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:

    “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…”

    Really? You’re telling us that repeated attempts were made to Tucker and Andreen and they refused to respond to a smear article that could ruin them? That’s the oldest journalistic dodge in the book. Are you prepared to publish your phone records and email records to prove just how diligently you tried to get their response before you went to print?

    “As for allegations that we will not give equal print to the other side of the issue, that is untrue.”

    Alright, then I challenge you to publish in your printed newspaper the responses you are getting to this editorial, and give it the same front page treatment that you’ve given to the smear campaign. Maybe people don’t want to attach their names to the comments because they’ve seen how the chamber-city-newspaper old boy trifecta actively works to damage and smear anyone who speaks contrary to their desires. Some of us have businesses to run and can’t afford to be make such enemies.

    Someone wanted to know how much the Coast News is making for publishing the Encinitas Chamber newsletter. I heard it was $3000 per month, twice what Andreen was charging for the same service, yet he was smeared for charging it. Is that true or not?

    I’d also like to know how much, if any, the Coast News is keeping from advertising revenues in that newsletter.

    Please disclose the details.

  2. anonymous says:

    Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy……

    Calm down boy!

  3. Let's have it says:

    Come on Jimmy, respond!

  4. Sheila S. Cameron says:

    Thank you Jim Kydd, Publisher of the Coast News, for having the courage to write accurately about the facts and the issues regarding the Encinitas Chamber and Mike Andreen and Gary Tucker.

  5. White Fang says:

    Guess who took this photo of Jim Kydd? Mike Andreen!

  6. jim kydd says:

    From Jim Kydd, Coast News Publisher

    In no particular order, I will address some points that have been brought up and thoughts that I have, on The Coast News and Leucadia blog sites regarding my recent Encinitas Chamber editorial.

    1- I put my real name – you know where to find me – on my words. That can’t be said for the blog people.
    2- Many of the comments on my web site are from the same IP address. That means Mike Andreen is using multiple identities to make it seem like a lot of people agree with his agenda when in reality it’s just him.
    3- Gary Tucker (had to use his own name) said The Coast News failed to give him or Andreen a chance to respond to our “misuse of funds” article. That’s crap, and we have all the calls and emails documented to prove it.
    4- It is not true that I am biased in defending the established Chamber because of financial gain from publishing Encinitas First. It is a financial loser. The truth is Gary Tucker told me that pub was losing on average about $2000 per issue before I took it over. I was able to reduce that loss to close to break even, but the situation is worse now because of the economy and Andreen’s negative influence.
    5- I, and many others do not use the term “new Encinitas.” When I see New Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, I see “new” Encinitas Chamber of commerce, which is doubly confusing.
    6- The city should help the legitimate Chamber and it’s problems with the Visitors Center because it blessed the marriage in the first place and needs to accept some responsibility for the mess it’s in.
    7- The Chamber may be an entity by itself, but, it is defined by the people who run it, at any given moment, and the current woes are a result of actions taken by Andreen and Tucker. I have an email from Andreen to the Chamber Board that says in part, “for all practicable purposes, I am the Chamber.”
    8- Jerome Stocks immediately pulled his ad from Encinitas First and The Coast News when Andreen left the Chamber when the board wouldn’t make him CEO. No big deal financially, but telling.
    9- I am new at this blog thing, but I agree with some of the comments on the Leucadia blog that Kevin is biased toward Andreen and Tucker.
    10- As my editor said in the comments section following my editorial, we will publish any opposing views. But, we insist that the identity of the person submitting be verified, just as I am openly standing behind my words, so should they.

  7. gilbert foerster says:

    I am a Jim Kydd supporter as far as his integrity and truly caring about Encinitas are concerned. He is willing to put his huevos on the line for things he believes. Not many people are as brave. The Chamber and visitors center may need over-sight but it deserves to be funded, at least in part by City.

    It has been my experience that The Coast News really does allow community commentary from both sides in any discussion. The Coast News DOES try to balance letters to the editor on any given issue.

    If Gary and Mike feel smeared their should write their points of view as community commentary and submit them to the paper. It’s really that simple.

  8. HindUnderARock says:

    Cast the first stone and one might come back at you.

    I don’t think there would have been any problem or dispute if after Mike left,
    If he had not lobbed the first assertions.

    had he started
    Mikes North Encinitas Businees Support Group
    Andreen business advantage
    or what ever the heck.

    He is not a non profit but a for profit,
    he is not a registered Chamber by the USA Chamber of Commerce.

    So call it what you will, just be what you are and not what you are not, and that is a Chamber.

  9. Danielle Soule says:

    For anyone to have created a bogus second “chamber” is certainly not with the best interest of Encinitas at heart. It potentially depletes the strength in membership and resources of the one we have. It seems obvious that when it comes to being effective in the common goal of promoting our local businesses and preserving the quality of life in Encinitas, to have multiple chambers in one community isn’t good, only confusing. How sad that some business owners have been fooled by this self-serving scam. Hopefully, they will realize and switch to the true Encinitas Chamber of Commerce. I hope the breakaway “chamber” is very temporary once people realize it’s not a “chamber” at all and detrimental to our community as a whole. Thank you to Jim Kydd for caring enough to speak out and clarify this situation.

  10. El Camino Biz says:

    Danielle Soule, your comment ignores the fact that Encinitas already has multiple business representation organizations, including two chambers (Encinitas Chamber, Cardiff Chamber), DEMA, and Leucadia 101. Why should New Encinitas, the commerce hub of the entire city, not have its own organization?

    Those who think there is some law against multiple chambers in one city are delusional. There is nothing illegal, immoral, or unethical about it. If the businesses of the El Camino corridor feel that the Encinitas Chamber is doing a less than ideal job of representing their interests, they have every right to support a different organization that suits them better.

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