Friday, November 21, 2008

Norman Chamber Going Wrong Direction

Isn’t it hypocritical that most of the same folks who want to beautify and improve downtown are opposing this proposal which if passed would move the jail and all its razor wire and ugliness OUT of downtown? Why are people willing to raise taxes for an unnecessary parking garage and library yet they balk at a quarter cent sales tax to relieve the over-crowding at the county jail?
The below article is from another blog.

Norman Chamber of Commerce going in wrong direction
By Guest Editorialist - November 19, 2008 9:07 AM
Norman Chamber Going Wrong Direction

Guest editorial from Concerned Citizens of Norman ...

What is happening with our Norman Chamber of Commerce? It is clear that it is no longer an entity that advocates for small business. Instead the Norman Chamber has become another lobbyist for social service programs and more government. The Chamber has lost sight of its primary goal of promoting and helping the small business and now acts more like just another hog at the public trough seeking more tax payer subsidized goodies. A prime example is when the Chamber recently endorsed raising our sales tax for a $50 million dollar library that included an expensive downtown parking garage that virtually nobody wanted.

It is clear the taxpayers of Norman no longer trust the Chamber when they voted No; to the library bond. The committee promoting the library bond was filled with mostly of the same Chamber members who have steered the Chamber away from its historic role of advocating for local businesses. This committee even hired a local Democrat crony to run the failed campaign! In the past, most issues, such as the bond proposal, have been managed by people that volunteer their time. That is a good example of how out of touch the city and the Chamber are with the voters of Norman.

And now these same folks who supported the library bond are showing their skepticism of and hesitancy in supporting the construction of a new county sales tax to build and operate a new jail. The need for a new, larger county jail has been well chronicled in the local press. In the past election, both the Republican and the Democratic candidates went on record in favor of the proposal. And the County Commissioners have held numerous public meetings to discuss a plan of action. These events have culminated in the recently unveiled proposal to establish a new county sales tax that will provide a revenue stream to pay off the bonds to build and operate a new jail.

Any businessman or woman will tell you that their business suffers if there is a high crime rate and that communities who don’t invest in public safety are less desirable to live and to work in. Yet, instead of being on board with the county jail proposal, the Norman Chamber sent the County Commissioners a lengthy survey filled with loaded questions that they demanded answered to its “Jail working group” before they could make a decision. This is in stark contrast to the warm reception that Cleveland County’s two largest other chambers – the Moore Chamber and the South Oklahoma City Chamber gave for the proposal.

Another prime example of how out of touch the Norman Chamber is with the business community it should represent is the 2008 Candidate Survey it wrote and sent out to Norman area candidates. It is obvious that the survey questions were written by not by persons who make a payroll, navigate through government regulations and taxes and risk their own capital, but by career government bureaucrats and social engineers. What else can explain a question like, “Do you favor further cuts in Oklahoma’s income tax rates, even if it means less funding for services such as education, public safety, research, road and bridge repair, and environmental protection?” This is a classic tactic of the liberal Democrats – to completely ignore the historical facts that cutting taxes actually spurs economic growth and instead attempt to list a grocery list of services – like roads, research, etc. that would have to be cut if tax cuts were enacted. Apparently the Norman Chamber has not been paying attention to the Oklahoma Legislature lately where they have cut income taxes and yet state revenues continue to grow!

Of the 20 questions posed to all candidates, 7 deal specifically with increased funding for state programs. Four more questions suggest more state funding or regulations are needed. And two more questions ask candidates if more state mandates on private employers are needed! Certainly Chamber members should be interested in where a candidate stands on additional government mandates and taxes, but the questions are written in such a way as to discourage a less-government, free market response that has historically been what Chambers of Commerce have favored.

The vast majority of business owners in Norman still believe in a free market, less government interference approach. It is the Chamber administration that is out of touch. For example, the Norman Chamber’s Communications Director is a Democratic Party activist, serving on the Cleveland County Democratic Party’s executive board. And Oklahoma’s most outspoken liberal legislator – present or past - is a member of the Chamber’s board of directors! It is easy to see the Chamber’s liberal fingerprints all over the Chamber’s 2008 survey, its endorsements of the library bond, and its hesitancy to back the county sales tax to build a new jail.

The people that should be standing up against higher taxes are the Chamber. Yet the Chamber is the group leading the charge. I hope the Chamber will recognize what its main goal is and get back to working with small business and stop the welfare attitude.

Copyright 2008 West Marie Media

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