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Resolution 2012-281, sponsored by Councilman Pete Murdock (D), sought to withdraw the City's membership from Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce, due to the State's Chamber's support of Right to Work legislation.
Councilman Murdock reiterated residents of Ypsilanti taxable revenue should not be allocated for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce political interests, conflicting with important causes the community supports.
"The City belongs to a lot of organizations. All of them or almost all of them are made up of municipalities of public entities. We don't usually join other groups, we are not members of a lot of groups who do good things," Murdock said.
"The issue with the Chamber, whether its' the national or state or the regional one is kind of a distinction without a difference. Particularity in the last couple of months we've been subject to significant attacks by the Chamber of Commerce in various forms over policies that this community does not support."Citing Michigan Chamber of Commerce active lobbying for right-wing causes, Councilman Murdock related Republican State Legislative Officials laws passed during last weeks lame duck session in Lansing, to actions occurring in Wisconsin earlier this year.
"The Chamber has been particularity active in several political groups. They're affiliated with ALEC, The Koch Brothers group, working with them on various things," Murdock said.Mayor Paul Schreiber (D) agreed with the premise of Councilman Murdock's Resolution, yet believed the Resolution should be directed at Michigan Chamber of Commerce political actions, instead of Ann Arbor -Ypsilanti Regional business organization.
"The (Michigan) Chamber of commerce is the largest contributor of the Republican State Leadership Council which funneled tens of hundreds of thousand of dollars into both Michigan and Wisconsin to elect the state legislator that we just got, that did all these nice things last week. I don't think that we should be a member of that group."
"I agree with the resolution and I agree with everything you've said except the result cause," Mayor Schreiber replied. "The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has been very active in pushing though the Republican Agenda that we shall during the lame duck session. The PAC supports that. Look at their website, its' all about lobbying Lansing."The Mayor justified denying Councilman Murdock's Resolution affirming the Regional Chambers' strong support of local causes such as Ypsi Pride Community Clean Up day, and non-involvement of policies framed within Lansing State Capitol Building.
"If you go to the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Chamber, their website is all about support for local business. It's all about trading for local business. Its' all about sponsoring the Ypsi Pride and its' not about a PAC (Political Action Committee)," Schreiber noted."
Its' not about trying in influence legislation in Lansing. If this resolution saw to condemn the policies of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, I'd vote for this resolution, in a heartbeat. As it stand now, I think it is a bad symbol by withdrawing from the A2/Y Chamber."Councilman Murdock stated if Ypsilanti terminated a monetary relationship with the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce, such an action should not be taken as the City is not willing to work with the organization on other mutual interests.
"Doesn't mean that we can't work with them on items that we agree on. They say that we're going to lose Ypsi Pride. We'll work with the Chamber with Ypsi Pride, we'll work with the Chamber on other issues," Murdock said.Councilman Brian Robb (D) of Ward 3, questioned if Ypsilanti should be monetary involved in any group that strictly supports business causes. Robb stated government should remain separate from the lobbying causes of private organizations.
"We don't need to be a member. Membership conveys a much different message than working together with other groups. There are a lot of groups that do good things. We're not a member of the NAACP, does mean we're against civil rights."
"I think this whole episode, this whole discussion is exactly why we shouldn't belong to organizations that are not municipally based. We hear over and over government can't become like a business and that's absolutely true," Robb stated.
"They have different interest. Fundamentally, we should not be belonging to these types of groups, as a fundamental principal."Andy LaBarre Vice President of Government Affairs & Administration - Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber pointed out that the Regional group remain a separate operation from Michigan's Chamber of Commerce, by its' charter and governing principles.
"We're separate organizations, separately chartered, separately govern, separate public policies stances." LeBarre cited. "Some of what was said here related to national legislation and national legislative efforts that the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber has not weighted in on and really has no reason to weight in on."Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber affiliates with the States' Chamber of Commerce on a professional basis, Labarre clarified. The local chapter support, LaBarre told the Council, stops short with reinforcing political actions supported Michigan Chamber Political Action Committee.
"The local Chamber is a member of the Michigan Chamber because of access to professional organizations that exist for Chamber objectives," said V.P. of Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chamber Andy Labarre. "We're separate organizations, separately chartered, separately govern, separate public policies stances. We do not contribute to their PAC, we do not have a PAC of our own."
"So we're not able to control what they do. We took no position on Right to Work. We took no position on many of the things laid out in this resolution. Hopefully I made clear why they are in fact different organizations in distinct organizations" he cited.Councilwoman Susan Moeller (D) of Ward 1, challenged Labarre's notion that Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Regional Chamber 'no position' on the Right to Work bill. Moeller questioned if the in reality equals the Regional group did not support the highly controversial Michigan Law.
"I think you said that you didn't support what the Michigan Chamber supports. The things in our resolution, you said (the A2/Ypsi Chamber) did not take a position on," Moeller inquired. "I guess I'm asking, you're saying you didn't take a position, you or did you take the oppose position?"LaBarre reaffirmed regional group remained neutral position on the Right to Work policy initially debated, then quickly passed into law in Lansing last Tuesday.
"We did not take no position. We remain neutral." he said.Council member Moeller replied that by taking a quietude position, it leads to a conclusion Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Regional Chamber supported Michigan Chamber's stance on the States' Right to Work Law.
"If you're really against something, you'll stand up and say it," Moeller stated. The fact that the local Chamber doesn't not support it, by being silent, its' as if they were supporting it."Council's final vote was 4/3, continuing the City of Ypsilanti's relationship with the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber. City Council members Murdock, Robb and Moeller voted to adopt the Resolution, terminating Ypsilanti's monetary support for Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chamber. Mayor Schreiber, Council Members Lois Richardson (D), Ricky Jefferson (D) and Daniel Vogt (D) denied the measure, despite Vogt's initial support to move the Resolution for a full council vote.
Ypsilanti City Council could decide to draft a new resolution against political actions taken on behalf of Michigan Chamber of Commerce, after the New Year.