The Mackinac Center for Public Policy celebrated its first decade of policy impact with an open house of its new $2.4 million headquarters and a black-tie gala headlined by publisher and 1996 presidential candidate Steve Forbes on June 5.
Forbes praised the Mackinac Center before the sellout crowd of friends and supporters for the institute’s decade of "great work," especially in advancing school choice, worker rights, and privatization. He delighted the gathering by recounting how the Center discovered and publicized that the Michigan Education Association contracted with outside firms for custodial, food, security, and mailing services while it simultaneously opposed allowing schools to contract for the same services. Forbes called the Center’s exposure of the union’s hypocrisy "a public service."
Michigan Supreme Court justice and master of ceremonies Clifford W. Taylor joined Mackinac Center Chairman of the Board Richard Antonini in acknowledging the Center’s unique ability to shift public opinion—and thereby the political climate—toward sound public policy based on free markets and individual liberty.
The Board of Directors honored B. Frank Webster, Thomas F. Bertonneau, and Orville D. and Ruth A. Merillat for outstanding contributions to advancing Michigan’s culture and prosperity.
During the afternoon open house, celebrants crossed Main Street from the Ashman Court Hotel ballroom to greet the Mackinac Center staff and tour the new headquarters building. The open house was continued for the public on Saturday, June 6.
Many did not wait until the open house for their tour. The Center enjoyed earlier visits by scores of friends including Governor John Engler, Congressman Dave Camp, Supreme Court Justice Taylor, U. S. District Court Judge Paul Gadola, Court of Appeals Judges Steve Markman and Bill Whitbeck, Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Arthur Ellis, Director of the Office of the State Employer Jan Winters, State Senator Bill Schuette, The Detroit News editors Tom Bray and Richard Burr, and nationally syndicated columnist and Fox News Sunday anchor Tony Snow.