Yesterday someone sent me a couple of pages from a recent Salem Area Chamber of Commerce publication that boasted about them adding 188 new members last April, which is going to enable the Chamber to keep pushing for a new bridge across the Willamette River.
Download Salem Chamber of Commerce pages
The payroll tax would have allowed the Salem bus service, Cherriots, to offer evening and weekend bus service. Here's how I described the ill-considered opposition to this tax in an October 2015 blog post about the ballot measure.
Opponents of the payroll tax have most of the money and power in this town. The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce has gobs of money to spend through its Create Jobs PAC, largely donated by giant corporations like Salem Health.
The anti-payroll tax campaign has been marked by the lies, half-truths, and sleaze that are the hallmark of Chuck Adams, the New Media NW consultant that the Create Jobs PAC has hired repeatedly.
So once again, the Chamber of Commerce is resorting to dirty tricks, even though they already have the advantage of way more money and power than the good-hearted, but comparatively destitute, supporters of the small payroll tax possess.
I wonder how many members of the Salem Chamber of Commerce agreed with the Chamber's decision to oppose the mass transit payroll tax. Surely not all members. Maybe not even most members. After all, being able to use the bus to get to work, or to shop, on weekends and evenings sure seems like a pro-business policy.
Likewise, I now wonder how many Chamber members agree with their membership money being used to push for a unneeded, unwanted, and unpaid-for Third Bridge, also known as the Salem River Crossing.
If necessary approvals ever were to be obtained for the bridge, which isn't going to happen anytime soon, given the opposition of a clear majority of the City Council to a Third Bridge, bridge advocates like the Chamber of Commerce would have to wrestle with how to pay for the billion dollar price tag (the $430 million estimated cost of the bridge, plus inflation, plus financing costs, equals about a billion bucks).
The funding plan for the bridge, shown above, relies on a $1.50 each way toll on both the new bridge and existing bridges that would raise $175 million from people using the three bridges, most of whom would live in the Salem area.
So the Salem Chamber of Commerce is pushing for an approximate $375 million tolling/tax/fee increase on local citizens. But, oh my!, a $5 million payroll tax was too much to bear; $375 million, though, that's OK, because it's for a Billion Dollar Boondoggle of a bridge.
Again, how many Chamber members know that the organization they're paying dues to wants a massive tax/tolling/fee increase, over a third of a billion dollars, to be inflicted on people in the Salem area?
Have Chamber members been informed about how much a new bridge would cost, and who would be expected to pay for it?
Have Chamber members been polled about whether they endorse the Chamber's push for a new bridge, even though there are much less expensive ways of reducing rush hour congestion in the downtown and West Salem area?
Conservatives freak out when labor unions use dues for political purposes. Yet the Salem Chamber of Commerce is bragging about how the membership dollars brought in by 188 new members are going to make it possible to lobby for a billion dollar Salem River Crossing.
Was this disclosed to prospective members during the membership drive? I bet it wasn't. Sure seems like Chamber members should be allowed to choose whether they want their membership dues used for controversial causes many don't support.