May 6, 2017
Local business advocacy and non-profit organization, Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA), sent out a May 2, 2018 email blast to its members, thanking those who attended the “Leaders of Industry” event hosted by the WBA the week before, and promoting its “Step Up for Business Advocacy” program. The email was signed by WBA’s recently hired Public Policy Director, Brett Bonner, who has been involved in Republican politics in Whatcom County for many years.
That email missive about the WBA’s “Step Up for Business Advocacy” program invited recipients to support that program by contributing money to it. In his email, Bonner summed up the program as “an easy way for business people in Whatcom County to support public policy that is good for their business, the local business climate, and to identify, evaluate and respond to public policy issues that may directly harm their business and the local economy.”
The email displayed two “Step Up Now!” buttons, each of which, when clicked on, take readers to a page with no text, and displaying only a button labeled, “I would like to step up for business advocacy.” When readers click on that button, they are taken to a page where they either can choose to contribute monthly from $25 to $500, or annually from $300 to $10,000. Members may also select a custom dollar amount to contribute monthly or annually for the Step Up program.
The part of Bonner’s May 2 email to WBA members that I found most problematic, read: “There’s strength in numbers. The WBA will STEP UP for your business and stick its own neck out on issues so you won’t have to do it alone. In fact, you’ll be supported by literally hundreds of other WBA members.”
Problematic, because the arbiter of what would constitute harmful or good public policy for businesses and the local economy appears to be WBA founder and President Tony Larson, who has been associated over the years with local Tea Party politics, and other arbiters could additionally be the WBA’s executive committee and board, some of which have come from companies such as BP Cherry Point, Western Refinery Services, Alcoa Intalco Works, Puget Sound Energy and others.
Do all of the “literally hundreds” of WBA members agree with the positions taken, on behalf of the WBA membership, on public policy issues by the organization’s president, Tony Larson, and the executive committee and board? […]