Hang Em High

June 10, 2002
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The old phrase “every dog has his day” has never sounded any sweeter than when it applies to Dennis Kozlowski

Dennis who?

You know Dennis, the former high-flying, deal-making CEO of global conglomerate Tyco International who resigned last week and was indicted the next day on charges that he conspired with art galleries in New York to avoid paying $1 million in sales taxes on purchases.

It’s the same Tyco International that owns A&E Products Group, which in April 1999 bought its chief rival in the production of garment hangars, the former Batts Inc. in Zeeland — and proceeded to immediately go to work destroying the 93-year-old company, close the Zeeland plants and put 539 people out of work.

Oh, that Dennis Kozlowski. How could we forget?

Grand Rapids could hear the gleeful laughter coming from the southwest the other day, as the good people of Zeeland enjoyed a few minutes of gloating about Mr. Kozlowski’s downfall.

The Business Journal joins in the cry that he receive as much consideration from the justice system as his corporation gave Zeeland four years ago, and wish him well in his possible jailhouse future.

Which leads us to the subject of corporate ethics, or in this case the lack thereof.

Lest anyone believe the shenanigans from the likes of Enron, Merrill Lynch, Dynergy, Waste Management and CMS Energy don’t affect you and your business, think again.

U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, drove the point home to a group of Muskegon business leaders recently while speaking during a Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

“Everybody in this room ought to be concerned about what’s going on in the business community. It’s unconscionable,” Hoekstra said.

The recent ethical lapses are bound to lead to more government regulations of business (show of hands, please, from anybody who’s in favor of that), Hoekstra said. He urged business leaders to be vigilant in holding their colleagues accountable for their ethical and moral conduct, especially when it comes to protecting the public trust they hold.

“In an environment like this you are going to see more and more rules come out and the people who should be most angry are the ethical businesses,” Hoekstra said.

  • It’s tough to get the word out: Grand Rapids businesses are aware of the diversity of this community, appreciate its growth in this regard and become downright excited about the new ideas born of such diversity. Still, no one can “make” people come to GR. Such was the problem for the all-inclusive Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce last week, whose leaders tried and tried to convince politicians and would-be politicians that they understand: Diversity equals Democrats.

Former Gov. James Blanchard was the only one of three democratic candidates for governor to attend the Chamber’s candidate question-and-answer session last week. And his party fellows are tough to attract for a moment of time in GR, no matter what office they seek. Chamber leaders say they are emphasizing to the state Democratic leadership that the invitations to share ideas in Grand Rapids are emphatic. Come on in, they won’t hurt you… (Though Chamber President JohnBrown admitted it would be tough to support any other gubernatorial candidate than homeboy Dick Posthumus.)

  • Grand Rapids Public Schools elections Monday provide the non-homestead millage renewal, without which the schools cannot operate, and a full roster of choices for the school board. Candidates took turns at a community school board forum at Jefferson Elementary School last Wednesday. All candidates maintained political correctness, except, of course, incumbent James Rinck

Asked why he was running, Rinck replied: “I’m re-running because I actually like the job, believe it or not.” He said he would make a big priority of developing trust in the district.

“We would not have the issue of passing the millage if we had not developed a culture of fear, distrust and backbiting in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.”

He questioned the wisdom of closing the relatively new Jefferson school while leaving open Dickinson, calling the latter a “pit full of asbestos.”

He said he wanted to establish a “Louis Dean Memorial Hotline” (in honor of interim board member LouisDean, who put his kid in a charter school after his complaints to GRPS went unaddressed.) The hotline would presumably serve those GRPS parents who can’t get through to school administrators.

He also exhorted the audience about voting, saying if more people had voted against Glenn Steil, whom he called a dumb state senator, they wouldn’t have the problems they have in the district.

  • The Stanley Cup came to Grand Rapids last week. Here are some things it didn’t mention to the hundreds of hockey fans who ventured to the Grand Center.

The 35-pound trophy, which is almost three feet tall, was purchased in 1892 for 10 guineas ($48.67 at the time).

There are 2,116 names inscribed on the Cup representing the names of the players, coaches and team personnel of the winners.

It travels 250 days a year and has logged more than 400,000 miles of travel over the last five seasons.

Each member of the winning team gets the Cup for a day to do with as he pleases. Because of that, the Cup has been a guest of GeorgeBush’s and BillClinton’s at the White House, appeared on the Late Show with DavidLetterman, been invited to opening day at Yankee Stadium and visited the Kremlin in Moscow.

On the more creative side, it also has been used as a baptismal font.

  • Oops. Last week Street Talk conveyed golf sponsor congratulations to an entity referred to as Randy Berger. That would, of course, be the combo of real people, Randy Hagerman and Matt Berger

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