Benton Harbor is a city within the USA where "Community Fascism" has been implemented, under an unelected dictatorship which enacts the will of the monopolist corporations. The Whirlpool Corporation and it's allies have taken outright control over an entire municipality (!) by placing an unelected bureaucrat into a position of power through State Executive Fiat (!!), and attempting to takeover the local NAACP!!!
Defend Rev. Pinkney against unjust incarceration, physical attack, in retaliation against his anti-fascist organizing (2014-06-01) [link].
Sign the petition here: FREE REV PINKNEY! STOP THE CORRUPTION! (2014-07-11) [link]
For more information, or to show solidarity:
* Rev. Edward Pinkney, former President of "Benton Harbor Twin Cities
NAACP", "BANCO" National Organizer, producer of "Pinkney to Pinkney" at
Blogtalkradio.com, every Sunday at 5pm [269-925-0001] .
* "Black Autonomy Network
Community Organization (BANCO) [www.bhbanco.org]
[940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022] [firstname.lastname@example.org], of which there are currently four branches, with new branches starting across the USA.
* Rev. Pinkney brought to trial despite lack of evidence (2014-08-25) [link]
* Benton Harbor: Retaliation against supporters of Mayor Candidate who is against economic domination of community by Whirlpool Corp. (2014-04-20) [link]
* "Progress in Benton Harbor: Rev. Pinkney, FBI, and ACLU are talking" (2014-03-30) [link]
* "Cops are kicking in doors of voters in Benton Harbor" (2014-03-26) [link]
* "Low hopes for democracy in Benton Harbor" (2014-03-12) [link]
* Benton Harbor in Michigan, under an unelected fascist regime, faces voter intimidation by their sorry-excuse of a Mayor (2014-03-06) [link]
* Benton Harbor Mayor advocates tax-free municipality for private employers, more public debt for the working-class residents (2014-01-10) [link]
* Benton Harbor, residents undergo a recall campaign against allies of their unelected fascist government (2014-03-04) [link]
* Benton Harbor: List of uninvestigated murders of Black folks, and corrupt Police practices (2014-02-18) [list]
* Benton Harbor Mayor defending himself from charges of Human Rights abuse, orders police to investigate organizers of Recall campaign (2014-02-08) [link]
* White Supremacist Police killing Black folks in Benton Harbor: Some examples (2014-01-26) [link]
* Benton harbor police terrorism: the case of Karrington Penny Morrow (2014-01-23) [link]
* Benton Harbor's police among the most corrupt in the entire USA (2014-01-20) [link]
* Benton Harbor, Michigan, terrorized by outlaw Police (2013-12-29) [link]
"Beware the Emergency Fiscal Manager: A cautionary tale from Benton
Harbor, Michigan", presented by 48south7th video (a project of San Jose
Peace & Justice Center) [www.48south7th.org]: Rev.
Edward Pinkney tells a gathering at Silicon Valley DeBug, "My city was
taken over by a dictator." Michigan’s Public Act 4 allows the state to
send a non-elected appointee to take over a city, displacing the mayor
and other officials. Pinkney traces the action to a struggle over
lakefront land coveted by Whirlpool Corporation for commercial
development. His warning: “The emergency financial manager is coming to
your town!” is proving true for more cities in Michigan -- alas. Rev.
Pinkney's talk was sponsored by Silicon Valley DeBug, CHAM Deliverance
Ministry, San Jose Silicon Valley NAACP, United Food and Commercial
Workers Local 5 and UNITE-HERE Local 19
Rev. Edward Pinkney writes
(2014-01-20): "Benton Harbor, Michigan, has the worst police department
in the nation. A city with a 94% black population and yet the police
department is 95% white and does not support the community. Former
police officer Andrew Collins planted drugs on more than 200 citizens of
Benton Harbor. Presently, we no longer have Andrew Collins, but now
have Wes Smigielski who is known for his open practices of racism in
Benton Harbor. Benton Harbor citizens are constantly harassed by the
police. Thus, when we speak of a police state, we are describing the
horrible daily reality in Benton Harbor."
Message from Rev. Edward Pinkney:
Boycott ! Boycott! Boycott!
Whirlpool steals money from the people!
Whirlpool Corporation will not pay anywhere near the U.S. statutory tax rate of 35% on those profits. Its effective rate is 0%.
Whirlpool has stock more than $500 million in tax credits. remember U.S. Rep Fred Upton who is the heir to Whirlpool fortune is the chair to the U.S.Energy committee.
The firm get a production tax credit of up to $200 per refrigerators, $225 per washer and dryer and $75 dollars per dishwasher.
Think of these energy efficiency tax carve out as a version of the earned income tax credit for corporate America. Except Whirlpool Corporation is not poor.
The deal gets sweeter. Those credit can be carried over from one year to the next for up to 20 years. Whirlpool is collecting so many credits that it may not have to pay a dime of corporate income tax for years and years. The lost revenue alone from Whirlpool far exceeds the 78 million revenue cost over 10 years that Congress's joint committee on taxation predicted for the credit...
Special favors like these also create a business constituency against tax reform that would benefit the overall economy. Whirlpool carries its $500 million of unused tax credit as an asset on its balance sheet, so cutting tax rates shrinks the book value of that asset. This is why so many companies actually oppose lowering tax rates say Scott Hodge, president of the tax foundation.
The White House claims to want to reduce corporation tax rates in a neutral way by closing loopholes. Yet it is hard to take that committment seriously when its new budget propose to extend the green-credit windfallfor another year. Whirlpool is one case study in the case for corporate tax reform.
Whirlpool has destroyed so many lives around the country with tainted hazardous chemicals. The residents and property owners in Ohio filed two more lawsuits to bring the total over 30, against Whirlpool. Whirlpool has partnership with NAACP to take over the city city of Benton Harbor. The NAACP has sold out to the Whirlpool corporation.
We must boycott all Whirlpool products! June 1 2013 will start the international boycott of all Whirlpool
products and Kitchen Aid. Whirlpool was built on racism. Whirlpool is the authur of the Dictator law,Public Act 4, which is now Public Act 436. The Dictator law in Michigan!
"Did the Vote Yes campaign committee operate illegally?"
from Rev. Edward Pinkney, BANCO [email@example.com] [269-925-0001]:
Press Conference, Wednesday December 11, 2013 AT 4PM, Benton Harbor City Hall, 200 Wall Street.
A special election was held on May 7, 2013 for residents to vote on a millage enabling the city to pay bills.
The "Vote Yes" campaign succeeded and was funded by a $4000.00 check written by Whirlpool CEO Jeff Noel. A committee was selected by mayor James Hightower and emergency manager Tony Saunders to work on this and convince residents to vote "yes."
The members were Mayor Hightower, emergency manager Saunders, Minnie Sims, Cora Robinson, and Sharon Henderson.
--Did this committee register with the county or the state?
--Did the committee accept and spend over $500.00 on the campaign?
--What was the name of the committee?
--Who paid 800 dollars a month for the Water Street campaign headquarters?
--Exactly how much money was collected and how much was donated?
--Were any monies left over?
--What bank was used and in what account were donations deposited?
--Who was the treasurer?
--Where is the financial campaign statement?
--How did the committee fund yard signs, radio air time, etc?
--Since Whirlpool supported the "yes" vote, will the corporation use their power to prevent investigating these crucial questions?
We want a complete investigation by the Michigan Secretary of State and the Berrien County Sheriff's Department.
We will not rest until the pendulum of justice swing both ways.
