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Chamber must be accountable

Yes folks. Its West Linn politics at its best.

Here's hoping that the general community is smart enough to see through all the accusations flying through the air and realize that the problems with the West Linn Chamber of Commerce are mostly about growing too fast and getting its house in order than anything else.

But just in case, it's important for the Tidings to make sure no one is fooled by some of the reader comments appearing on our Web site. Read these posts about the chamber and you quickly see the diversity of rants, constructive remarks, criticisms, conspiracy theories and blatant half truths that people are flinging to fan the flames of fear.

First an important disclaimer, the comments appearing after online stories are people's opinions. They're not fact; though some may be. It is sad how some people in our community use this free exchange of ideas as an opportunity to degrade and belittle others within our community.

This is a great example of how a small group of citizens are going to ruin something that the rest of the community can benefit from. Because of the continuous rants of this group, the Tidings was forced to shut down the comments on stories and opinion pieces related to the chamber of commerce - almost like taking a toy away from a child who is misbehaving.

Rather than continue this childish behavior, we as a community need to now move forward.

The airing of the chamber story was important for the community as a whole. Too many rumors had been circulating through the community about this for too many weeks. Now that the details have been brought forward, we need to give the chamber board some time to dig in and find out what really happened.

An independent audit is a big part of this. And in a perfect world, the Tidings would recommend that the chamber undertake an audit as soon as possible to find out once and for all why bills were left unpaid and its bank accounts are dry. There certainly are some monetary questions that need to be definitively answered. But with little funds coming in, plus an all-volunteer board of directors, it will take some time before an audit can be achieved.

As volunteers, chamber board members are working much harder than they ever expected. But that's a good thing; one should never join a board of directors for personal gain alone. One certainly shouldn't become part of a board with little intention of doing real work. That may have been part of the problem.

It's not an easy thing to do when you consider every person on the board is a volunteer and trying to run their own business while at the same time trying to help the chamber. All those involved need to fight this battle to get the chamber back on solid financial footings as well as work to gain back the chamber's credibility.

The chamber is vital to our community. It provides an invaluable service being the community advocate for local business. Over the past few years, new leadership, including Mark Buser, has done a masterful job of re-energizing our business community. Without people like Buser, as well as numerous other leaders, the chamber could have easily dissolved years ago. Instead, the chamber thrived because of an infusion of new energy.

Maybe it did grow too fast. Now, the board needs time to sort through this, and the numerous people throwing out more accusations only hurt the chamber and the community in the long run.