Saturday, February 21, 2004

Chamber may oust activist


Loveland proposal objects to statements about zone debate

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LOVELAND - An activist could be ousted from the local chamber for statements accusing the business organization of an improper liaison with the city in an upcoming zoning referendum.

A proposal to expel Dave Miller will be on the agenda Tuesday when the Loveland Area Chamber of Commerce board meets, Executive Director Paulette Leeper confirmed.

Miller came under fire this week when he issued a press release on behalf of Voice of the Electorate. It said the citizen group refused to participate in a chamber-sponsored debate on the pros and cons of changing the city's zoning code to allow commercial development in some residential areas.

The statement criticized the chamber's involvement in the debate because the organization publicly supported the city's actions to expand commercial zoning and had accepted donations from the city to sponsor golf outings.

A month earlier, the citizen group canceled a similar debate after city officials refused to participate, saying they objected to the group's characterization of the March 2 ballot issue as "spot zoning." Both organizations wound up holding separate informational meetings instead.

Leeper said the chamber would have to hold an official hearing to expel Miller. Whether to proceed will be discussed on Tuesday.

"His assertions that the chamber's debate has been planned to be one-sided, his assertions that the debate was going to be full of canned questions, his assertions that we are under the influence of special interest groups to try to produce an infomercial are an absolute outright falsehood," Leeper said.

Miller owns a photography company, which was honored in 2002 for its involvement in producing the chamber's annual directory.

Miller said he was shocked that the chamber would consider throwing him out.

He defended the press release, saying the three-page statement was written by citizen group members. Miller, who was listed as the contact, said he edited the statement and contributed about 15 words.

But he apologized if some found it offensive and offered to "correct any incorrect information."

E-mail smclaughlin@enquirer.com




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