Oct. 25, 2011 | Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley is making the rounds in Pleasanton like a grand dame at the debutante ball, but one Tri-Valley reporter took offense to a $45-per-person lunch address he is slated to give Wednesday at the Sheraton in Pleasanton.
The speech is billed as a sort of introduction to his new constituents in Pleasanton, who were recently shifted into Miley’s predominately Oakland-centric district. The luncheon is sponsored by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.
A reporter from Pleasanton Weekly, though, complained of the high ticket cost for an event possibly of great civic importance to the area’s residents. Miley is scheduled to lay out his vision for the county and Pleasanton in the address. The chamber said the media is welcome as long as they don’t saddle up to the buffet table.
Although, the speech is not Miley’s first appearance in Pleasanton since becoming their supervisor (he held a round table discussion two weeks ago at the city’s public library), but the local chambers securing exclusivity of public official’s time for a price is not uncommon.
Alice Lai-Bitker, a former county supervisor gave her final state of the county address last year for a price at a San Leandro Chamber of Commerce luncheon. There was no indication Lai-Bitker ever gave the same address at a free public event.
For local chamber of commerce’s to charge a fee featuring a public official offer his or her general thoughts on varied subjects is one thing, but trumpeting something of high public import like the “state of the county or state or a community’s introduction to a new public official is blatant pay-to-listen politics and should make you wonder whether these organizations value business leaders in spite of the customers they hope to entice.
UPDATE: Miley isn't the only local official participating in charging citizens a fee to hear the state of the communities. For $65 residents of Southern Alameda County can listen to Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett and Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski give the "state of the state" tomorrow afternoon. The event is sponsored by the Fremont, Milpitas and Union City Chambers of Commerce.