On Sunday, the Grand Rapids Press ran a story on the front page of the business section entitled, “Policy Making, Western Style.” The story was essentially a promotional piece for a two-day conference being hosted by several area Chambers of Commerce this week in Grand Rapids.
The Press article states:
“About 600 business leaders, lobbyists and politicians” are expected to be on hand to push a policy agenda for West Michigan. The conference is thought to be a follow up to the annual economic conference on Mackinac Island and is hosted by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This week’s conference will deal specifically with West Michigan, a region that local organizers feel is unique.”
According the Grand Rapids Press, there will be panel discussions involving representatives from the auto industry, furniture manufacturers, and other industry leaders. There will also be sessions on Michigan’s educational system, the health care system, higher education, and Michigan’s work force. Most of the panel participants are from business or other private sectors. Collectively, they are hoping to “set priorities for West Michigan.”
The keynote speaker for the first day is conservative columnist George Will, but the conference will kick-off with a talk by Robert Genetski of the Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute is notorious for dismissing global warming, supports genetically modified foods, and encourages the privatization of public services.
On Friday, the conference will have Amway co-founder Richard DeVos give a talk on “Leadership” during lunch. DeVos was quoted in the Press article saying, “The people around here are productive and get things done. People don’t spend all their time arguing. Detroit, because of its union mentality, always spends its time arguing and fighting.”
If the Grand Rapids Press article is any indication of how this conference will be reported on, the public will no doubt get a very one-sided view of what is being planned. Anticipating this type of coverage, MediaMouse.org plans to be at the conference both days and report on as much of the conference as possible.