On The Run

May 6, 2003
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The "Run For The Roses" is done and the River Bank Run is right around the corner, which naturally leads to thoughts of another type of run.

Or so it would seem for those following the mayoral race in good old GR.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Italy and local political mucky-muck PeterSecchia apparently has thrown his support behind GeorgeHeartwell for the city's top slot. He said as much last Wednesday evening.

Why? "Because George is nonpartisan," says one insider.

Which means, in very Republican terms, that Heartwell is the least offensive liberal in the city.

But what of City Commissioner ScottBowen, who is said to still be considering a mayoral dash?

Well, if Bowen ever decides to run (now that he's not a judge), he will claim to be "bipartisan," apparently meaning he belongs to both parties. That's just too confusing for some longtime politicos.

  • Of course, you don't have to be a political veteran to be confused.

Just ask first-timer GlennSteilJr., who is still getting his feet wet in Lansing as a freshman representative.

Steil said he was in a heated discussion regarding funding for and the future of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. when he was "blindsided."

"We were talking about the (future of) MEDC when someone said something against it," Steil said. "And I was, like, 'hey, that came from my side of the aisle.'"

See, partisan politics isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when issues of "Merit" (scholarships) are involved.

But Steil said he will continue to fight the good fight for economic development.

"I was in the furniture business and made sales calls," he said. "I know what they're going through."

  • Speaking of the furniture industry, you'd think Pete Hoekstra would be happier now that President George W. Bush has indicated displeasure with Federal Prison Industries competition against the private sector.

But he isn't. Hoekstra notes that FPI, an arm of the Department of Justice, claims in its annual report to have increased sales 16 percent … a figure that includes a 24 percent increase in office furniture sales.

Accordingly the Holland Republican and former Herman Miller executive said, "The most recent annual report begs the question: Who within the FPI bureaucracy does not understand the language of the 1930 bill and the President's concern about the agency's impact on working Americans?"

He pointed out that when Congress created FPI 73 years ago, the law's language included the specific caution to "reduce to a minimum competition with private industry and free labor."

"It is obvious that the Department of Justice has forgotten that the state of Michigan even exists," Hoekstra said. "FPI's annual report indicates that it plans to increase employment by 30 percent over the next five years. How do I explain to companies in West Michigan that they cannot compete for business opportunities funded by their tax dollars?"

He noted that FPI points out that — unlike Steelcase, Herman Miller, Haworth and the like — it is exempt from property taxes and state and federal incomes taxes. And the pay of furniture-making federal prison inmates ranges from 23 cents to $1.15 per hour.

"I guess some within the Department of Justice would claim that this is their contribution to creating high-quality, high-paying jobs in America," Hoekstra said. "It is time for the Department of Justice to honor what the White House has laid out and get back on track before any more Americans lose their jobs."

  • One person who is gaining a new job (in addition to his old one) is RobertDugan of the law firm of Rhoades McKee, who on Thursday will be sworn in as the new president of the Grand Rapids Bar Association.

Dugan, 57, has practiced law in Grand Rapids for more than 30 years. He is a 1971 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, where he also received an undergraduate degree. His practice is primarily in business, real estate and estate planning.

Dugan is not new to the public service arena. He has served on the boards of numerous civic organizations, including Goodwill Industries, Grand Rapids Jaycees and the Michigan Environmental Protection Foundation. He also has been a member of numerous committees of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, having been a former president of the Young Lawyers Section, as well as trustee and treasurer of the organization.

Sounds like the bar is in safe hands for another year.

  • So, where is that little black dress, anyway? If you've seen the cute Goodwill commercials on TV recently, you're aware of the promo where a Goodwill driver is taking the perfect dress to one of Goodwill's retail stores, but he won't let on which one.

That's OK, because the dress is actually window dressing when it comes to this organization.

"Last year, more than 580,000 people nationwide, and 1,800 in the greater Grand Rapids area, benefited from Goodwill job-training programs and career services," said ArtHasse, board chair of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids. "We placed someone into a good job every two minutes of every business day. That person might be the teller at your bank, the teacher's aide at your child's school or the administrative assistant in your office. And they couldn't have made it without the support of the thousands of people who donate to Goodwill and shop in Goodwill stores."

See, that little black dress can make a lot of people look very good.           BJX

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