The Wellington Chamber of Commerce, under its political action committee, took an outrageous step recently in sending a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, asking that Mayor Bob Margolis be removed from office. Wellington Chamber President Alex Domb, who signed the letter, uses as the basis for it a recent news story filled with unsubstantiated claims of an ethics breech that even Domb isn’t sure is true.
As a former member and board member of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, I am deeply concerned that the Wellington Chamber has drawn its membership into dirty politics based on unsubstantiated reports and unbeknown to most of the membership.
There is another situation the membership should be aware of. A little more than a year ago, in December 2011, a board of directors meeting was called, at which time I was asked to step off the board. I was accused of having a conflict of interest and of breaking confidentiality by sharing information that had been sent to the entire board. Why were they so intent on keeping secrets? Obviously, they had something to hide.
In a spirit of cooperation and because I represent many in the equestrian industry, I agreed to do so. However, former Mayor Darell Bowen, along with Mike Nelson, whose Effective Solutions works for Glenn Straub’s Palm Beach Polo Holdings, and Michael Stone, employed by Equestrian Sport Productions, remained on the board, despite their obvious conflicts with political positions the Wellington Chamber would take.
I was a member of the President’s Circle, co-chair of the Wellington Chamber’s Equestrian Committee, responsible for creating the community brochure of equestrian events that went out to all Wellington residents, and had worked side by side with Executive Director Michela Perillo-Green on a number of projects. After a few days of pondering the board’s decision, I made one of my own and tendered my resignation from the Wellington Chamber.
It became clear that these members’ interests at that time and continuing to today are focused solely on supporting a select few members of the business community and continuing a contrarian fight with the duly elected members of the Wellington Village Council. It is also obvious that the Wellington Chamber of Commerce has taken this position regardless of whether its membership agrees. There is no question in my mind that the average members of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce have no idea of the political nonsense its leadership has engaged in on behalf of all chamber members.
It is the duty of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce to advocate for the business interests of all its members, not a select few. But the most recent political bombshell shows clearly that the Wellington Chamber continues to focus not on improving the business climate but on continuing a fight with the Village of Wellington. I am thankful that I have found within the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce an organization that does not engage in political dogfights, but supports its entire membership without pitting businesses against each other.
The membership at large of the Wellington Chamber should take back control of the organization, refocusing it on building a business climate in which all Wellington business interests can thrive. Unfortunately, the current leadership of the Wellington Chamber does its members a great disservice.
Mason Phelps Jr., President
Phelps Media Group