Time to put all the cards on the table

June 25, 2012
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It’s alive! The endless lawsuit trying to prevent (and now, to close) the Gun Lake Casino, that is.

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected motions by the Gun Lake Tribe and U.S. government to dismiss David Patchak’s lawsuit on procedural grounds.

Patchak, a former Wayland Township trustee, is being represented by Warner Norcross & Judd, which describes him as a “concerned Wayland citizen.”

WNJ says the federal government violated federal law by taking land into trust for the Gun Lake Tribe so that it could open a casino.

The ruling means the case will probably be heard by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The tribe said the Supreme Court decision was not based on the merits of the case but “simply a procedural decision.”

WNJ attorneys said they were “pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed that Mr. Patchak is entitled to his day in court.”

What some people would really like to know is: Who is paying those legal fees to WNJ?

Patchak won’t talk to the media, and WNJ won’t talk about it, either. In fact, a PR representative for WNJ, when issuing the WNJ press release June 16, said right up front: “We are not doing phone or in-person interviews.”

A few years ago, there was a report in The Grand Rapids Press that linked the Blue Chip Casino in Indiana with payments of Patchak’s legal fees.

Jim Nye, a spokesperson for the tribe, said he doesn’t think any Blue Chip people are still paying Patchak’s legal fees. He thinks the dough may be coming from some of the people who made up the 23 Is Enough group, which originally opposed the casino.

The Gun Lake Casino finally opened in February 2010.

“The public has a right to know who is actually behind this suit. Everyone knows that David Patchak doesn’t have the financial ability to pay for this lawsuit,” said Nye.

Gym dandy

Doreen Bolhuis, who spoke to Rotary Club of Grand Rapids last week, doesn’t necessarily count her success by the dollar.

The president and CEO of Gymco Inc. derives much more satisfaction from creating a healthy business culture and providing a physical outlet for children to reach their fullest potential.

Judging by her Rotary presentation, Bolhuis is hitting on all cylinders. Speaking on the subject of corporate culture, Bolhuis presented a multi-point plan covering everything from mission and values, to training, teamwork and the oft-undervalued effectiveness of praise.

During the Q&A session, Mike Lloyd, former editor of The Grand Rapids Press, asked Bolhuis what she used to measure success “at the end of the week.” Later, Rotarians Mark Muller and Mike Hampton related stories of their developmentally challenged young grandchildren who had progressed remarkably when participating in the Gymco program.

“That’s what constitutes success!” Bolhuis responded.

Want another measure of success? Bolhuis told Rotarians that Gymco would be opening its first satellite location, in partnership with Celebration Cinema, this October. It will be a scaled-down version of the current facility off East Paris Avenue SE, but will employ the same principles and methods that Bolhuis and crew have found to be so successful.

Fond farewell

The city of Grand Rapids is losing its strongest advocate for social equality.

Ingrid Scott-Weekley has decided to retire after 23 years of holding a key post at City Hall. She headed the city’s Equal Opportunity office for most of those years and played an important role in fostering the advancement of subcontracting firms owned by minorities and women. She is closing out her city career as managing director of administrative services.

Before joining the city, Scott-Weekley brought her law degree from California here and first began to make an impact in the area as an attorney at Legal Aid of Western Michigan. She won the Floyd Skinner Justice Award, and the Business Journal tabbed her as one of the 50 most influential women in the area.

“To really know this lady is to know she is an advocate to the core. She has been the conscience of the city,” said Mayor George Heartwell in the city’s tribute to her last week, which included a dozen long-stemmed roses and a standing ovation.

“I’m honored. I’m overwhelmed. I’m nearly moved to tears — but not enough to stay,” said Scott-Weekley with an appreciative smile. “I’m looking forward to retirement.”

On tap

It was only a matter of time before two of West Michigan’s favorite pastimes — drinking beer and raising money for a good cause — joined forces.

One of the region’s newest breweries, White Flame in Hudsonville, is partnering with the Van Andel Institute to roll out the Hops for Hope campaign. A dollar from every pint sold of Hooterville craft beer will be donated to a fund for breast cancer research at VAI. The program runs through Sept. 22.

Longtime West Michigan residents will get the “Hooterville” reference. If you don’t, you’re just going to have to ask.

Pam Spaeth, national director of development at VAI, said the fundraiser is in line with the institute’s Purple Community — 100% Hope initiative that brings communities together to raise awareness about cancer, celebrate survivors, honor loved ones who have passed away, and support cancer research. She said 100 percent of the proceeds raised will go directly to research at VAI.

So that’s what a national director of development does!

Melting pot

Sister publication Grand Rapids Magazine’s annual City Guide, out on newsstands this week, has an engaging feature written by Terri Finch Hamilton that looks at a broader world view and the new waves of immigration that are encouraging Grand Rapidians to experience diverse cultures.

She notes the marked increase in the region’s Hispanic population and spends time chatting with members of the local Joy Luck Club and Minnie Morey, president of the West Michigan Asian American Association.

Finch Hamilton makes the case that Grand Rapids truly is a melting pot benefiting from the presence of a number of diverse cultures.

But sometimes we don’t realize what we have until it smacks us in the face — or, more specifically, the mouth.

Michael Linder, chief sales and marketing officer for SDI Consulting LLC, was enjoying a Grand Rapids original — the free Blues on the Mall show at Rosa Parks Circle — when he decided to grab a bite to eat.

“Caught the blues last night … and had a pork/Asian/burrito. Yes, a pork/Asian/burrito in Grand Rapids, Michigan!”

Even Kim Boyer-McLaughlin, the new director of inclusion and community leadership for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, would be proud of that one.

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