Busi­ness Coun­cil of Alabama at crit­i­cal cross­roads

Cherokee County Herald - - VIEWPOINTS -

the Na­tional Busi­ness Com­mu­nity, along with Alabama busi­ness lead­ers and leg­is­la­tors, the Busi­ness Coun­cil of Alabama was formed. The BCA grew to be­come the most pow­er­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion in Alabama.

When Bob Ri­ley be­came gover­nor in 2002, he or­ches­trated a game plan to take con­trol of the BCA. He suc­ceeded and put his boy, Billy Ca­nary, a Wash­ing­ton po­lit­i­cal in­sider in con­trol. Ca­nary was a po­lit­i­cal hack that would carry out dirty tricks and chi­canery for Ge­orge Bush and Karl Rowe.

Bob Ri­ley and Mike Hub­bard con­trolled the BCA through Billy Ca­nary. Ri­ley still con­tin­ues to pull the strings and make money. How­ever, ev­ery­thing points to Ca­nary’s days at the BCA com­ing to an end. There have been ru­mors of his demise for over a year. It ap­pears that it may oc­cur any day. For those of us who fought the bat­tles for busi­ness in Alabama and saw the birth and cre­ation of the BCA, that day is long over­due.

Un­der Ca­nary’s and Ri­ley’s reign BCA has aban­doned it’s mis­sion of sup­port­ing busi­ness and the gen­eral well-be­ing of the state and now, in the opin­ion of many, does more harm than good.

No one fa­mil­iar with the work­ings of the leg­is­la­ture will deny that Ca­nary has be­come largely in­ef­fec­tive in rep- re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of busi­ness in the leg­isla­tive process. For the past few years he has failed to pass an in­fra­struc­ture bill largely sup­ported by busi­ness across the state. This past ses­sion Ca­nary failed in his ef­forts to stop leg­is­la­tion that would re­quire in­sur­ance cov­er­age for some Autism re­lated is­sues. On the Autism mea­sure, Ca­nary could get only one vote for his po­si­tion on the Se­nate floor. Most GOP leg­is­la­tors vote against pro-busi­ness leg­is­la­tion be­cause of Ca­nary.

Billy Ca­nary’s lead­er­ship goes past sim­ply fail­ure and be­gins to en­ter the realm of caus­ing real harm to the state and the busi­nesses he rep­re­sents. Ca­nary once boasted of his po­si­tion on con­victed Speaker Mike Hub­bard’s “kitchen cabi­net.” How­ever, in the Hub­bard trial Ca­nary was less than con­vinc­ing on the stand as his mem­ory fades on is­sues dis­cussed with Hub­bard. Some of those is­sues were part and par­cel of the 12 felony con­vic­tions that re­moved Hub­bard from of­fice. Most folks ex­pected Ca­nary would be in­dicted with Hub­bard.

Now, BCA and Ca­nary face pos­si­ble in­volve­ment in the North Birm­ing­ham corruption in­ves­ti­ga­tion that has al­ready re­sulted in one House mem­ber’s con­fes­sion to crime.

Some ob­servers be­lieve the scan­dal sur­round­ing an anony­mous ethics com­plaint that scut­tled Dr. Craig Pouncey’s bid to be the State Su­per­in­ten­dent of Ed­u­ca­tion may lead back to Ca­nary.

The Board of the BCA and ev­ery­one con­cerned with the fu­ture of Alabama should be ask­ing why in the world Ca­nary has taken a once proud and ef­fec­tive or­ga­ni­za­tion into such con­tro­ver­sial is­sues that have so lit­tle to do with core busi­ness in­ter­ests. The an­swer is sim­ple — Billy Ca­nary has nu­mer­ous con­flicts of in­ter­est.

Dur­ing his ten­ure as Pres­i­dent of the BCA Ca­nary has con­tin­ued to main­tain out­side con­sult­ing con­tracts that pose clear con­flicts with his role at BCA. How­ever, this should come as no sur­prise since Billy Ca­nary’s home is New York.

Any or­ga­ni­za­tion that does not adapt ul­ti­mately can­not sur­vive. BCA is at a crit­i­cal cross­roads in its ex­is­tence. If the lead­er­ship of the or­ga­ni­za­tion does not re­place Ca­nary and move quickly to re­align BCA with the in­ter­ests of its mem­bers, its days as a vi­tal voice for Alabama Busi­ness may be over.

Steve Flow­ers is Alabama’s lead­ing po­lit­i­cal colum­nist. His weekly col­umn ap­pears in over 60 Alabama news­pa­pers. He served 16 years in the state leg­is­la­ture. Steve may be reached at www.steve­flow­ers. us.

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