The formal complaint will be filed on Monday, December 9, 2013, 9am.
"The Dictators and Billionaires Take Control"
2013-05-22 by Rev. Edward Pinkney:
The Whirlpool Corporation has unveiled a plan to completely gentrify downtown Benton Harbor, Michigan. This is being accomplished with the aid of the new Emergency Manager, Tony Saunders, who has a shopping list of things Whirlpool wants completed. The last Emergency Manager failed Whirlpool’s test. Whirlpool went to the governor to have him removed. Saunders was put in his place.
The Whirlpool Corporation designed the Harbor Shores project, hailed by the media and the white business community as a revitalization of the city of Benton Harbor. They told the community that the project would bring jobs. It was really an unprecedented opportunity to make a lot of money at the expense of an impoverished community.
The city of Detroit is facing the very same problems with their new dictator. The city of Benton Harbor and Detroit are under a vicious fascist attack by Governor Rick Snyder and his rich buddies, known as the billionaires.
Dan Gilbert, the multi-billionaire owner of Quick Loans, and a member of the Business Roundtable, has been meeting with Detroit’s new Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr under Public Act 436, which gave Orr total control. Gilbert also owns a number of sports teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has plans to transform several Detroit streets and thoroughfares into pedestrian walkways with shopping districts around 22 buildings Gilbert has purchased. Several of the buildings are historic. All were purchased at bargain prices. Gilbert’s company also is providing seed money for digital companies. Detroit is seen as a major future home for that industry. Such companies hire very few workers.
An Emergency Manager has also been placed in six cities and three school districts across Michigan. None of the Emergency Managers work for the citizens. They only work for the corporations.
For example, the Benton Harbor Public Safety officer and Chief Roger Lange reduced the Benton Harbor Fire Department down to three full time firefighters from ten. Recently Lt. Doug Bell was severely burned in an early morning fire at 1034 Jennings Ave. Bell was the only firefighter on duty when the call came in. How can one person put out a fire? The standard procedure is for two fire fighters to be inside a burning structure and for two to be outside monitoring the scene. The fire department has been destroyed by the cuts. In addition, Benton Harbor city workers saw more benefits cuts, including 12 holidays. Their insurance contribution was trimmed and Saunders is promising more cuts in a series of emergency financial orders.
People need to stand up and fight. A new world is possible.
ATTENTION: NAACP works for the plutocracy, and are easily taken over by big money!!!
Whirlpool Corporation's money is turning the national NAACP into a cat's paw against the grassroots civil rights movement, mainly by attacking NAACP chapters which are protecting the People whom they serve!
"The NAACP is no longer relevant" messages from Rev. Pinkney
The NAACP is doing very little to organize and help the African-American community. They are living in the past and reaping the benefits of our ancestors. Our ancestors have been betrayed by a group of greedy and dishonest middle class African-Americans. The majority of them are concerned about material things and fronting for the status quo.
Too many African-Americans have been forced out of the NAACP, ignored by the NAACP, expelled from the NAACP, and labeled by mainstream media because they work to achieve the NAACP goals. The NAACP is not operating in good faith. The NAACP is robbing the Black community. The NAACP is misrepresenting the Black community.
We demand Corporate America and other institutions to stop giving money to the NAACP with the intent of helping African-Americans. We demand the NAACP publish the names of institutions and the amount of money received from corporations during the past two decades.
We demand corporations in all states publish the amount of money given to the NAACP at the local, state, regional and national levels.
We demand the NAACP stop putting money before the needs of members and African-Americans.
Now is the time to change the rules of the game to ensure that African-Americans understand how the NAACP operates.
NAACP lost influence by allowing corporate dollars to control them. NAACP no longer supports the communities. THE NAACP IS NO LONGER RELEVANT.
BURN BABY BURN! BURN YOUR MEMBERSHIP CARD TO THE NAACP!!
Spread the word!
[Original call sent out 2012-08] We need one thousand calls..............call Gil Ford at 410-404-1408 at the NAACP National Headquarter.Tell him that the Rev. Pinkney will burn his NAACP membership card along with eight different NAACP branches from around the country on Aug.19th, Sunday at 5:30pm on the Pinkney to Pinkney show, blogtalkeradio.com!
Rev. Pinkney is asking every member of the NAACP to burn their NAACP membership cards. If a majority of members participated, it would send a clear message that we no longer tolerate the organization being run by corporations and people who comply with them.
A corporate looking email is circulating. It states that the newly created Benton Harbor "Leadership Caucus" endorses a state NAACP organized election to oust Rev. Pinkney. People who made calls to Rev. Atterberry of this "group" heard that Pinkney is too much of a "trouble maker." They want a new Twin Cities NAACP president. (Or, at least their overlord, Whirlpool, does.) James Atterberry is a black man who will be elected to handle the affairs of Whirlpool.
Whirlpool's Marcus Robinson has been working with the NAACP, specifically Yvonne White, Michigan NAACP president, to takeover the Benton Harbor branch and me, the president.
Two people who want to speak anonymously have reported to me that Whirlpool Corp. paid a large sum of money to the state NAACP.
message from SUNDIATA SADIQ:
"When Ralph Poynter and I went to Benton Harbor, Mich. we saw the effects of gentrification and the firing of mostly Black folk (working class) by Whirlpool.
The sole spokesperson for police brutality land grabbing is the Rev. Edward Pinkney.
What happened in Ossining, NY is similar in terms of getting rid of the Ossining Chapter of NAACP by the NY State pres. Hazel Dukes, Former Lobbyist for the tobacco industry and now unofficially supporting the poisonous soft drink industry.
This Chapter was too much for some folk. I spoke in Benton Harbor on the history of J. Bond, Hazel Dukes, James Gee, and Ben Andrews - all charged with crimes and in some cases reappointed to the National Board of NAACP.
Benton Harbor and Ossining Chapters of NAACP committed no crimes against our folk. That is the treatment that the Ossining Chapter got after 70 some odd yrs. of service to the community.
Now the Kneegrow middle class in Benton Harbor, Mich. has decided Rev. Ed Pinkney is too militant for the bourgeois kneegrows and Whirlpool.
The "Silver Rights Leadership" have decided to move on Pinkney. They have tried to frame, jail him for 10yrs. and yet "He Still Rises" to overcome a most powerful enemy.
Corporate ameriKKKa and the "Silver Rights Leadership" of the NAACP. IT SEEMS IT IS ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS."
Rev, I joined the NAACP this year when I moved back to Utica, NY as a gesture of solidarity with local people active in the community. I don't agree with the undemocratic structure of the organization or its close ties with the Democratic Party, which I believe along with the GOP, does more to oppress black people, poor people, and people in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. and does nothing at all for self determination, freedom and liberation of poor people. The organization does some good work but I regret signing up and I wanted to let you know I just heard of your story and just burned my NAACP card. I haveto be true and faithful to my core beliefs and values as an anarchist and am unable to any longer associate myself with an organization that wants to share the table with the political and corporate elite. I find more inspiration from groups like SNCC, the Black Panthers, the IWW and many others and can find it now through the Occupy movement which I am a part of. I think you made the right move in creating a grassroots community group and I hope you see it flourish.
in struggle and solidarity, anon. Utica, NY
2012-09-21 update: "Is the NAACP relevant? NO!" by Reverend E. Pinkney:
On Sundays at 5pm on Pinkney to Pinkney radio program, we continue to hear NAACP stories from callers. Denise Johnson's son Gregory was killed at San Jose State University in the predominantly white Sigma Chi fraternity which he belonged to. Ms. Johnson asked the NAACP for help but the organization never returned one of her phone calls. Mary Neal, about to hand a flyer to Troy Davis's sister at an Atlanta rally, was intentionally shoved by NAACP president Ben Jealous.
