With the changes at the Business Council of Alabama come a once in a generation opportunity to rebuild a, “stronger BCA and a better Alabama,” as stated by Alabama Power Company’s CEO, Mark Crosswhite, in announcing new leadership and governance for the floundering business organization.
Those business leaders who joined Crosswhite in the struggle to save BCA credit his quiet strength and unwavering resolve in what one insider calls, “The most important political coup in a decade.”
The primary goal moving forward is to reestablish BCA as the unified voice for business, according to insiders.
But first, the challenging work of cleaning up the mess left behind by former President and CEO Billy Canary must be addressed.
During restructuring conferences, it was discovered that recently at Canary’s direction $1.6 million was taken from BCA’s reserve account and spent.
Individuals close to the operation say that Canary and his people stonewalled, lied and hid information about BCA’s finances and day-to-day operations from its executive committee and members.
“They lied to everybody,” said an individual with knowledge of BCA’s operations under Canary, who asked not to be identified for this report. “They even lied to each other, so I guess you could say they were equal opportunity liars.”
Those lies kept many BCA members in the dark about the serious problems facing the group. They also kept Canary in power.
Crosswhite, who was selected to chair BCA’s new Executive Committee, has already tasked a member of the group with examining the organization’s finances to see what else might have been hidden during Canary’s tenure.
BCA’s new bylaws democratize the organization with an 11 member Executive Committee comprised of leaders from small, medium and large business entities.
Committee members say never again will BCA operate like an Eastern European oligarchy with Canary acting as supreme chieftain.
Under BCA’s new canons of operation, the president and CEO, as well as the chairman of the board, will answer to the Executive Committee.
Along with uncovering the actual state of BCA’s financial affairs will come a personnel and program review.
“Canary’s acolytes will need to go,” says a highly placed individual. “This is not a good time to have Billy Canary as a character reference on your resume.” Also on the chopping block will be programs like BEA, which was created as a quasi-education association that primarily worked to undermine public education.
For nearly 10 years, BCA has served as handmaiden to a Triumvirate consisting of Canary, former Gov. Bob Riley and then-Republican Party Chair and later House Speaker Mike Hubbard.
It is widely believed that Riley, Canary and Hubbard used BCA and the Republican Party as a way to control state government to enrich themselves. Their plans came undone like so many before them because they couldn’t master their greed and avarice according to those who once traveled with them. Hubbard is now a convicted felon, Canary is trying to build a lobbying group in Montgomery and Riley is marginalized with only a handful of loyalists remaining in the Gov. Kay Ivey administration.
Now comes the hard work of rebuilding BCA as an organization that represents businesses both large and small and not just the special interests of a few.
Those who participated in the effort to reclaim BCA believe the organization can be a force for good that represents both what is best in Alabama’s business community and also the state as a whole.