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It’s decision time for the Business Council of Alabama

The great U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf often remarked that far more danger lies in not making a decision than in the consequences that result from making a decision.

Here is the point at which the executive committee of the Business Council of Alabama finds itself. The executive committee is scheduled to convene tomorrow to consider whether to start a new chapter, under new leadership, or to maintain the organization’s status quo through inaction.

During the last several months, a steady stream of people have reached out to us because they were dissatisfied. And, if there is one thing we have learned from this information, it is to listen to people of influence.

It is our belief that three particular areas of concern require a decision for new leadership at the BCA

First, the fact of the matter is that over the last several years the organization’s effectiveness and influence have diminished significantly. We consider ourselves uniquely positioned to make an assessment here, and we have chronicled some of the organization’s deficiencies in the policy-making process. The inability to carry out the critical functions of advocacy should, by itself, lead to a decision for change.

However, we also understand that these things do not happen in a vacuum. Nearly all executive committee members have their own businesses to run. They are not involved in the day-to-day machinations of state government. It is possible that the only information they receive channels through the organization itself. In addition, several committee members have long-standing friendships with BCA President Billy Canary. It is natural that those relationships may shade their perspective on the current situation.

And so if our first area of concern does not resonate with BCA decision makers, for whatever reason, then we would point out the fact that Mr. Canary no longer has a working relationship with key Alabama elected officials. Among the things we have learned from those reaching out to us is the fact that Mr. Canary is no longer welcome in the offices of those with great influence in Alabama’s federal delegation and at the top of the Alabama State Legislature. By any measure, this renders BCA incredibly weak as it tries to participate in the process. We would submit that, in fact, it is a fatal flaw in the organization’s structure. We doubt that the executive committee would ever make a new hire of someone if the prospective candidate was unwelcome in the offices of such high-ranking elected officials.

If for some reason neither of these two concerns draw the BCA executive committee to a decision, we would think there is a final, practical consideration at work: the organization’s finances demand a decision. As we have previously detailed, the BCA’s financial health is in peril. Expenses are up, contributions are down, and this directly impacts the organization’s ability to function. Furthermore, if the members choose to maintain the status quo, several of the state’s largest employers may feel compelled to start a new, healthier organization to advocate on behalf of Alabama’s economy. BCA will become nothing more than a shell.

Our message to the executive committee is simple: please put the best interests of the organization first. You owe it to the organization, not just one person.

General Schwarzkopf made another observation about making decisions while in a position of leadership. He said, “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”

Mr. Canary has served the organization for more than fifteen years. Transition is never easy.

But it’s decision time.

The Yellowhammer Multimedia Executive Board is comprised of the owners of the company.


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