Street Talk

Street Talk: The parable of Noah as a 21st century contractor

Ford after 40.

October 17, 2014
Text Size:

Where several contractors are gathered, jokes are sure to follow.

That was the case Thursday during the annual Michigan Contractor of the Year gala at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. This time, however, the frivolity came directly from the podium and featured speaker Brian Johnson, president of the American Subcontractors Association.

Johnson envisioned the life of a Biblical contractor during today’s times of stringent government rules and regulations. Although Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land were in attendance, surely his remarks were purely coincidental.

Johnson’s parable was a 2014 version of the story of Noah’s ark.

The Lord said to Noah, “Build another ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans.” The Lord gives Noah the blueprints and says, “You have six months to build the ark before I will start the flooding rains for 40 days and 40 nights.”

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard — but no ark. “Noah!” he roared. “I’m about to start the rain! Where is the ark?”

“Forgive me, Lord,” begged Noah, “but things have changed. I needed a building permit. I’ve been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system.

“My neighbors claim I’ve violated the neighborhood zoning laws by building the ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the development appeals board for a decision. Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear passage for the ark’s move to the sea. I told them the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it.”

Noah said another problem involved procuring wood: There’s a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl. “I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls — but no go!”

Johnson also told of his Noah’s issues with animal rights groups when he started gathering the animals and the EPA’s insistence on an environmental impact study of the proposed flood. He also encountered issues with the Human Rights Commission (number of minorities hired), Immigration and Naturalization (green card status) and the labor unions (hiring only those with ark-building experience).

“To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I’m trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species,” Noah lamented.

“So, forgive me Lord, but it would take at least 10 years for me to finish this ark.”

At that point, the skies suddenly cleared, the sun began to shine and a rainbow stretched across the sky. Noah looked up in wonder and asked, “You mean you’re not going to destroy the world?”

“No,” said the Lord. “The government beat me to it.”

Preventive medicine

Officials from Grand Rapids, Kent County, area hospitals and first response agencies met last week to discuss emergency preparedness regarding the outbreak of the Ebola virus worldwide. Discussions centered on transmission, prevention, patient isolation and monitoring in case there was a patient with Ebola-like symptoms who had travelled to (or had close contact with someone from) the region impacted by Ebola.

“This meeting brought key first responders and health care providers to the same table to discuss our preparedness plans with county and city officials,” said Jack Stewart, Emergency Management coordinator. “We need to be able to respond quickly while making sure we are protecting our front-line personnel and others.”

The meeting resulted in a decision to re-establish the Metropolitan Medical Response System, which will ensure a coordinated effort.

At the meeting were representatives of Emergency Management, the city manager’s office, the Grand Rapids police and fire departments, Kent County Health Department, Kent County administrator’s office, Kent County EMS, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s and Metro Health Hospital.

“We are working to bring all of the right people to the table to discuss this emerging health threat,” said Greg Sundstrom, Grand Rapids city manager. “Knowing who to call before an emergency helps us provide the most successful response we can.”

KCHD has provided guidance to area health care providers, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s direction.

“The region’s top emergency and medical professionals are making sure all providers have the right information and tools,” said Dan Koorndyk, chair of the Kent County Board of Commissioners. “This type of cooperation ensures that our team is always prepared and informed.”

Area hospitals are continuously training for the unexpected.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with our Kent County partners on this issue,” said Michael Kramer, Spectrum Health senior vice president and chief quality officer. “Spectrum Health is committed to providing all available assistance to our partners to educate and protect our community and health care workers.”

“As a community well-known for its collaboration, West Michigan's health care providers and key stakeholders are preparing as best as we can, focusing on education, awareness and monitoring to prevent Ebola from occurring within our region,” added Mary Neuman, director of infection control at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.

Ebola is a severe, often fatal disease, and at least one case has been reported as nearby as Ohio. The CDC continues to issue regular updates to state and local authorities.

The outbreak continues to affect several countries in West Africa: Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Currently, those at highest risk include health care workers and family and friends of a person infected with Ebola. A person infected with Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear, which can take up to 21 days. Signs and symptoms of Ebola are flu-like in nature.

No one in Kent County has met the criteria for testing at this time, county health officials said, and no cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Michigan.

Pardon me?

It seems like just yesterday.

But in fact it has been 40 years since President Gerald R. Ford pardoned his predecessor, Richard Nixon, for his shenanigans centered on the Watergate scandal.

To mark the occasion, a pair of panel discussions and a luncheon will take place today in Grand Rapids.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and Museum will host events focusing on Ford’s Constitutional legacy. Events include two panel discussions and a discussion with the Honorable John Paul Stevens, retired Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, during an Economic Club of Grand Rapids’ luncheon at the JW Marriott.

The panel will feature Jeff Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, as moderator for the discussion. Experts at the luncheon include: Stevens, who was appointed by Ford; Paul O’Neill, former secretary of the treasury under Ford; and Benton Becker, who served as special counsel to the president.

The president’s son, Steve Ford, also will attend.

The panel discussions will focus on Ford’s role in “the rule of law” and the situation surrounding his pardon of Nixon, which is still a topic of great debate among political scholars.

Recent Articles by Business Journal Staff

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus