Mayor Karla Brown and councilmembers Valerie Arkin, Julie Testa and Jeff Nibert all voted to end the partnership. Jack Balch opposed the motion.
The chamber has operated its leadership program since 1987 to help citizens prepare to serve in civic roles or as non-profit leaders. A group of 30-32 people pay $950 (scholarships available) for nine all-day sessions that cover local government (city and schools), arts, the economy and other subjects to familiarize people with the institutions and the processes.
The city has been partnered since 2000, contributing $10,000, four class members and running four days annually. The lockdown in 2020-21 cancelled the program and the council majority decided not to continue in the program.
Claiming that the daytime hours limit participation and it was too expensive (perhaps they should look at what their consultants charge for a day), they decided to do a program of their own in non-work hours. They plan for it to be free.
Just why Pleasanton needs two programs is a great question and more importantly what will the city produce? The strength of the chamber-managed program is that it pulled in different viewpoints and aspects of the community. A city-centered program will miss those perspectives that are critical to understanding the community and how to serve it well. Many city employees do their jobs daily but have limited contact with the people they are paid to serve. These programs bring a cross-section of the community aspiring for leadership together.
One objection raised was that the chamber is a political organization. Yes, it has a separate political action committee and it makes no bones that it’s an advocacy group for business and the economic well-being of the community. That’s an important role given that business generates the vast majority of the tax revenue, a key fact that residents often miss.
Chambers operate most of the leadership classes I am aware of with the notable exception of Leadership San Ramon Valley that is a separate non-profit with board members from various sectors.
The council majority’s decision is a bad one, joining the withdrawal from the Zone 7 alternative water supply study, the scrapping of a 30-year process to redo Lions Wayside and Delucci parks and its decision not to plan for the eastside in that pile. Sadly, more are likely to come.