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What lessons can be learned from a message to Grand Rapids City Officials from a member of the Grand Rapids Power Structure?

December 2, 2020

People with wealth and privilege, which is to say white people, will do and say anything to make sure that their wealth an privilege is protected.

In an e-mail that was sent to Grand Rapids City officials on November 20th, an included in the agenda packet for the December 1st City Commission meetings, Sam Cummings,   one of the partners in CWD Real Estate Investment, once again demonstrated just how much White Privilege he has.

What Sam Cummings, a members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure, had to say to Grand Rapids City officials is so revealing, so we think it is best to reprint the entire e-mail.


Let me get this straight—the City was offered $500k from the CARES Act $$ to supplement public safety and you said no? Have you taken a look at the violent crime increases recently? Have you taken a look at the imminent budget shortfalls coming our way?

As a tax payer and resident of this City, this is absolutely infuriating to me. And exactly, who does this rejection of resources benefit?

This is dereliction of duty, plain and simple. You people have no business representing this City and its residents if these are the kinds of decisions you are making.

We had a man shot dead in my neighborhood last week and my frightened wife asked me “why do we live in the City?” Frankly, I did not have a good answer for her—as we pay more for the privilege of being less safe—which is to say nothing of the lower level of services (snowplowing, street maintenance, etc). That is a sad state of affairs. You should strive for people to be happy with their investment in City income taxes—not angry and remorseful about it.

I am rapidly losing my passion for this City as high levels of disfunction such as this are exhibited. We have enough to do in maintaining our viability and those of our small businesses and tenants through this pandemic without having to babysit the stupidity of some of our elected officials.

Decisions have consequences—no one will blow a bugle and send out press releases as people choose to invest elsewhere or locate their homes and businesses elsewhere. There are examples of it in many other communities across the country. We have great momentum and a lot going for us here thanks to years and years of dedicated and relentless pursuit, but it is NOT assured—not by a long shot. To the contrary it is fragile. We have worked too hard for too long. DO NOT SCREW THIS UP.

GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER— and stand up to the vocal and ridiculous minority or—resign. Have a nice weekend.

Sam Cummings Managing Partner

CWD Real Estate Investment

50 Louis NW Suite 600 | Grand Rapids | Michigan 49503 | Phone 616.726.1700

This communication is instructive on many levels and provides us with a clear example of the mindset of those with wealth and privilege.

First, Cummings berates the City Officials who turned down the Cares Act Funding that was offered by the Kent County Government, without understanding the reasons why some city commissioners voted against accepting the money. As we noted in an article on November 17, There was a lengthy conversation centered around the resolution, with questions about why there was ShotSpootter information included, along with how the money would be used and how quickly the CARES Act funds would need to be used.”  In effect, City Commissioners who voted against the Care Act Funding resolution, were clearly paying attention to what many in the public were saying.

Second, Cummings then says that someone was shot dead in his neighborhood and that his wife wondered why they lived in the City. The member of the Grand Rapids Power Structure reveals how privileged he really is, since we all know that Cummings, at any moment, could afford to move an buy another home or condo. Most people who are impacted by gun violence do not have the luxury of mobility, that Sam Cummings does.

Third, this privilege white guy then says he last lost his passion for this city, which is really just a way of threatening city officials. Cummings has in no way is less passionate about the tremendous benefits he enjoys through his partnership with CWD, but how much the City of Grand Rapids has provided his company in tax breaks over the years.

Fourth, Cummings continues to threaten City officials with economic blackmail in the last paragraph of his little tantrum, saying that the business community will take their investment elsewhere if City officials don’t do what those with the real power in this city want. Cummings says, “ We have worked too hard for too long. DO NOT SCREW THIS UP.”  When Cummings says we, he means those who really run the city, and when he implores City officials to not screw “this up,” he really means don’t mess with his wealth and privilege, or the wealth and privilege of the other members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure.

Lastly, Cummings tells City officials to, “stand up to the vocal and ridiculous minority or—resign.”  What Sam Cummings really means is for City Commissioners to not pay attention to what an organized public has to say. In addition, when someone like Cummings tells City officials to resign, he makes another threat, because we all know that he contributes to Grand Rapids political campaigns.

After the rebellion in Grand Rapids this summer, Sam Cummings also revealed his wealth and privilege, when he was quoted in the Grand Rapids Business Journal

“The peaceful gatherings are a justified, honorable and rightful thing to have occur,” Cummings said. “Those things should be protected, but when they escalate to damaging small businesses — we got guys who have had their entire inventory wiped out — when they escalate to damaging other people’s property or their employees, it’s not acceptable.”

We call this the West Michigan Nice syndrome, where those with wealth and privilege are outraged when people don’t follow orders. The reality is that Sam Cummings in not just interested in protecting his wealth. We need to see who Sam Cummings really is, which is to say that he has been looting Grand Rapids for decades. Here are a few examples:

We should all learn some valuable lessons from the message that Sam Cummings sent to City officials recently, lessons about what those with wealth and privilege really believe in and what they are willing to do to protect their wealth and privilege. GRIID says, thank you Sam Cummings for exposing all of us to the real you.

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