Lindsay Chamber fate pushed back due to background check
LINDSAY– The Lindsay Chamber of Commerce has bought themselves a bit more time thanks to an obscure comment left to be verified.
At the Lindsay City Council’s March 12 meeting, the Council was poised to move on awarding Jimora Enterprises the Friday Night Market. The move would all but end the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce as they know it by ripping away 85% of the organization’s revenue. But at the eleventh hour, an accusation that members of Jimora Enterprises had been arrested for illegal firearm possession in 2016 put a halt to the vote.
The comment came after an initial motion by Flores, second by Sanchez, to give the Market back to the Chamber failed 3-2. Lindsay Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Virginia Loya cried out that the City was just looking at the money. Mayor Pam Kimball was forced to bang her gavel for order.
In light of the illegal firearms comment Flores said she wanted the City to run a background check on Jimora Enterprises before they decide whether to award them the Market.
“A background check should always be done,” Flores said.
City attorney Mario Zamora said the more traditional way of conducting a background check is for the City to award the project, then do it. The purpose, Zamora says, is to avoid doing a background check for all organizations every time the City publishes a Request for Proposal. City manager Bill Zigler chimed in and said the cost of doing that would be prohibitive.
Zigler elaborated and said the City would typically award the project, and then, if anything suspect came up they would address a “Plan B.” Ultimately the Council voted 5-0 to conduct the check on Jimora Enterprises and table the vote to award the Market till their next meeting, March 26.
Much like the Council’s Feb. 12 meeting, a slew of Chamber supporters stepped up to mic to stand up for the Chamber, and encourage the Council to award the Friday Night Market to the Chamber. Longtime resident Trudy Wischemann addressed the Council and conveyed her concerns that the RFP process was a sham.
“For the sake of the community and the City’s income I hope you do not approve the resolution…I think the RFP process has been a fraud and an effort to make the City look transparent when you’re leaving the public blind as bats,” Wischemann said.
Sylvia Contreras said, with councilwoman Laura Cortes translating, that her business is in danger of closing without the Market. She added that the move to limit the Market’s footprint to Honolulu between Mirage and the ally just west of Sweetbrier Avenue along with a short quarter of the block north and south on Elmwood, is particularly concerning and unhelpful for business.
“How are you helping businesses if you’re leaving us out,” Contreras said.
Dr. Magdalena Sanchez, who says she was hired by Lindsay to start the Market and gather grants from the California Endowment for McDermont and the Wellness Center, claimed the City had no moral standing to take the Market away. She noted that the Chamber running the Market was a part of the grant proposal she submitted for both projects.
Sanchez went on to criticize the City for their critical eye of the Chamber’s bookkeeping when it recently came to light that the City had moved money from restricted funds without telling the public for years.
“You have no moral standing. You do not have a moral standing to stand on. You have a double standard to judge yourself, judge McDermont and then judge the Chamber…you do not have clean hands…you are incoherent and illogical,” Sanchez said.
She went on to lay out her argument pointing out how the City continued to sink money into McDermont despite its poor financial performance, but then elected to take the Market away from the Chamber when they fell behind on their payments. Sanchez also mentioned the work Loya had put into the Chamber that consistently hosted between 3,000 to 5,000 people per week.
“She is the one who put the City of Lindsay and the Market on the map. So, tell me how logical that decision is,” Sanchez said.
Irene Ramirez, who hosted a booth at the Friday Night Market since its inception said she has had a lot of success drawing people to town from all over the county. She said that every year something changed, but taking the Market away from the chamber was too much.
“This year, I’m appalled. Because I’ve been here since it began and I know everything that has taken place and everything that has gone on…I feel [Virginia] hasn’t gotten the credit she deserves,” Ramirez said. “I feel that an injustice has been done and you want to bring someone else to do this…without [Virginia] there would be no marketing for the City of Lindsay…without her I don’t think it will be a proper market anymore.”
Flores maintained she wants to give the Market back to the Chamber because that is what the community is calling for and leaving the details to be hammered out between the Chamber and Zigler.
“Our community is out there and they have spoken. I move that we give this back to the Chamber with negotiations so it’s a win-win, you can do that Bill,” Flores said.