Crazy is as crazy does.

  • By: President/CEO of the Fresno Chamber – Al Smith

Pardon me for altering a line from that classic movie, “Forrest Gump”, but do any of these statement sound familiar?

  • “Those guys are crazy”
  • “Don’t they know anything about business?
  • “It’s almost not worth the effort to operate in this state.”

Obviously, we are talking about legislation being introduced and passed that continues to hamper the economy and the business friendly climate of our beloved state’s free enterprise system.

Here are just a few samples of what is being considered in Sacramento:

  1. Raising the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2017. (Heck, the Congressman from Oakland is urging a $26-per-hour wage. Let’s see you pass that cost along.)
  2. Require all businesses, no matter the size, to provide paid sick leave with penalties if you don’t.
  3. Allow employees to actually file liens on your real and personal property based on unproven wage claims.
  4. Raise taxes on companies that are somehow judged as overpaying their CEO.

And these are just a tip of the iceberg of some of the insane thinking going on in our State Capitol.

One would think that with companies like Occidental Petroleum, Raytheon, LegalZoom and now Toyota packing up and leaving California for other locales like Nevada and Texas – sooner or later, some rational thinking would kick in. But unfortunately, the response looks as threatening as ever. In fact, one lawmaker seriously stated, “Well, other states don’t have our great weather so why would anyone leave?”

There are those who wonder exactly what a Chamber of Commerce does. In addition to networking, education, community celebration, etc. – there is no more vital endeavor to our community and to our state than our emphasis on advocacy. As the largest business organization in the Central Valley, if the Chamber doesn’t do it – who will?

Twelve months a year, this Chamber remains firmly committed to the cause. We maintain communication with our elected officials at all levels; we review and take positions on issues that impact what business does and we seek out, help train and publicly support non-crazy political candidates, all as part of an effort to put educated people in government.

Our alliances with the U. S. Chamber; the California Chamber, the Central California Chamber Alliance and likeminded organizations such as the Farm Bureau, the Restaurant Association and the Manufacturers Association also allow for a larger voice in influencing our government.

And we continually seek ways to better tell the advocacy story to our members; to your employees and to society as a whole. And your personal involvement is important. Many voices need to be heard, not just the Chamber’s.

Let me urge you to visit our Chamber website often. Go to and click on the advocacy tab and follow many of the efforts affecting government.

I will close with a line someone shared with me a few years back. When asked if Chambers should be doing this, the response was, “Well, if you are not at the table, you might just wind up being on the menu.” Enough said.


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