The Chamber of Commerce Has Annual Dinner During Its Year of Mismanagement and Malfeasance

By Robert Haugh

The Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce has had a tough year of mismanagement and malfeasance.

First, they lost their “management fee” of the Convention Center when city staff discovered that the Chamber increased their own fee by $100,000 without official approval from the council.  Then, the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) contract wasn’t renewed at the end of June because of issues dealing with management and performance.  L

This will also cost the Chamber some serious revenue. Our sources say that the Chamber charged the CVB a lot of money to rent space in the Chamber building.  Now that revenue is gone.

Our sources also tell us that the Chamber has kicked out CVB employees and told them to work from home.  Many of them are extremely unhappy about it.

Fortunately, last month, the City gave the Chamber an extra 60 days of payroll for employees. Unfortunately, Chamber CEO Nick Kaspar doesn’t say this publicly.

But kudos to the Chamber for pulling off its annual dinner on July 13. Yes, it was Friday the 13th. They had to move it from the Convention Center to David’s Restaurant after we asked Kasper if they were getting a special deal.

There were about 250 attendees according to our sources.  That’s a respectable showing.

Councilwoman Patty Mahan was the only elected city official there.

There were some notable no-shows. Outgoing Chamber President Joe Siecinski was there, but he couldn’t hand the gavel to his successor Jan Eric Nordmo of Off the Wall Soccer because Nordmo wasn’t there. So another board member Chris Boyd of Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara stood in.  According to multiple sources, Boyd says the Chamber is having “challenges” because of the “whim” of “politicians.” He never mentioned the city staff audit discoveries of mismanagement and malfeasance.

Another interesting no-show was Santa Clara Weekly Lobbyist/Publisher Miles Barber who is one of the leaders of the Chamber Government Relations committee and their Political Action Committee. In the past, Barber was a regular attendee at these dinners.

Accountant Dave Tobkin, the Chamber’s treasurer, was also a no-show. Inside the Chamber, Siecinski, Barber and Tobkin are getting most of the blame for the decisions that have the Chamber on the edge.

Maybe the Chamber would have had better luck this year if they picked a different date for the dinner.


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