NAACP has strayed far from any justice-oriented purpose; they act as gatekeepers by providing a LACK of service. NAACP should cease to exist. It has ceased to advance Black life. Marketing the organization as advocates for Black people, they do the opposite:
shut down chapters which engage in anti-racist activism.
The racism we encounter today is perpetuated by government and corporations, both of which support the prison industrial complex. The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.
The NAACP is selling false hope to Black communities, ie, they are pimping those communities with a license from the master.
Whirlpool Corp. took control of the Benton Harbor, Michigan NAACP branch by buying memberships to control the election outcome. Whirlpool met with Mich. NAACP pres. Yvonne White and made an offer she would not refuse: money to control the BH election. In NAACP elections members are required to show voter ID's, something the hypocritical organization is speaking out against for all other elections including the US presidential election.
Our primary goal is to stop NAACP hand-picked Black leaders from misrepresenting African-Americans and our ancestors. We burn our membership cards every Sunday during the radio program - over 1400 cards burned so far.
"Benton Harbor NAACP has new leadership; Pinkney out, claims corruption"
2012-08-16 by Ryan Klund [www.abc57.com/news/local/Benton-Harbor-NAACP-has-new-leadership-166487426.html]:
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -
Pastor James Atterberry of the Brotherhood of Nations Church in Benton Harbor was elected president of the post unanimously by members.
A special election was held at the Virginia Edwards Community Center and former NAACP president Edward Pinkney was not allowed to run.
Pinkney, a controversial and outspoken NAACP leader for the past three years, claimed he was wrongfully ousted from his position and claimed votes were paid for. “We know for a fact there’s something wrong,” he said Thursday. “We know they’re trying to stack the deck.”
The NAACP got rid of Pinkney as the president of the Twin Cities branch because he failed to hold elections in 2010 and 2011.
Pinkney is best known for organizing protests against Whirlpool Corporation and the Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores. He could often be seen wearing a ‘Whirlpool commits genocide’ tee-shirt in downtown Benton Harbor.
“All these memberships were sent in without our knowledge,” said Pinkney. He claims 250 NAACP memberships were bought to control the leadership of the group and were paid for by Marcus Robinson, a former Whirlpool employee at the Consortium for Community Development in Benton Harbor.
“That statement is about as true as his tee-shirt statement,” Robinson told ABC 57 News Thursday. “There are a lot of people that joined and (spent) their own money and wanted to be a part of this because they want better leadership.”
Atterberry is the president of the Benton Harbor Leadership Caucus, a group that formed in Benton Harbor over the past year. The caucus is comprised of a group of ministers and community leaders that oppose the negativity of certain local leaders including Pinkney.
Atterberry said a grassroots effort led to his nomination as new president of the NAACP. Atterberry said many people were disappointed with Pinkney’s leadership. “And that’s why you see a surge of people saying we need to have new leadership,” he said.
Pinkney said he plans to file a civil lawsuit against the NAACP over his ouster.
This is Rev. Pinkney's response:
None of the current membership will be attending the unsanctioned election. The national office provided us the list of memberships paid by check from Whirlpool's Marcus Robinson. It includes the Benton Harbor School Superintendent Leonard Seawood, Rev. Kenneth Gavin, Rev. Melvin Burton, Ms. Alloyd Blackmon, Rev. Nat Wells, Rev. Jame Atterberry, Mr. Corey Bell, and Mr. Jerry Price. These are the people who support Whirlpool and not the community.
The election is in direct violation of the court order. Only the $100,000 law suit was thrown out because the national office did not have time to respond to activities of state pres. Yvonne White of Detroit and VP James Gill of Lansing. It's alleged that they must have this election in August to ensure that Whirlpool is given an NAACP business-of-the-year award.
The voices of the PEOPLE of Benton Harbor need to be heard. Unfortunately, the oppression has lasted for so many years, and the injustices are so profound, that the voices have been silenced. This has been the Whirlpool plan all along. Eliminate as many jobs as possible, convict and imprison as many people possible, take away as many services as possible, and people are either driven away, or stay -- in silence. Then, the land grab is easy. Instead of fighting the oppression (not too strong a word), the people who signed onto this "Call for new leadership" are playing a part in it.
God help the "Leadership Caucus" as we return to court with the membership list, the email from Whirlpool, and letters of compliance from President Jealous.
Here's the most important question people can ask about the NAACP: Is it relevant?
On Sunday August 19, 2012 more than 850 members of the NAACP burned their membership cards on the Pinkney to Pinkney blogtalkradio.com show and are no longer members.
Eight states and four branches in Michigan participated. On Sunday August 26, 2012 we will continue to burn membership cards across the country, and continue every Sunday thereafter at 5:30 pm.
My belief is that the NAACP has made itself irrelevant. By taking money from Whirlpool and other corporations it has lost influence; it is now obligated to the corporate agenda, not the social justice agenda.
* Giant Food Inc. - In Maryland, black employees sued Giant Food Inc. after several complaints of discrimination had been lodged. When the employees sought assistance from the NAACP, they were rebuffed. It was later discovered that Giant Food Inc. donated $25,000.00 to the local NAACP in a successful attempt to quash their legal involvement on the side of the black plaintiffs.* Denny's - After repeated incidences of discrimination at the restaurant chain, the Baltimore NAACP Chapter gave Denny's the corporation-of-the-year award after donations were given by the restaurant corporation. The American Directory of Certified Uncle Toms is a book which reports on this, and other instances of discrimination.* Other corporations pay NAACP - Many corporations have made large donations to the NAACP to stop the organization from suing them for discrimination. Several are Auto Zone, Wells Fargo, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and General Motors.* Voter ID laws - The head of the NAACP compared the group's fight against voter ID laws that have been passed in several states to the 1960's civil rights struggles.
What a hypocrite organization. In order to vote in any NAACP election, you must have a picture ID. What a hypocrite organization.* The NAACP is a wolf in sheep's clothing - If you have one or two minutes, please call or email the National NAACP and ask questions; for example, what is your position on vote-buying? (it just happened in Benton Harbor, MI, see bhbanco.org) Or, ask anything you can think of! [410.580.5777] [firstname.lastname@example.org]2010-06-01
"NAACP, Wells Fargo and the Road Less Traveled" [andersonatlarge.typepad.com/andersonlarge/2010/06/naacp-wells-fargo-measuring-the-movement.html]:
A little over a month ago, I alerted folks that Wells Fargo is a lead sponsor of the NAACP’s 101st annual convention [andersonatlarge.typepad.com/andersonlarge/2010/04/naacp-wells-fargo-measuring-the-movement.html].
The sponsorship came within weeks of the NAACP dropping its racial discrimination lawsuit against the subprime mortgage lender.
While patting itself on the back for getting Wells Fargo to commit to doing what the bank says it is already doing , the NAACP refuses to disclose the details of their “partnership.” [http://www.thegrio.com/opinion/naacp-why-we-partnered-with-wells-fargo.php]
A number of cities, including Memphis and Baltimore, are suing Wells Fargo for its predatory lending practices. Tellingly, Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton Jr. announced the lawsuit in front of the National Museum of Civil Rights at the Lorraine Motel.
