Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Alabama Power finally 'zaps' the Canary in the Drummond Mine: time to 'dissolve' the BCA…

 


Bill Britt (4/18/18 Alabama Political Reporter) stated current and former BCA members thought the board’s vote to demand Canary’s resignation was good news for the State’s future and those close to the process were angry Chairman Hand wanted to keep Canary until the fall. APR’s sources said this was an attempt for the BCA to further influence election outcomes. The plan was to control campaign donations and win enough races to stage a comeback. Hand seemed willing to risk everything protecting Canary, one source said other BCA board members saw no upside to challenging the seven most influential companies in the State to continue Canary’s largess. Some of the ‘seven sisters’ have in fact exited these past weeks.

A political operative who speaks regularly with individuals at BCA said staffers see the future as unclear if not fatal. “It’s time. The sooner we make this change, the better, is what people are saying,” the source said, within BCA, Canary has his loyalists, but it only goes so far. “We are at risk of losing our biggest members, which basically mean we are swirling around the toilet waiting for one more giant flush all because of this guy [Canary],” said a staffer. “I’m sorry, it’s time for a change,” as quoted in the APR article further noting another source who said these corporations may not immediately leave BCA altogether but would substantially reduce their dues payments to around $1,500 to $2,000 a year instead of the hundreds of thousands or millions they presently pay.

The APR article made a compelling forecast; if the threat came to fruition, it would cripple BCA at a critical time when Alabama is rebuilding after the failed leadership of Canary and his minions. Some of those demanding Canary’s resignation (most notable Alabama Power, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Regions - the only Fortune 500 Company headquartered in our State, last I checked) exiting leaves a ‘power vacuum. What will fill that vacuum is what political insiders, swamp monsters and other big govt. redistributionist are buzzing about as I type…

“What was amazing,” according to APR‘s person with intimate knowledge of the meeting, “is that there were executive board members who had no idea there was even a problem with Canary.” Over the last several years, Canary has painstakingly stacked the board with members who don’t pay attention to politics and believe Canary has been leveling with them on every issue. The ‘seven sisters’ voted to remove Canary but Chairman Hand and a few loyalists refused to act, concocting schemes to give Canary more time. Establishment apparatchiks of Riley, Inc. and the BCA (BIG Business Council of Alabama as Sen. Rice recently dubbed the organization) have shown great acumen circumventing the will of members and general welfare of our citizens. From my vantage point it seems many individuals are BCA members for insurance purposes (think Felon Hubbard getting well rewarded for mandating auto insurance) providing a decent revenue stream from those not paying attention to the corruption they’re subsidizing.

“If these guys give Canary a day beyond May, it shows that Canary and Hand have outfoxed the big players,” said one of APR‘s informers. In addition to prominent corporate leaders, the article claimed no secret US Sen. Richard “Cash-register” Shelby made his disdain for BCA’s leadership clear since being outed in Felon Hubbard e-mails. Shelby made it widely known Canary was no longer welcome in his office; loss of access means avenues to accomplish corporate welfare redistributions from the District of Corruption unlikely. “Sen. Shelby made calls letting folks know that he was done with Canary,” said a close advisor in the APR report. Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shelby is touted as one of the most powerful men in the country. Little surprise a big govt. Democrat turned Republican ‘public servant’ like Shelby had no problem colluding with the Canary, Hubbard, Riley, et al machine until Felon Hubbard e-mails released embarrassingly showed the harm Shelby has aided and abetted in our State. Sad how many think the redistributions they champion to specific groups do not harm the general welfare of citizens being taken from to subsidize the largess and fat paychecks to these political hacks and so-called economic developers.

Canary has reportedly been letting people know his days are numbered, as he positions himself for the most pay he extract out of BCA. The APR quoted a former BCA board member with, “He wants a big payout. What he deserves is to be reminded that Alabama is a right-to-work state something he’s always pushed on other folks.”

Columnist Steve Flowers (7/25/17) wrote about his tenure in the 1980s and 1990s State Legislature where the duopoly result was not as pronounced and political identity was either a big govt. conservative pro-business legislator or big govt. a liberal pro-union/pro-trial lawyer legislator. Weak willed legislators picked one side or the other ‘progressing’ us into the extremist mess we observe today. FIowers decided early to be on the side of business and took a leading role/sponsored most of the Tort Reform redistributive legislation. Readers can decide for themselves if the reform has been an improvement with individuals less accountable/responsible for their actions in the courts; nonetheless his tort reform activities (according to Flowers) led most observers to rate him an arch pro-business conservative.

