News Column

Gonzales and Lizárraga Speak Out

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But every few years, we need to revisit the processes. The election process is one, but the credentialing process is another. We can make the process more user-friendly. But it has always been open, with the procedures in writing and available in advance.


HB: Do you still plan to appoint a task force to study the election process?
JRG: Done. The task force is chaired by Scott Flores, USHCC vice-chairman [and CEO of Colorado-based Die Cut Technologies]. Each region will appoint one member to the task force to ensure inclusion. Once the task force comes out with its recommendations, they will be circulated organization-wide. Then the board will take a look at them, make its recommendations, and circulate it again.


HB: How did Scott Flores become vice-chairman? Does the chairman select the vice-chairman, or is he elected by the board?
JRG: Scott Flores was elected by the board. [Under the election process] before the board meeting, people submit paperwork on their intentions. When I was elected to the board, four people ran for chairman: Ray Arvizu, David Lizárraga, George Franco, and myself. Other people filed in the election of the vice-chair, and Scott Flores won.


HB: Before the Los Angeles convention, the USHCC board was working to release some of the chamber's financial information to the membership. What is the status of that initiative?
JRG: The annual report available online has a few financial highlights. Right now the [auditing] process is complete. We wanted make sure the convention revenue was included, because it's a big factor. The preliminary [auditor's opinion] letter has been faxed to me. To what extent additional information will be released, I don't know.


HB: Is the information from the convention all the organization plans to disclose, or is there more to come? Does the board plan to revisit financial accountability, especially in light of the proposed profit-sharing arrangements?
JRG: On the financial disclosure issue, we have completed the audit. We have a favorable letter from the auditors. The board will see this information at the [USHCC strategic planning] retreat in January. We haven't seen the numbers yet, but all indications are that they look good. Any decision to release more information would be taken up by the board.


HB: What about USHCC media ventures. Does the board exercise any oversight of the ventures, and do you see any changes this year?
JRG: The board monitors media ventures; we ask about the TV show at every board meeting. The magazine has just been launched, so it's kind of early to comment on that. On the TV show, it's positive in that it's now in its third year. We're in 90 markets, and we have solid advertisers. So we have projected profits for Hispanics Today in the coming year.


HB: Any other comments you'd like to add?
JRG: Communication is at an all-time high. The responsiveness is there. And this board recognizes the need for it. Also, I'd like to emphasize projects in the works [that] will give members more value for their membership. In particular, I'm excited about developing programs in which chambers can participate in the revenues.




THE MAN WHO STARTED IT ALL

David Lizarraga
David Lizárraga found himself at the center of the election controversy when the USHCC disqualified him from board service. Now he has emerged as a leader of the Coalition of Hispanic Chambers for Fairness and Inclusion, a group hoping to change the USHCC's relationships with its members and with Corporate America.

Mr. Lizárraga is CEO of the nonprofit TELACU (The East Los Angeles Community Union) and vice-chairman of LINC (Latino Initiatives for the Next Century). Mr. Lizárraga spoke with Hispanic Business by telephone from his Los Angeles office.

HB: What are some of the issues the coalition hopes to tackle?
DL: The frustrations that led to the formation of the coalition stem from the apparent inability of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber to reach down to its membership – in regard to Los Angeles, the LBA and the California Hispanic Chamber. [They] were hosts [of the USHCC convention], and California Chamber felt that they weren't included in the process [of organizing the convention].

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