Street Talk: And the debate goes on — and on, and on


Prolonged negotiations lasting more than a month from inception, met by additional negotiations — and finally, a debate day and time — almost.

No, it wasn’t for presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It was the eleventh-hour, last-ditch attempt for the only debate in the state to bring together incumbent U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and her challenger, former U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland, who last ran against Rick Snyder for the Michigan governor’s seat. The coup was negotiated by PBS affiliate WGVU-GVK, which then gave its staff and studio at Grand Valley State University Meijer Broadcast Center to record the forum for all Michigan PBS stations — just two weeks before the Nov. 6 general election.

Air time? Also an unfortunate negotiation of coincidence: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24. Yep, same time, same day as the first World Series game starring the Dee-troit Tigers, who in the end offered Tigeriffic reasons to turn to the debate.

Back to the Senatorial negotiations: Even as the candidates agreed to time and format, they disagreed, and filming had to be split into separate tapings of each candidate and (for the most part) the same questions for each.

Maybe the Tigers could use such an idea: They could play at home while the Giants play in their sandbox and the game tapes combined. Yeah, that would provide a different outcome.

Scan ban

The federal Transportation Security Administration last week determined that the highly controversial full-body scanners at airports are critically slowing embark/debark to a crippling effect on airline schedules. And so they must go — and likely not fast enough for American passengers.

For now, the scanners will be taken out of only the nation’s largest airports and replaced with models that are faster and less controversial for potential health effects and privacy violations. The TSA installed more than 700 scanners in approximately 180 airports.

Really? Leave the reviled machines at smaller airports already negotiating jumps to the air hubs? One could assume that the holdups at smaller airports are certain to continue to cause delays and missed flights to hub havens.

Readers may recall this all began in Detroit when underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a flight landing at Detroit Metro on Christmas Day 2009. The Business Journal asked Gerald R. Ford International Airport’s new executive director, Brian Ryks, whether GRR’s scanner might be replaced during upcoming construction. He smiled; then he said, “Probably.”

Bye, Bruce

Another fixture that for sure will be leaving Gerald R. Ford International Airport is longtime marketing and communications manager Bruce Schedlbauer.

“After 19 years, my final day with the airport will indeed be Nov. 7. My wife and I are entering full-time missionary work, and we will be leaving Grand Rapids,” he said in an email to the Business Journal.

It’s likely Bruce will be far more difficult to replace than a scanner!

Bridge players

Today’s Economic Club of Grand Rapids meeting is a special luncheon co-hosted by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Invited attendees are Econ Club members, chamber members and supporters of the West Michigan Policy Forum, who will treated to a presentation from Gov. Snyder on this year’s six ballot proposals.

Not on the guest list are supporters of Proposal 6, which calls for a popular vote of whether another bridge should be built between Detroit and Canada. (Hint: the guv, chamber and WMPF all think a second span would be very beneficial for Michigan businesses that transport products to and from Canada.)

“I assume the People Should Decide folks are trying to interject their position on Prop 6 prior to the event,” said Jared Rodriguez, WMPF president, in an email to the Business Journal. “I also assume there will be others that try to attend the event, as well.”

Well, don’t expect a scalper frenzy like Saturdays at the Big House. But, if an invitation can be bought, here’s betting Matty Moroun will be in attendance. After all, the Ambassador Bridge owner shelled out another $5.1 million last week to bolster Prop 6’s campaign, and there seems to be no end in sight, since he’s already on the hook for $24.3 million this campaign season, and that’s before expense reports from late July through Oct. 21 are required to be reported. (By way of comparison, Amway’s Dick DeVos forked over $35 million in 2006 in his attempt to become governor of the whole state.)

That’s not to say the Prop 6 supporters have been quiet in West Michigan, however. Claire Lerner of The People Should Decide is busy touting yet another “independent economic analysis” of the New International Trade Crossing, this one by Patrick O’Keefe, founder of O’Keefe & Associates, which has an office in Grand Rapids. The report concludes that “existing analyses regarding the NITC have failed to adequately analyze the actual economic risk to Michigan taxpayers,” pointing to substantial costs to Michiganders.

Solid ground

Back on solid (safer?) ground, West Michigan will host the annual University of Michigan-Urban Land Institute Real Estate Forum, Nov. 7-8 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

Through a combination of presentations by leading local, regional and national real estate practitioners, workshops, and guided bus and walking tours, the forum provides valuable lessons in real estate development and highlights real estate investment and development opportunities across the Grand Rapids area.

There’s also a little matter of competition among the real estate community, which is vying for statewide awards from UM-ULI for best sales and leases, best use of property, best deal, etc.

We can’t tell you who the winners are yet, but you might want to check out the Nov. 5 print version of the Business Journal. If you’re a fan of West Michigan real estate and development, you will not be disappointed.

Gee, thanks

Not to poke fun at West Michigan’s propensity for providing free services to the underserved but, well, sometimes it just can’t be helped.

The paralegal students at Davenport University are lending their time and expertise Wednesday during a free seminar for “low-income families” on estate planning.

As one newsroom wag put it: “Estate planning for people who have nothing? I like it!”

Sarcasm aside, this should be a good opportunity for the students to hone their skills. The event will be held on the university’s W.A. Lettinga campus from noon-1 p.m. The seminar will be helpful to anyone who has questions about a will or medical power of attorney, or has minor-aged children who might one day require guardians and conservators. Following the event, students under the supervision of licensed estate-planning attorneys will create simple estate-planning documents free of charge. No appointment necessary.

Bird’s-eye view

For hardcore hockey fans who are missing the NHL during yet another lockout, look no further than the Grand Rapids Griffins’ website, The local AHL affiliate is doing plenty of cool things, including videos of opening night, player interviews, and now, by special request, mounting cameras to players’ helmets during practice.

Last Friday’s home game versus the Charlotte Checkers aired live on Fox Sports Detroit and was called by the broadcast team of Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond, who have worked Detroit Red Wings games together on FSD for 15 seasons. Very cool!

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