ABSTRACT: At the 3 February 2009 City Council meeting, Astrid Coleman, President and CEO, Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, announced Mayor Sue McCloud as the Chamber of Commerce’s Public Official of the Year, citing her community leadership and many, many years as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Information about the Chamber of Commerce and the Annual Awards Dinner are presented. In response to this announcement, a Carmelite sent an email to Astrid Coleman; the email is reproduced. A COMMENT is made regarding perception and reality and journalism standards.
Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce:
The Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit corporation solely supported by its membership. Members include business owners, managers and professionals. Members invest in the organization to support group efforts to make the Monterey Peninsula a better place to do business. The Chamber is governed by a 21-member Board of Directors and holds monthly meetings to set policy and direction for the organization. A President/CEO oversees office operations, which includes a full-time staff. The Chamber makes referrals for member businesses, acts as a resource for community information, provides informational pamphlets and brochures about starting a business, offers free SCORE (Service Corp. of Retired Executives) counseling to business entrepreneurs and has marketing materials available to help the sales professional.
Annual Signature Events
Annual Awards Dinner— Presented by Monterey County Bank (March)
This event celebrates three community awards, including Citizen of the Year, given to an individual who has made a major impact on the Peninsula; Public Official of the Year, awarded to an individual, either elected or appointed, who embodies community dedication that inspires others, and; the Robert C. Littlefield Award, established in 1981 in memory of Robert C. Littlefield, who was largely responsible for reinvigorating the Chamber, presented to a member who has shown great support through direct involvement in the Chamber. In addition, Business of the Year is selected from among the category winners of the Business Excellence Awards held the previous July. The elegant evening is the formal, black-tie event of the Chamber year.
Email to Astrid Coleman from a Carmelite:
I understand the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce has named Carmel-by-the-Sea Mayor Sue McCloud as your Public Official of the Year. While you cited Sue McCloud’s many, many years as mayor of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, I am perplexed as to your Selection Committee’s decision, based on my knowledge of her record as mayor.
• The impetus for the 2005 Monterey County Civil Grand Jury’s report on Open Government was numerous complaints from former and then-current city employees, particularly regarding Mayor McCloud’s penchant to “over control” city government. Even after that report, Mayor McCloud still thinks open government means little more than posting agendas and hosting a city web site.
• As mayor, Sue McCloud was responsible for the City violating the California Environmental Quality Act, California Government Code and the City’s Municipal Code per Monterey County Superior Court ruling regarding her attempt to sell the National Register of Historic Places Flanders Mansion. Not only that, she has expended nearly $600,000 in taxpayer dollars for consultants and attorney fees in her misguided crusade to sell the Flanders Mansion Property.
• As mayor, Sue McCloud interfered with city staff causing several months of delay in a neighbor’s agenda item being placed on a Forest and Beach Commission agenda, substituting conditions to a neighbor’s tree removal permit not voted upon by the City Council and voiding her neighbor’s permit without cause.
In closing, awarding Mayor Sue McCloud your Public Official of the Year Award is disappointing to informed citizens who expect a higher standard of public service from our public servants.
• As mayor, Sue McCloud has succeeded in creating the perception that the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea is a model of good government, when in reality the city is a model of poor, even dysfunctional, government. This perception, as opposed to the reality, is amplified by a complicit local media, which act as purveyors of propaganda, rather than as independent monitors of power, scrutinizing her actions and record and verifying her statements, for the benefit of the public. Perception will continue to overwhelm reality until the local media put the truth and loyalty to citizens first and Carmelites demand more than “we print what we’re told” propaganda.
Astrid Coleman, President and CEO
Principles of Journalism, Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism