How Cool Is This

March 7, 2005
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It's always nice when the dailies pick up on what's happening in Grand Rapids. Kind of puts a little oomph behind the Business Journal's continuing coverage.

For example, Thursday's Detroit Free Press carried an extremely complementary article about Grand Rapids, touching on everything from the Van Andel Museum Center carousel to the MayaLin-designed Rosa Parks Circle, and just about everything in between.

Along the way, The Freep quotes such Business Journal staples as GuyBazzani, SusanShannon, BarbKravitz and even AndyGuy of the Michigan Land Use Institute, which the Journal featured in a two-part series just a few weeks ago.

The consensus?

"The state's second-largest city has been getting cooler and cooler for more than a decade, rebuilding its decayed downtown and even opening a historical museum — the Van Andel — a sports and concert arena and a botanical gardens and sculpture park," writes PatriciaChargot in a column called Yak's Corner. "Now, it seems ready to leap, like a salmon struggling up the (Grand) river's Fish Ladder Sculpture."

But of course, you already knew that.

  • Here's something else you probably already knew. The local daily "broke" the story of a second tower on the West Bank, next to what Street Talk often calls "the flashcube," otherwise known as
    Bridgewater Place
    or, more recently, just "Varnum." And all the radio stations picked up on it Thursday morning.

Note to news directors: Pick up Street Talk each week (as the local daily does). That way, "news" of the new tower from RobertGrooters would have been available to you on Nov. 15.

Of 2004.

At that time, Grooters said his long-awaited second tower, for which a footprint already existed, would be constructed as … high-end condos.

  • Here's another memory test. Remember when that Italian national chain took up residence on the East Beltline and sooo liked the previous, local restaurant's name that they called the new, national eatery by the old, local's name?

Campagnia is rumored to have close. By the way, it was the late RobWoodrick who opened Campagnia following the success of another downtown hot spot, Bistro Bella Vita.

  • It looks like another Beltline eatery is on the move, too. The venerable Duba's Restaurant, which started life way back in 1949 as The Rocket Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, will be out of its current location by Sept. 17, as the property on which it sits has been sold.

The primo fine-dining establishment will show up at a new location, according to the Duba family, and will continue to host business meetings, private parties and wedding receptions, as well.

  • A story about the state's fiscal crisis on page 9 in today's Business Journal, in which a panel of financial folks basically say raising taxes is the best way out of this mess, is underscored by recent action in Lansing — and inaction in Grand Rapids.

In the story, TomClay, director of state government affairs for Citizens Research Council of Michigan, compares today's downturn to those of the late 1980s and early 1990s and points out that Michigan is suffering from a self-induced revenue shortfall.

"There is more involved here today than just the economy," Clay said. "There is a structure in the state government where spending is growing faster than revenues. There is not only a cyclical deficit but a structural deficit as well."

The city of Grand Rapids is tackling similar fiscal issues, not the least of which is a certain cut in revenue sharing from Lansing. So what's the solution? Well, Grand Rapids City Manager KurtKimball was quick to point out that the state recently spent $750,000 to hire a consultant to tell lawmakers how to get out of this fiscal mess. He then reported, with a straight face, that the city has opted to figure it out by itself, mostly by talking to taxpayers.

Maybe Kimball could charge lawmakers for that sage piece of advice. Lansing apparently is willing to pay for answers.

  • At least someone is following the money.

Two state lawmakers are being referred for possible prosecution due to alleged violations of election and campaign finance laws, Secretary of State TerriLynnLand said Thursday.

Land's action marks the first time that referrals have been made to the state attorney general because candidates allegedly falsified their post-election campaign finance compliance statements. Signing a compliance statement means candidates assert under oath that they filed every campaign finance disclosure document and paid all late fees that were outstanding at the time of signing.

The referrals cite state Reps. GeorgeCushingberry, LamarLemmonsIII and their campaign committees for repeatedly failing to file required campaign documents, and for submitting post-election campaign finance compliance statements declaring that they are meeting Michigan Campaign Finance Act requirements.

Land said Cushingberry has filed no reports for the entire 2004 election cycle. Lemmons filed a pre-primary campaign statement in July 2004 but submitted none of the remaining required reports until January 2005, avoiding all mandated disclosure after July 2004.

The Campaign Finance Act says that a candidate who fails to file two or more finance reports for more than 30 days is guilty of a misdemeanor. In addition, making a false declaration on a post-election campaign finance compliance statement is perjury under state election law, and is punishable by a fine or imprisonment.

While the Department of State always refers unresolved failure-to-file violations to the attorney general, these two referrals are the first involving falsified post-election campaign finance compliance statements, Land said.

She contends Cushingberry owes the state $4,500 for outstanding filing obligations and Lemmons owes the state $867.

Hey, every little bit helps.    

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