Idol Thoughts

March 21, 2005
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Here’s just one more example of where reality TV has taken the American public.

The smash TV show “American Idol” asks viewers to call in and vote for their favorite crooners in a made-for-TV singing contest. A couple of mouthy judges, SimonCowall and RandyJackson, weigh in on the merits of each contestant and a considerate judge, PaulaAbdul, adds her two cents too.

The Business Journal’s Web site, GRBJ.com, isn’t affiliated with any celebrity judges, but it looks like some Idol trickery is afoot just the same.

Last week’s online survey asked readers to choose from one of five options for the former City Centre parking ramp. By Tuesday evening, a proposal from Chicago’s RSC & Associates, marketed locally by SamCummings and Second Story Properties, had collected 56 votes. The Division & Fulton LLC plan, a $29 million project called

City Centre Place
, had 2 votes at that time.

Just 24 hours later, however, the Division & Fulton plan had garnered 104 total votes while the RSC plan, which includes a jazz club, bookstore and billiard parlor, had 58. By Thursday afternoon, Division & Fulton led 116-70.

“Obviously, someone is really trying to send a message,” said Journal Publisher JohnZwarensteyn. “They must think people are paying close attention to this survey.”

Maybe the city’s business advocate, SusanShannon, can continue this contest using the telephone. Here’s a suggestion using the “American Idol” theme: Have them call 1-866-RAMP and then add 01, 02, 03, 04 or 05 to the number, depending on the desired project. RyanSeacrest can tell them where to send text messages.

  • As part of its ninth annual Once In a Blue Moon fundraising gala, the Alliance for Health presented three West Michigan leaders with its inaugural Hillman Awards.

Named in honor of retired Senior U.S. District Judge Douglas W. Hillman of Hillman Commission fame, the awards recognize advocates of health care within business, the medical profession and the community.

For his individual efforts to educate and organize the community against tobacco and obesity, Michigan Medical PC Medical Director Thomas Peterson, M.D., accepted the award for the medical profession, then took the opportunity in front of an audience of very influential people to continue that advocacy.

“Fifty percent of deaths today are the result of lifestyle choices,” he said. “These are very, very important problems. This is not something that we as physicians can fix by ourselves.

“It needs to be a community effort,” he said. “This is the first epidemic we created ourselves, and to fix it we need a combined effort by business, legislature, the health-care community, media and many, many organizations.”

Business advocate award recipient James Hackett, president of Steelcase, was one of two of the three award recipients not present to accept the award.

The other: former Kent Health Plan president, the late Chuck Zech

The youngest of his three daughters, Kara Zech, accepted the award in his stead, explaining her father’s initial reaction to receiving the award. In doing so, she read an e-mail from Zech to Business Journal Editor Carole Valade, who had called him with the news in December.

“Dear Carole…

You and the stars converged at the same time! I was, when you phoned, working on securing local contributions for federal match dollars for health-care services for indigent adults in KentCounty

Of course, I thought that you and Carol (VanAndel) were calling to ask my help on the award. I would be delighted to do so. Everything then became blurred as I somehow gleaned that you were asking me to accept such a distinguished award. I did what any guy I know would do … I cried!

You simply overwhelmed me and surprised me totally. I am greatly humbled, but I am honored to accept the award, especially because it points to the needed value in our community for advocacy. You and the Business Journal do this so well. And the Alliance for Health, and others.

Advocacy can be our greatest gift to each other and to our society, and so I will always think of this Hillman Award for Advocacy at the county level as a hallmark for me … and hopefully thousands of individuals who are better off because organizations and persons took the time, made the effort to celebrate life and health, and to help others to do so, too.

God Bless you and Carol and all who touched this wonderful subject of community advocacy.

Merry Christmas! Chuck”

Kara’s award acceptance was a powerful moment, one that happens only Once In A Blue Moon.

  • Details, details … details

It looks like the International Basketball League is ready to tip off its inaugural season April 8, except for one thing — referees.

“The IBL is still looking for interested, qualified referees to officiate the Grand Rapids Flight home games,” said KevinLiles, director of media relations. He said only refs with some college-game experience need apply, and that each IBL game needs three referees.

Boy, where are TedHillary, DonnieEdwards and ErnieCryer when you need them? Call (866) IBL-GAME to apply.

  • A new group at CalvinCollege called “Meeting Business Alumni,” or MBA for short, will kick off activities on March 23 with a talk called “Christian Leadership in a Secular Workplace” by 1985 Calvin graduate MichelleVanDyke, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank, Western Michigan

This event will be held from 7:30 to 9 a.m. in the President’s Dining Room at the PrinceConferenceCenter

  • Has anyone else heard that the site for Fred Meijer’s voted-down wildlife park at Grand Rapids Golf Club might once again become home to a public links? Just wondering. Too bad most of the equipment was sold last year.    

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