By Robert Haugh
The Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce lost its management contract for the Convention Center. But the Chamber is still defending itself publicly. Or at least they’re trying.
On Monday, they sent a letter to their membership saying that the City’s audit and press releases were misleading. We got a copy from a couple local businesses.
But we’re scratching our heads at the Chamber’s logic. Here’s what they say:
When referring to Table 1, it shows the City combined what they call Loss Revenue and City Subsidies to find the total amount of “lost funds”. We take this as an attempt to spread misleading information to the public with the intent to harm the reputation of the Chamber, a partner for over 40 years whose mission is to be the leader in the community promoting a strong local economy as we contributed to for over 70 years.
But the chart they sent out with their letter doesn’t say “lost funds.”
But it does say “Loss Revenue.” And it does say “City Subsidies.” It doesn’t look like the City is trying to be misleading, even if they do consider these “lost funds.” The chart even gives the Convention Center credit for positive “Financial Impact.”
But the bottom line is not positive for the 10-year period of the audit. It’s a net negative of $20.5 million. Wow.
If the Chamber thinks the audit is misleading, they will have a chance to explain the numbers on October 9 at a Council meeting. The auditor, TAP International, did give the Chamber the draft audit about a month ago. They gave them a chance to respond and put some of the info in the final report. So they have been preparing for this for a long time. They should be well prepped.
It’ll be interesting to see if they do the same thing that they did in May, 2018. That’s when former Chamber President Joe Siecinski and Director Chris Boyd told the City Council that the Chamber was managing the Convention Center so well that they made money for the City every year. Whoops. Now, that might be called “misleading.”
Editor’s Note: See for yourself. The full audit and other docs are all in one place on the City’s website, HERE.
I used to attend lots of conventions in many cities and help organize them, too. The Santa Clara Convention Center operation is not impressive. On a scale of 1-5, I’d rank the service as a 2. I’d rank the facility as 2. I’d rank the location as a 3. It’s smart move for the city to make a change.