Street Talk

Street Talk: Sound off on energy and the environment

Faces in places.

February 15, 2013
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In his State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder said he wants public forums held around the state to gather input to guide public policymakers and the public as they plan for Michigan’s energy future.

The next forum will be Monday, Feb. 25, at GVSU’s Loosemore Auditorium, 401 W. Fulton St., from 1-5 p.m. The forums are hosted by Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman John D. Quackenbush and Michigan Energy Office Director Steve Bakkal.

Presentations will be made by the Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity, International Transmission Co., First Energy Solutions, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, and the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

No scheduled presentations by Consumers Energy or DTE …

The public is allowed to make statements in the second half of the four-hour forum, but people are asked to fill out a card with their name, affiliation (if any), and what they want to talk about for five minutes or less.

In his special message back in November, “Ensuring our Future: Energy and the Environment,” Snyder noted: “Michigan’s energy prices have been on a fast rise over the last few years.” He also talked about the drop in electricity demand in Michigan when the Great Recession hit, which actually increased rates. And he talked about the EPA regulations that added great cost to the operation of coal-fired power plants.

“How do we make Michigan even more energy efficient?” asked Snyder.

He has some ideas, of course, but Feb. 25 is your chance to talk.

On board

Carol Van Andel can add one more role to her long résumé of community service: Davenport University Board of Trustees member.

Davenport announced that Van Andel, the executive director of the David and Carol Van Andel Foundation, will be the newest addition to its board. Her membership takes effect in March.

“The addition of Carol further enhances an exceptional group already serving as trustees,” said Davenport President Richard Pappas. “Just last spring we honored Carol and her husband, David,with DU’s highest honor, the Peter C. Cook Excellence in Business Award, which recognizes exceptional leadership and service to the community. We’re excited Carol will now apply those attributes to help guide this university toward its ambitious vision for higher education.”

This is not Van Andel’s first time working in education. She is a member of her family’s Van Andel Education Institute Advisory Council as well as the Michigan Colleges Foundation. She also was a past president and board member at Ada Christian School Education Foundation.

“We are excited to have a leader of Carol Van Andel’s caliber join Davenport’s board of trustees,” said Davenport board chair Tracy Graham. “Her passion for education and for the state of Michigan makes her an ideal candidate to serve in this capacity, and I look forward to the many contributions she will make in her new role.”

Up with testosterone

Every evening during the nightly news, viewers see commercials extolling the benefits of testosterone replacement therapy.

Now Perrigo announces it is getting ready to begin making testosterone gel, a formula it says is comparable to AndroGel — a brand with estimated annual sales revenues of $700 million or more.

So what’s up with testosterone? Is it an advertising-driven fad, or a real pharmaceutical breakthrough that will improve life for all mankind?

We asked Dr. Phillip Wise, a longtime urologist and chair of the Kent County Medical Society and a principal at Urologic Consultants PC in Grand Rapids.

He offered some information, but first, we had to pledge to include his disclaimer:

“I am not dispensing medical advice. Nothing in this is to be construed as medical advice,” he said, and he would urge readers to talk to their doctor if they are interested in testosterone replacement therapy.

OK, with that out of the way, what’s up, doc? Wise pointed out that testosterone replacement therapy is nothing new: “It’s been around for decades.” What is relatively new, he said, are the delivery methods. Where once the only method of treatment was an injection, a testosterone patch was added — and now the gel.

Testosterone is highly regulated by the FDA and only available by prescription, because it is a drug that can be abused. After all, testosterone — the male sex hormone — is a steroid, the original anabolic-androgenic steroid, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

As noted on the NIDA website, anabolic steroids can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency such as delayed puberty, and diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer and AIDS. But some athletes, bodybuilders and others abuse these drugs in an attempt to enhance performance and/or improve physical appearance.

Wise said studies show that men who have low testosterone tend to have reduced muscle mass, are prone to osteoporotic fractures, decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction.

So, obviously, there are legitimate medical reasons for testosterone replacement therapy, but why all the advertising on television?

Wise noted that decades ago the FDA ended its ban on pharmaceutical advertising directly to consumers. “Now you are seeing what you get with that. You get a lot of money spent in the media,” he said.

And, he added, if a company has a patent on a popular method of getting a drug into the bloodstream, “they can make money on it.”

Like AbbVie’s AndroGel 1% — on which the patent will expire in 2016. And when it does, Perrigo will be ready.

Hill talk

Former Ambassador to Italy Peter Secchia noted last week the recent changes at the Van Andel Institute anchoring the Medical Mile-and-one-quarter. (See Street Talk, Feb. 11.)

In regard to the possibility of a greater emphasis on Parkinson’s disease and less focus on cancer research, Secchia had answers. Michigan State University (with its Secchia Center College of Human Medicine directly across the street from the VAI) “has 19 — count ’em, 19! — Parkinson’s researchers, and the VAI isn’t even talking to them. They have 19 researchers at MSU!”

Secchia was only slightly more excited about MSU’s victory over the University of Michigan’s basketball team last week. “Well, see, we expected to win,” said he.

Picture perfect

Experience Grand Rapids threw an impressive bash in an unfinished space in the Riverfront Plaza building last week, and packed in the old and new guard for a salute to Joseph A. Tomaselli. The just-retired, long-time Amway Hotel Properties president and CEO has been a co-creator of some of the city’s most notable projects and agencies.

For Tomaselli, the projects were sometimes akin to pushing boulders up a hill, but have given way to successes like Experience GR and increases in convention and visitor traffic.

Tomaselli also served on the Gerald R. Ford International airport board. Upon his retirement Jan. 1, The Right Place Inc President and CEO Birgit Klohs was appointed in his stead. Klohs returned from a vacation trip little more than two weeks ago and found her portrait staring back at her from the board photo gallery.

“Frightening,” said the always succinct Klohs. “I never like having my picture taken.” As Tomaselli approached her in the crowd, he noted, “I flew in yesterday and saw my portrait has already been replaced by yours. My body’s not even cold yet.”

Assume that he was only talking about the change in climate from his now southerly home.

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