A Change Of Seasons

October 5, 2002
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The Grand Rapids mayoral election is just around the corner.

Or, that’s the impression one would get based on the political punching going on in River City.

GeorgeHeartwell pulled the equivalent of an end run this week when announcing that he will seek the city’s top spot in next year’s general election.

Wow, you’d think the city has been without a real mayoral race for a dozen years or so.

But Heartwell’s move sent ripples through the other camps that thought the first thing candidates did was form “exploratory” committees.

So that leaves pols such as Glenn Steil and Scott Bowen exploring the possibilities as Heartwell gears up a real campaign.

Both have been reported as saying Heartwell jumped the gun and that it’s too early to announce.

Ah, but who was caught flat-footed by maneuver?

Now it seems Steil is scrambling to get back his friends (and supporters) who, thinking the senator wouldn’t be running, pledged their allegiance to Heartwell, who had the savvy to get it in writing and then print it. In West Michigan, one’s word is as good as gold.

Heartwell lists among his supporters a broad spectrum of people who run the political and ethnic gamut.

His initial list of backers includes an all-star lineup: Mary Alice Williams, PatrickMilesJr., MickiBenz, LaurieGardner, StevenHeacock, WinIrwin, JohnJackoboice, EllenJames, Rabbi AlbertLewis, EugeneProctor, LeviRickert, LindaSamuelson, FranciscoVega, and BobWoodrick, just to name a few.

Many of those on the list are staunch Republicans, and although the mayoral race is (supposed to be) nonpartisan, Steil is the leader of the local GOP.

But why wasn’t Steil inclined to run, at least initially? Because his wife asked him not to.

A change of heart on his wife’s part, however, is allowing Glenn to come out and play with the rest of the boys.

Now he’s got some ground to make up. And statements alluding to his ability to bring more state funding to Grand Rapids as mayor don’t hold water. Remember, he’s already a state senator.

As for Bowen, he was still “exploring” his options as of late last week. Meanwhile, the mayoral race sails toward November 2003. Normally, he who hesitates is lost, but in this race, there’s plenty of time to get back in it.

Can’t wait until GRMAYOR JohnLogie changes course and decides that he wants another term.

And all this hubbub, by the way, is over a part-time job.

  • The mayor’s race is actually benign, however, when compared to West Michigan Favorite Son DickPosthumus’ run for governor against JenniferGranholm

Now it’s getting ugly on the state level — and between two such good-looking people, too.

The Republicans claim Granholm will be shifting just about every penny in the state’s coffers to Detroit, as well as building every state office building in the eastern suburbs.

Their proof is a memo from Detroit Mayor KwameKilpatrick to Granholm pretty much stating that that is what he expects.

But the Dems claim Jenny never got the note, so it’s not her fault. And his massive mayoralness claims the same — it was never sent.

But that isn’t stopping Dick from pounding Jenny on TV.

See Dick hammer Jenny. See Jenny fight back.

And it all plays out on TV screens every night.

  • So is there anything that can be done to get to the bottom of the he-said-she-said political advertising campaign?

In a word: No.

“What the public doesn’t realize is that political advertising is exempted from the BBB Code of Advertising, which is a non-legal, self-regulated ‘guideline’ for honest advertising,” said KenVanderMeeden, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan.

The problem is that political ads were thought to be short-term advertising that would be over and done with before monitoring agencies like the BBB could investigate false claims. Vander Meeden said political ads were never thought to be an ongoing problem and the cast of candidates was thought to have higher principles in past elections.

“Political advertising revenue for the media is a major source of income during the campaign window,” he said. “Candidates use agencies and PR firms from all over the country to develop hard-hitting, sometimes negative campaigns designed to do one thing — win the election.”

Vander Meeden said few candidates are aware of the voluntary Code of Advertising standards, or choose not to follow them for one reason or another.

To that end, Vander Meeden has his own advice.

“Integrity in political advertising should be an important ingredient in electing state and national officials who will control trillions of taxpayers’ dollars with their decisions. The BBB can only encourage the candidates to be 110 percent honest and verifiable with their claims; we cannot be their conscience. If all candidates spoke only about their own position, rather than attacking their opponent’s position, we would all be better off,” he said.

See Dick and Jenny fight.

  • Word has it that now that Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos are once again entering the downtown real estate game, we can expect to see an offer to build a convention hotel on Calder Plaza, across from DeVos Place.

Don’t be surprised to see a proposed 23-story, 395-room hotel that would displace the county and city offices, and then see both entities take five minutes to agree to the plan in an effort to get a much-needed hotel built on the site.

Administrators from both entities would agree to move to Olds Manor by next weekend.

Days Inn’s Bob Sullivan probably would say he welcomes the “competition” to the downtown hotel industry.

No word yet on whether any GRCC architectural students would have problems with the plan.           

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