Op Ed: Encinitas Chamber of Commerce deserves clean slate

The Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, which has represented the city’s business community for 45 years, has come under fire recently.
As a result, the city has held up funding of the Visitor Center, which is operated by the chamber. This decision has the effect of crippling the chamber making it difficult to pay its bills as many of the Visitor Center’s financial obligations, such as the lease, are under the chamber’s name.
There have been allegations of commingling and even misuse of city funds brought to light by a recent report. I believe the report and trust the honesty of the person who prepared it.
It is extremely important for all of us to remember that the dirty deeds that were done, if any, were done by former CEO Gary Tucker and Marketing Director Mike Andreen, not the current staff. But the withholding of funds punishes only the current administration.
The new CEO, Marshall Weinreb, is trying to move forward in a positive manner while dealing with the mess left by the former regime. He has accomplished much in a very short period of time.
With limited resources, he ran the most successful Oktoberfest in history. He is in discussion with Linda Benson to bring the Women’s World Longboard Championships from Biarritz, France, to Encinitas. Last week, he persuaded Tony Hawk to appear at an event in May, he has formed an alliance with MiraCosta College to help small businesses, and much more.
In my opinion, he has accomplished more positive things for Encinitas in three months than have been accomplished in the last three years.
Andreen is now in the process of starting his own “chamber” focusing on the El Camino Real corridor. He calls it the New Encinitas Chamber of Commerce.
This is an obvious copyright infringement and it is illegal. The ability to confuse is the first test of copyright law violation.
Andreen is using the confusion, an e-mail address associated with the 45 years of chamber existence plus other information he obtained while working for the original chamber to advance his breakaway “chamber.” Many businesses that are joining his new organization believe they are joining the original — and only — Encinitas Chamber. This hurts the original chamber.
He is openly being supported by former Encinitas Chamber CEO Gary Tucker and Encinitas City Councilman Jerome Stocks. This adds to the confusion.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Stocks is the only council member that has not shown up for a single event held by the original chamber since Andreen left.
I recently counted all the pictures of City Council members that appeared in the last 20 issues of Encinitas First, the 45-year-old chamber’s newspaper, while under the editorial leadership of Andreen. The results were: 0 for Maggie Houlihan, 0 for Teresa Barth, 3 for Dan Dalager, 4 for James Bond and a whopping 30 for Jerome Stocks. What’s that say?
Personally, I question the integrity of Mr. Andreen.
Negative stories of Andreen’s actions are rampant, but I won’t mention them here as I don’t have firsthand experience with all of them.
I will say that I had occasion to fire him for lying to me and putting at risk the good name of this newspaper.
Some years ago, while still a columnist for The Coast News, he approached Mossy Nissan and asked to borrow a convertible to chauffeur a dignitary in the Christmas Parade. Mr. Mossy said yes as long as he displayed a sign on the car announcing it was courtesy of Mossy Nissan.
Come Monday morning, I got a call from a very upset Mr. Mossy. He said Mike Andreen lied to him. He was at the parade and saw his donated car sporting a huge sign showing the name, “Mike Andreen” and in the car was Andreen’s daughter.
I called Andreen. He said, “Jim, I don’t know what that guy was smoking, but I definitely had the Mossy sign on the car.” Turns out the city had taken pictures of all the entrants. You guessed it. The picture showed a big, smiling Mike and his daughter with a huge “Mike Andreen” sign, but no Mossy sign on the Mossy car. Needless to say, we never received any Mossy advertising.
My intention here is not to bash, but to educate and warn anyone who might become involved with this supposed new chamber to be careful. It is not a real chamber because it lacks nonprofit status as well as state and national affiliation, and is run by a person of questionable ethics.
The Encinitas City Council was set to meet in closed session Oct. 21 to determine the fate of the funding for the Visitor Center.
I feel strongly that the council should continue the funding. If in the future the chamber and Visitor Center need to be separated, it should be done in an orderly manner.
I also feel the council should bail the chamber out of its current financial situation including funding any legal action necessary to keep Andreen from further harming it.
Let the new chamber leader, CEO Marshall Weinreb, continue making a positive difference in the business community of this great city of ours without being dragged down by past issues.
This whole mess happened on the current council’s watch. Let them clean it up.

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  1. Cardiff Cassy says:

    “My intention is not to bash”??? You’re kidding, right? This editorial is nothing but a personal attack on Andreen. I don’t know how much of it is justified, but I’m surprised you’d put your newspaper at risk by continuing to bash Andreen when you are lacking the necessary journalistic objectivity to do so. You make money by publishing the Encinitas Chamber newsletter, do you not? You stand to lose advertising revenue if businesses advertise with Andreen’s newsletter rather than yours, do you not? Please explain how this is not a clear conflict of interest?

    It also seems disingenuous to suggest that the Encinitas Chamber has published under the name Encinitas First for 45 years, when you know this to be false. Isn’t it a double standard to accuse Andreen of lying when you publish a lie in your own editorial?

    It is ludicrous to suggest that business owners are two stupid to recognize that Andreen’s organization is different from the Encinitas Chamber. I feel certain that every member is well aware that the two organizations are distinct. You show a lack of respect for business owners to imply they lack the awareness to be able to tell the difference, which Andreen makes quite explicit in his promotion of a new chamber for New Encinitas.

