A Solid Foundation

September 16, 2002
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Language in the November ballot proposal to re-steer the $300 million or so Michigan receives each year under the national tobacco settlement toward health care and anti-smoking programs would direct 1 percent of funds to the “Healthy Michigan Foundation.”

Our question for the week is: What is this “Healthy Michigan Foundation” that will get the money if voters in November approve a constitutional amendment? Or, more specifically, who is behind Healthy Michigan Foundation?

The folks at the Citizens for a Healthy Michigan — the people behind the ballot proposal — thought all along they had the answer.

But no so fast. They were beaten to the punch by a day — and chances are they can expect to see a bitter court fight over this one.

The problem? Well, it seems as though a few of the boys behind the group fighting the Healthy Michigan Amendment — calling it the “Un-healthy Michigan Amendment” — wanted to make a point about what they say in the utter lack of public accountability or public oversight on how the “Healthy Michigan Foundation” would spend the tobacco money. So they went and filed papers with the state incorporating their own organization known as, you guessed it, the “Healthy Michigan Foundation.”

We are the Healthy Michigan Foundation,” said DavidWaymire, a Lansing lobbyist who cooked up the scheme with fellow anti-proposal activists DavidDoyle and PeterEllsworth. They promise to allow plenty of sunshine on their organization if the amendment passes.

Oh, by the way, they hope it doesn’t.

Waymire agrees that the idea of handing over million of dollars to he, Ellsworth and Doyle is utterly absurd. His take is that it’s equally absurd to hand it over to the other “Healthy Michigan Foundation” organized by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association that’s been pushing the Michigan amendment.

“We pushed their snout away from the public trough,” Waymire said.

  • Not too much positive news has come from the accounting profession lately, so it’s only fair that when something pretty amazing happens, it makes the newspaper.

Take, for instance, the story of Grandville resident KyleCrockett

Crockett, who this year received his degree in accounting from Grand Valley State University, in May took the 2002 Uniform CPA Examination and tallied the highest score in Michigan.

For his efforts, Crockett received the prestigious Michigan Association of Certified Public Accounts William A. Paton Award, which recognizes first-time candidates who pass all four sections of the CPA exam with the highest grade in Michigan.

Oh, yeah. He also landed a job with KPMG LLP, where he will work as a staff accountant beginning in January.

  • What does a dollar buy these days? Maybe a cup of coffee. A couple items from a vending machine. Trinkets from a dollar store. A one-million-square-foot manufacturing facility.

Say what?

That’s the price tag pharmaceutical giant Bayer Corp. has placed on its plant in Elkhart, Ind. The facility includes laboratory, manufacturing, office and warehouse space.

What’s the catch?

Well, you’ve got to use it.

Bayer executives say the deal makes sense on several levels, even though commercial real estate broker Grubb & Ellis has pegged the facility’s worth at $12 million.

First, the deal would attract another significant employer to Elkhart within one year. Similar properties in the same price range take two to five years to sell.

Second, Bayer would save $7 million in annual maintenance costs multiplied by the number of years it would take to sell the building in the traditional way, or $20 million in demolition costs if company officials decided to go that route.

Bayer is pumping $15 million into its Elkhart campus to remodel, upgrade and consolidate its corporate offices and research and development labs, so it’s not leaving the area.

But it would like a new neighbor. Got any loose change?

  • MARVIN is taking vacation this week.

Michigan’s automated voice response system that jobless workers call once every two weeks in order to claim their unemployment benefits will be out of operation on Thursday and Friday due to some computer system maintenance.

“The downtime should not be a major inconvenience to our customers, as those claiming unemployment benefits are scheduled to phone MARVIN at specific times on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” said JackWheatley, director of the Bureau of Workers’ & Unemployment Compensation. “Thursdays and Fridays are always make-up days when a jobless worker can call MARVIN if they miss calling in at their normal appointment time and day.”

Wheatley said MARVIN gets 87,000 calls a week, with about 17,000 of those coming on Thursdays and Fridays.           

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