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Voice from the Chamber Scott Vinson, Lisa Cohen, Kevin O'neill And Bill Hall | Thu, Apr 22 2010 05:43 PM

This week the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will consider the Chamber's position on Prop G.

There is considerable rhetoric on both sides of the issue, but the individuals that signed this letter individually and collectively value the professional approach taken by the Chamber Public Policy Committee and the Chamber Board of Directors to consider the issue.

As a side note, it should be mentioned that Scott Vinson, Bill Hall, Lisa Cohen and Kevin O'Neill, some of the parties presenting arguments on both sides of Prop G, have for most of the last decade been co-workers, co-directors / officers of the Chamber and friends. All four engaged in debate on this issue in much the same manner that we have debated perhaps 100 issues in the past. (Note: None of the four know or recall knowing Mr. Lopez, the author of the April 9 Star-News letter to the editor.)

It should be noted, that none of us arguing the points are union members. Among the three of us that have each owned multiple companies (Scott, Bill and Kevin), including several construction related firms, none of the firms that we have owned or own today are union contractors.

The four of us are pleased to have the Associated Builders and Contractors, a merit-shop organization as well as the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council as members of the Chamber, just as we were pleased to have the Chula Vista Elementary School District and a host of other union-based businesses as active members of the Chamber.

Within the Chamber, non-union based member organizations do out-number union-based members by more than 4 to 1. We (the Chamber) are inclusive and we are proud to see that union-based organizations recognize that they will get a "fair shake" and value from their Chamber membership despite that ratio.

We all agree it's good to be relevant and it's even better to see that both union and nonunion organizations believe they will receive an opportunity to be heard fairly when dealing with the Chamber.

We have made it our policy to engage in open debate among our members on both candidates and issues-we are not a shy group and spirited exchange is the rule vice the exception!

Our Board took the time to interview all candidates and to reach each issue that will appear on the Chula Vista ballot. We believe that it is a credit to the Chamber that in our deliberations we chose to endorse candidates from both parties based on the merits of each candidate, their records of performance, and their attitudes towards fostering a positive business climate.

The fact that the outcome of the Chamber endorsement request is not predetermined by party affiliation, the fact that some fairly sophisticated and experienced business and political affairs "experts" dig deeply into issues and identify consequences that may not be obvious to a voter who is exposed to mailers or voter packets, is a point that the citizens of Chula Vista and Chula Vista business members should take into consideration.

With the exception of a small but dedicated Chamber staff, we are all citizen volunteers, with a wealth of disparate experiences and points of view. Yes, there will be debate (and we all hope it continues!)

Collectively the Chamber Board Members and Public Policy Committee Members devote hundreds of hours to issue and candidate research, interview preparations and candidate interviews.

Twenty-two Boards Members from across the political and business spectrum each have the opportunity to argue their points of view, relate their personal experiences and vote to endorse or not endorse each issue and candidate.

The Chamber's process is perhaps the best, most vigorous evaluation that many of the candidates and issues that appear on your ballot will have during this election. It is because we dig deep, because we care about the future of property development and endorsement process.

We all believe this is one reason that over 1,000 businesses in the region have joined our ranks to ensure they have a potent voice and will be heard fairly.

Scott Vinson is Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce President; Lisa Cohen is Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce CEO; Kevin O'Neill is a Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce member; Bill Hall is a Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce member of the Board and former president.

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