Crisis at hand, teamwork crucial

November 10, 2008
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Every business president in America is working through daunting economic issues. It is a time of great change and challenge and therefore likely to be a time of great innovation and invention.

Every president in America is fighting to keep budgets intact and find new revenue opportunities, but they will not likely to do so by jumping prices or adding new employee benefits.

Every president in America is watching for opportunities to create new alliances, partnerships or mergers. It is part of survival and growth.

Every president in America must demand that government leaders do likewise.

Partisanship across the country became the only agenda for government leaders, and the result is painfully felt in Michigan. Blind partisanship has been devastating to one political party, even while led by its most famous “maverick.” That lesson must be etched on the office door of the dangerous U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, lest she believe it will have a different result for her.

The elements of partisanship have been a particular accelerator in the decline of Michigan’s economy. The inability of the Michigan Legislature (let alone the governor) to even put an agenda together is abhorrent. Constituents are long past frustrated; they became vocally outraged long before Nov. 4.

The more than 600 business leaders from across Michigan attending the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Regional Policy Conference made that abundantly clear. As former Sen. Ken Sikkema, R-Grand Rapids, flatly told business leaders that discussion of the Michigan Business Tax was “off the table,” the leaders stood and told him they would be heard, and then became facilitators of the discussion. It was the top priority of five set by the policy conference attendees.

The bad behavior of legislators was punished by Michigan’s electorate, creating greater challenges than those that existed prior to Nov. 4. The Center for Michigan has long warned of the pending disenfranchisement. The group, led by DTE Energy Senior Vice President Paul Hillegonds, Meijer President and CEO Mark Murray, Detroit Renaissance President Doug Rothwell, Marygrove College President Glenda Price and Kalamazoo Valley Community College President Marilyn Schlack, noted in its 2008 policy paper issued in May: “It is vital that Michigan’s next generation of leaders cross the aisle, work together and put the state’s interests above party politics.”  Its report, based on more than 175 meetings statewide with citizens and business and education leaders, outlines a common ground vision, agenda, strategies and action steps from an unprecedented nonpartisan citizenship effort.

Voters across the country last week provided the example when they decided rather overwhelmingly to cross party lines. Both presidential hopeful John McCain and President-elect Barack Obama on Nov. 4 eloquently requested others to work as one team, and pledged themselves to work together. These are crisis times. These are times of great innovation and invention, of partnerships and mergers.

Those preparing to take the oath of office must heed the outcry.

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