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Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce New Member Reception

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On Thursday night, May 31,  we attended a reception for new members of the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce which took place at Benny Vino Urban Winery in Geneva. We were surprised at the number of new members which was between twelve and fifteen.

These new members defied the image some people have of a chamber of commerce as being a hangout for stuffy, conventional business people; instead they were quite diverse as both people and professionals including:

  • Ms. Alicia Etzel of Pampered Chef, who brought with her several tasty desserts such as Taffy Apple Pizza and Banana Split Brownies Pizza
  • Mr. Rory and Ms. Tabatha Frasure of Kolache Cafe, which offers a marvelous sweet dough that can be stuffed with a variety of food
  • Ms. Danielle Klein of Stella's Art Gallery, which showcases thirty-six local artists and even offers art therapy classes
  • Ms. Jacqueline Azbill of Horticulture Partners, LLC, which distributes unrooted cuttings imported from Mexico to major growers throughout the United States

We also got to talk to Mr. Benny Bucci who owns the winery where we held the event. He told us that things are going quite well; last year he sold 5,000 gallons of wine and he hopes and expects to double that amount this year.

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Another new member was Ms. Naomi Gibbs of "Hadassah Henna" who we have seen practicing her craft at several local events like "Painesville Party in the Park". Ms. Gibbs said that she she has found the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce to be "familial, friendly and warm".

The next day was Friday, June 1st, and we started our day by going to the City Club of Cleveland where the guest speaker was Ms. Salena Zito, a journalist who was one of the very few people to correctly call the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. She is now a CNN analyst, staff reporter and columnist for "The Washington Examiner" as well as co-author (with Mr. Brad Todd) of a book titled The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics. Detailed biography of Ms. Zito here

Although Ms. Zito is of a more conservative political viewpoint than we are, we really respected her for her devotion to her craft of probing journalism and her no-frills, honest manner which has enabled her feel comfortable talking and sharing with all classes of people. Whereas other reporters spent a relatively short time in a given community covering the 2016 election, Ms. Zito arranged to spend days in out-of-the-way places where then-candidate, now U.S. President Donald Trump would make appearances and hold rallies. She would travel not by air but by automobile (actually she drives a jeep), stay in local bed-and-breakfasts instead of fancy hotels, and patronize local establishments, talking and listening to people and really getting a handle on their values and needs.

Unlike others who saw these ruralists as unsophisticated peasants, Ms. Zito saw them as genuine human beings with genuine concerns who may not have agreed with President Trump on everything, but really saw him as a person who shared their priorities and would fight for their best interests unlike other establishment politicians of both political parties. A famous observation of hers concerning Trump (before he was elected) is that "the press takes him literally but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously but not literally" which, as we remember it, was a good summation of the attitudes so obvious in the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign.

To go further, Ms. Ziti contended that the media coverage of Trump rallies mostly focused on the outrageous remarks that Trump sometimes made but overlooked his overall speech and how, as she saw it, he was connecting with the attendees like no U.S. Presidential candidate has done since Bill Clinton.

Since she is from Pennsylvania and knew its political landscape quite well, Ms. Zito was able to successfully call the election due to a scenario she put together involving President Trump being able to carry ten swing counties in PA that voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012 but, due to her extensive coverage, she didn't believe would vote democratic in 2016. Whereas other pundits and analysts were focused mainly on Philadelphia, she kept her eyes on those ten counties and her insight proved to be correct: Trump carried Pennsylvania on election night and the states necessary for him to win fell into line.    

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Since she appeared to have a terrific understanding of today's political environment, we asked Ms. Zito exactly what kind of immigration reform does the U.S. public want? It seems to us that if the citizenry were asked if they were in favor of deporting the undocumented, they might say "yes" on a questionnaire, but if an undocumented person that they knew personally was threatend with deportation, they would rally in favor of that person. 

Ms. Zito replied that extensive surveys of voters showed that the top issues they were concerned about were social security cuts, the economy, and job growth. In fact, immigration was selected by only 7% of those surveyed to be a top issue. According to the conversations that she had with concerned citizens, it seems like deportation is only adamantly demanded if the subject is a serious lawbreaker. What's more, she believed that people really identified with the undocumented in terms of what they are willing to undergo to seek a better life for themselves and their families.

We felt somewhat relieved by that answer, although we were a bit confused because the issue of  immigration has been an incendiary focal point of the Trump administration. As to why Trump is still popular with his coalition, Ms. Zito hinted that the reasons might be that some statistics show unemployment is down; taxpayers in households that are barely making ends meet appreciate the amount of earnings (however small) they got to keep due to the revenue overhaul; many workers and business people alike are relieved that globalization is being slowed and regulations are being cut; and that North Korea is being challenged.

One thing that Ms. Ziti said that we believe is worthy of further exploration is that newsrooms need to become more diverse not only in terms of gender and race but in cultural backgrounds. In other words, a broader perspective would be offered if journalists from working class, rural/small city origins were granted more opportunities.

While we were there at the City Club, we shared a table with Ms. Maggie Brock who just became a member of the City Club and was attending her first forum. Although she had lived in Northeast Ohio in the first part of her life, Ms. Brock recently moved back here from Phoenix, where she lived for 30 years. We asked her about her profession and she told us that she teaches English online to young children living in China between the ages of four and ten years. In fact today is Children's Day in China and her pupils were looking forward to attending celebrations; one of  them is even going to Pizza Hut!

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison

Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC