Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce appeals to City Council to recognize them as Woodlake’s Chamber of Commerce

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By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

WOODLAKE – Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce president Rudy Garcia addressed the Woodlake City Council two weeks ago during their June 11 meeting to introduce their board and ask if the council would officially recognize them as Woodlake’s chamber. The City Council’s response was less than tepid, it was downright apathetic.

Garcia’s plea at the council meeting came weeks after former chamber secretary Marsha Ingrao publicly quit the organization citing poor leadership, in particular from Garcia himself. 

“I can no longer support an organization which, under the leadership of the current president, overrides the bylaws, makes potential new business members feel uncomfortable during a meeting and changes rules on a whim,” Ingrao said in a departing blog post from her personal web site. 

In the days after, Ingrao and a colleague approached Woodlake city manager Ramon Lara to see what type of City requirements they may need to start a second chamber, completely separate from the existing one. Lara said, and the City’s position is, they will work with any and all service clubs and nonprofits as they normally do now. 

Garcia invoked Ingrao’s remarks during his comments to council calling them slanderous and untruthful.

“The reason I’m doing this is because it is a lot of he said/she said, I said/nobody said,” Gracia said.

He went on to say that it is important the City and the chamber work together for what he claims is the health of Woodlake.

“We encourage that we work together [rather] than work against each other, because then we’ll fall apart,” Garcia said.

His comments were unwelcomed by the council, and in particular mayor Rudy Mendoza.

“I don’t know what’s going on with your chamber of commerce and at this point I don’t care,” Mendoza said. “We recognize that you are a chamber of commerce and that you operate as a chamber of commerce…you guys are your own organization.”

Woodlake vice mayor Frances Ortiz, who also sits on the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce board as secretary, fell on the side of the City’s opinion.

“The council does not have anything to do with you or your chamber,” Ortiz emphasized.

Before leaving the podium, Garcia noted that he was leaving a membership application for the City to consider becoming members of the chamber. 

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