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Blending Downtown Lodi Business Partnership into Lodi Chamber of Commerce makes sense

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Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013 12:00 am

The Downtown Lodi Business Partnership is folding its tent after a run of 14 years. It was a good show and deserves a good review.

Jaime Watts and her group of hectically scheduled family business owners raised the curtain on the Thursday night Farmers Markets and kept the annual Parade of Lights glowing.

These events are a big deal in Lodi. They are effective traffic generators for the downtown restaurants, wine tasting rooms and other merchants. They bring tourists. And more than that, they are a stage for our community life.

So the Chamber of Commerce is very wise to step up and begin to take these over.

The reason for the partnership's demise is money. No one who tries to eke out a living at a Downtown business enjoys paying the mandatory fee. Having a structure apart from the Chamber built in a financial inefficiency that needs and may now have a remedy.

From the beginning, the DLBP received some financial support from the city of Lodi as well as the fees from downtown businesses that will now disappear.

The Chamber's CEO Pat Patrick hopes the city will continue its contribution.

For a while, it seems wise to give the new cast a little stipend while they're rehearsing Act Two of a great show.

A bridge celebration too far?

Emperor Norton I was the famously daffy character who roamed the streets of San Francisco in the 1860s and 1870s, inspecting various public improvements while accompanied by his dogs, Lazurus and Bummer.

Norton wore a blue uniform with gold-plated epaulets. He fancied a beaver hat with a peacock feather.

Norton was quick to offer imperial decrees on this and that, and one of them was in fact visionary: In 1872, Norton demanded that a bridge be built between Oakland and San Francisco.

Further, he ruled that any city father who resisted the decree be arrested by the Army.

The bridge wasn't completed in Norton's lifetime, but in 1936, the modern marvel was at last fulfilled, a colossal link between San Francisco and Oakland, technically two bridges joined at Yerba Buena Island, and officially known as the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Now, after many years of delay and $5 billion of overruns, work is nearly complete on a new section of the bridge from Yerba Buena Island to Oakland.

A celebration to mark the milestone is being planned by the Bay Area Toll Authority.

The price tag is $5.6 million.

The money will be spent on such things as private security guards, portable toilets, and buses to accommodate the throngs allowed to march across the new edifice.

In these austere times, that amount is worth some reflection. It is just about the cost of Ellerth Larson Elementary School in Lodi. It would pay the wages for 75 teachers for a year. If it were invested, it could pay for four or five teachers in perpetuity. It could pay for a new park or recreation center.

It could pay for roughly 1 million motorists to cross the Bay Bridge for free.

Will this lavishly expensive opening ceremony include a legion of trumpeters, followed by chimps riding giraffes?

We'd like to think that even Emperor Norton, as eccentric as he was, would agree this is a royal waste of money.

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1 comment:

  • Doug Chaney posted at 8:17 pm on Sat, Feb 23, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 502

    So now, editor/publisher/staff (?), you're advocating the city of Lodi to make open cash funding gimmes to the Lodi Chamber of Commerce? Just what has this dysfunctional director and his staff done to bring any real jobs to Lodi? And the jobs that have come here are relocates from nearby cities and towns, mostly bringing no new jobs and low wages. It is time the chamber starts utilizing its efforts here in Lodi and Not China and South America. It must be nice to travel under the guise of peddling wine business for mostly county wineries to these countries on someone else's dollar? And the DLBP never was anything but a controversial group whose many downtown business owners refused to pay any assessment because the "movers and shakers", well connected and the financial institutions were given preferential treatment. and instead of one vote per member, the voting system gave businesses votes seemingly based on their size or pecking order number or God knows what else. The director was well reimbursed with the $47K salary plus, I assume, several bonuses for financial accomplishment, expenses and probably around 15K in health insurance, like the part time city council members get, most of whom already have their own coverage and opt to take the cash equivalent. I think this gimme also includes certain management and staff also. Why would the city of Lodi even want the dysfunctional chamber and its outdated director involved after just creating a new management position aimed at bringing businesses and tourists to Lodi paying $90K annually plus enough perks to make that a $125K bean counter position for an employee taken from the Lodi electric district. The city of Lodi has to "bum" 6K in taxpayer donations to do work at the skate park, yet can give another well connected employee a new job title paying $125K or so per year? So, editor, you really think the city of Lodi should subsidize the anti union, low wage chamber of commerce and his travels to Asia, as in China and South America to peddle wines on the taxpayers or chambers members cash?


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