Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce Insults Our Intelligence

On the front page of today’s Winston-Salem Journal there’s an article titled "Groups Lobby City for Break"
and the thrust of the article is that the Chamber and the local realtors and developers are asking the city for a moratorium on new development regulations.  From the article:

Winston-Salem should impose a moratorium on any new business
regulations, including a proposed tree ordinance, because of current economic conditions, say the Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce,
real-estate agents and homebuilders.

The chamber’s request, sent to the city last month, says that
Winston-Salem has enacted too many ordinances in recent years that add
to the cost of doing business. The letter specifically mentions
ordinances that affect sidewalk and street standards, storm-water
regulations, sign regulations and even an ordinance that requires
business owners to remove graffiti.

Okay, I understand that the Chamber’s job is to advocate for businesses in the city so I don’t begrudge it the position it’s taking.  It’s a later paragraph that they use to help justify their position that just blew my mind:

The number of zoning cases coming before the planning board is down
about 50 percent from last year, a measure that the chamber says is
evidence, in part, of "the difficulty doing business here."

What?  The Chamber wants us to believe that adding sidewalks and other such regs are going to keep developers from building?  I have to call "BS" here, because developers build anytime they think there will be a buyer.  You could require them to plant 100 pink ceramic elephants on every acre and they’d do it if they thought they’d have a buyer.  No, I’m thinking that perhaps our country’s epic housing decline and credit crisis might have just a little to do with the decrease in zoning cases.  Heck, Paul Norby, the director of the City County Planning Board, says exactly that in the article.

Like I said, I have no problem with the Chamber doing what they think is in the best interest of their members, but they should at least assume that the good citizens of Winston-Salem aren’t all a bunch of dumbasses and refrain from condescending arguments such as this.  And if nothing else they should realize that it makes them look like they’re the realtors’ and developers’ lap dogs, which they may very well be. 

BTW, I joined the Chamber last year and unfortunately I’ve only been able to make an event or two due to the fact that all the events seem to conflict with other obligations.  They did a wonderful job of outreach to me when I joined and it’s through no fault of theirs that I haven’t been able to do more with them.  I’m hoping to get more involved over the next couple of months.  On the other hand, I often find myself disagreeing with their public policy initiatives so I’m thinking they may not like having me around if I start piping up on the issues and letting them know what I think about many of their government affairs positions.  I don’t think that will win me the Dale Carnegie "How to Win Friends and Influence People" prize.

3 thoughts on “Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce Insults Our Intelligence

  1. keith

    too bad you aren’t in Guilford County especially in Greensboro where they have the triad real estate and building industry coalition also known as the TREBIC CARTEL.All they do is get appointed to boards and comissions where everything is done to their liking, for example 10 out of 14 members of the land development ordinance committee in Greensboro are members of the TREBIC CARTEL.
    There is a movement in Guilford to stop a lot of this crap like Heart of the Triad and it’s aerotropolis pipe dream.
    Enjoyed the post, and agree with you on all points.
    A tree ordinance is a joke when these greedy developers mow down every tree in site.

  2. keith

    I wish that we101 could have a link where they show all the post in the triad area as an aggregator not just greensboro – high point – and winston salem as separate.

  3. Jon Lowder

    Thanks for the comments Keith. I read a lot of the Greensboro blogs and keep up with things in Guilford that way, and I have to say that there seems to be a large difference between the county leadership there and in Forsyth. Maybe it’s because we don’t have as large a group of independent folks writing about the goings on here in Forsyth, but on the other hand maybe we don’t have as many blogs shouting at our leadership because our leaders, in general, don’t give us as much to scream about.
    Honestly my biggest complaint with the Forsyth County Board has been with their opening prayer policy, which is kind of a big deal in the whole separation of church and state issue, but in terms of our day to day living just isn’t that big a deal. For the most part I’ve found our board to be pretty good in terms of striking a balance between all of their constituencies, and while I might not agree with everything they do I also don’t feel like there’s a bunch of insider dealing going on.
    Since I don’t live in Winston-Salem proper I don’t have as much to do with the City council, but in general I get the same feeling about them. Sure there’s some disagreement on policies, but for the most part they seem to be dealing with everyone in a fair way.
    We certainly haven’t had anything to compare to the Wray-fray, council members taking polygraphs, leaked reports, etc.
    As for We101, I haven’t spent much time there lately. I’ll have to check it out again.


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