We love it when serendipity helps us create content. Case in point, I was walking around downtown on my way to lunch yesterday and thinking about some local races, especially the campaign for the 9th district here in ACC. (Tom Chasteen’s current seat, which he’s giving up to run for Mayor, if you’re scoring at home.)
I remember thinking to myself, dag, I wish Ed Vaughn would run for something. And lo and behold, in the news today, we see this. So, Ed Vaughn joins Alvin Sheats in the race for supercommissioner from District 9.
If you don’t know Ed, don’t judge him just by the fact that he ran as a Green back in the day. In fact, Ed renounced his Green Party ties to us about a year ago. Ed’s a good guy, and he knows the issues. He’ll be a good candidate, and we think that he’ll end up impressing a lot of folks before this thing is done.
Also in serendipity news is a little thing about the Chamber. I was just mentioning to a friend who reads the blog that I thought the Chamber as a whole was getting a bad rap lately here on AthPo, due in large part to their backing of the redistricting. Now, this runs counter to everything that you might expect to hear out of AthPo, but buckle your seatbelts – I’m about to kind of defend the Chamber.
The Chamber of Commerce is just like any other community group, at least in one respect. You’ve got the members who pay their dues but don’t participate in much, and you’ve got those members that are hyper-involved – the ones who come to everything and usually bring baked goods too. As the wise folks say, decisions are made by those who show up, and the case is no different here.
The problem is, the people who show up do have a political agenda. And they make sure that the decisions that they get to make reflect that agenda. So, in our opinion, the Chamber itself has been hijacked by a handful of political activists who would rather spend their time and resources playing politics than practicing business. They’ve brought in a paid staff who reflects those priorities as well.
But do the views of the powerful handful of business owners who call the shots reflect the views of every member of the Chamber? Not by a long shot. In fact, we would imagine that most of the Chamber members don’t care one flip about politics, and they just joined the Chamber for the networking. We would also imagine that there are quite a few members who are pretty disgusted with the whole thing, as the writer of today’s letter is.
For those folks, we have to throw some of the blame on them as well. You can get disgusted and walk away, or you can work inside the organization that you joined, and make it what you want it to be. We would rather see the latter, but a number of Chamber members are choosing the former – perhaps not giving up their membership, but certainly disengaging themselves from the day-to-day business of the Chamber.
It’s unfortunate, because when you walk away, you’re just giving the handful of hijackers more power to determine how they want you, as a member of the group, to be seen in the community.
There once was an alternative Chamber of Commerce in Athens. We wonder what happened to that?