By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
It was my idea that the Alabama Education Association (AEA) adopt the advertising campaign, “I am AEA.”
The campaign was designed to show the pride of our teachers and all those who work within the education system, and to also challenge the false portrait painted by those who would use this organization as a foil for political purposes.
Much has been made over the past few years of the advertising this publication has received from the AEA. Lately many have speculated over their absence from these pages.
We at the Alabama Political Reporter have been grateful to have the AEA as a premiere advertiser over the last two years. We hope in the future to provide them a vehicle from which to promote their message, as we would any entity or business.
We are a commercial news organization and welcome all legitimate businesses who have an interest in reaching our faithful readers.
However, we are especially grateful to the AEA, not only for their willingness to advertise on our site, but for the work they do on behalf of the State’s educators and their support staff.
In recent years, the AEA has virtually stood alone as the sole counterweight to those who would diminish or completely silence the voices of public education. They have also stood as a balance to the so-called pro-business groups that would remove millions from education and retirement savings.
On a personal note, the AEA has been willing to advertise with us when most pulled their advertising dollars because of fear of retaliation over stories we printed concerning Speaker Mike Hubbard.
Those stories, now proven factual by the 23 felony indictments against Hubbard, were never a attack on the merits of their accuracy, Hubbard and his allies attacked the motives of the messenger.
This publication, nor its staff, has ever had a contract with AEA. We have simply supplied advertising.
Of course, this has always been a weak and dishonest punch thrown by lightweight contenders who are in Hubbard’s service.
When I sat with Dr. Henry Mabry to discuss the placement of advertising by AEA, we discussed the downside for each of us. Before I could tell him that he was buying space and not us, Henry said, “I want to be clear, I will never ask you to publish a favorable story about us, I will only ask you to be fair.”
He kept his word.
Over the years, Henry Mabry has become my friend. Our wives are as close as sisters, and his children are dear to us beyond words. It is sad that in the petty world of State politics people cannot have friends without those relationships being portrayed as nefarious. Those who do not know the Mabry’s do not understand what special people they are; they are kind, generous, loving and the epitome of a Christian, Conservative, Alabama family.
From a business standpoint, the AEA has been an excellent customer. From a political point of view, they are invaluable to good government in this State.
On behalf of all of us at the Alabama Political Reporter, we wish to thank the AEA Board, its members, employees, and all those associated with the AEA for the work they do everyday on behalf of our educators and children and our State.
Again, on a personal level, I want to thank them for standing with us when few others had the courage.
We pray that your voice and mission will not be diminished and that your members will thrive and prosper as you continue to battle for public education in our State.