Petrogram - Winter 2009 - (Page 27)

Barrister’s COUNSEL Common Ground, Common Interest and the Common Good c ouple of years ago, FPM A members and guests were treated to an enlightening convention program by Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel, editors of the bi-weekly series Common Ground; Bridging the Partisan Divide in Washington. Their most recent article, appearing in the October 1 ediMike Huey tion of USA Today, focuses on finding “common ground” in times of crisis, which, I believe, is not only relevant in Washington politics, but is particularly relevant to business and professional organizations. Businesses, including petroleum marketers, engineering and architectural firms, contractors, developers, real estate agents, appraisers, etc., have been in crisis mode for more than a year. We have experienced a collapse of the real estate market; a collapse of the stock market; a near collapse of the banking system; a catastrophic state budget revenue shortfall; and a near collapse of the entire U.S. economy. For those in the petroleum industry, these “collapses” have resulted in a lack of real estate financing for continued growth of operations; a lack of business loans for operations; substantially reduced contamination cleanup funds; employee layoffs; location closures (due to inability to comply with UST upgrade requirements); and a host of other horrors. It is no wonder that everyone is uptight, disillusioned and maybe downright angry. Our world has been turned upside down in a matter of months. And what do we do when things go wrong? We blame someone else: It’s the Republicans’ fault. No, it’s those Democrats who have gotten us into this mess. It’s the Florida Legislature’s fault (maybe the state is required to operate with a balanced budget, but it should have balanced it on someone else’s back – not by reducing monies for the cleanup program or taxing cigarettes). It’s the association’s fault for allowing the Legislature to tax cigarettes, reduce cleanup funding and impose all those other rules and regulations. During these chaotic times, business and professional organizations must stay away from the blame game. Having the opportunity to represent a variety of business and professional associations and coalitions, I can report that, without exception, these groups are reeling from the current business and political climate, and their members are uptight, disillusioned and angry. Crisis leads to chaos, and chaos leads to anarchy, not just in the government context, but within the context of business organizations. At times like these, I believe Thomas and Beckel’s observations about the chaos in Washington are on the mark. They note in their article “…I suppose that’s what we’ve gotten away from in this country is allowing honest disagreements over the issues that concern us all. We should listen, debate, listen some more – and then make a decision for the common good. Then we should all be able to live with that.” Following that advice, I am suggesting to the business and professional organizations that, during these chaotic times, we stay away from the blame game. We need to recognize that we all have a common interest in improving our business climate; recognize that we have a common interest in legislative and agency issues; and, therefore, recognize that we have a common interest in maintaining strong business and professional associations. As for FPMA in particular, I have stated many times that this association is the finest group of folks I know, and it is a force to be reckoned with – before state and local agencies, the Florida Legislature and business adversaries. Now is the time for all FPMA members to rededicate themselves to the “common ground” that exists between its members. If we do this, our best days are ahead of us. ❍ Mike Huey is general counsel for the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. He has been engaged in the area of petroleum marketing law for more than 30 years. Huey is a partner in the statewide law firm of GrayRobinson and practices in the Tallahassee office. He can be reached at 850-577-9090 or Petrogram | Winter 2009 |

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Petrogram - Winter 2009

Petrogram - Winter 2009
President’s Perspective
2010 FPMA Patron Members
Enviro Corner
Danger Ahead: Hometown Democracy
Out & About the Industry
Insurance Issues
Drop and Swap, Fishing and Dogs
Barrister’s Counsel
Index of Advertisers/

Petrogram - Winter 2009