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When I received a copy of a letter froma long-time member of the Chamber of Commerce appearing to support Measure, imagine my excitement! I wanted to share it with E-FORUM readers.

Well, it turns out that the letter was a fake. Apparently the original letter was emailed to Chamber members as an editable WORD file, and the Chamber member who sent it to me was disgruntled about the Chamber's position on Measure T, which appeared to have been written by Chevron. "Thedevil made me do it, " he said. "I just couldn't bear to see my Chamber dues used to promote a political position I didn't agree with."

The scammer went on to say, "It's okayif the Chamber's political action committee, RichPAC, wants to campaign against Measure T; that's not my money. But when they send out campaign literature on the Chamber's letterhead, signed by the Chamber president, that's going too far."

"Anyway," the scammer said, "It's almost Halloween, and this was sort of a trick or treat visit to the Chamber Office. They declined the treat, and they got the trick."

It reminded me of the Chamber's last campaign against the 2006 Measure T, where the City Council subsequently directed the City to withdraw it's $10,000 premium membership in the Chamber.

At any rate, the E-FORUM has completed its investigation and found the letter to be bogus. We apologize for this error and for any inconvenience it may have caused the Chamber of Commerce. Please delete the subject email and its attachment.

In the end, it seems the Chamber of Commerce was not the Chamber we wish we had but instead the Chevron-controlled Chamber we've got.

A story from the West County Times and from a hastily assembled Chamber e-newsletter follows:

Richmond chamber calls for resignation of councilman who distributed forged letter

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 10/24/2008 04:35:07 PM PDT

A forged letter stating that the Richmond Chamber of Commerce reversed its position on a manufacturers fee ballot measure circulated widely Friday, confusing voters 10 days before the election and incensing the chamber, which opposes the initiative.

City Councilman Tom Butt sent the letter through his e-mail forum, and it appears on chamber letterhead with President Judy Morgan's name and signature at the bottom.

But the letter is not authentic, Morgan said. Such behavior is unfitting of a councilman, and Butt should resign, she said.

"To use our letterhead and my name. "... I'm speechless," Morgan said. "I find it upsetting and shocking. I take this personally. That's my signature. My signature says I represent 500 businesses."

The chamber opposes Measure T, under which manufacturers would pay a quarter-percent of the value of the raw materials they use each year, if it is more than the annual business license fee they pay now. If a simple majority of voters approve Nov. 4, the measure would generate an expected $26.5 million a year for city services, with Chevron Corp. paying the bulk.

Measure T supporters argue that big manufacturers such as Chevron should pay their "fair share" to operate in Richmond. Opponents fear the measure could hurt the city's long-term ability to attract businesses and create more jobs.

Morgan reiterated the chamber's opposition to the measure in an Oct. 14 letter to members. But the forged letter on Butt's e-forum has Morgan touting Measure T and urging voters to approve it.

Chamber board member Josh Genser, who spoke with Butt on Friday morning after seeing the councilman's e-mail, said Butt knew the letter was fake but sent it out anyway.

Butt, who is a staunch supporter of Measure T, said he received the doctored letter from a chamber member "in good standing."

"I was delighted to get it," Butt said. "It appears not to be genuine. Rest assured there will be a full investigation, and I will publish the findings."

He declined to say who sent him the letter, but he said he would correct errors on his e-forum within 24 hours.

Butt uses the popular e-forum to disseminate city news, commentary and an annual April fool's prank. This year's prank stated that the city Planning Commission had mutinied and resigned before rendering a decision on Chevron's contentious bid to upgrade equipment at its refinery. Last April fool's, Butt announced that Richmond might forge a sister city relationship with Baghdad.

So when Butt sent out the e-mail Friday morning with the forged letter saying the chamber had reversed its position on Measure T, people believed it.

Morgan said her phone began ringing while she was in a morning meeting, before she had seen the e-mail. Measure T supporters thanked her, and angry and confused Measure T opponents wanted to know what changed her mind.

"I don't know how you correct this," Morgan said. "His e-mails go out to many people, who forward it on."

To date, "Vote Yes on T: A Fair Share for Richmond" has raised $8,857 and spent $8,405, according to campaign finance reports. The "Committee to Oppose Measure T, sponsored by Chevron Corp." has raised $350,000 and spent $62,350.

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Richmond Chamber of Commerce Calls on Councilman Tom Butt to Resign Over Forged Political Letter

Today, Tom Butt sent out an e-mail blast entitled, "Chamber of Commerce in Dramatic Reversal on Measure T," and attached a letter on Richmond Chamber of Commerce Letterhead, signed by Judy Morgan, President of the Chamber, containing an endorsement of Measure T, the manufacturing tax. The letter is, of course, a forgery.

When Mr. Butt was confronted by representatives of the Chamber, he acknowledged that he knew that it was a forgery, but replied, "So, what are they going to do, sue me?"

The Chamber believes that this episode shows extremely poor judgment and demonstrates a profound inability to behave as a responsible civic leader. We therefore are calling on Councilman Butt to resign over his illegal, immoral and desperate attempt to trick voters.

While most rational people will no doubt be appalled by this behavior, it is just one more example of how low Mr. Butt and his allies will stoop. Earlier in the week, supporters of Measure T put "No on T" stickers on houses, cars and mailboxes in the Civic Center neighborhood. The stickers, difficult to remove, were apparently designed to make those on whose property they were placed angry at opponents of Measure T.

These are only the latest incidents in an incredible dirty campaign in support of Measure T. Measure T supporters have been systematically removing "No on T" signs, placing "Yes on T" signs on private property without permission, and verbally abusing workers for the "No on T" campaign

The Richmond Chamber of Commerce unequivocally opposes Measure T. We believe that it will make it impossible for Richmond to ever again attract manufacturing jobs to the City and will drive away the manufacturers who now do business in the City. We also believe that the tactics of the supporters of Measure T are an accurate reflection of the contempt with which they view Richmond businesses and ordinary citizens.