Year of the Rooster

July 25, 2005
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He must be polling well as the Republican front runner, in the minds of Democrats. Why else would the attacks be so frequent for a silly season not yet launched?

GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos is picking up more ink from the Dems than the Republicans, all to create quick association between the name DeVos and C-h-i-n-a. The second week of DeVos/China sound bites has DeVos spokesman John Truscott “admitting” that while the former Alticor president (when it was still called Amway) was at the helm, 1,400 jobs were “eliminated.” And the Dems suggest those jobs were “outsourced” to China, because Amway invested in the distribution centers in that country. Michigan Democratic Party chief Mark Brewer is even passing out fortune cookies to reporters (the fortune indicates DeVos will outsource your job). He may or may not be able to so malign DeVos that others in the Republican field become Primary voter preferences, none of whom have similar name recognition.

Those along the shore of Lake Michigan, however, were more intrigued by the appearance of Truscott, who served as former Gov. John Engler’s press secretary throughout his terms in office. And as for DeVos’ “sudden” interest in politics, be reminded that DeVos was considering a bid for the U.S. Senate in the early `90s, after leaving Amway and establishing the Windquest business with wife, Betsy DeVos. When Rich DeVos began treatment for a heart ailment, Dick returned to the family business, and Betsy wound her way into leadership of the Michigan Republican Party.

  • Speaking of Engler: The former governor sits on the board of directors for Universal Forest Products, which celebrated its 50th business anniversary last week with a tent party for a thousand or so close friends and clients at the East Beltline headquarters. “Ambassador” shuttle buses from school and church parking lots helped guests stay dry during the downpour that initially deluged the revelers. UFPI chairman and former Ambassador to Italy Peter Secchia is said to bleed green and white, so Michigan State University was well represented, along with his politician friends.
  • The Business Journal this week reports on Health Hill, and those holding the real estate in the Life Sciences Central corridor. Questions remain as to where MSU might locate its College of Human Medicine — when — that is added to the formula.

There have long been rumors that the Grand Rapids Press, owned by an out-state company not headquartered in China, might be moving from its Michigan Street address, and there has been speculation of it being an adequate site for MSU. The story is on B3, with lively quotes from Blue Bridge Ventures owner Jack Buchanan and Press Publisher Danny Gaydou.

  • Vernie likes it. And like the cereal chomping Mikey, if he likes it, everybody likes it. U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers last week said President George Bush’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge John Roberts Jr., pleased him, and that Ehlers was “looking forward to learning more about him.” In the meantime Ehlers called for quick approval of Roberts’ nomination.
  • The Jager Group unveiled its kooky Americana campaign, “Only in America,” last week during a ceremony at Calder Plaza with Mayor George Heartwell

The Outdoor Advertising Association of America selected Jager Group to create the public service campaign in order to promote unity among Americans.

In conjunction with ViaCom, Lamar and the mayor’s office, that campaign now also includes two West Michigan-specific boards.

“Given the fact that we were speaking to basically any American, this campaign presented a very unique challenge,” said Rob Jackson, Jager senior art director. “We set out to find that one truth that everyone could relate to and appreciate, regardless of backgrounds or beliefs.”

The result is a multiple-choice format featuring choices like Republican Party, Democratic Party, Toga Party and the correct answer, “All of the Above,” to illustrate the range of diversity that can be found “Only in America.”

Unveiled at the OAAA’s 2005 National Convention and Trade Show, “Only in America” is now being offered as a public service campaign to outdoor companies nationwide. Billboards are already beginning to surface across the country.

  • Expect a lot of hoopla, and consumption, starting at Van Andel Arena in October when the Grand Rapids Griffins drop the puck on their 10th season on Saturday the 15th. The AHL franchise, owned by Dan and Pamella DeVos and David Van Andel, plans to hold 10 nights of “awesome pre-game shows, celebrity appearances (besides Griff?), on-ice entertainment (the Dynamite Lady?), commemorative jerseys, giveaways, and many more surprises” to celebrate its tenure in town.

The Griffins played their first home date on Oct. 11, 1996, a 3-1 loss to Rich DeVos’ now defunct Orlando Solar Bears. Since that crammed arena game, fans have swallowed 127,000 gallons of soda, 100,000 gallons of beer, 150,000 pretzels, 200,000 hot dogs, 175,000 pounds of French, er, freedom, fries and 15,000 gallons of ice cream. (Good thing Grand Action ordered the wide seats for the lower bowl. But seats in the upper bowl are sagging a bit.)

The Griffins welcomed their three-millionth fan last season, on Feb. 26th to be exact. This year, the franchise will honor those who have been season-ticket holders from the beginning with a special mural that will be hung on the arena concourse. We, of course, hope they name names.       

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