The Chamber of Commerce becomes even more irrelevant

Rob Black, photo by Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal

It's been years since anyone really took the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce seriously as a political force. The verdict from the techies came in long ago; they do their own thing with their own money. Small business never got much out of the Chamber, and most of those folks have their own organizations. Even the big-business agenda was taken over for a while by the Commitee on JOBS. Then there's SFSOS, Plan C and a bunch of other pro-business and anti-regulation groups. Rose Pak and her allies have their own Chamber of Commerce. You rarely hear anyone at City Hall worried about what the Old Chamber says or is doing.

Steve Falk, the current director, has softened the Chamber's image a bit and tried to be somewhat diplomatic. But now this organization is about to go backwards.

If what Matier and Ross report is accurate, a former City Hall aide, former failed candidate for supervisor, and current director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association may be the new chamber director. Rob Black seems to have a line at the top job after Wade Rose, an executive with Catholic Healthcare West, dropped out of the running:

We're told some of the chamber's big dogs - like the brokerage house Charles Schwab and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. - weren't all that enamored of the soft-glove approach that Rose was promising to bring to his dealings with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

That jobes with what I've been hearing from local politicos, who've been saying that there were two candidates for the job -- one very good and one very bad. Looks like the very good candidate (good by Chamber standards, anyway) is gone.

I don't know Rose, but I do know that even this more moderate board of supes isn't likely to take direction from what many see as an antidiluvean organization, a moribund old white men's club with a ridiculous out-of-date agenda. Putting a person in charge who actually sought to build bridges (and who, by the way, might not have gone all-out for the new CPMC hospital) might have edged the Chamber back toward some sort of relevance.

But no: If Black gets the job, prepare for the Chamber to stick to its old ways, whine about everything the board does that's even remotely progressive, issue report cards that nobody cares about -- and waste its members dues. Great move.








Gee, Tim, I'd better tell my black buddy who has his own consultancy.

But, yeah, whatever, carry on bashing business, and then when they all leave like Twitter almost did, see what happens to your precious city services then.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

Old white men aren't the only ones who run businesses, but old white men seem to dominate the Chamber of Commerce. Which is exactly why the Chamber is becoming irrelevant. Hence the point of the piece.

That said, I think Tim overstates the point. Their agenda may be outdated and unrepresentative, but as long as these old white men have a disproportionate amount of money, they will wield a disproportionate amount of power.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

The leadership of the cities "progressives"

Poor Greg, fast aging into old white status.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

Greg again devolves into his racialism. George Wallace called and he wants his votes.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

Even tho you are probably an old white guy, only with less success or wealth, and so more bitter.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

The chamber of commerce does a lot of grass roots stuff. Having been employed at a place that kept up with these things I would guess that the chamber has a greater effect than Tim's pets.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

"I don't know Rose, but I do know that even this more moderate board..."

Rewrite: "I don't know Rose, but I do know that even this more CONSERVATIVE board..."

Come out of your denial and face the reality. In this City, "moderate" is nothing but newspeak. It's repeatedly used by conservative politicians to deceive and hide their true conservative agenda.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association has been on the receiving end of grief from the City, both losing on Healthy SF as well as watching the City all but hand out cash to food trucks in their desperate drive to appear hip. This changed after the death of Kathleen Harrington and the ascension of Rob Black.

We should sit by and nod pleasantly as our opponents do the wrong thing for their interests out of the hubris of Schwab and PG&E.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

Eventually they too will leave, like BofA and Wells, and then you will be happy - a city with no successful businesses of any size.

Well done, asswipe

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

Oh please let it be so!

Posted by Greg on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

But their HQ can be elsewhere, and their profits. No corporation would have more staff in SF than they need to.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 7:39 am

The only time they spend money here is to buy elections. When it comes time to maintaining their infrastructure, they don't want to spend a dime. Maybe the next time a transformer blows, or when one of their gas mains ruptures, it'll be you who's nearby and burnt to a crisp. Wouldn't that be something!

Posted by Greg on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

You crack me up troll!

Posted by marcos on Jan. 14, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

But, seriously, with whom would the Chamber need to use a mano duro on this board to get the votes it needs? Most of them would get own on bended knee to offer up their votes.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 15, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

SF municipal revenues, jobs, cultural entities....everything really depends on a vigorous and healthy downtown business climate. If companies flee...who will pay taxes...create jobs? It is very important to support a healthy and diverse Chamber of Commerce. That's a no-brainier. The chamber should find the best candidate possible to lead our downtown companies into a new business that is in tune with our unique San Francisco values.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 9:28 am

of course handily beat the anti-business candidate, Avalos.

Posted by anon on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 11:28 am

Avalos did not run to win.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 11:55 am

Ed Lie got 84,457 votes in the final round out of 197,242 (that's 42%) total votes cast (42.4%) in 2011.

In 2003, Matt Gonzalez got 119,329 (47.19%) with a 253,872 voter (54%) turnout.

Clearly, there is no mandate for Ed Lie, the progressive just ran a crappy ass campaign like so much in the progressive hall of mirrors, they were not even trying to try to win.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

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Posted by Amber Wentworth on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 7:58 pm