“Let’s take one incredibly hard issue and prove we can solve it“
Giant headline front page,–The Birmingham News February 28, 2012, “Let’s take one incredibly hard issue and prove we can solve it.”
The article then quotes Johnny Johns, the then Chairman of the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA)…
“Johnny Johns, the Protective Life Corp. Chairman, president and CEO, gave a call of arms of sorts when he said this to 28 political, business and civic leaders who had gathered at The Birmingham News to discuss how to tackle metro Birmingham’s most pressing problems.”
“…So we all stand off and we talk, talk, talk…Let’s take one incredibly hard issue and prove we can solve it through compromise…after acknowledging that he was frustrated by years of failing to make progress toward solving the regions persistent issues.”
Well, it’s been almost a year and where’s that issue?
I’m not saying the BBA hasn’t tried—it has.
There’s not a greater leader than Johnny Johns and there’s not an organization that tries harder than the BBA. But they can’t win.
Since that call to arms, the BBA put tremendous time and resources to help Jefferson County avoid bankruptcy.
Then they gallantly attempted to resurrect the occupational tax—but that ended in failure too.
Why does our State Legislature have the power to control the finances of Jefferson County? And why can a single State Senator or a few State Legislators have the power to veto local legislation?
The corporate leadership says it’s impossible to fix government structure–so let’s not talk about it.
Actually it’s a waste of time to not to try to fix our government structure.
I’m not proposing unified county/city government. That might or might not be right for us. It’s true we are competing with cities like Nashville, Jacksonville, Louisville, and Charlotte with regional government, but there are plenty of other tweaks we could make.
The BBA paid a lot of money to an organization to develop a plan of action (Blue Print Birmingham). One of the significant, but not surprising findings, was too many government entities.
So we can try to fix the symptoms or we can take “one incredibly hard issue like government structure and prove we can solve it.”
Then maybe we can begin our comeback.
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David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Marketing and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (ONB), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).