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June 5, 2002
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Recall that the partners at Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett last year were able to negotiate an astoundingly rich lease agreement at Bridgewater Place. We hear said agreement included the option to put up their collective shingle, soon to be rising to Bridgewater heights, or Bridgewater Heights.

And will Law, Weathers & Richardson get their due on the face of the giant flashcube?

Now comes Warner, Norcross & Judd, holding lease in the (former) Old Kent Bank building where the sign will go blue for Fifth Third. Will they, too, get their sign up?

Some people worry downtown will suffer a domino effect as shingle makers seek the un-represented like some ambulance chaser…

  • When lawmakers talk in terms of “cost” regarding redistricting plans, it’s usually just so much political rhetoric.

But in the case of Sen. Ken Sikkema, money comes into play, too.

That’s because the cost of redistricting for Sikkema is that he must move his family from its Grandville home, following his decision to seek re-election to the State Senate. Redistricting in the Senate and House has shuffled some districts, including Sikkema’s. The plan that passed the state legislature includes Grandville and Sparta Township with an Ottawa County Senate district. Having served in the House for a dozen years and being elected to the Senate in 1999, Sikkema isn’t ready to give up his legislative career.

But in return for moving, he gets the wealth of Kent County: Ada, East Grand Rapids, Rockford, Cannon, Caledonia, Gaines, Byron … but not Cascade.

“Redistricting is never an easy process because you inevitably lose areas you’ve represented for a long period of time. The prospect of not representing Grandville is particularly difficult because it is my home and, at the end of my current term, I will have represented it in the state legislature for 16 years. It is also not easy to move a family even a short distance.”

  • If politics isn’t confusing enough, just sprinkle in a little bureaucracy for flavor.

Calling it a mistake that didn’t have to happen, Congressman Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland, chided Internal Revenue Service officials for errors in the calculations of tax rebates for more than 500,000 taxpayers. The mistakes showed up in notices the IRS mailed last week to inform taxpayers of the amount and date of their tax rebate.

Earlier this year, Hoekstra was one of the few Republicans to vote against spending $30 million the IRS claimed it needed to inform taxpayers of the tax rebate. The IRS argued before Congress that people receiving rebate checks would be confused and might flood the agency with calls about whether they could cash the checks.

“Only a bureaucrat could think people would not know to cash a tax-rebate check from the government,” Hoekstra said. “This mailing was a complete waste of taxpayer money, and now, to correct this blunder, they need to waste even more taxpayer money!

“This is a mistake that never had to happen, and it never would have if Congress hadn’t agreed to spending $30 million on this mailing.”

As a result of a computer glitch, the IRS erroneously mailed letters to half a million taxpayers informing them they will receive the maximum rebate of $300 for individuals and $600 for married couples. In many cases, Hoekstra said, the IRS concedes letters explaining the error will reach the taxpayer after they have received a smaller-than-expected rebate check.

“Talk about confusing,” Hoekstra said. “Imagine receiving a rebate check for less than the amount the government had just sent you a letter saying you were going to receive.

“I’m sure that will generate more than a few calls to the IRS.”

  • The fundraiser for Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Jennifer Granholm at Thousand Oaks County Club was a sellout, at least according to golfers trying to make their way to No. 19 last week.

Ahh, but lest you believe that’s how local Democrats are leaning, please note former Gov. James Blanchard had his way with them in the rusty ol’ days.

  •  Every industry has its curses, and journalism is no different. What gets to so many of us in this business are huge, indigestible gobs of words that must impress somebody, but not us and not, we’re sure, readers.

Here’s an example, fictitious but symptomatic, drawn from years of sufferance:

BORCULO, Mich — Terrance A. Boomstraw, President and CEO of Veeble Communications Corp., an Integrated Communications Solutions Provider offering facilities-based voice and data telecommunication services, Web hosting, design and development, and double-blind encryption services to small businesses in the Upper Midwest and Northeast, announced today establishing a strategic partnership with TeckNetWit, a Meadville, Pa.-based, wireless network Web whistles and bells solutions provider …

… and so on and on and on and on and on. The public relations people who foist these things on us are usually red-faced, muttering balefully, “The boss made us cram all that in the lead.”

Hey, bosses, get off the kids’ backs. You will never, ever, ever, ever hear Peter Jennings, Suzanne Geha, John Stossel, Juliet Dragos, or anybody else in any branch of the craft read such a sentence on the air. Nor could any newspaper or magazine editor permit such a pile-up on his pages. Oh, the information would get in, but in a logical, ordered and systematic way that helps readers stay awake.

Which would you rather read?

“Veeble Communications Corp. won the West Michigan Employer of the Year award last week.

Or…

Veeble Communications Corp., an Integrated Communications Solutions Provider offering facilities-based voice and data telecommunication services, Web hosting, design and development, and double-blind encryption services to small businesses in the Upper Midwest and Northeast, announced today that it has received the West Michigan Employer of the Year award…

Or how about in commercials?

“Say, Ed, speaking of your communications problems, do you know Veeble Communications Corp., an Integrated Communications Solutions Provider offers facilities-based voice and data telecommunication services, Web hosting, design and development, and double-blind encryption services to small businesses in the Upper Midwest and Northeast?”

Ed looks at him for a minute and then says, “No, but if you hum a few bars, maybe I can fake it.”

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