Rumored local political candidate gushes about the GV Chamber

In May I wrote “Is The Union freelancer Lorraine Jewett gearing up to run for clerk recorder”? “I keep wondering whether the ongoing rumors are true that Lorraine is gearing up to run for Nevada County Clerk-Recorder,” the post continued. “If true, she’s being given a good platform for her return to local politics to ‘build a base.’”

I was reminded of this when I read what was more of an advertisement than a news article that Lorraine wrote about the Grass Valley Chamber this week. “Greater Grass Valley Chamber: Not your grandpa’s Chamber” (despite a Norman Rockwell reference). Missing were details about trends in membership, public funding, or thorough reporting. It was a “one source story,” except for a single quote from a Grass Valley merchant.

Who edited this article? Now it’s time for The Union management, including publisher Don Rogers and editor Brian Hamilton, to ask Lorraine about her plans.

About jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.
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8 Responses to Rumored local political candidate gushes about the GV Chamber

  1. Keith Davies says:

    Jeff, I have been on the road and I came home to an e-mail that tells me that you are not happy with The Union gushing about the GGVCC. As you know I am no longer the Co-CEO with the Chamber as I resigned my position in May to pursue another adventure, which by the way I got, and Robin is now the CEO. Let me be perfectly clear, everyone should be gushing about the fabulous job my wife is doing for the GGVCC, including you.
    Not only does she continue to bring in new members (now at over 550) but she is producing a beautiful membership magazine for our members, our community and visitors. Chalk full of fabulous articles about our heritage, community and members and the first real profit center for the Chamber in years.
    I read The Union article last week and it was nothing but complimentary to the Chamber and my wife but it was also very informative about where things are going and overall a good thing for everyone involved. Leave your personal bias at home and if you can’t say something good don’t say anything at all.
    By the way, the GGVCC receives no money or support from the County or the City of GV. Unlike the City of NC which receives over 50k in cash and in kind support, and the Town of Truckee that receives over 300k for the Visitors Center and the Chamber. If you must be curious about public funding to our Chambers go investigate them and leave my wife alone. Kindest Regards!

  2. jeffpelline says:

    Keith,
    Glad to hear you “resigned” your position. You were never qualified to hold it in the first place. You have the temperament of Donald Trump, and I found your integrity lacking when you dodged the issue of campaign signs hanging over the GGVCC office, polluting its supposedly “nonpartisan” status. As for The Union’s article, it was written by a freelancer (not a staff journalist) who is rumored to be considering a run for local political office. The concern is whether these “ads” are going to be used to help her build a political base in the name of “journalism” — in this case winning favoritism from the GGVCC. More “good old boys/girls” politics? I like Robin, but I would have preferred that she applied for the position in a formal “request for proposal”— just like the rest of us. This is a common practice in the “real world.” So now we’ll never know if the GGVCC landed the best possible candidate — or not. And as for the funding of the GGVCC, it has indeed received money from the City of GV. You said it yourself: http://www.theunion.com/opinion/15562444-113/keith-davies-funding-chamber-of-commerce-an-investment-not-an All the best!

  3. Keith Davies says:

    Jeff, now that I have the time I want to tell the true story of how Robin and I got the Co-CEO position at the GGVCC without an RFP as it is public knowledge.

    In 2011 when Robin and I moved back here to take care of Mom we were having dinner one night with Dan Miller and discussing the town’s direction, problems, etc. Toward the end of the dinner Dan asked me to create a plan for attracting tourist to GV and the community. I did so, and Dan took it to Dan Holler, at the time the City Administrator. Holler shared it with some Council members and from there over the next six months we had numerous meetings with the City as to how we could implement a number of the things I suggested in the plan. Most of the implementation problems came down to funding, or lack there of.

    At the time it was no secret that the GVCC was having a difficult time financially and losing members, it was housed at the Beam Easy Living Center after losing the lease at the Lola Montez House. When Dan Holler was City Mgr. in So. Shore Lake Tahoe he opened two Visitors Centers and wanted to repeat that in GV, if possible. So it was suggested that maybe the new V/C could be the new home for the GVCC. With that thought Patty Ingram and Susan Rice were invited to join our strategy meetings as members of the Chamber Ex. Board in hopes of moving this process forward. By September of 2012 the process was stalled, mainly from lack of funding. The Chamber had no money to move from the Beam Center, the City had no additional funding for offices or a V/C and all was at a stand still.

    At that point Robin and I volunteered to loan the Chamber the funds to move the offices and create/build the Visitors Center once a location was found in the downtown area. We thought this to be a worthy project that would benefit the Chamber and the community, and it might serve as the catalyst to get some of the other things I suggested in the plan to move forward. It was also suggested at the time since we were willing to loan this money that it might be the right time to replace Mary Ann as the CEO of the GVCC as she had indicated to some Board members that she was looking at retiring after almost 20-years.

