Save The Date

February 19, 2007
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It’s not quite the apocalyptic vision of Y2K, but the DST glitch could cause some severe annoyances.

According to Jason Sharp, a technology consultant with local tech firm C/D/H, a rewrite of Daylight Savings Time by the U.S. Congress could wreak computer havoc in the coming months.

In 2005, legislation was passed to lengthen the U.S. observation of DST in order to squeeze a little more light out of the day. The clock will get moved forward this year three weeks early, on March 11, as opposed to the traditional first Sunday in April. The small hand won’t be spun back until Nov. 4, a week later than the traditional last Sunday in October.

The problem is that programs like Microsoft Outlook are programmed to make the time switch on the traditional dates, so programs that depend on a computer’s internal clock — calendaring and scheduling, for example — won’t align with real time.

Worse yet, adjusting the computer clock could impact time zone and calendar settings.

“This could have very real implications for business systems built around a basic calendar function,” said Sharp. “IT people need to figure out how to get all their workstations, servers and calendaring software updated to reflect that change.”

Other applications likely to be impacted include mobile phones, automated environmental and security systems, and just-in-time manufacturing systems.

**Valentine’s Day marked downtown strip club (sort of) Showgirls Galleria’s transition from juice bar to full-fledged bar, as Mark London’s embattled club began pouring booze.

The city’s nudity ban should see its next day in court sometime later this spring, as attorneys from both sides will be filing briefs until the end of March.

Oddly enough, business at the downtown club has been satisfactory, London noted, even without liquor.

“Business has improved week-by-week, month-by-month,” he said. “We had been turning away half our customers without the liquor, but nudity hasn’t been a factor. Those people aren’t even showing up, they know about the ordinance and have been going elsewhere — Kalamazoo, Lansing, Muskegon.”

Nudity or no, London is now confident that his downtown venture will be a success. The continued viability of his Sensations club near Centerpointe Mall, however, is in question. Dancers are now lobbying for shifts downtown, and London expects sales at Showgirls Galleria will surpass Sensations in the coming months.

**An interesting problem is facing the folks at Herman Miller Inc.: The stock just keeps going up.

Just ask Executive Vice President of Operations Kenneth Goodson. He sold over 27,000 shares throughout the day on Feb. 1 for $38 to $38.50 (record highs), then cashed out 10,000 shares for $39.13 (another record) on Feb. 6. Vice President of Investor Relations Joe Nowicki pulled the trigger on 12,000 shares on Feb. 7 at $38.74 (the record at the time).

At 2 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, shares hit an all-time high of $40.48.

**In other furniture news, Haworth Inc. announced that its 2006 sales grew 7 percent to $1.48 billion, the company’s highest finish since 2001. The company reported solid growth in every geographic location and record sales in the Asia Pacific sector.

Interestingly, while there is still a huge gap between Haworth and the second tier West Michigan furniture companies (Trendway Corp., Nucraft, Knape & Vogt), Haworth seems to have lost some ground to its Lakeshore neighbor with the $40 stock. Historically neck-and-neck, Haworth hasn’t outsold Herman Miller since 2000.

**It’s going to be a busy week for Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema.

As part of her quest to build a temporary, bare-bones parking lot at Fulton Street and Division Avenue, Ritsema will make her first stop on Wednesday for a pitch to the Historic Preservation Commission, where she’ll use likely use the word “temporary” enough times to convince bystanders it’s her version of the meep-meep language.

Then on Thursday, it’s off to the Planning Commission with the hope of getting approval on the cheap. The lot won’t have much in the way of landscaping and it won’t be fenced, two things planners usually require.

Ritsema said a no-frills lot can be built for $158,000, a figure about $100,000 less than her January estimate, if she can use the recycled asphalt that the city rotomills from streets each spring for the foundation.

From 80 to 100 metered spaces would dot the unattended lot. And if everyone puts money in the meters, Ritsema said she could recoup her department’s investment in six months.

There is, however, a possible glitch that could keep the lot from being built. Namely, a potentially short lifespan — like maybe only three months.

“It’s really hard to give people in that area parking and then close the lot,” said Parking Commissioner Monica Sekulich.

Two West Fulton LLC — an RSC Associates and Second Story Properties joint venture — is in the process of buying the property for a mixed-use project. If the firm closes its $2 million deal with the city for the site by July 31, the deadline day, then the lot would have to close if the developers want to start clearing the property right away.

**Speaking of Two West Fulton, Tom Dowling, principal of Grand Rapids-based Design Pinnacle Group and River Grand’s lead architect, recently suggested that city officials were approaching the Public Works Island sale with additional concern because a number of recent partnerships had not worked out as expected.

Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong disagreed: “Redevelopment is not an easy process. The projects that we take on all have a significant degree of difficulty; we expect them to evolve as we move forward.”

**For a rickety, rear-view-mirror-slapping scare ride, the historic Sixth Street Bridge is sure seeing a lot of traffic. Between the River House condominium construction sucking up lanes on Bridge Street, the Gerald R. Ford funeral on Pearl and Fulton streets, an apparently eternal closure of Ottawa Avenue at the I-96 overpass and water main catastrophes at Monroe Avenue and then the Leonard Street bridge, the oldest link between downtown and the West Side has astonishingly become its most reliable.    

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