The New York Times reports [www.nytimes.com/2010/05/31/business/economy/31memphis.html]:
Not so long ago, Memphis, a city where a majority of the residents are black, was a symbol of a South where racial history no longer tightly constrained the choices of a rising black working and middle class. Now this city epitomizes something more grim: How rising unemployment and growing foreclosures in the recession have combined to destroy black wealth and income and erase two decades of slow progress.
The mayor and former bank loan officers point a finger of blame at large national banks — in particular, Wells Fargo. During the last decade, they say, these banks singled out blacks in Memphis to sell them risky high-cost mortgages and consumer loans.
The City of Memphis and Shelby County sued Wells Fargo late last year, asserting that the bank’s foreclosure rate in predominantly black neighborhoods was nearly seven times that of the foreclosure rate in predominantly white neighborhoods. Other banks, including Citibank and Countrywide, foreclosed in more equal measure.
The NAACP should be shouting about Wells Fargo’s lending practices from the rooftop of the Lorraine Motel. Instead, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization is being sponsored by the predatory lender.
In addition to being a lead sponsor of the NAACP’s upcoming convention, Wells Fargo was a co-sponsor of the Leadership 500 Summit held last week in Florida.
The summit featured a workshop on maintaining and building wealth. I wasn’t there but it’s safe to assume the Wells Fargo representative did not acknowledge the bank’s role in destroying black wealth in Memphis and cities across the country.
While the NAACP provides Wells Fargo with a platform to try to bamboozle black folks, the national leadership continues to stonewall questions about their financial arrangement.
The NAACP must be transparent with the African American community. It should start by answering the questions posed by bloggers and others:
* How do the “fair mortgage lending principles” differ from Wells Fargo’s Responsible Lending Principles for Consumer Credit? [http://www.naacp.org/advocacy/Countering%20_Discrimination_in_Mortgage_Lending_May_2010.pdf]
* Was a formal partnership agreement signed? If so, how will it be enforced?
* How will the NAACP secure remedies for those who have already lost their homes due to predatory lending?
* Does the NAACP have the resources to examine the lending practices of the fourth-largest U.S. bank with more than 27,000 employees?
* How will the NAACP be able to manage Wells Fargo’s behavior more effectively than the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development departments, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency? [www.nypost.com/p/news/business/hamp_ered_loans_8QBpCBlqZEOsHSAFg7OumM/1]
During last week’s summit, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said the organization is moving in a new direction.
Transparency would be a step in the right direction. So far, it is the road less traveled.
"The 10 Craziest State Legislatures In America: The worst things that have passed in the states, in both quantity and quality, are coming from Republican-controlled legislatures"
2011-07-22 by Kenneth Quinnell from [www.alternet.org/story/151712/?page=entire]
While attention was naturally focused on the changes in Congress that came as a result of the 2010 elections, an overlooked, but vitally important, consequence of those elections was the strong rightward shift in legislatures across the state. As of the beginning of legislative sessions this year, 26 states were controlled by Republicans, with only 15 in the hands of Democrats.Not surprisingly, this has meant an epidemic of right-wing legislation being proposed and passed across the country. The worst things that have passed, in both quantity and quality, are coming from Republican-controlled legislatures. Based on what they've done so far this year, here are the 10 worst in the United States.
10. Michigan: Michigan became the first state to pass a Financial Martial Law bill [http://www.progressivestates.org/news/dispatch/the-worst-2011-in-the-states-14-harmful-dangerous-bills-you-may-not-have-noticed], giving unelected emergency managers extensive powers to run local governments without oversight from local officials, effectively eliminating democracy in areas of the state that hit hard financial times.
The law granted sweeping new authority to appointed managers, including powers to cancel or renegotiate union contracts, sell off assets and privatize public services. In Detroit, the school district’s emergency manager, Robert Bobb, announced shortly after the passage of the bill that 8 schools would be closing and 45 others bid out to private charter operators; in April, he issued layoff notices to every teacher and staff member in the district. In Benton Harbor, manager Joseph Harris issued an executive order effectively stripping all city boards and commissions from taking any action whatsoever.
Word is if you are an orphan, Michigan isn't the place to be, since the state is cutting money to help orphaned children get clothes [http://www.michiganliberal.com/diary/17781/goat-killer-declares-war-on-clothesfororphans-program].
The Michigan legislature also doesn't seem to like LGBT people much, as it tried to punish universities that give benefits to same-sex domestic partners [www.michiganliberal.com/diary/18136/goat-killer-and-partner-relentlessly-pound-away-at-homosexuality].
[ ... ]
"Whirlpool merges with government: Fascism in Berrien county, it has Whirlpool finger prints all over it"2012-07-06 [www.bhbanco.org/2012/08/whirlpool-merges-with-government.html]:
Mlive and the Herald Palladium report that Benton Harbor/St. Joe power players are doing some fanagling and switching places [www.heraldpalladium.com/news/local/harris-senses-he-may-be-replaced/article_08f6e6a1-4179-5351-8c95-6f63158b369f.html]. Facism can be a delicate business at times.
Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Joseph Harris says he is in the dark about the state's plan for his job. Will the town move back to local control, or will someone new be appointed and the emergency manager law remains in place?
Harris said he's being forced out by political adversaries at Whirlpool. But for the past 2 years, Harris has been working with Whirlpool against the community. He told Mlive.com that a meeting of five Benton Harbor area "community leaders" took place in Lansing and sparked the state's desire for transition.
Attending the meeting were:
* James Hightower, Benton Harbor Mayor
* Dave Whitwam, retired Whirlpool CEO
* Al Pscholka, State Rep.
* Jeff Noel, Whirlpool vice-president of communciation and public affairs
* Marcus Robinson, then-president of the Consortium for Community Development, recently fired by Whirlpool (word on the street)
It was a stark example of fascism: government and corporate interests making public policy decisions.
Each of them gave a slightly different reason for the meeting's purpose:
*Pscholka confirmed that he attended the meeting, but said, "That meeting and the fiscal accountability act (emergency manager law) is really not about politics and personalities."
*Whitwam said the meeting was about trying to understand the transition process to return the city to local control.
*Noel said, "For me, the discussion was more around what can be done to help the city, how do we rebuild the city, create partnerships, etc., for the city to be self-sufficient."
*"My impression was that it (the meeting) was about...being the new mayor, we needed to discuss how to reset," Hightower said.
*Robinson said the Lansing meeting was about bringing the city back to local control, but that wasn't a reflection on the job Harris has done.
EM Joe Harris said Lansing has not brought him into the discussion. He stated that it was "interesting" that Rep. Al Pscholka went to Lansing with Jeff Noel and Dave Whitwam and that "Whirlpool's finger prints are all over this." Who does Harris think his boss has been for the past 2 years?
Harris questions why, if the meeting was about a transition plan back to local government control, he was not included in the meeting.
"I am not accusing anybody of anything," Harris said, "I am trying to figure this out." Right. As if you're just now waking up to what's been going on in Berrien County (for decades.)
One would have to be living in a cave for the past fifty years (or more) to be unaware of Whirlpool's control of city and county government, and that they are one of the major corporate players dominating state of Michigan policies and laws.
Facebook comment from Kelly Weaver: It proves that keeping the spotlight on these little dictators works. The more we keep it up the harder it is for them to conduct their backroom deals.
"A Sad Week for Benton Harbor Police Dept"
2012-05-27 by Pinkney Freddie:
During the week of Occupy the PGA, Benton Harbor Police chief Roger Lange attempted to push Rev. Pinkney into a confrontation.
