Spokane "Neighborhood Bill of Rights"

Ian Scott on Monday, August 31, 2009 at 2:47:53 am 

This November, Spokane voters will decide on a potentially game changing ballot initiative that could raise taxes, inhibit growth and clog courtrooms all at at once.

Proposition 4, also know as the "Neighborhood Bill of Rights," is a collection of nine amendments to the city charter proposed by a group called Envision Spokane.  Their website claims the collection of amendments, "seeks to build a healthy, sustainable, and democratic Spokane through the recognition of rights for people, workers, neighborhoods, and the natural environment."  Here is a list of the proposed amendments:

  1. Residents have the right to a locally-based economy
  2. Residents have the right to affordable preventive health care.
  3. Residents have the right to affordable and safe housing
  4. Residents have the right to affordable and renewable energy.
  5. The natural environment has the right to exist and flourish.
  6. Residents have the right to determine the future of their neighborhoods.
  7. Workers have the right to be paid the prevailing wage, and the right to work as apprentices, on certain construction projects.
  8. Workers have the right to employer neutrality when unionizing, and the right to constitutional protections within the workplace.
  9. Residents, workers, neighborhoods, neighborhood councils, and the City of Spokane shall have the right to enforce the Community Bill of Rights

For full text of the ballot initiative, click HERE.

The JOBS (Jobs and Opportunities Benefiting Spokane) Coalition, a group which includes Greater Spokane Incorporated, Associated Builders and Contractors; Spokane Realtors, The Spokane Restaurant Association, The Spokane Hotel and Motel Association, disagrees about the impact of Proposition 4.  They claim that the amendments, "will cost the city millions of dollars, stifle growth, and drive jobs away from the city."  In a one-page critique the JOBS Coalition calls the proposal, "a wish list that includes almost everything – healthcare, affordable housing, protecting the aquifer and higher wages.  There’s no way the city could pay for all the things on the list."

Walt Worthy, owner of The Davenport Hotel and a leader of the JOBS Coalition addressed the proposals legal issues saying, "The law is intentionally written in language that is vague and unclear so it will clog up the courts for years with frivolous lawsuits, slowing down job growth and discouraging business in Spokane."

In addition to the scope, cost, and legal concerns about this proposal, Greater Spokane Inc also pointed out that parts are similar to the Hometown Democracy proposal from Florida.  In an email to members they wrote, "Proposition 4 would allow an unelected, small group of activists to block any development in any area of the city, even if it complies with zoning and has been approved." 

Because of the scope and potential impact of this proposal, and the probability that it could become contagious, you owe it to your community to follow what's happening in Spokane.  The ACCE Policy Clearinghouse will be tracking this issue and providing regular updates.  Stay tuned.

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Not Just Events - More On Chamber Health Care Efforts

Ian Scott on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 10:40:22 pm 

My post earlier today - Chambers Host Health Care Debates - left out some of the other great work that local chambers of commerce are doing to keep members well informed about health care.  One of the best examples I've seen is the Council of Smaller Enterprise (COSE), part of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

COSE has set up a webpage dedicated to tracking health care reform efforts.  They are also sending in-depth, weekly legislative updates by email to their members. 

Here is a link to their Health Reform Webpage.

Here is a link to the most recent Health Care Alert Email.

The attendance local chambers are getting at their events is evidence of the demand for information about this subject.  Your organization can provide a real value-add service to members by cutting through the mountains of media coverage and providing them the information they need about health care reform.

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Plate Too Crowded for Card Check

Ian Scott on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 7:27:26 pm 

Speaking at the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce yesterday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signaled that a vote this year on the Employee Free Choice Act is unlikely.  When questioned about Card Check, Sen. Reid is quoted as saying: “We have too many other things on our plate."

The article points out that with universal Republican opposition and several opposed Democrats, EFCA would be unlikely to overcome a filibuster if it were brought to a vote.

Click to read the full article from Roll Call.

The Las Vegas Sun has posted a slide show of the LV Chamber's luncheon with Sen. Reid.  Click HERE.

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Chambers Host Health Care Debates

Ian Scott on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 6:54:22 pm 

Several chambers have hosted immensely successful health care focused events over the past several weeks.  In the process they are meeting a demand for information about the highly controversial topic of health care reform, and positioning themselves as a community thought leader for many people who may have never been to a chamber of commerce event before.  Here are a few examples:

  • Greater Raleigh (NC) Chamber- Just before they hosted over 900 Chamber Execs from across the country, the Raleigh Chamber had a hugely successful Health Care Forum on July 24.  Their event featured a recap of federal legislation and a round-table discussion with representatives from the pharmaceutical, insurance, medical device and hospitals.  Click to watch video of the event.

  • Green Bay (WI) Area Chamber - Green Bay was one of the first communities to host a town hall meeting with their Congressman.  Since then, the Chamber has planned a follow-up meeting set for nest Tuesday in a large public auditorium at our performing arts center.  The chamber is co-sponsoring this free event with a local medical society and the event will featuring a panel of experts, including Chamber president and former Mayor Paul Jadin and health care professionals.  It will be moderated by a former public radio personality.

  • Lubbock (TX) Chamber - The Lubbock Chamber helda health care community round-table on Aug. 25. A week before the event they had change venue to accommodate the number of registrants for this free event.  They ended up with roughly 1,000 in attendance.   

There is huge potential in these events.  Revenue potential if you decide to charge attendees, but also opportunity to forge new partnerships and position your organization as a proactiveleader on public policy for the community that extends beyond your membership.  Consider hosting one of these events, call ACCE and ask for Ian if you'd like to discuss. 

