Gwinnett Chamber Moves To Neutral, PTA Revises Position In Charter Debate

August 29, 2012 15:23 pm

by Buzz Brockway · 6 comments

The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, which had previously announced opposition to the proposed charter school amendment, decided to drop it’s opposition and stay out of the fight.

“With respect to all parties engaged in the issue, the executive committee of the board has decided the chamber shall remain neutral on this subject,” Jim Maran, president and chief executive officer of the Gwinnett chamber, wrote to board members Tuesday.

The chamber’s decision is a blow to opposition efforts.

“We obviously are disappointed, but I fully understand their position,” said Gwinnett Schools Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks, who opposes the proposed amendment. “I just think it means that we have to work harder to get the word out — and it just shows this is a state power grab.”

In more good news for amendment supporters, the National PTA modified it’s support for charter school to include those authorized by alternate authorizing agencies. The proposed amendment would allow the State of Georgia to approve charter schools rejected by local school boards. The National PTA said:

The intent of the position statement, as articulated in the opening paragraph, is to express National PTA’s support for public charter schools as one of many education reform strategies and support for any and all PTA units or individual members operating within or affiliated with public charter schools. This support extends to all authorizing bodies and public charter schools, with stated preference to the principles outlined in subsequent sections of the statement.

See this Education Week article for more.

rrrrr August 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Hmmm…

Rumbles about the use of both county taxpayer and GCPS provided funds being used in TSPLOST campaign support by the chamber.

Then apparently being unable to quantify and provide backup detail of the benefit claims those tax funds “purchased” in the last few years.

Here comes yet another campaign effort on the horizon with the old questions left unanswered and POOF it pulls back …

Yes!! It was the rumored threats against future Gwinnett Tech funding by the Gwinnett delegation …

Because it’s for the CHILDREN! AH huh.

Will Durant August 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

500k annually from the Commissioners, 150k from the Board of Education gets you some tall talk:

” In its first five years, Partnership Gwinnett generated over $800 million in economic development, boosting the school district’s revenue from the local tax base by more than $6 million.”

When asked to quantify this specious claim however the spreadsheet provided was more walk than talk. Of course there are still denials all around that any of the taxpayers’ money was used to lobby for TSPLOST. However, their reports back to the commissioners on the “deliverables” achieved for their money included:

“GCOC is a regional leader in the advocacy
campaign for the Transportation Investment
Referendum and a public-private Transportation
Committee has been formed for 2012 to intentionally
and aggressively advocate for transportation
investments.”

“The Chamber continues to have two registered
lobbyists who advocate for local, state, and federal
infrastructure funding and pro-business legislation.
Supporting HOV to HOT conversion, Ronald Reagan PPI
and other specific projects…”

All total in 2010 the Chamber received $1.8 million in taxpayer dollars and yet deny that any taxpayer monies were used to lobby for TSPLOST or the county E-SPLOST. Yet they will not show their books while claiming they are a private non-profit and not subject to Georgia’s open records laws.

So without their willingness to share I can only assume my tax dollars are funneled to a private organization that lobbies and pays directly for advertising to convince me to pay more tax dollars.

SabrinaWorks247 August 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Hi Will Durant: Just a minor point to try to be as accurate as possible: When I pulled the Gwinnett Chamber’s IRS form 990 form, it showed that $1.8 million, or 35% of their funding was provided by taxpayers. I filed an open records request to learn how they were spending the tax money. Their CFO said that they had made an error and only $1.2 million, or 22% of their funding was provided by taxpayers and they were going to file an amended return. They sent my attorney a letter saying that the amended form was attached, but had forgotten to attach it. I take them at their word that they filed an amended return that showed $1.2 million in public funding for 2010.

Even if their public funding fell below one third, my attorney said they were still subject to the open records law because Gwinnett County outsources the majority of their economic development function to the Gwinnett Chamber. The chamber denied my attorney’s second open records request, so I have asked the Georgia Attorney general to resolve the open records dispute. I believe taxpayers deserve to know how the $1.2 million was spent and what services were provided in return for the payments.

Bob Loblaw August 29, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Wow. As they say when you lay down 2, 7 unsuited, nice fold.

Will Durant August 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Actually, they only had a little pair.

Bob Loblaw August 29, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Now THAT is funny.

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