On Friday May 25 at approximately 7pm, Pinkney and 10 others were refused access to a public sidewalk near the Harbor Shores golf course. They were surrounded and escorted by 15 police officers (thugs for Whirlpool). Lange said they needed a ticket to walk on the (public) sidewalk.
Pinkney's group stood up for their rights as best as they could, and the situation became heated. It was clear that the police were hoping for confrontation.
Pinkney, losing all respect for Lange, will no longer support him. Pinkney says that the police are no longer working in service of the people, and he will not speak to residents on behalf of the police dept.
Their behavior was shameful and disrespectful of the residents.
One person was given a ticket for sounding a bicycle horn in Jean Klock Park.
Pinkney plans to file suit against Lange, BH Police Dept., the PGA, Whirlpool, and KitchenAid.
Every sunday at 5 pm Blogtalkradio.com / pinkney to pinkney show.
2012-05-11 "Whirlpool hostile takeover fails again"
On Thursday May 10 Rev. Edward Pinkney, President of the Twin City branch of the NAACP, and atty. Elliott Hall again fought off a hostile takeover by Whirlpool's Marcus Robinson, Nate Wells, Kevin Gavin, Hames Hightower, Melvin Burton, Anthony Jett, L. Cedwood, and the Whirlpool Corporation.
The Detroit court ruled that the Twin City branch will resubmit a formal complaint to the national NAACP if it does not reply to communications. The Twin City branch will be able to return to court at no cost and refile the lawsuit.
Judge Sullivan wanted the issues to be resolved internally. State NAACP President Yvonne White worked with the group listed above who were offering free memberships to anyone agreeing to vote against Pinkney in a special election the state would hold in Benton Harbor.
Whirlpool Corporation and Marcus Robinson circulated an email stating that the NAACP, state and national, wanted to reorganize the branch with the specific intention of revitalizing the leadership and members should contact Robinson instead of President Pinkney. Robinson, Whirlpool, and White were spearheading this unsuccessful hostile takeover.
The judge ruled that there will be no election until this matter is resolved. Another major victory for the people of Benton Harbor.
2012-04-30 "IS THE NAACP RELEVANT TODAY?" by Freddie Pinkney
The NAACP was a very powerful and historical organization which at one time maintain a degree of relevance to the black community,but the idea that we should take money and form partnerships with the highest bidder does not liberate the Africa-America community, it only further enslaves us in a capitalist society.
The most of the board members of the NAACP are fully aware that nothing black children or their parents can learn about leadership from Whirlpool, Harbor shores, PGA these clowns serve to undermine the purpose for which the NAACP was founded.
Whirlpool Corporation has declared the takeover of the Benton Harbor, Michigan Twin City Branch of the NAACP. It is stunning, shameless, and unreal.
Marcus Robinson president of Consortium for Community Development, a component of Cornerstone Alliance with ties to the Whirlpool's Corporation is working on behalf of Whirlpool, with big bucks.
A large amount of Corporate dollars have been promise to the State and National office of the NAACP to undertake the reorganization of this, Benton Harbor Branch with specific intention of revitalizing the leadership and membership body, to please the corporation Whirlpool.
WE URGE EVERYONE TO CONTACT THE NAACP! President Yvonne White, Vice-President and National President Ben Jealous
"Occupy the PGA Issues Demands of the 2012 Senior PGA"
2012-05-09 by "Occupy the PGA":
Benton Harbor, Michigan, May 9, 2012 — Occupy the PGA—a coalition of Benton Harbor residents, community groups, and allies from around the country and the world—issued a letter today asking the 2012 Senior PGA to transfer 25% of its profits to the city of Benton Harbor. The group plans a demonstration from May 23 to 27, concurrent with the golf championship in Benton Harbor.
The group also demanded a public acknowledgement at the tournament of the “theft of public park land for private profit”, referring to the lease of 22 acres of dunes on Jean Klock Park for transformation into three holes of the Harbor Shores golf course at which the Senior PGA Championship plays later this month. The letter links the transfer of parklands to the “complete undermining of democratic structures” via the installment of the Emergency Financial Manager in Benton Harbor in December 2010.
Accompanying the demand letter is a lengthy summation of community grievances against the Harbor Shores development, ranging from the taking of the park land to unfulfilled promises of significant jobs and tax revenue for Benton Harbor residents. The packet, including maps illustrating the transformation of Jean Klock Park, also analyzes the failures of state and federal agencies to protect the public interest, the unpermitted use of public water resources by the private development, and the origin of the Emergency Financial Manager bill. The group also demands that the packet be distributed to all 2012 Senior PGA participants.
Spokesperson Rev. Edward Pinkney of the local community group BANCO said, “Benton Harbor continues to be a city under seige. The mishandling of public trust couldn't be more massive, unjust, inhumane, and unconstitutional. The Senior PGA needs to hear our voice. It's time to stand up and fight for what's right.”
2012-05-09 letter from "Occupy the PGA" to the "PGA of America"
c/o David Charles, Senior Director, PGA Championships [100 Avenue of the Champions, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410], Senior PGA Tournament Director with the Golf Club at Harbor Shores [400 Klock Rd., Benton Harbor, MI 49022]:
To the 2012 Senior PGA Tournament Director and The PGA of America -
As concerned citizens of Benton Harbor, Michigan, with support from our allies around the world, we protest the exploitation of the community of Benton Harbor by Harbor Shores Golf Club, Kitchen Aid/Whirlpool, and the PGA of America. The Harbor Shores development came about only through the undermining of democracy, political pressure on public agencies, the theft of public land for private profit, the destruction of rare ecologies, the theft of water from the public, and the continuing destruction of the very fabric of the predominantly Black community of Benton Harbor, which is already politically disenfranchised and economically impoverished.
In April 2010, the City Commissioners of Benton Harbor passed a resolution withdrawing support from the
Harbor Shores development, but the Senior PGA chose to ignore this voice of a democratically-elected body and proceed with the upcoming tournament. We demand cancellation of the tournament in Benton Harbor. Failing that, we hereby make the following demands on the 2012 Senior PGA:
1) Transfer 25% of the 2012 Senior PGA profits to the citizens of Benton Harbor as partial rightful compensation for stolen land and water and for the purpose of meeting budget deficits and building affordable housing for the people of Benton Harbor.
2) Distribute the attached press kit to all 2012 Senior PGA participants. We call on each of them to hear the grievances of the people of Benton Harbor and either withdraw from the tournament or show their support for the demonstration planned for May 23-27, Occupy the PGA.
3) Acknowledge in an announcement at the Senior PGA event that the people of Benton Harbor have been exploited in numerous ways, detailed in the attached information, including the theft of public park land for private profit and the complete undermining of democratic structures by the installation of an Emergency Financial Manager.
A failure to address these grievances and demands publicly at the event will reflect the collusion of the Senior
PGA with the ongoing hypocrisy and exploitation of Harbor Shores and Whirlpool Corp. The PGA of America and the Senior PGA has an opportunity to do the right thing and stand with the people of Benton Harbor. We are tired of being lied to, and are standing up and fighting back. This is why we will Occupy the PGA.
If Kitchen Aid/Whirlpool continue to have their way, the result will be the gentrification of Benton Harbor until the majority of its current Black residents will be forced to leave and the city will become yet another vacation playground for those privileged by wealth and race. It will destroy the fabric of an entire community. Benton Harbor residents need jobs with a living wage, affordable housing, political self-determination, true democracy, justice, freedom, park lands, and a future for their children. Everyone deserves these human rights, not just the elite.
