I think I know why I’ve never been asked to serve on the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
It’s because of situations like the recent firing of Lisa Riddle, the wildly successful Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) director, for allegedly discussing her boss’s massive salary.
Clearly, I would step on some tender toes.
For example, if I were on the board, here’s what I would be advocating at the moment:
1. Everything the Chamber of Commerce does should be a matter of public record and those records should be liberally and enthusiastically distributed. They be posted on the web for everyone to see. Transparency is the law because taxpayer funds are involved. Even if it weren’t the law, it should be because it’s the right thing to do. That’s how situations like the nightmare facing Chamber President Catherine Glover, who fired Riddle, could be avoided. There would be no speculation; just the truth.
2. The Convention and Visitors’ Bureau should be separated from the Chamber of Commerce as recommended in 2006 by a highly paid expert on the topic. Co-mingling the organizations with dramatically different missions doesn’t work. Besides, why pay for such a suggestion if you’re not going to bring it to the Chamber membership for a vote, much less implement the recommendation?
3. Hotel-motel tax money should be spent for its specifically designated purpose: on tourism. It should not be used to pay the Chamber president’s salary, which is happening now.
4. Speaking of which, the City of Albany should not be allowed to shamefully hoard a large chunk of the hotel-motel tax money into reserves as it does now. The city already overtaxes landowners to fund ineptness and corruption; now it’s doing the same thing to unsuspecting motel guests, with the Chamber board’s complicity.
5. Riddle should be reinstated and she should receive back pay. If Riddle discussed Glover’s $115,000 salary, which is a matter of public record, that’s a good thing and she should be applauded. Sharing public information is never a bad thing under any circumstances.
6. Glover should be put on a performance-improvement plan for not following standard human resources practices in disciplining Riddle. If someone commits atrocities on the job, the transgressions should be documented and appropriate personnel action should be taken. That’s basic stuff in a professional workplace.
7. It’s never too late to do the right thing. Glover should sincerely apologize, Glover should be genuinely forgiven, and everyone should commit to doing better henceforth.