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GRIID Year in Review Part II: Monitoring the Grand Rapids Power Structure

December 20, 2020

(Editor’s note: GRIID does not ask for money, since we do not to make money for the IndyMedia we produce. We do, however, invite people to share our content, as we believe it can help foster important conversation about critical issues in this community.)

On Friday, we shared Part I of this four part series, with a look at how GRIID continues to monitor the news media and deconstruct their narratives. 

In Part II, we will look at the 2020 GRIID posts that looked at what the Grand Rapids Power Structure was up to. We monitor the local power structure for a variety of reasons, but also because we believe that this is a primary function of journalism….to expose, critique and challenge those in power.

We posted stories about organizations that are part of the Grand Rapids Power Structure, such as the West Michigan Policy Forum, which earlier in the year was pushed state lawmakers to maintain work requirements for those receiving Medicaid.  Another example of an organization that represents the GR Power Structure, is the Right Place Inc, where we critique their strategic goals of class warfare. 

Then there are groups like the DeVos-created AmplifyGR, which went before the Planning Commission at the beginning of 2020, which resulted in a follow up story we did about how a member of the Planning Commission had a serious conflict of interest on this matter, even if his fellow commissioners didn’t think so. 

Since it was an election year, we tracked how members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure were contributing to political campaigns in March and just before the August Primary.  However, the most important reporting we did on election coverage, was the 4 part series we did on the DeVos family election contributions, just prior to the November election. 

Part of the monitoring of power that we engage in, is reporting on how the wealth of the capitalist class increases, especially while others are struggling. This was the case in a story we posted in April, about how the wealthiest people in Kent County were benefitting from the CARES Actand again the following month where we noted how the Meijer and DeVos family wealth had increased while thousands in West Michigan were unemployed, facing food insecurity and potential eviction. 

We also did our  annual look at the latest information on the foundations that members of the local power structure operate. In early May, we posted a piece about the Prince family foundation and a five-part series on the DeVos family foundations

Beginning in October, we began to follow the latest development proposal from Grand Action, which was scheming on a project to bring an outdoor amphitheater to Grand Rapids.  By November, there were more details revealed about the project, where we made the point that when the powerful want something done they often get their way, while some parts of Grand Rapids continue to be underfunded

We also expanded our exploration of the Grand Rapids Power Structure to look at what we referred to as the second tier of power in Grand Rapids, in an article we posted in October. 

Lastly, we reported on the death of Peter Secchia, which was a more honest assessment of his life, compared to what the dominant news sources were saying. In early December, we critiqued a letter that was sent to the Grand Rapids City Commission from Sam Cummings, which was rather instructive about how those with power think. And of course, we updated our online resource known as the DeVos Family Reader, which is now at about 600 pages long. 

Again, we do this work because it should be the function of journalism to comfort the afflicted and and afflict the comfortable. We also believe it is essential for those organizing for radical change to have a robust understanding of the local power structure, especially if we want to defeat them.

In Part III of this series we will look at the COVID crisis and how systems of power responded to this pandemic.

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