Ah, it's so fitting. The Salem Chamber of Commerce has chosen T.J. Sullivan to be its president-elect. Meaning, Sullivan is in the on-deck circle to come up and bat for this town's most notorious promoter of selfish right-wing business interests.
Here's what I found, in chronological order:
February 2016: "Salem Chamber of Commerce mass transit bill to aid Cherriots is dead."
Sullivan led the Chamber's fight to defeat a payroll tax that would have brought weekend and evening bus service to Salem. He said that if the payroll tax was defeated, which it was, the Chamber would work hard to find another source of funding for Cherriots. Well, they didn't try very hard, probably because, as I said in this post:
Bluntly speaking, the Salem Chamber of Commerce is controlled by people who don't give a shit about decent bus service in Salem. They just want to appear to care about the needs of those who use Cherriots, by necessity or choice.
In a related October 2015 post, "More evidence that Salem Health violated IRS rules on political donations," I presented evidence that the $50,000 Salem Health gave to the Chamber's Create Jobs PAC to oppose the mass transit payroll tax was an illegal political donation. T.J. Sullivan was the chair of the Create Jobs PAC, according to a commenter on this post.
April 2016: "Mean-spirited letter to the editor cheapens mayoral race."
Sullivan supported Chuck Bennett over Carole Smith in this race, which was fine. Not so fine was what he said in a Statesman Journal letter to the editor.
I have worked with both Carole Smith and Chuck Bennett and had the opportunity to watch them engage with citizens in Salem.
...there aren’t many worse choices for mayor than Carole Smith. If she were elected mayor, and people like her elected to the City Council, they would set our city back years with their inability to make decisions that are in the best interest of Salem.
According to Carole Smith, the first sentence almost certainly was a lie. She couldn't remember ever working with T.J. Sullivan. In an online comment on his letter, Smith said:
Say all the nice things you want about Bennett, but leave me out of it since I don't really know you TJ and I can tell by your comments that you really don't [know] me either. Stop the hate.
October 2016: "T.J. Sullivan lies about cost of proposed police facility" and "No, savings from Measure 24-399 WOULDN'T fund Civic Center seismic strengthening."
Sullivan was a leader in efforts to pass a wasteful, poorly-thought-out $82 million police facility bond measure that was wisely rejected by Salem voters in November 2016. In debates with me about Measure 24-399, Sullivan lied several times. I called him out on this in two blog posts.
Yeah, I know.
"Lie" is a word that's supposed to be reserved for Donald Trump'ian sorts of deliberate falsehoods. "Misspoke," "shaded the truth," "was inaccurate" -- these are oft-heard replacements for "lie."
But I don't what else to call what T.J. Sullivan, a representative of the Keep Salem Safe campaign that's advocating for Measure 24-399, the vastly over-priced $82 million police facility bond measure on the November ballot, did last night at a Morningside Neighborhood Association meeting.
...Here's another T.J. Sullivan falsehood about Measure 24-399, the $82 million police facility bond on Salem's November ballot. (Sullivan's previous falsehood is described here.)
At the September 23 Salem City Club debate on the police facility bond between Sullivan and me, he said this:
"So if we get $82 million for this new police facility, and we don't use the whole $82 million, we can, depending on how we write the bonding language, we can take that money and put it into retrofitting City Hall and the Library...That's the fastest way we're going to get City Hall and the Library retrofitted, by passing this bond."
January 2017: "Disturbing facts revealed about $749,000 Park Front urban renewal grant"
T.J. Sullivan, a former Salem city councilor, was able to get a $749,000 grant from the City of Salem for his Park Front building under highly dubious circumstances. I delved into the details of the urban renewal grant after getting documents through a public records request.
Here's highlights of what I learned:
Park Front developer T.J. Sullivan wrongly asserted in his grant application to the City of Salem that 80 permanent new jobs would be created by the project. This should be grounds for the City Council revoking, or at least revisiting, approval of the $749,000 urban renewal grant, since the actual number of permanent new jobs likely is zero, or very few.
It is clear that the Park Front building was going to be built with or without urban renewal funds, so the City of Salem's claim that public funds leveraged private investment with public money is false.
The Park Front developers said they plan to use the $749,000 to "add back" features of the building that they were going to leave out after construction costs escalated and Pioneer Trust Bank failed to loan them as much money as they asked for. So I continue to call this crony capitalism, since these are normal problems encountered by developers.
Approval of the grant by the City Council acting as the Urban Renewal Agency Board was rushed through by City staff before the end of 2016 so it wouldn't be considered by the 2017 City Council that would include three newly-elected progressive councilors.
So putting all this together, T.J. Sullivan is a mean-spirited guy prone to political lies who opposed a tax to improve Salem's bus service yet used his connections with City officials to get a bunch of undeserved money for his office building through crony capitalism.
In other words, he's a perfect match to lead the Salem Chamber of Commerce!