    After meeting with GVCC Ex. Board and their reviewing both my and Robin’s extensive resumes they concluded that we were indeed qualified to run the GVCC; soon to be the GGVCC. We worked out a nine year contract, renewable every three years by both the Board and us, or not, and wrote three business plans, a three and five year for the Chamber and one for the V/C.

    Now looking to go forward, Dan Holler worked out a support package for the V/C over the next three years for staffing and overhead and the City Council approved the package beginning in 2013 and to be renewed each fiscal year by the Council.

    We then worked out a multi-year lease with Keoni Allen for the present location on E. Main St. Also, as part of the concessions that Robin and I made we would not be paid by the GGVCC for the first six months of 2013. At that moment in time, the Chamber was fiscally imperiled, so our concession was made in order for the Chamber to get on its feet during the transitional period. After that, our contractual payment was $5000 per quarter. In 2013 we made $10,000 for the last two quarters, in 2014 we were paid $20,000 for the year. In 2015 we were paid $36,000 and at the end of 2015, our first 3-year agreement, we were asked to stay on for another three years.

    As to the loan and its repayment. The total of the interest free loan was $54,000 for the lease expenses and the build out of the Visitors Center/office. The loan was to be paid back over a 3-4 year time frame from income to the Chamber from a variety of sources, including the support from the City.

    When Dan Holler left in 2014 the new City Mgr., Bob Richardson and the Council, took the funding and support away from the Chamber, sighting budget problems/shortfalls. The agreement called for 30k in 2014, we got 10k, and again 30k in 2015, we got 10k. In 2016, to date, the Chamber has received no funding from the City. However, I am very happy to tell you that the loan to the GGVCC has been paid back to us in full and ahead of schedule. That I attribute to cost cutting, increased membership and dues, outside funding sources, low staff overhead and sound direction from our Board.

    Now I hope you understand how and why there was no RFP issued when we took over the GGVCC in 2013. There was a lot going on with the Chamber and the Board at the time moved on with opportunities presented to them that they felt could move the Chamber forward and hopefully strengthen it for the future. Which we and they have done. Today the GGVCC stands debt free, stronger with growing membership and outside income sources for its bright future.

    Finally, as to my “resigning.” By the end of 2015 I felt as though I had done all I could for the Chamber considering our limited funds for things outside of the real scope and purpose of the Chamber. I had proposed numerous changes and challenges to the other local Chambers, the City of GV, the GV Downtown Assoc. and with the responses being slow to none I wanted to put my energy in other directions. So I resigned and left the GGVCC in the very capable hands of my wife, Robin, and a very capable BOD to assist and guide her.

    This is the first time I have told this story in detail even though it is all public knowledge and there is nothing to hide from any entity that is, or has been, involved with the GGVCC. Both Robin and I are proud of our achievement with the GGVCC and I assure you and all our members that Robin will continue to make you proud to be a member of the GGVCC in the years to come.

    • jeffpelline says:

      Keith,
      Thanks. But an RFP still would have been the best way to go, because of the maze of perceived conflicts that go with the territory (friendships, business relationships, etc.), particularly in a small town. It is always the best way to go. You never know what qualified candidate might step forward. It also protects the people who are chosen, because they can tell everyone they were chosen through a vetted process. I so appreciate the Rood Center for handling matters like this. It’s more of a mixed bag in Grass Valley and among some other entities in town. Have a great weekend!

  4. Keith Davies says:

    I agree that RFP’s serve a very good purpose in the process and I’m sure the Board would have gone that direction when Mary Ann retired. However, the circumstances at the time we entered the picture were dire for the GV Chamber and time was not on their side. In addition, there was not a line of interested parties to lend the Chamber a considerable amount of money to move, set up an office/VC and get back on their feet. Things happen for a reason, and in this case the way it worked out was great for the GGVCC. Look where we are today.
    Be assured that when Robin leaves the GGVCC Board will issue an RFP for her replacement.
    You have a nice weekend too………………….

  5. Keith Davies says:

    So the RFP would read:
    Looking for a someone to loan (interest free) the GVCC 50k for new offices and Visitors Center.
    Applicant needs to be qualified in interior design for the V/C and Chamber offices.
    Applicant needs to be qualified to manage the operations of the GVCC and V/C.
    Applicant needs to have a strong resume in business and growing business membership/MBA preferred.
    Would prefer applicant to be a married couple because the GVCC can get two managers for the price of one. Being over 65 is a plus so we need not pay for health insurance.
    Salary: $20,000 per year average.

    Jeff, I’m sure all these qualified applicants would have been beating down the doors with their check books……………………..K

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