[Note: This article - with a minor edit - first ran on August 5, 2005. In contrast to how the Meijer family donates to the community, the DeVoses and the Van Andels expect a financial return on their "good works".]
There's a sordid way the bigshots in town do business. They often justify dipping their beaks in the pools of tax dollars and non-profit contributions by lauding River City on its ability to make "public-private partnerships" work. Well, folks, public-private partnerships do work -- just not for you and me. Why is that, you ask? Just remember this formula:
Public-private partnership = Public pays - Private profits.
That's all you need to know to say no to the next billionaire who wants you to put up a few tax dollars to build an arena for his sports teams, a convention center to fill up his hotels, or, hell, the hotel iself.
Well, maybe, we're too wise to let all that happen again. Right? Think again. Think the bio-tech boondoggle. Guv Jen is now promoting as part of Michigan's ever-elusive bio-tech boom:  Amway billionaire Rich DeVos's big medical complex, already the beneficiary of $18 million in tax subsidies, and  his late partner's Van Andel Institue, the hype on the hill. Vigilance, people, vigilance.