Saints Sinners

December 31, 2007
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It’s the time of year when it’s popular to reflect on the winners and losers from a year of news that rose to the top in the past 12 months. In our case, we are fond of labeling the guilty parties: Saints and Sinners.

The Saints among us in 2007 included:

Gerald R. Ford – for coming home.

Peter Secchia’s ability and foresight to give the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in Grand Rapids a name. He also funded the Secchia Institute of Culinary Arts at Grand Rapids Community College. Bravo!

Speaking of GRCC, college officials should be commended for showing ture grit and marching on after taking it in the chin from voters — twice.

Fusion Properties, living up to its name by renovating the abandoned LifeSavers plant in Holland.

JW Marriott and its Alticor/Amway partners for bringing world-class hospitality to Grand Rapids.

Muskegon Chamber of Commerce, also living up to its name by leading the latest efforts to revitalize downtown Muskegon.

Perrigo Corp. — want to know how to conduct an effective product recall effort? Ask the folks in Allegan, not the manufacturers in China.

Universal Insurance for recognizing a good thing when it sees it during challenging financial times and allowing itself to be acquired by Wells Fargo.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum, built on the blocks of some generous public and private financing considerations, and painting a revitalized picture of long-term artistic flair for generations to come.

Grand Rapids Ballet Company, the only one of its kind in Michigan, for setting the stage for more magnificent performances in its new venue.

The Grand Rapids Griffins/Detroit Red Wings for the preseason fan extravaganza at Van Andel Arena that put devotees of the big club in direct contact with their Hockeytown heroes — a marketing coup.

The Convention and Arena Authority’s plan for  a first-time wine festival it is planning will boost the industry’s impact on this state and create yet another downtown entertainment activity for attendees. Cheers.

Muskegon Mayor Steve Warmington and a cadre of Muskegon-area motorcyclists. The inaugural Muskegon Bike Time was a resounding success and promises to be a firm replacement for the crash-and-burn Muskegon Air Fair, another once-popular lakeshore activity that could no longer reach great heights.

Bing Goei. With the help of Goei and Eastern Floral and Gifts, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is hoping to provide tools for minoritites and women in business through the new International Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence. Goei, chairman of Eastern Floral, said part of the property he is developing as a new headquarters for his business at the former Kindel Furniture Co. site will be designated as paces for the center, which will in include a business incubator.

HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide in New York for the appointment of Maureen “Moe” Girkins as president and CEO of Zondervan. Beginning this week, Girkins will director Zondervan’s growth strategy and manage day-to-day operations, reporting to Jane Friedman, president and CEO of HarperCollins. Girkins said she has not had experience in publishing, but explained that the publishing industry “is becoming more and more digital, versus print, and I do have a lot of experience in digital technology.”

These were just some of the Sinners, believe it or not:

Dr. Robert W. Stokes, sentenced last week to a term of 126 months’ imprisonment on 31 counts of health care fraud. A licensed, board-certified dermatologist with offices in Grand Rapids and Greenville, he was convicted of the charges in April, well before the discovery of his alleged reuse of medical instruments intended for use on a single patient. Following the discovery, his offices were closed.

Clearwire and its “ability” to make Muskegon the only community with a successful digital divide program by sitting on the Grand Rapids Wireless Internet Initiative and sinking the Ottawa County network.

Comerica Inc. Can you say, “We’re waving goodbye and crossing the Mason/Dixie line for good?”

Duane Faust’s Rivergag mystery development and his decision to leave his clothes in Atlanta.

Oliver Evans, the Kendall College president who turned the school’s three-year-old, highly publicized plan to take over the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s vacant building into a hypothetical project at the 11th hour.

Michel Vorce, who proved that lenders learned nothing from Barton Watson’s CyberNet scam.

Peter Secchia, who showed the uncanny ability to sink the organization he helped lead for half a decade by deciding that casinos are bad only if they’re run by Native Americans.

Michigan legislators, a gang that embraced the Mike Tyson system of accounting: no budget, no revenue, no sense, no problem.

Seyferth, Spaulding, Tennyson. Why did the PR firm leave its ethics behind when it jumped into politics on behalf of Meijer Inc. in Acme Township? As the crisis management adage goes, “You can’t spin your way out of something you behaved your way into.” Principal Dan Spaulding’s public responses to the revelation that it had secretly organized a Township Board recall effort on behalf of the retailer: “No comment” and “I’m just a PR guy.”

Once again, the state Legislature for a lack of imagination and for shunning approval other forms of gambling such as off-track betting, online wagering and slots to help preserve the viability of the potentially lucrative horseracing industry, which rounded the turn for the final time at Great Lakes Downs in Muskegon.

And with that, we’re off to the races in ’08. Catch us if you can.

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