Sincerely, [signed] Occupy the PGA! 2012, at Benton Harbor, Michigan
Outline of a Travesty -
To understand the massive scale of the unjust and exploitive treatment of the people of Benton Harbor, Michigan, you have to understand the history of duplicity, deception, and hypocrisy of Whirlpool Corp., which is headquartered in the city and behaves as if it owns it. Whirlpool attempts to cloak its escapades for profit and for control of the city's financial, physical, political, and human resources behind a multitude of “non-profit” entities and “charitable” organizations. In reality, it's a “formula for private benefit with public funding, for a distorted form of 'development' devoid of democracy or public benefit.”1
You've heard Harbor Shores' version of the story and all of their glowing promises. Now listen to the voice of the people of Benton Harbor. We know better than to believe the deception because we have been lied to again and again, and have seen our elected leaders undermined whenever they call into question Whirlpool's actions. Here is a partial summary of Whirlpool/Harbor Shores' extortion of our city.
* The Harbor Shores development represents the next stage of dispossession in a long history of disenfranchisement of a impoverished, predominantly Black, post-industrial city that once maintained a stable working class community.
* Whirlpool closed its major manufacturing facility in Benton Harbor in the 1980s to cut costs by moving jobs to the U.S. south, and eventually the global South, despite taking billions in local, state, and federal tax breaks and stimulus funds over the years.2
* After this economic collapse due to corporate greed, Whirlpool began planning to develop Benton Harbor as a profitable vacation land for the rich and a home for its executives.
* The city is headed towards a form of post-industrial internal colonialism, where the wealthy prey on and exploit the poor, stealing natural resources and squeezing profits out of low-paid workers.
* The Black, poor population is an obstacle to Whirlpool creating a city that will attract professionals to its new $68 million headquarter campus. They are treated as disposable.3
* Soon, gentrification due to the luxury developments will result in rising rents and property values, pushing the predominantly Black and poor residents out of the city.
Twenty Years of Whitewash
* As early as 1992, soon after the economic collapse due in part to Whirlpool's own abandonment of the city, private plans were underway to redevelop the city as a profitable vacation land, under the guise of community development initiatives.4 These early plans included a golf course in Jean Klock Park, but when the Harbor Shores project was first presented to the public, it did not indicate any taking of the park. This proposed land theft was publicized only after City Commissioners approved the project. Nor did the Herald-Palladium accurately report on the park-taking proposal until five days after the approval, despite probing questions from the public.5
* In April 2010, the City Commissioners voted to rescind their support, after seeing through all the lies and broken promises of HSCRI.6
* Even a Harbor Shores brochure admits the development was a 20-year process, despite earlier claims that it was motivated by community concern after the racially-charged uprising in 2003.
* Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Inc. (HSCRI), Whirlpool Foundation, the Alliance for World- Class Communities, Cornerstone Alliance, Citizens’ for Progressive Change/Consortium for Community Development, and the Council for World Class Communities are all “charitable” and “community” fronts for Whirlpool, established to make it seem as though Whirlpool has broad-based community allies and only charitable intentions in its development ventures. Harbor Shores Board President David Whitwam is a former CEO of Whirlpool. HSCRI began with a $12 million loan from Whirlpool, but the “nonprofit” received a $9.2 million state tax break in 2007.7 In reality, the people of Benton Harbor are disenfranchised from decision-making and do not stand with these organizations.
For the Poor Children
* Every community member knows the story of the gift of Jean Klock Park to the city in 1917: “Perhaps some of you do not own a foot of ground, remember then, that this is your park, it belongs to you. Perhaps some of you have no piano or phonograph, the roll of the water murmuring in calm, roaring in storm, is your music, your piano and music box... The beach is yours, the drive is yours, the dunes are yours, all yours. It is not so much a gift from my wife and myself, it's a gift from a little child. See to it, that the park is the children's.” -John Nellis Klock
* Those very dunes have now been stolen from the poor children of Benton Harbor. They are now occupied by three holes of the golf course reserved for the Senior PGA and the wealthy who can afford to play the game. The beach is encroached on by the new parking lot, and the dunes, 3.8 acres of wetlands, 8 acres of woodlands, and over 80 cottonwood trees have been negatively impacted or destroyed. This destruction occurred despite pending lawsuits.
* A local resident said: “It was beautiful, untouched, undeveloped. There was so much wildlife and the sounds of the winds through the trees. Now when you go there it is amazing how quiet it is. You can’t hear the birds anymore, can’t hear the wind in the cottonwood.”8
* In 2004, the city sold off 3.8 acres of the park for residential development, after settling a citizen suit by promising to protect the rest of the park forever. That promise was broken and the settlement violated only a few years later with Harbor Shores Golf Club.
* Two local citizen environmental groups launched two lawsuits against the blatant theft of our park land, but conservative judges, deception by HSCRI, failure of public agencies, political pressure, and the preemptive destruction of the dunes resulted in the park being stolen anyway. Who will donate park land in the future when the public trust is so blatantly violated?
* In his dissenting opinion, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman wrote: “… I believe that the City’s use of Jean Klock Park, by leasing portions of it for 105 years to a private commercial entity, the Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment, Inc., for its use as a golf course, constitutes a breach of faith…. Although the City prevails today, it, and other communities throughout our state, may well come out losers tomorrow as later generations of philanthropists look at the legacy of J. N. and Carrie Klock and come to question the faithfulness of government in upholding their intentions after they too have passed. I respectfully dissent.”9
Land Swap Scam
* Even if Jean Klock Park were up for lease, which it was not given the Klocks' wishes, it could only be leased or sold in exchange for “mitigation parcels” to compensate for the park land taken. The entire process was, and continues to be, a travesty.
* The 22.11 acres of pristine, unpolluted park land was grossly undervalued in the first place, at $900,000. In 1967, the conservation value was estimated at over $1 million.10 According to values of nearby lots, it should have been valued at $12 to $16 million. Yet the city is leasing the parkland for only $30,000 per year for 35 years, with minor increments.11
* Besides this, only the beach is not encircled by golf holes and virtually inaccessible to the public, and the beach itself is encroached on by the new 4-acre parking lot, plus HSCRI did not stay within the boundaries of its approved plan. This means that nearly 45 acres of the 73-acre park has been massively transformed and taken from public control and conservation use.12
* The initial offer of 47 acres of scattered, polluted parcels was flatly rejected by the National Park Service. The next offer wasn't much better. Seven scattered parcels, mostly industrial land and all but one contaminated with heavy metal and chemical toxins, like lead and arsenic, were offered as mitigation for the precious dunes, wetlands, and woodlands.13
* HSCRI had environmental assessments indicating toxic contamination in the mitigation parcel weeks before the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board approved the plan14, but did not share the truth with them before the 3-1 vote to approve, much less with the public before the public comment period closed. In fact, the truth was only revealed through extensive research by citizens, after not only the TFB, but the National Park Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had all approved the swap.
* Some of the parcels already belonged to the city and were sold to HSCRI, to be “given” back to the city. Others were contaminated land belonging to Whirlpool that Whirlpool/HSCRI no longer have to clean up.15
* Tax credits will be used to ameliorate some of the contamination and the Trust Fund Board has had to investigate why the development diverged from the approved plan.16
* Now the only parts of some of these parcels safe for humans will be the boardwalks themselves, and most of the promised improvements on the parcels have still not been built.17
* A federal judge refused to look at the fact that the mitigation exchange was a blatant scam, based on who has standing to sue. If a city sells out its citizens, the citizens can do little about it in court.18
Bait and Switch: Jobs and Other Lies -
* Why would city officials fall for such a terrible land swap deal?
