Chamber clarifies its role in election sign purchase
November 18, 2021
The Green River Chamber of Commerce issued a statement Monday clarifying its role in the production of signs it claims were intended to encourage people to vote in the special general-purpose tax election Nov. 2.
“First and foremost, the board’s position is to be a neutral party in these matters,” the press release states.
The chamber board claims it was neither for or against the proposal, but only wanted to educate people about the upcoming election and the proposed use of the additional funds generated by the tax.
“Providing resources to help the public make an informed decision is something we are very much in favor of. We also feel our role ends there and believe these decisions should be determined at the election by the voters.”
The statement also identifies the city as a key partner in promoting the community and bringing customers and businesses together and states one of the services it is contracted to provide the city is giving voters information about ballot initiatives such as the general-purpose tax.
“To that end, the board approved the purchase of signs with the intention of providing information to voters,” the statement reads.
Funding for the signs was taken from money provided by the city for the agreement and the chamber assures members that dues paid to the chamber were not used toward the signs.
The board cites the tight timetable as a major reason why everything was done so hastily, but pledges to learn from the experience and ensure enough time is taken to go through the process with the diligence required. The chamber also remains committed to working closely with the city and responsibly fulfilling its obligations to it.
The chamber’s claims of using money provided from the city doesn’t align with what officials at the Sweetwater County Courthouse say they were told. Sweetwater County Commissioner Roy Lloyd and Sweetwater County Clerk Cindy Lane both said they were informed the signs were paid for through an anonymous donation made to the chamber for the expense. The total cost of the signs has not been released by the chamber, but Lane said she was told they cost between $600 and $700.
Green River City Administrator Reed Clevenger also responded to questions submitted to Steve Core, the city’s communications administrator last week.
Clevenger admits Core using the word “funnel” was a poor choice of words in an email reported on by the Star last week, saying the city uses several outlets to promote information to educate Green River’s residents. He said the idea of funneling money to an organization like the chambers or SEDC is the same as if the city wanted to buy an advertisement in the Green River Star to educate residents.
“The fact is the city was bouncing ideas of the best way to educate the public about the tax initiative in the timeframe that was now in front of us,” Clevenger wrote to the Star Wednesday.
He said the city had multiple conversations with the commissioners, the Rock Springs municipal government and both chambers on how an educational initiative could be accomplished, with all of the groups in those discussions being asked to pay for that initiative at some point.
He said the city also kept communication with their legal counsel and the state as they were working toward a plan to educate the county’s residents.
While he believes the education efforts were hampered by Rock Springs not giving its support to the initiative after the special election was approved, he said residents spoke with their vote and there were some lessons learned along the way.
“From the timing of the initiative, to the wording of it, the details that needed to be further vetted on the how and why the funding was needed, etc., are all items that will be worked on in the future for any such initiative that may be brought forward,” he wrote. “Until then, we need to find ways to move forward and to continue offering the services residents expect and helping to diversify our economy in a meaningful way.”