While those like Flowers assert torts as the reason for BCAs birth/creation others have told me a more encompassing and important reason - proffering an environment to keep commerce regular to promote the general welfare of

citizens in our State instead of the specific interests of big business (corporate welfare recipients) trial lawyers, etc. Morphing from a more general welfare goal/mission (following in the path of other orgs like the AEA more interested in wealth transfers to a specific group over our general welfare) the BCA grew to become the most powerful organization in Alabama. Failed businessmen like Felon Hubbard, who could not survive except for corrupt activities believed their own rhetoric that somehow getting economic development type redistributions in their favour was an indicator of being an outstanding business person/entrepreneur. This ‘non-profit’ org grew out of control and extremely difficult to discipline in a State with such uncompetitive ballot access laws, hyper-gerrymandering, etc.

Flowers wrote, “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 who would carry out dirty tricks and chicanery for George W. Bush and Karl Rove. Bob Riley and Mike Hubbard controlled the BCA through Billy Canary. Riley still continues to pull the strings and make money. Under Canary’s and Riley’s reign, BCA has abandoned its mission of supporting business and the general well-being of the state and now, in the opinion of many, does more harm than good. Billy Canary’s leadership goes past simple 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.”

Columnist Flowers further explained, “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.” No doubt Canary (inserted by Boob Riley soon after his installation as Governor) and Felon Hubbard are kindred spirits in this regard.

Alabama Power withdrew from the BCA, "effective immediately," according to a letter from CEO Mark Crosswhite dated June 18th. Dennis Pillion (dpillion@al.com) cited the letter where Crosswhite wrote Alabama Power exited the powerful business group because the organization had "needlessly alienated federal and state officials, failed to communicate with its own members, squandered our collective corporate goodwill, allowed its financial health to decline, and become a divisive force in our State." The letter was addressed to BCA Chairman Perry Hand, stating the power company had expressed concerns with BCA leadership since August 2017, with "no meaningful response," and "At this point, further discussions would be fruitless and a waste of everyone's time." Crosswhite further explained Alabama Power was a founding member of the BCA, but the company has become "concerned that membership in the BCA has become a liability rather than a benefit." The BCA released to AL.com a letter addressed to Crosswhite in response to Alabama Power's decision, saying the utility had not been a member of the group since April because of nonpayment of dues… still no shortage of hubris in the BIG Business Council of Alabama’s upper level bureaucrats even as they see the ‘seven sisters’ disengage.

The exchange describes numerous conversations between Crosswhite and BCA leadership, in which the letter says Crosswhite "asked that the committee remove our President and CEO [William J. Canary] by May 1 or June 1." Political insiders intuit the importance of the dates with the election cycle. According to Pillion, the letter says the BCA Executive Committee was scheduled to meet this week to approve a "transition plan" aimed at "having a new CEO installed no later than January 1, 2019." The timing is important. This is a fight to the death to get an AG and appeals court judges to bailout Felon Hubbard and protect his unindicted coconspirators. Massive amounts the BCA plowed into the final days of the (Bentley installed) Marshall campaign to make sure two malleable candidates made the Republican primary run-off AG race speaks for itself. With the help of always last place Bedsole’s huge ‘I’m the Trumpiest’ ad blitz, the small government/anti-corruption voters easily duped by big govt. Democrats (like Regan, Shelby, Trump, et al) turned Republican rhetoric made sure the AG candidate who’s actually disciplined the BCA was boxed out. Now, it really doesn’t matter which of the three (King, Marshall or Siegleman) are installed, the cronyism of The Alabama Don and Bobbin’ for Dollars in Montgomery is safe… If BCA had not plowed hundreds of thousands into the Marshall campaign the final days before the primary, Martin gets into the run-off and you’d witness more than one fella turnin’ yella.

In spite of his rhetoric, there was no room for compromise - without the

corporate welfare queens and protectors of the Felon Hubbard gang remaining in power at the BCA, this massive campaign spending would not have happened. "I have worked to find areas of compromise, but you [Crosswhite] have made it clear that compromising is not an option," Hand said according to the AL.com report. They further quoted two Republican State senators affirming the withdrawal is a major blow for the BCA. "That's a big deal," Sen. Cam Ward [R-Alabaster] said. "That's a big seismic shift there. I think the question is now, where does the Power Company go? Do they create a whole new organization? Do they maybe join another organization out there? There was an assumption that when the Republicans took over the BCA got everything they wanted and that was never really the case. And a lot of that had to do with the changing nature of the Republican Party. You had a lot of populist folks who kind of honestly resented some of the ways that BCA may have tried to persuade them to vote for an issue one way or another."

