber of Commerce lobbies for GovernMInt benefits their members, who include the largest corporations.  The Chamber also has a registered PAC. They are the pure definition of union, with corporate welfare members.  At least the unions don’t ask for a GovernMint check each year, their members pay their own way.

2)      The Chamber of Commerce lobbies for their corporate members to receive property tax abatements and other privileges, you and I could not obtain as a small to medium sized business, or a property owner. No property tax emption for the little people, we pay.  Some of the Chamber deal cutting, includes exempting the list of 50 corporations not paying property taxes from paying stormwater utility fees. I believe this is unlawful on the stormwater utility, and should be challenged. The idea that we all have to property taxes and stormwater fees, except the GoverMints favorites, is absurd. How do you get on that GovernMInt free pass form taxes list?

My favorite property tax abatement, or PILOT, is the River City Company issuing an abatement to themselves at the movie theatre property downtown.  What a great advantage leasing property, when you are property tax exempt   We all want that deal.

3)      The Chamber of Commerce is also heavily taxpayer subsidized to the tune of $1.1 million annually of local property and sales tax revenues.  The city and county budget each year allocates an annual gift of $1.1 million. Interestingly enough, when I asked to review the budget for the taxpayer windfall to the Chamber, they claimed not subject to open records. What a fun concept to take $1.1 million in local property tax dollars, and tell the taxpayer it is none of their business, because the Chamber is a non-profit private corporation.

The absurdities of this powerful corporate machine in Chattanooga fighting unions, they are a GoverMint subsidized union. 

Why does the public have to fund this union of corporations with operating money?  

* * *

All so-called Chambers of Commerce operate similarly. The one here in Lancaster, SC, and the one in Charlotte operate the same. It's also the reason our company no longer belongs to any of them, besides the fact they act like it's a privilege to pay our hard earned money to belong.

Maybe it's time for citizens to lobby their elected officials to eliminate public subsidies of these organizations and those like them. A trade organization should be exactly that, a trade organization that is supported by its membership. That's the way it used to be.

Here's an idea. If the Chamber of Commerce is subsidized by tax dollars, shouldn't all of us automatically be members? As members, shouldn't we also have a vote as to who runs the show and what direction the organization will take? Who appoints the chief operating officer and governing board of the Chamber? Shouldn't we, taxpayers and paying members, have elected representatives to any governing board in addition to the head honcho of the Chamber of Commerce?

If not, why not?

Jim Earley
Lancaster, SC
earley0902@bellsouth.net


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Let's Honor Luther

I would like to challenge the city.  There are two ways we could honor Luther.  Build a new facility for the Humane Society and name it after Luther.  Then we should create an academy for young people in the city to teach them how to be like Luther, learn to be of service to your fellow man. What about it Chattanooga?  Karen Dale Hixson (click for more)

Man Shot At Apartments On Tunnel Boulevard Wednesday Afternoon, Then 2 Juveniles Shot At Rec Center On Oakwood Drive With Suspects In Custody

Chattanooga police officers responded to the apartment buildings at 404 Tunnel Blvd. Wednesday at 1:21 p.m., where residents say they heard multiple shots fired.  Witnesses said they saw multiple suspects fleeing the scene on foot behind the complex.  The male victim was taken to a local hospital for life threatening gunshot wounds.  Later Wednesday, ... (click for more)

Several Arrested Outside Erlanger Hospital When Crowd Gathers After Woodlawn Shooting

Several people were arrested Monday night outside Erlanger Hospital after a crowd gathered and clashed with police. The crowd included family and friends of 20-year-old Apprentice Berry, who was shot multiple times and killed earlier Monday night at the Woodlawn Apartments on Wilson Street. Erlanger officials said the group gathered at the emergency room, but were later moved ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Falls In State Volleyball Semis

SMYRNA, Tenn. – It’s a good thing that Signal Mountain volleyball coach Jennifer Redman is a young lady because her heart might not be able to stand the pressure if she wasn’t. Redman’s Lady Eagles were thisclose to being sent to the loser’s bracket in the opening round of the State Volleyball Tournament here at Stewarts Creek High School Wednesday afternoon. Had it been a ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Sweeps Loretto To Open Class A State Volleyball

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Playing what coach Alfie Dodd called a sub-par match, Boyd-Buchanan’s Lady Bucs were still good enough to sweep Loretto, 3-0, Wednesday morning in the opening match of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Class A state volleyball tournament at Blackman High School. Set scores were 25-19, 25-14, 25-20. “We advance and we know we can ... (click for more)