The Herald-Leader ran a story on July 7, 2015 about my resignation from the board of CommerceLexington. The story is accurate. Here I simply provide a few additional pieces of information about my reasons for resigning, with the hope that this will help everyone understand more clearly what I believe is at issue.
LFUCG has two parts to its relationship with CommerceLexington. In one part we contract with CommerceLexington for a variety of economic development services which in previous times have been handled in-house by LFUCG. We provide CommerceLexington with roughly $.5 million for those services and they report about them to LFUCG on a quarterly basis. Those funds and those activities are strictly segregated from all of their other activities.
In the other part of our relationship they offer LFUCG three ex officio seats on their Advisory Board and one seat on their Executive Board. These boards are responsible for all their activities, including lobbying at the local, state, and federal level on a variety of public policy issues. With the minor exception of a few other ex officio positions, all members of these boards are dues-paying members of CommerceLexington. LFUCG is not.
It is this second part of the relationship that I question. I believe it is fair to say that CommerceLexington’s primary role and responsibility in its advocacy work is to represent and advance the interests of the business community, as they define those inerests. My view is that there are issues where those interests, as they define them, are in conflict with the broader interests of the entire community. Raising the minimum wage is one of those issues, but it is not the only one.
So, while I appreciate the intention of CommerceLexington in offering an ex officio position on the Advisory Board for the Vice Mayor of LFUCG, I believe it is inappropriate to accept that offer. Doing so would be an implicit acceptance and endorsement of their public policy positions, both by LFUCG and by the individual who happens to be Vice Mayor. I do not want my name and my elected position to be listed on the board of an organization some of whose stated policies represent, in my view, the short term and narrowly defined interests of certain segments of the business community at the expense of the long term and more broadly defined general welfare of the larger community.