Sen. Dick Brewbaker [R-Montgomery] noted BCA relationships with some lawmakers had become strained. He said (still to AL.com) BCA's support of Common Core curriculum standards in schools has also caused some friction. "Some of the positions they've taken on things that didn't have anything to do with business, whether it's Common Core, or autism, or issues like that, it generated a good bit of ill feeling among some Republicans. And I'm sure that hurt their ability to pass legislation in the state Senate," Brewbaker also affirmed losing Alabama Power membership is significant in the following quote. "If you're the on the board of the BCA -- and I'm sure the Southern Company is probably the biggest business interest that operates in Alabama, I can't think of a bigger one -- that is a huge deal."

Sen. Ward offers the most pressing question on the matter… where do the ‘seven sisters’ go? Decades ago Alabama Power/Southern Company were members of the Auburn Policy Research Center which was on its way to be advocate for the general welfare of our State until corrupt administrators captured by the Lowder/Felon Hubbard ‘public servant’ gang killed the Center and the successful econ program increasingly attacked by less productive faculty and champions of big govt. The deleterious spirit of not wanting to compete has grown strong roots on the Plains of Dixie. The two most notable in the fight to block “Billion Dollar Bob’s” Amendment One tax explosion and the ‘new and improved’ BIG Business Council of Alabama were John Rice in the traditional arena and Mark Bodenhausen on the emerging internet scene. Mark is no longer with us and dearly missed by those who remember how well he championed liberty against the big govt. extremists.

This leaves Sen. Rice who has been more effective than anyone else in our State at blocking and containing Big BCA extremism since the Riley/Felon Hubbard installation of coconspirator Canary in 2003. Some readers may recall my March 2017 Alabama Gazette column [http://www.alabamagazette.com/ story/2017/03/01/opinion/consider-the-olive-branch/993.html] to this end of getting the BCA back on their original mission of promoting the general welfare by keeping voluntary commerce regular in our State. In the Spirit of opening a dialog to facilitate a peaceful effort to move forward, Sen. Rice delivered the following quote:

“We all love to protect and promote our home state of Alabama as a good place to live, work, worship, play, become educated, marry, raise children, enjoy family life, start businesses, prosper, and retire. The problem with this theory is the governance and guides instilled in our state government have been designed of late to enrich a few and burden the remainder of Alabamians with low paying jobs, low expectations and low confidence in public schools, difficulty in establishing new business free from government favors or regulations, and expensive college degrees. This system exists by design of the newest political bullies who have the laws and rules written to accomplish these goals. Alabama has lost her gains in education scores, has become slow to track the economic gains of other states, and has seen its' elected officials become felons and corrupt to big business to the detriment of the remainder of the citizens. Now would be the time for those who control the money flowing to campaigns for Alabama's elected officials to take a strong look at the results of the past election cycles since 2010. The Business Council of Alabama and related big business associations who control PAC contributions and distributions are in control. They have pushed Common Core to the detriment of our children and families and now, big business owns the results and those results are not good. So for our friends in the business of politics in Alabama, look at your results. You own it. For our governor and legislative leaders, you are co-owners. Pray up Alabama.”

We have their answer. No civil dialogue between Rice and the BCA occurred that I know of; few have more sweat equity than Mr. Rice in the attempt to get the BCA he helped build back on course. More failed Riley/Siegelman business incentives and deleterious transfers impeding our State continue to proffer the usual contracting result. I observed Canary on the witness stand in my Lee County Circuit Court - he impressed me as one of the worst among the ‘public servants’ who testified on behalf of Felon Hubbard. It was foolish to think any of these political predators would change… If you’re looking for someone to shepherd the BCA toward promoting the general welfare again you may want to begin by allowing Rice to explain the history which built the BCA and her noble beginnings before it morphed into the destructive redistributive entity we observe today. If the ‘seven sisters’ want to charter a new no nonsense, truly non-profit organization, getting a short list of participants from Sen. Rice is a sound place to start.

 

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