    I agree it might have been better to not call the organization a “chamber”, but the community of New Encinitas deserves a business networking organization of its own, just as downtown Encinitas, Cardiff, and Leucadia have. The business power of the El Camino Real corridor more than justifies it, and it doesn’t endear either the Coast News of the Encinitas Chamber to those business owners to have it suggested that they should not have their own unique organization that serves its own specific purpose.

    Personally, I’m sick the whole drama, but I’m even more sick of the city council and the Coast News sticking their noses into what should be a matter of competition among a couple of private businesses. You advocate wasting Encinitas taxpayer money on providing legal cover for the Encinitas Chamber (and by proxy, for you).

    How generous of you to propose using my tax dollars to chase your personal bogeyman. Do you live in Encinitas? Do the members of the Chamber Board live in Encinitas? I’m not sure, but I’m guessing the answer for most of them is no, so isn’t it convenient to have our tax dollars spent to defend non-residents for their dubious public statements?

    I’m not interested in paying to defend either side. Let Andreen and the Chamber go at it and let the judicial system sort it out. In the meantime, let business people gather to do their networking as they see fit. We don’t need intimidation by hack politicians and newspapers.

  2. Schmo says:

    A) Encinitas First was not published for 45 years, facual error number 1. Further, Stocks was the mayor last year so it makes sense his pic appeared more than the rest. That’s part of the job, right? What’s the photo count this year? I bet it’s heavily Maggie weighted, oh yeah, she’s the Mayor this year!
    There is a “Cardiff Chamber of Commerce” in Encinitas with a business location near VG Donuts, why do you not consider that an affront to the precious Encinitas Chamber?
    You write: “There have been allegations of commingling and even misuse of city funds brought to light by a recent report. I believe the report and trust the honesty of the person who prepared it.” and yet you want the City to continue funding these creeps?
    GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!

    What a cheezy, lame, weak editorial.

  3. Former Board Member says:

    Dear Editor: You should recuse yourself from using your 4th estate bully pulpit to make pronouncements on this subject. Your hands are dirty from financial gain, and any statements you make are suspect. You are abusing journalistic ethics.

    Shamefully, you will print this hatchet piece in your newspaper where alternative views cannot be presented. As a paid advertiser in your paper, be sure you will see no more of my money.

  4. Gary Tucker says:

    Jim ,why won’t you let your reporter who did the smear job talk to me about my side of the story
    Gary Tucker

  5. Ex-ENC says:

    Sigh. I grow weary of this drama. It’s pretty obvious that the Coast News wants the chamber funds reinstated for one simple reason: they need to get paid. Do you really think your readers are that stupid, Jimmy? If I were you, I stop with this nonsense. You’re only making you and those you support look bad.

  6. Confused guy says:

    Here’s what I don’t get: is this the same board that oversaw the Chamber during the time in question? If so, aren’t they just a liable, if not MORESO for any wrong doing? After all, they could have fired Tucker or Andreen anytime they wanted. They were also completely aware of the financial workings. Do you really think we should give these clowns more money? I say nay. Excise the cancer, remove every board member and the new CEO, and then we can talk. Coast News, cut ties before you’re dragged down in this mess too. You’re starting to look extremely unobjective, and I’d imagine you’re opening yourself up to legal action. Wash your hands of this and move on!

  7. Resident X says:

    Jim, I’m calling you out. How much does The Chamber pay the Coast News? Let’s hear it!

  8. coastnews says:

    Editors note: Repeated calls to Gary Tucker and calls and e-mails to Mike Andreen were not returned to the reporter for the story written in the Sept. 18 issue titled “Report show misuse of city funds.” That was the only news story written about the subject.
    As for allegations that we will not give equal print to the other side of the issue, that is untrue. This was an opinion piece written by teh publisher. Each week we solicit community commentaries of 700 words or less from anyone who wants to write them. The only reason one would not make it to publication would be 1) space (in which case it would be held until their was space) or 2) unreadable writing. Again, we invite those with opposing opinions to ANY item in our paper to say their piece.

    Thank you,
    Laurie Sutton
    Managing Editor

  9. coastnews says:

    Editor’s note: Repeated calls to Gary Tucker and calls and e-mails to Mike Andreen were not returned to the reporter for the story written in the Sept. 18 issue titled “Report shows misuse of city funds.” That was the only news story written about the subject.

    As for allegations that we will not give equal print to the other side of the issue, that is untrue. This was an opinion piece written by teh publisher. Each week we solicit community commentaries of 700 words or less from anyone who wants to write them. The only reason one would not make it to publication would be 1) space (in which case it would be held until their was space) or 2) unreadable writing. Again, we invite those with opposing opinions to ANY item in our paper to say their piece.

    Thank you,

    Laurie Sutton

  10. coastnews says:

    Editor’s note: Repeated calls to Gary Tucker and calls and e-mails to Mike Andreen were not returned to the reporter for the story written in the Sept. 18 issue titled “Report shows misuse of city funds.” That was the only news story written about the subject.

    As for allegations that we will not give equal print to the other side of the issue, that is untrue. This was an opinion piece written by the publisher. Each week we solicit community commentaries of 700 words or less from anyone who wants to write them. The only reason one would not make it to publication would be 1) space (in which case it would be held until there was space) or 2) unreadable writing. Again, we invite those with opposing opinions to ANY item in our paper to say their piece.

    Thank you,

    Laurie Sutton

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