It is as juvenile and immature as what you would see on a playground with children, only most of the children on a playground are better behaved than this. The two Tonys (Alexander and Hughes) seem to be taking their misdeeds and obvious inadequacies out on the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Alexander was fired in 2015 and threatened a wrongful termination lawsuit that never happened. Hughes, president of Beach Community Bank, after a tumultuous relationship with the Navarre Chamber, including opening an unauthorized bank account at his bank using the chamber’s employee identification number for the Military Affairs Committee of which he was the chairman. No money was missing – the problem was. 1.) Unauthorized 2) Unauthorized use of the chamber’s FEIN number and 3.) No one moves a committee’s money to a bank you own because of that pesky word – ethics.
When it was brought to his attention at a chamber board meeting, Hughes called the chairman of the board several reprehensible names and it ended with him saying he wouldn’t leave the meeting when asked and suggested the board call the Sheriff’s Office, and they did.
He withdrew his chamber membership and was not a member for four years until Tony Alexander became the executive director. This time, we aren’t sure what happened but we are witness to many childish emails going out in which Hughes states that the Chamber was being unreasonable. One area Hughes felt the chamber was unreasonable was the chamber’s social media policy. Hughes could write posts for the Military Affairs Committee (MAC) of which he – again – was chair. However, the chamber would approve all posts. Hughes sent out an email telling 60 MAC members – inaccurately – that he was told he could no longer post to the MAC Facebook page and that they removed his access. Hughes started his own unauthorized Facebook page complete with the Navarre Chamber logo. Hughes later sued the chamber for defamation of character based on second-hand knowledge and withdrew himself as the chamber representative for his business. He filed an individual membership application which was not accepted and now he falsely claims on social media that he was “expelled” from the Chamber.
Now, the Tonys want to start their own chamber while touting the need for unity. They couldn’t thrive in a professional and ethical chamber of commerce with a 40-year history – so they think they can save face by starting their own while obfuscating the facts of their troubled history at the legitimate Navarre Chamber of Commerce.
In an interview earlier this week, Judy Morehead, the executive director for the Chamber said that the Chamber is not crumbling. “Anyone that insinuates there are misappropriations or asks questions and was not given full disclosure, would be a question of their integrity – not the board’s,” she said.
Unfortunately some people believe everything they read on the internet or even what people say face to face. Tony Hughes is very masterful at crafting his narrative on Facebook and in person he is very charismatic. However, he is a bully and history has proven that if you are not touting his accomplishments and singing his praises, then he will settle the imaginary score. At the first board meeting when he ended up outside with the police, he looked around the room and noted every single person there. There were repercussions. At the most recent board meeting when his individual application for membership was not accepted, he sent out an email noting who voted for and against him. For those against, he included their place of business.
We reached out to Tony Alexander by phone and email with no response. We have questions that need to be answered. And a Chamber “Executive” won’t speak to the press? He spoke to other “media” outlets and all they did was repeat what he said. They didn’t read their own archives to see that they previously reported that he was fired from the Navarre Chamber. The website listed for the new group is navarrechamber.org. Was that designed to confuse people? Navarre Chamber’s website is navarrechamber.com. And to top it off, navarrechamber.org was owned by the NBACOC while Alexander was in charge of it – and surprise surprise, it wasn’t renewed. Perhaps part of his plan.
So, how does one create unity by dividing? Why is it the new group does not wish to be part of any solutions, but only create division? In an ironic way, it will only work to the benefit of the NBACOC because it will result in a more unified and solid Navarre Beach Area Chamber. When you challenge them and put them to the test, they will only evolve stronger and better. So an attempt to undermine the chamber will fail – and fail miserably.
In the end, it winds up looking like sour grapes and people recognize it for what it is – revenge. And anyone who wants to be a member of an organization born out of negativity and revenge is not looking to do what is best for their business or the community.
We urge the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to continue to hold its head high and move the organization forward. Do what you do best – provide your members with a voice, promote community development and enhance Navarre’s quality of life. We will all be better for it.