After downplaying citizen opposition to a $5 million taxpayer subsidy for Amway founder Rich DeVos's new hotel project in downtown Grand Rapids (click here and here for details), the Grand Rapids Press gave DeVos's grab for tax dollars a big thumb's up yesterday in its lead editorial. The Press makes no bones about how important the subsidy is. The headline almost says it all: "DDA money for planned hotel key to an [sic] project's success." Pop "Alticor" (f.k.a. Amway) in where the missing word is, and you know everything.
I agree DeVos's project needs to be subsidized to survive in an overcrowded downtown market, where nearly half the rooms go empty every night. However, why should the taxpayers provide the subsidy, if DeVos is worth the $3 billion reported in the business rags? If he is so committed to the project, why must our tax dollars be put at risk?
The bootlicking Press supplies a puff-piece answer:
"The hotel would be a significant addition to the city just as the Alticor-owned Amway Grand Plaza Hotel was when it was refurbished and reopened in 1981. Both projects demonstrate a commitment to West Michigan that goes far beyond any business gains in Alticor, and in fact represent a risk for that company. This is a generous show of faith in the future."
Looks like Publisher Danny Gaydou, notorious Amway a**-kisser, has whored out the Press to DeVos for P.R. How else to explain the strange notion that alleged billionaire Rich DeVos deserves a taxpayer subsidy because he is taking a business risk to turn a profit for himself? How is that generous?
Nevertheless, the Press insists that it is and even concludes its editorial by lauding DeVos's "tremendous generosity" in participating in local public-private partnerships. Gone unexamined is the financial return DeVos, his late partner Jay Van Andel, and their families have received from their participation in such partnerships. Believe me, folks, there is no generosity involved in throwing a few dollars at building an arena or convention center or now a hotel when you stand to receive the profits those facilities will generate.
So, unsurprisingly in light of Gaydou's infatuation with DeVos, the Press is in the bag for the billionaire's latest project as it assures us: "The new hotel will be a tremendous public good -- if it gets some public help." Swell, except what exactly is that "tremendous good" we're supposed to get?