Its Time To Party

August 9, 2002
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When the bus filled with local government officials leaves tomorrow for Lansing to voice their displeasure over Gov. JohnEngler’s veto of revenue sharing, it’s safe to say state Sen. GlennSteil won’t be on it.

He might be under it.

The Grand Rapids legislator is the senate’s majority caucus chairman, the head of the Republican Party locally, a rumored candidate for mayor of Grand Rapids — and an Engler yes-man.

Amid the firestorm of political fallout surrounding Engler’s (some say sneaky) decision to torpedo almost $850 million in revenue sharing for townships, cities and counties, one man is standing tall at the good guv’s side, ready to take a bullet if need be. That man is Steil.

In fact, Steil is brandishing his saber, ready to hack off all comers who claim the governor’s idea is silly, spiteful and malicious to local government, not to mention short-sighted, vengeful and typical of a lame-duck legislator who has lost sight of his constituency.

Steil’s first thrust was to ask majority leader Dan DeGrow to stand with him and not allow a vote in the senate on the override of the governor’s veto.

To that effect, he penned the following missive:

“I have received several recent letters and statement regarding Gov. Engler’s veto of the statutory portion of revenue sharing. I am asking you to consider the following:

“John Engler has been a tremendous governor. His years in office have been marked by Republican success and a real and lasting positive legacy for our state. All of you have been integral parts of this success, but Governor Engler has been our leader and the impetus behind our accomplishment. We have perhaps taken issue with our governor’s methods at times, but we have always believed and helped to lead, and have met with just reward.

“The current efforts underway to override our governor’s action weaken us as a team and as a party. One might speculate at what the outcome of John Engler’s veto will be, but experience after experience in the past tells me that we should follow our governor.”

Steil goes on to say that the legislature should have done its job and cut the budget, but because that wasn’t done, Engler was left with few options and had to do the dirty work himself to support legislators’ fiscal obligations.

Right.

Some bemoan the fact that West Michigan is sending its best and brightest to Lansing, fearing that politicians who cut their teeth on local issues will become mindless clones who follow party policy once they reach the Capitol.

Memo to BillHardiman, Kentwood’s mayor and some say hand-picked successor to Steil: Keep your distance and keep your head.

And stop having your picture taken with yes-men.

  • When asked to take a working vacation in Washington, Verne Barry said he only needed to think for a minute, and then accepted. Barry will join the head of the White House Office for Faith Based Initiatives to discuss the recent $650,000 grant Hope Network has been given from the United States Department of Labor.

“They called me up and asked me to go, and I thought, ‘What an opportunity.’ So I of course said yes,” said Barry.

Barry will head to Washington this fall and he will bring with him a host of ideas and examples that are working well in West Michigan. And maybe places like Hope Network will become models for the rest of the nation.

  • In the spirit of East meets West, here’s a quick notice to techies (and other business types) who want to hear what the weather’s like at the top of the mountain.

Microsoft CEO SteveBallmer will address the Detroit Economic Club on Aug. 29.

The event begins with a press conference at 11 a.m., followed by a luncheon at 11:30 a.m.

“We are excited by the opportunity to have Steve Ballmer launch our 69th season,” said BethChappell, president of the Detroit Economic Club. “His track record of success and Microsoft’s significant influence on global technology make a very powerful combination.”

Plus, Ballmer is a Detroit-area native.

“I’m always eager to return to Detroit where I spent my formative years,” said Ballmer. “I also look forward to sharing Microsoft’s mission. This is not just a fluffy statement of principles, but really a call to action.”

Ballmer will deliver the keynote address to the 2,400-member club.

The luncheon is open by registration to members and guests. The cost of the event is $30 for members and $45 for guests. Contact the Detroit Economic Club at www.econclub.org or toll free at 866-4ECONCLUB (866-432-6625) for additional details.

  • Where’s the safest bank in West Michigan? It’s the Huntington branch in Lowell.

Why? Because it has a police department located in it.

Last Friday, city staffers and the entire police department pulled up stakes in the 93-year-old City Hall building while the structure undergoes a yearlong renovation.

The relocation will make Huntington quite possibly the safest bank in the country because the city employees — including all 16 cops — will be moving to available space in the Huntington Bank building at 414 East Main St.

Recent consolidation of the bank’s clerical services freed up enough space to make the bank the perfect site for the city’s temporary office needs.

It also helped that Lowell’s mayor pro tem is ChuckMyers, Huntington’s vice president in charge of the local bank.

And just so Myers isn’t accused of being a yes-man, he abstained from all the votes regarding the Huntington/Lowell relationship.

Too bad. That make’s him a poor candidate for state legislature. 

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