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Chamber Receives Fed Funds for Prosperity Plan

Ian Scott on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 11:29:06 pm 

It was announced this week that the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce recieved a $70k grant for regional planning.  This announcment comes after more than two years of work for a 5 county region.  Click to read the article from Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Is multi-county regional funding like this typical for EDA, or is this evidence of a trend toward federal recognition of regional entities?  Post a comment in response...

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PAC Resources

Ian Scott on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 10:53:28 pm 

Some of the most frequently asked questions we receive at the Policy Clearinghouse are about Political Action Committees or PACs.  Typical questions include "should I set up a PAC?", "do I need a PAC to get involved in issue campaigns?", "can I endorse candidates without a PAC?"

These are complex, strategic questions that must be thought out carefully.  There is a lot of advocacy work your chamber can undertake without establishing a PAC, and there are a wide range of activity levels your PAC can have. 

To help answer some of your questions and get you started, we've compiled sample PAC documents at for ACCE members to download.  Click HERE to access (you must be logged in with your ACCE username and password)

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New Bi-State Economic Development Entity in Quad Cities

Ian Scott on Monday, August 24, 2009 at 11:55:26 pm 

There is a ne  w economic   development entity, Quad Cities First, th at will serve both the Illinois and Iowa sides of the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities region.  The larger urban hubs in this region are Davenport, IA and Moline, IL.

Quad Cities First will be jointly led by the regional chambers of commerce on both sides of the river.  The new group will also spells a new level of cooperation between the region's chambers.  Here is a description of the new, private economic development entity from the Iowa Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce (formerly DavenportOne):

Quad Cities First
Quad Cities First will focus on regional sales and marketing, including marketing of the Rock Island Arsenal, in recognition of the importance of those functions for the economic growth of our region.

Quad Cities First will be governed by a seventeen (17) member Board of Directors that will include ten (10) private sector members nominated by the Chambers and seven (7) public sector members chosen by the five cities and two counties.


Rick Baker and Tara Barney, Presidents & CEOs of their respective chambers, will serve as co-CEOs of Quad Cities First and report to the Quad Cities First Board related to the specific functions within that board’s purview.


Chamber Joint Venture
The state-based Chambers will continue to provide individual programming and chamber of commerce services through their respective organizations. But, much like they do today with selected programs through the Quad City Chamber Federation, the Chambers will coordinate efforts to govern and manage regional economic activities through a Chamber Joint Venture agreement authorized by the boards of both Chambers. The Chamber Joint Venture will be accountable for the delivery of regional economic development functions outside those specifically prescribed to Quad Cities First. 

Click HERE to read more.

Also, check out this story from the Quad City Times: Q-C First model OK'd by development group

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Texas Biz Partners to Address Dropouts

Ian Scott on Monday, August 24, 2009 at 9:11:02 pm 

The Texas Association of Business (TAB) has joined forces with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Mothers Against Discriminatory Racism in Education and Society, and several local chambers of commerce to push the Texas Education Agency to more effectively measure and address the state's high school drop out rate.

This group of non-traditional partners is particularly concerned with creating a more accurate and transparent mechanism to measure drop out rates.  Current rates don't reflect a large number of English second language students who drop out.

For more information, including a list of five "opportunities for improvement within the current accountability framework," link to TAB.

On the heels of the coalition's push for better accountability comes a report from the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service which found: "The students in the class of 2012 who will drop out of school are projected to cost the state and its economy $6 billion to $10.7 billion over their lifetimes."

Click for more info on that study from the Austin American Statesman.

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Seattle Voters Overturn Bag Tax

Ian Scott on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 11:27:31 pm 

We've followed the emerging plastic bag ban trend on the Clearinghouse Blog for a while now.  See: Seattle to Vote on Plastic Bag Tax (April 09) and Plastic Bag Ban On Hold in Arizona (Aug 08). 

Frequent readers of Chamber Executive, ACCE's authoritative journal for and about chambers of commerce, may recall that the plastic bag ban issue was a featured example in Lisa Itamura's article Catching and Tracking Contagious Issues, the cover story for the Fall 2007 issue.

The latest chapter in the Seattle Bag Ban saga played out this week when voters rejected the 20 cent fee for plastic and paper bags passed by the city council.  The Associated Press quoted a plastic industry official as saying the vote, "represents a sound defeat for other efforts in U.S. cities to limit the use of the throwaway bags."

"If they can't do it there, they can't do anywhere," said Stephen Joseph, a San Francisco attorney with, who has challenged several plastic bag bans in California.

Check out the AP article for more about this issue:  Seattle votes down fee on plastic, paper bags

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Maryland Wants Your Budget Suggestions

Ian Scott on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 11:11:48 pm 

Maryland is using the internet to engage citizens in the debate over how to bridge the budget gap.

Through Governor Martin O'Malley's web portal the State of Maryland has, over the past few weeks, requested input from the general public on where to make cuts.  The feedback they've cataloged ranges from thoughtful tax policy changes to this suggestion from Ann Arundel County:

"Sell the Governor's Mansion and live in your own house!"

Additionally, the webpage offers information (including charts) on steps taken to reduce government spending, a forum to discuss proposed changes, and a comparison between Maryland and other states.

If well publicized and well managed, this kind of outlet could help win support for some of the hard budget decisions that will have to be made over the coming years.

Click HERE to link.

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