Something New

December 27, 2004
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The New Year might bring some new respect to West Michigan if rumors swirling around the nation's capital are substantiated.

According to the Drudge Report (and MattDrudge is right more often than not), U.S. Rep. PeterHoekstra, R-Holland, is on the "short list" at the White House for the new position of director of national intelligence.

Editorial staffers at the Business Journal noticed that Hoekstra seemed "preoccupied" over the past several weeks, even during a significant victory in one of his pet projects, Federal Prison Industries reform.

Maybe the intelligence post is on his mind.

Anyway, Hoekstra is said to be facing competition from PorterGoss, Gov. TomKean, Gen. MichaelHayden, JohnLehman, Sen. JoeLieberman and Rep. JaneHarman

  • This must be what it was like to sell TedBundy's home.

But the folks at Grubb & Ellis/Paramount are giving it the old college try.

The former home of CyberNET Group, at

25 S. Division Ave.
, is back on the market, and if you can get over its "history," it sounds like a pretty cool address.

"It certainly is one of a kind," said ChrisBeckering, an office adviser with Paramount. "(It) is one of the premier downtown properties on the market today."

The lavish lifestyle of CyberNET's late CEO, BartonWatson, has been well documented. Apparently, some of those trappings were enjoyed at the office, too.

Beckering said the six-floor building offers 54,000 square feet of "world-class design," with 28,000 square feet of it in move-in condition.

Cherry-wood crown molding is featured throughout, and the building is wired with the most advanced fiber optics and teleconference systems available.

Then there's the temperature-controlled wine cellar.

"This building was completely renovated in 1999 with an unparalleled focus on both form and function," Beckering said. "From the lighting systems to the acoustical treatments, this property reflects a pursuit of excellence throughout."

  • Speaking of the pursuit of excellence, did your small business launch an innovative service or product that earned revenue for the first time during 2004? If so, you may be eligible for a Small Business Innovation Award from the Small Business Association of Michigan in cooperation with the MichiganSmallBusiness & TechnologyCenter

The awards program, now in its 11th year, recognizes unique and remarkable services and products introduced each year. The entry deadline is Feb. 28. Call Alicia Hernandez at (800) 362-5461 for an entry form, or send an e-mail to amh@sbam.org Give it a shot; it's free.

  • We have no idea here whether Sam Walton was a believer or whether religious people comprise Wal-Mart's board, but that company's management never, ever, ever misses a marketing beat — or, in this case, the jingle of a Christmas bell.

Remember when the management of Target Stores earlier this year invited the Salvation Army to take its little red donation kettles elsewhere? Target reportedly feared that Christmas-oriented public charity might insult Muslims and Jews and militant agnostics.

Well, last week the Salvation Army announced it is receiving a matching gift commitment from Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

According to the Salvation Army, the Wal-Mart & Sam's Club Foundation pledged starting Dec. 17, to match customers' contributions made to Salvation Army red kettles at Wal-Mart's 3,600 stores, supercenters, neighborhood markets and Sam's Clubs through Christmas Eve, up to $1 million.

Salvation Army says the kettle contributions — which it has used locally throughout the program's 104-year history — will serve needy families in more than 9,000 communities across the country. And we bet some donors might patronize Wal-Mart just to serve a special Christmas message upon Target.

  • As reported in this week's story on page 3, Kent Beverage Co. Inc. President Kim Gary was one of only two representatives of the Michigan wholesale industry to make the trip to Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Supreme Court's Dec. 7 hearing of Michigan and New York's Internet wine lawsuits.

The cluster of cases stemming from Eleanor Heald vs. Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Juanita Swedenburg vs. Edward Kelley (of the New York State Liquor Authority) has attracted the interest of heavy hitters on both sides.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and Granholm, along with MothersAgainstDrunkDriving, the MichiganAssociationof Secondary School Principals and the Michigan Sheriff's Association, are on one side.

In the other corner are a mass of wine writers including plaintiffs Heald and Swedenburg, lawyer Ken Starr (of Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky fame), Garfield creator Jim Davis, and millions of dollars from California wineries.

"It was quite an experience," Gary said. "I was amazed at the knowledge the justices had of the situation. They knew it so well from both sides."

Representing the wine guys, former StanfordLawSchool dean Kathleen Sullivan was first up to bat.

"Their side went first and I thought they just hammered her," Gary said.

Next up was Michigan's solicitor general, Thomas Casey, and New York's Caitlin Halligan

"Then our people got up there," Gary said. "And I thought, oh God, we just got killed."

In one summary of the proceedings on slate.com, one of the most potent attacks by the court on either side came at the hands of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy

"Do you take the position that the state can permit only its own wines for mere protectionist reasons?" Kennedy asked of Casey and Halligan. "One thing is certain: The central purpose of the 21st Amendment was not to empower states to favor local industries by erecting barriers to competition."

Oh, one other thing: The MB&WWA has become a heavy contributor to the Granholm and Cox campaigns.

  • Grand Rapids Children's Museum Executive Director Teresa Thome wanted to reiterate some of the views expressed by some of her fellow committee members in the page 1 story on
    Division Avenue
    's planning forum.

"We're hoping for anything that slows down traffic," Thome said. "Anything that makes moms with strollers more comfortable walking around downtown is a positive for us.

"And not just that, but the name Division tends to be apropos. I think anything that helps eliminate that perception of the division is beneficial to downtown, no matter what side you're on."

At least it wasn't a middle-of-the-road statement. Happy New Year!    

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