Go home and get your act together!

Senator's Shelby and Sessions are always telling Birmingham to speak with one voice

Our BBA (Chamber of Commerce) takes a trip to Washington every year to visit our Alabama Senators and Congressmen and to lobby for legislation and money.

The BBA prepares a priority agenda and typically a small group of business leaders, politicians, and staff fly to DC to make their request.

Our congressional leaders are always very hospitable, take time to talk with us and answer our questions.

But every year we typically hear the same story, “There are multiple groups that come to Washington to speak with us from Birmingham and they all have different and competing requests.”

There are separate delegations from the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, Shelby County, UAB, and of course the BBA.

Artur Davis, when he was in Congress, told us that often the Jefferson County delegation and the City of Birmingham delegation made requests that contained not one single common item.

Our BBA also takes an annual trip to Montgomery to meet with our State Senators and Legislators.  Again there’s the same problem of competing groups making conflicting requests.

The end result is that the Birmingham region often gets overlooked.

Contrast that to Huntsville & Madison County, who fly to Washington on their annual trip with 150 to 200 representatives and a common agenda for their region.

When I was Chairman of the Chamber in 2005, there was an opportunity for representatives of the Chamber to meet with Governor Riley to request funding for our Dome Stadium.  It appeared we had financial commitments from Jefferson County and the City.  All we were lacking was money from the State.

Governor Riley told us he had talked with other business leaders and politicians from our region and there was no broad support for the stadium.

By the way, we’ve had the same lack of support for Highway 280 and numerous other projects because of the mixed messages we send.

The response from our politicians is always the same, “Go home, get your act together, and then come back and see us.”

It’s time we speak with a common voice.

David Sher’s goal is to create a conversation on how to fix our fragmented and dysfunctional local government.

David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Content 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).

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9 thoughts on “Go home and get your act together!”

  1. David, let me know if you need some help with this…I love to be involved in local decisions, etc.

  2. David:  You know, because I have shared it, how much I admire your efforts and YOU> class act that you are. “getting our act together”, however, seems to be sooooooooo hard because “one voice” is hard to make happen over the cacophony of  myopic interests coming from the “cities” that ring Birmingham seems to be next to impossible.  Again that seems (to me) to be the overriding problem.

    Mike Coffey    P.S. If I can join you to help resolve any issue, all you have let me know…I’ll follow you ANYWHERE!

    1. Mike, thanks for your kind remarks. One thing that would really be helpful would be to sign up for our e-mail newsletter and encourage others to do so. http://www.ComebackTown.com. We have over 2,100 people who have signed up so far. Then if we have an opportunity to take some action we will be able to mobilize a large group of people who want to move our community forward. People can opt out at any time. Thanks for all you do.

  3. David, we both know this will not happen until all of the politicians care more about Birmingham and Jefferson/Shelby County than their own political agenda.  May not happen in our lifetime.  Although I live in Shelby County I would be glad to help with your efforts.

    P.S. Thanks for upgrading your comment box – much better!

  4. David-

    Thanks for reminding us that when we are admiring the trees, we’re actually in a forest.  You are very much on point and we in Birmingham seem to have adopted an “oh that’s just the way we do it here” attitude rather than make the tough decisions required to encourage positive change.  I, like you attended a number of the “Big Trips” and was always envious of what others were able to accomplish through their “regional” associations.  I want to live in a city that other people admire for our accomplishments and future, not just our history.  Thank you for carrying the torch for all of us who really do want a better Birmingham! 

  5. A frustrating situation. We need a rallying point… a specific agenda item, with a common objective, that we can all rally around to start building momentum. I think the Business Leaders Roundtable group (LinkedIn) can be a significant part of the grass roots effort. WS

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