In what is clearly a blatant case of conflict of interest and another offensive example of “back channel” deal making, the Chamber of Commerce has endorsed two incumbents for the Auburn City Council — in the wake of the council agreeing to provide $1-per-year rent for five years for the Chamber in the former city hall building at Lincoln Way and High Street.
The story, based on the Chamber’s news release dated Oct. 16 but just made public in the Oct. 28 edition of this newspaper, fails to point out the obvious connection. The Chamber is quietly preparing to move from its office on High Street —abandoning a building remodeled through citizen donations and labor — to the space next to the California Welcome Center, which also pays no rent. This rent-free deal will presumably help the cash-strapped Chamber remain afloat.
Beyond the very real conflict, the larger question is why should the citizens of Auburn subsidize any organization? And if we do, why are we supporting an organization that has paid its own way for more than 100 years? Why not Seniors First, or the SPCA or any other deserving non-profit?
The reason is because that’s what happens in a climate of limited transparency and open government. That’s what happens when a small group of people virtually run the city.
It’s time for a change. It’s time for a return to open government. It’s time to elect Gary Moffat to the Auburn City Council.
Alfred Lee, Auburn