April 12, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Aspen Daily News "ACRA to decide on U.S. Chamber membership during private meeting"

(See related links to story along with public commentary here)

Andrew Travers:
"The board of directors at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) will go behind closed doors to make its long-awaited decision on its controversial membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

ACRA is expected to take a final vote on the issue during a board retreat on Monday, April 23. The press and public — including chamber members — will not be permitted to attend the 45-minute discussion on the U.S. Chamber or any other portion of the daylong board retreat at The Gant.

Though 49 percent of ACRA’s budget comes from local tax dollars and public funds, the chamber is a nonprofit membership organization, and not legally considered a public body. So, it is not bound by Colorado’s open meetings laws. Those laws require public boards, like county commissions and city councils, to post notices for meetings and abide by strict rules controlling when and why they can exclude the public and press from meetings........

president Debbie Braun said Wednesday that board members want to speak openly without fear of having their views broadcast publicly through the media, as they make a final decision on this long-simmering and divisive issue.

“We want to have an honest dialogue,” Braun said. “We want to hear from everyone on the board, and we don’t want them to think they might get caught with a pull-out quote in the newspaper.”...." (Read more?  Click title)

"Unapologetically pursuing and tracking patterns within the news others make since 2010."


formerchamberemployee, supporter of smalltown7 said...

Note to Self:
Find out what all the near weekly dialogues are from ACRA that would make this one behind closed doors be the "honest" one.

I know! Create a solution for your problem, Debbie! Put total public transparency on the "49 percent" that is public money and adhere to IRS rules to make the other 51% proven as above board in not having been obtained without that 49% annual cash cow.

Such a shame that ACRA's Board of Directors (or any other chamber in the area board) have to close and lock the doors to have a completely "honest dialogue".

glenwoodsprings22 said...

Succintly stated, FCE.

The low-hanging fruit on the tree with public input from shadows and elsewhere rotted and fell to the ground ages ago. These problems with tourism from money tracking to IRS conflicts to interest conflicts to cronyism and power abuse to in one case criminal ethics violations have made so many smart people's bells and whistles clang it's insane to think anybody is in the dark anymore.

If the Aspen Daily doesn't stick its bloodhound nose to the ground and not let up until every answer is full given, then there is no hope for this valley. They wouldn't be any better than the Times or the PI if they can't dig hard and stay dug in until all that goes on in this valley is out in public eyes. If Danforth is squeemish about that digging then riddle us this:

How do you know all of it isn't there until you go find all the answers to everyones satisfaction?

Sometimes reading this kind of b.s. from these boards and what they actually can't even see that they say that is so foul in public, I wonder if we'll ever be able to trust any of them fully?

WingMan said...

Since ZG seems to have his nose to the ground picking up the scent, I've got a couple questions for his list.

Seems a little iffy that the "49 percent" number just magically rolls out into the public view at this timing for the big US chamber question and suspicious minds on lots of other things. Who does the bookkeeping calculations for that public dough number? The private board or the city? Is it a calculator tape run or a forensic audit? Even a verified audit figure since they don't have the same distrust as GSCRA and COGS does from the public. Is that based on what year? Especially with Aspen lodging tax collections having climbed over 200% in 2011?

just askin.

karainlongmont said...

Transparency advocates who want to verify the 49%. Who is reporting that figure? ACRA. A not for profit organization that is obviously not being observed on how they are sticking by the law. Is it their accounting firm, another private entity? Or does the City of Aspen have forensic grip on that 49% figure as accurate? Where are the CORA and FOIA records (some of that tax money is tied with federal individuals and public figures in town and spending) that show where every penny is? Every dime for all the years of that public money?

This isn't about transparency. It is about accountability. Andrew, are you a slumbering reporter that's just stumbling at the wake-up gong that's recently gone off? Nobody out here thinks that you or anyone at the Daily is like the other paper and staff.

Every bell, whistle and gong should be sounding 5-alarm that ACRA has closed the doors. That board and staff are accountable for at least 49% of the funds they use to perform with, gain power with, increase their bottom line and financial solvency with. BTW, all those things are a no-no when you are a 501-C6. It isn't the percentage of profits you can earn. The laws are about not doing that at the expense of for profit entities.

Come on, ZG.

How about a little civil disobedience with some reporters camped at the Gant. ACRA stands at a crossroads where they need to choose what they stand for and what their ethics as a non-profit means to them. This obstruction of the transparency for accountability is not a good start. Aspen needs to set the tone for the Valley. Or risk the consequences of staying flat and others thriving around them. There is a very deep abyss they're staring into and need to make the right choice on what they need to stand for.

I find it really interesting to watch regional homeless coalition, APCHA and human services coming together and finally starting to deal with what Lee Mulcahy brought to a fever pitch. With the DEA and Schrant pulling the drug flow related to law enforcement into public focus and his not backing down, there is another real shift toward the best direction for everyone. ACRA's board could choose to stand up for the next phase. Guess we'll know next week.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Kara. Supposedly meant as reassuring words coming from somebody like Klug (Sunday's Daily news) who's a big part of the problem of zero accountability is a total flop.