By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
It was a “subdued” gathering, noted individuals who attended to 2017 Business Council of Alabama (BCA) 2017, Governmental Affairs Conference. Others called it a “BillyFeast” or “Canary’s Canard.” But by all accounts, it was three days of BCA’s CEO Billy Canary trying to save his job.
Several Legislators did not attend the gathering this year. Some were uninvited, and other choose to sit it out rather than be associated with Canary. As one lawmaker said, “Billy’s a dead man walking.” But, there is concern that Canary has stacked the Board with Lackey’s who do not understand politics enough to show him the door.
Despite Alabama Powers Company’s withdrawing its support and US Senator Richard Shelby saying Canary is no longer welcome in his Senate office, Canary remains defiant.
But as political consultant Jack Campbell recently stated on, The Voice of Alabama Politics, “Alabama Power has always been BCA’s biggest funder/supporter.” Campbell said, “Them pulling out is indicative to me that they [Alabama Power] have had enough of the current leadership.”
Conference goers said they were deluged with speakers praising Canary ad nauseam. One said, “You can talk all day about how a rattle snake doesn’t bite, or a skunk doesn’t stink, but that doesn’t make it so,” said a long-serving lawmaker.
However, certain attendees at the BCA affair (speaking on background) said Canary was overly gracious. “I’ve been to a lot of BCA conferences since Canary took the helm and I’ve never seen him be the ‘chief greeter,’ said one attendee. “I thought I might have stumbled into a high-end Walmart.”
One thing that seemed to be universal among those gathered at Point Clear was that Canary shamefully acted on the Autism Bill and that his heavy handed behavior before and after his loss was unseemly.
Strangely, Canary recognized House Speaker Mac McCutcheon and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh for their work on the infrastructure package that went nowhere during to 2017 Session.
Canary has made many enemies in the upper chamber of the State Legislature and has few friends left in the House. Jack Campbell also said on The V, “A BCA campaign contribution will not help you in 2018 when your opponent brings up the Autism Bill.”
During the 2017 Legislative Session, the BCA failed to deliver on its stated agenda. The once powerful business lobby’s infrastructure package collapsed, as did the latest Alabama Accountability Act changes.
Its team of lobbyists couldn’t stop the Anti-Gay Adoption Legislation sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo, R-Tuscaloosa, or the Autism Bill. Those two key pieces of Legislation, which many in the business community opposed, passed despite their best efforts.
For now, Canary hangs on to his role as BCA’s Chief, but his latest actions coupled with his involvement with former Speaker Mike Hubbard, who stands convicted on 12 Business Council of Alabama (BCA) 2017, Governmental Affairs Conference.
“He’s been looking for a job, but his performance over the last year and his close ties to Hubbard have scuttled his chances of gainful employment,” said a former ally with a sly smile.