* Benton Harbor is 91% Black, with a 33.2% unemployment rate, and 48.7% of residents live in poverty.19
* The community's desperation for jobs was blatantly exploited to push the project through, with inflated estimates of both temporary and permanent jobs and of small business opportunities available to BH residents.
* In 2007, it was reported that Harbor Shores would create over 4,000 jobs over five years of construction, and 2,000 permanent jobs.20 By 2010, long after the park was destroyed, HSCRI claimed 800 construction and 700 permanent jobs would be created.21 The truth remains to be seen, but the likelihood is that in the long-term poor Black residents will only receive low-wage, menial jobs with the resort and vendors profiting off their labor. For the Senior PGA itself, a few poor residents will receive “scholarships”—so that they don't have to pay to work as volunteers!
* You can't replace 5,500 family-wage jobs with mentoring, concerts, and a Boys and Girls Club. Let's face it, the “community concern” HSCRI pretends to show is just throwing a bone to a community it has abandoned and exploited, and is in the process of destroying.
* The design plans for Harbor Shores indicated local small businesses would be integrated, but after city approval the business area was removed and there are now only gated communities—another bait and switch.22
* Similarly, the promised increase in tax base was initially said to benefit primarily Benton Harbor, but by 2007 Harbor Shores' own website said less than one-third of the expected revenue was coming to Benton Harbor with the rest going to predominantly white St. Joseph and Benton Township. The numbers on the Harbor Shores “Fact Sheet” don't appear to have been updated since 2007. Why is that? The current projections probably look even less promising for Benton Harbor.23
* “City Commissioner Juanita Henry said the city will receive little revenue from the project for 15 to 20 years because of tax abatements and because the jobs it offers are mostly low-paying, like golf course maintenance.”24
* The project was supposed to include the building of affordable housing, but this has not happened either. Two-thirds of Harbor Shores' homes are expected to be second homes.
* Benton Harbor is Whirlpool's global headquarters. It pulls in $19 billion per year in sales. For three years running, it paid zero federal taxes while receiving a refund of $64 million and $500 million in tax breaks from 2005-2011. Whirlpool also took $19.3 million in state funds and $19 billion in federal stimulus funds while it continues to close its plants in the U.S.25
* In 2010, Whirlpool closed its last manufacturing plant in Benton Harbor, putting 216 residents out of work.26
* Roger Bybee summarized: “Those harmed most by past corporate decisions are treated as disposable people standing in the way of corporate-defined reconstruction. Democracy and public participation are early victims to this process. With corporate elites having shrunken government's public-interest role in planning and economic development, major 'job-creation projects' must be shaped around generating profit with the needs of the majority a negligible concern....massive public subsidies to CEOs advocating 'free enterprise' are an essential element.”27
* Few raise the question, why should Black communities be forced to choose between jobs and their environment anyway? Jean Klock Park is the only western Michigan lakefront park that predominantly benefits Blacks, but the community is denied control even of that.
Failure of Public Agencies -
* State and federal agencies charged with protecting the public interest completely failed in the case of Jean Klock Park. As a resident wrote, “The theme of the entire approval process has been for one government agency to defer to another agency or to allow disclosure of information within the scope of the public’s right to know after the time to possibly act has passed.”28 Agencies and judges consistently took HSCRI at their word without investigating the truth.
* Since the park had received federal funds, the National Park Service had to approve the land swap and HSCRI's plan. NPS didn't produce any Environmental Impact Statement, claiming that “no major federal action that significantly impacted the environment” was happening.29 This obviously turned out to be wrong as the majority of the park has been vastly transformed (see the attached maps).
* The NPS initially rejected HSCRI's proposed land swap. Then they received a memo from U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, grandson of founders of Whirlpool. NPS approved the swap on the second round, without transparency about the extent of toxic contamination.30 Upton receives considerable campaign contributions from Whirlpool.
* The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also gave HSCRI a free pass. When citizens informed them that HSCRI had deliberately concealed their knowledge of the extent of contamination on the mitigation parcels, the Corps never responded. HSCRI continues to violate state regulations with impunity.31
* The state DNR staff relied exclusively on Harbor Shores personnel and consultants to answer questions about compliance with environmental justice requirements.32
* Among numerous conflicts of interest, attorney for the city Geoff Fields repeatedly mislead the MNRTFB, telling them there had been no opposition to the Grand Blvd. mitigation and that Jean Klark Park was 90 acres, not 73 as it was then. He also represented the city for the Grand Blvd. Development and Cornerstone Alliance at the same time. Attorney John Cameron, one of the founders of HSCRI, later joined Fields firm.33
* Whirlpool's CEO Jeff Fettig hosted a reception at Harbor Shores for the Republican candidate for Attorney General, helping him raise campaign funds. Just when citizens filed their appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court in January 2012, the newly elected AG sent the supreme court a brief instructing them not to hear the appeal. The court took his advice, denying the appeal with the only reason given: “because we are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court.”34
* Another conflict of interest came when HSCRI hired an architecture firm to review the park for eligibility for National Register of Historic Places status who was an original partner in Harbor Shores.35
* Residents wrote to Michigan Governor Granholm, begging for help with saving their park. She refused to meet with them (her office sent a letter saying it was a “local” issue). However, the state has helped save lakefront parks in mostly white, middle class communities, and in a memo to Whirlpool she promised cooperation from state agencies. In exchange, she claimed Whirlpool's headquarters as a success in her reelection bid.36
* HSCRI's website claims that the acreage converted to greens was previously used mainly for parking. The attached map of the previous parking area demonstrates this was false. The new parking lot now covers four acres of beach.
* In 2005, HSCRI claimed they would not cut into any dunes. But in reality, they deforested them, cut into the lakeshore side of the dunes to build the parking lot, and hauled out 18,000 cubic yards, or 900 truckloads of dune material.37
* An ugly drainage ditch that was not part of the approved plan has appeared near the picnic area.
* Stealing land was not enough for HSCRI. When there was a break in the city's water main, it was discovered that HSCRI had illegally spliced into the water main and had stolen an estimated half a million dollars worth of water from the city to create the placid greens of the golf course. The city charged HSCRI for only one year of the stolen water, or $142,000, but even payment on this was delayed for over a year.38
* Then, HSCRI began pumping water directly out of the Paw Paw River, without a permit! In a radio interview, Whirlpool employee Marcus Robinson admitted that Whirlpool had purchased the pump for this purpose.
* Meanwhile, Benton Harbor's Emergency Financial Manager Joe Harris announced that household water rates would increase by 50 to 100%, without any justification given.39
* Of all these betrayals, probably the most shocking is the way democracy has been shredded in Benton Harbor for the sake of corporate benefit, at the expense of public accountability and the local community.
* Benton Harbor was the first city in Michigan to lose its constitutional rights to democratically elected representation through Michigan Public Act 4, the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Act. This bill was introduced by state Rep. Al Pscholka, who represents St. Joseph and Benton Harbor.
