|City Council to Examine City Memberships in
November 12, 2006
On November 14, the City Council will
discuss the issue of the City being a member of organizations that
actively participate politically in City of Richmond elections (Item
K-1). Of particular concern are the Council of Industries and the
Richmond Chamber of Commerce, both of which campaigned vigorously
against Gayle McLaughlin, against Measure T and for Mayor Anderson. Both
directly sponsor independent political action committees that raise and
spend huge amounts of money in support of and against City of Richmond
candidates and ballot measures. In addition, the two organizations
actively campaign on candidates and issues at times other than
Although these activities are entirely legal for the organizations, they should be of great concern to residents of Richmond because the City of Richmond holds membership in both organizations, giving credibility to the organizations and spending taxpayers’ money for membership fees. In fact, for the Council of Industries, the City holds two memberships, one as the City of Richmond and the other as the Port of Richmond. The Council of Industries is also a registered lobbyist in the City of Richmond.
The City of Richmond is also a member of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, and the city manager sits on the board of directors as a non-voting member (although the Chamber’s website doesn’t make that distinction) The Chamber of Commerce is not registered as a lobbyist with the City of Richmond, but it may be violating the law by not registering.
All of this may or may not be illegal, but it is, in my, opinion unethical and bad public policy. I requested a legal opinion from the city attorney about a month ago, but I have received no response.
Of related concern is the issue of what organizations the City participates in. For example, who made the decision that the City should be a member of the Council of Industries (twice) and the Chamber of Commerce while choosing not to be a member of, say, the West County Toxics Coalition, Communities for a Better Environment or the Sierra Club?