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Downtown Lodi Business Partnership to disband

Chamber of Commerce to take over Parade of Lights, Farmers Market

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Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:00 am

Due to financial concerns, the organization that promotes Downtown Lodi businesses will fold.

The Downtown Lodi Business Partnership board of directors voted unanimously Monday to disband. Executive Director Jaime Watts said she doesn't look at the decision as bad news. Instead, it will put Downtown businesses on a sounder footing as the Lodi Chamber of Commerce takes over some of the DLBP functions.

The change will not affect the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market on School Street, which operates each Thursday from the first week of June until the final week of September. Nor will it affect the popular Parade of Lights, held the first Thursday of December each year, Watts and Chamber President/CEO Pat Patrick said.

"My goal is to make sure every event will continue," Watts said Monday. "I will try to find a home for each of them."

The Farmers Market and Parade of Lights are the only DLBP events that make money, Watts said. While the Chamber takes over those two events, Watts said she'll try to find organizations to run the annual Downtown Trick or Treat & Fall Festival, Winterfest and a Valentine's Day event.

DLBP operated on a $130,000 annual budget — $40,000 in dues by Downtown partnership members and $24,000 from the city of Lodi. Most of the remaining revenue came from the Farmers Market and Parade of Lights, Watts said.

"It seems like we were working just to get by," Watts said. "We don't have the resources to do what we really want."

Watts and DLBP Board President Sam Rehmke plan to meet today with City Manager Rad Bartlam and City Attorney Steve Schwabauer to discuss the logistics of the DLBP disbanding as an organization. The Lodi City Council will be required to conduct a public hearing before the change is finalized, Watts said.

"The average life span of a business district is five to seven years," Watts said. "We're now in year 14."

City Councilman Bob Johnson said he heard a rumor that the Downtown partnership might disband, but he hadn't heard the board of directors had actually voted to do so.

"I'm looking at it positively," Johnson said. "The Chamber over past several years has been able to put on some pretty significant events (such as the Street Faire). They have the manpower to pick these events up. The chamber has a successful track record."

Watts will continue her role as the DLBP's executive director through Feb. 28. Then she will help the chamber through the transition on a contract basis.

"We want it to be a seamless transition," she said. "That's our goal."

DLBP board member Ryan Sherman added that the Chamber has an economy of scale to improve Downtown business and tourism.

"Downtown is a crown jewel for Lodi. Thousands and thousands of people were in town over the weekend," Sherman said, referring to the annual Wine & Chocolate Weekend, hosted by Lodi Winegrape Commission. The event is held at several Lodi-area wineries and tasting rooms, including some in Downtown Lodi.

"There were a lot of out-of-towners," Patrick said of the Wine & Chocolate Weekend. "Many of them were in Downtown Lodi for the first time."

Sherman said he likes the idea of the Chamber forming a new committee to focus strictly on the Downtown area. On Monday morning, the Chamber hired a woman to work part-time to visit farmers markets in other communities, such as Walnut Creek and San Luis Obispo, to get some new ideas for Lodi's operation.

Chamber officials are also exploring the idea of hiring a part-time employee to run the 17 Downtown Lodi Farmers Markets this year. Anyone interested in filling this role may contact the chamber at 209-367-7840.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • Doug Chaney posted at 6:09 am on Fri, Feb 15, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    These aren't the ones that make the decisions. The good ol" boys are the large businesses downtown that have hundreds of votesi instead of just one like many other members do, and they and the financial institutions and their prominent leaders make those decisions with their hundreds of votes that seem like those numbers of votes would far exceed the one vote of all the other members. So you're telling me this isn't a part of controlling downtown Lodi by still using the good ol' boys system, with the wealthy and lage contributing businesses getting more than one vote? I thought it would be illegal to operate a system like this? Shouldn't each merchant " member" have one vote each rather than letting the powerful group dominate? That's why this DLBP should be disbanded. The controversy since the mid 90's has never stopped and most centered around many merchants claiming they were treated unfairly and the good ol' boys system left them out of any real decisions. Wiki up good ol' boys and then get back to me and explain to me why you're convinced there aren't good ol' boys that completely dominate this little town?

  • Josh Morgan posted at 9:09 pm on Tue, Feb 12, 2013.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    David, don't confuse Doug with the facts. It's just a waste of time.

  • David Diskin posted at 6:41 pm on Tue, Feb 12, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 175

    Although certainly moot at this point, perhaps you can tell me how the DLBP board members (the only ones making the decisions you're speaking of) are part of the "Good Ol Boys" club you constantly refer to.

    For reference, the board consists of the owners of these local businesses:

    - Lodi Beer Company
    - New & Again Consignment Furniture Gallery
    - Scooter's Restaurant
    - Spinning Tunes
    - The Dancing Fox Winery & Bakery
    - Fields Family Wines
    - Ollie's Pub
    and Jaime, the executive director

    Or is anyone you disagree with part of the "GOB" club?

  • Doug Chaney posted at 3:09 pm on Tue, Feb 12, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    Jennifer, you have to be one of the good ol' boys connections to be recognized by the "shakers and movers" of Lodi.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:59 am on Tue, Feb 12, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    It's about time this corrupt, dysfunctional organization let the downtown merchants, what's left of the since the wine rooms seem to have taken command, control their own destiny without having to pay taxes, disguised as "dues", to be a member and facing fines if they didn't comply with the good ol' boys system that still rules Lodi. I'm sure most of those enterprise zone wine businesses couldn't afford to pay those dues and if they did, the COL would find a roundabout way of subsidizing them. This group has been a controversy from the time the downtown upgrade finished, and some say even long before that. I gave up on this dysfunctional group when the $17,000 was alleged missing from the beer fund at the farmers market and swept under the rug. Ms. Mounce was the only one to question their sloppy record and bookkeeping, reportedly from an owner of one of the generic tax return companies in Lodi. That's not the only incident, and like the others, city council and management found a way to sweep that under the rug, too. Now that the winery owners have taken over downtown, I guess F&M Bank will no longer have control of the votes they had in the past to have an opinion on how downtown was run and regulated.



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