* Gov. Granholm assigned an EFM to Benton Harbor in April 2010. On January 4, 2011, the City Commissioners of Benton Harbor voted to return to a system of public accountability and strip the EFM of power. On January 5, 2011, Pscholka wrote Gov. Rick Snyder asking for re-instatement of the EFM. On Febuary 8, 2011, Pscholka introduced Public Act 4 for the entire state, giving Michigan the dubious distinction of being the only state to categorically deny citizens of certain cities their constitutional rights to a government by and for the people. The Act gives the EFM authority to dissolve elected commissions and offices, and in Benton Harbor the EFM has declared that the City Commission can make no meaningful decisions.40
* Meanwhile, Gov. Snyder also signed a budget that taxes pensions, cuts education funding, and gives corporations a $1.8 billion tax break.41
* According to Harbor Shores website, a Berrien County Circuit Court noted that “a city-controlled golf course oversight panel would oversee operation of the golf course”. However, EFM Joe Harris appointed himself Chair of the Golf Course Oversight Panel, and he is accountable to no one but the Governor and Whirlpool.42
* Even the criminal justice system is part and parcel of the derailment of democracy. Civil rights attorney Hugh “Buck” Davis characterizes Berrien County like this: “The thrust [of the county courthouse] is to physically remove and destroy families through the use of the criminal justice system. Every person they can put in jail; every person whose voting rights they can revoke with a felony conviction; every person they can cause to lose their job by putting them on probation; every person they can cause to lose the ability to pay for basic necessities through imposing ruinous court costs and probation is all part of the process. In the 1960s, it was called Negro removal. In Bosnia, it was called ethnic cleansing. It could be called genocide, the removal of the minority population for the purpose of redevelopment of the land. That’s what’s happening in Benton Harbor....”43
The Harbor Shores website claims: “The sole motivation of Harbor Shores is to transform the community to create opportunity for an improved quality of life for all our citizens.” Ask yourself: If this were true, why would they go to such lengths and resort to such underhanded tactics to force a 20-year project onto the city? Only greed for profit and resources can explain it. Why is no mention ever made of the massive amount of money investors and Jack Nicklaus Design will make off of stolen public resources? This is not the kind of transformation we want. Occupy the PGA is here to say NO! We will support the Senior PGA if and when the crimes committed against the city of Benton Harbor by Harbor Shores are acknowledged and fair restitution given.
Before and after, indicating that the previous parking lot was a fraction of the acreage taken for the golf course.
Scattered, non-contiguous “mitigation parcels”, mostly contaminated with heavy metals and toxic chemicals, in exchange for pristine park land.
Bait and switch: the approved plan versus reality -
NUMBERED DESCRIPTIONS OF CONVERSION ILLUSTRATION
1. The north parking lot that replaced natural areas was doubled in size and impact after the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board approval of the Conversion Proposal for Jean Klock Park
2. A fragment of sand dune that abutts to a private home’s retaining wall and patio area
3. Inaccessible land-locked section between the golf course and residential area
4. A remnant of park land that is being depicted as being outside of the boundaries of Jean Klock Park when it is within the Park’s boundaries and is now being used for a portion of the relocated Jean Drive and a golf cart path
5. The wetland area that hosts a variety of wildflowers is no longer accessible due to a new golf course drainage ditch that was constructed outside of the conversion area on public park land.
6. A significant reduction in size of the picnic area locked inside 3 holes of the golf course
7. A small remnant near the entrance
8. Two lane entrance road and parking lot that replaced wooded sand dunes and an ADA path that led to a birdwatch tower/overlook on the crest of the south dune
9. The Southwest Corridor access point that originally indicated a public ADA walking trail to the birdwatch tower
10. South parking lot that that was part of the 4 acres of asphalt that replaced natural recreational areas
1. Bybee, Roger. “When Democracy Becomes Disposable.” In These Times. December 22, 2011.
2. Nathan, Kathy. Benton Harbor: The Stolen Town. May 28, 2011. [bhbanco.blogspot.com/2011/05/great-article-oncorporate-crime-and.html].
3. Bybee, 2011.
5. Street, Paul. “For the Children: Race, Class, and Late Capitalist Eco-Enclosure in Benton Harbor.” Z Net. September 23, 2007. [www.zcommunications.org/for-the-children-class-race-place-and-late-capitalist-eco-enclosure-in-bentonharbor-by-paul-street].
6. Goodenow, Evan. “Commission Rescinds Harbor Shores Support.” The Herald-Palladium. April 20, 2010.
7. Street, 2007.
8. Melzer, Eartha Jane. “As Federal Case Continues, Developers Rush to Finish Elite Golf Course on Public Dunes.” Michigan Messenger. June 16, 2009.
10 Burch, Ann. “2 Groups Aim to Save Park from Golf Holes.” The Herald-Palladium. March 26, 2007.
11. Lam, Tina. “Benton Harbor Sees Boon, Bust in Resort Plan: It's Cash at Park's Expense.” Detroit Free Press. August 3, 2007. Also see [www.scribd.com/doc/79397898/Press-Release-Jean-Klock-Park-Federal-Appeal-decision-1-25-2012].
12. Kelly, Teresa. “Environmental Racism.” Michigan Citizen. September 6, 2009.
13. Kelly, 2009.
16. (See note 15). Melzer, Eartha Jane. “Controversial Golf Development Gets New Tax Credits as State Board Probes Failed Promises.” Michigan Messenger. December 21, 2009.
17. Melzer, Eartha Jane. “Golf Developers Face New Scrutiny in Lake Michigan Park Privatization.” Michigan Messenger. November 11, 2009.
19. U.S. Census Bureau. 2010 Census and 2006-2010 American Community Survey.
20. Arend, Al. “Golf Great Jack Nicklaus Speaks to Reporters in Benton Harbor.” The Herald-Palladium. August 13, 2007.
21. Harvey Keagle, Lauri. “Greener Greens.” Lake Michigan Shore. March 23, 2010.
22. Street, 2007.
24. Lam, 2007.
25. Nathan, 2011, and [www.youtube.com/watch?v=woLL-AxOnTk].
26. McGurk, Nick. “Whirlpool to close Benton Harbor facility, cut 216 jobs.” WNDU. June 2, 2010.
27. Bybee, 2011.
28. Weiss, Jean. 2012. [www.michiganlcv.org/connect-us/blog/2012-03-09/guest-blog-long-slow-demise-jean-klockpark].
30. Weiss, 2012.
35. Burch, 2007.
37. Kelly, 2009.
38. Goodenow, Evan. “Accusations Fly Over Delays in Golf Course Water Payments Delays.” The Herald-Palladium. April 29, 2010.
39. Genellie, Kate. “BH Commission Airs Suspicions with Cornerstone Alliance.” The Herald-Palladium. November 9, 2011.
40. Heywood, Todd. “Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Strips Power from All Elected Officials.” The Michigan Messenger. April 15, 2011.
"When Democracy Becomes Disposable"
2011-12-22 by Roger Bybee from "In These Times" [www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/12456/democracy_becomes_disposable_to_fit_era_of_disposable_people/]
The Laboratory for Our Future is the ominous subtitle of Charles Bowden's haunting 1998 book about Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
The seedy but highly profitable laboratory revealed by Bowden, also author of the harrowing book Murder City about narco wars in Juarez, brings together the 19th-century model of sweatshop labor with 21st-century technology to generate maximum earnings for the U.S.-owned firms while offering minimal pay under NAFTA's protections.
In 1999, for example, GE CEO Jack Welch collected $92 million in compensation, more than his 15,000 Mexican workers combined. U.S.-based corporations pay no taxes and only minimal annual fees in Juarez, so the vast majority of social costs are borne by the citizenry. As former Juarez Mayor Gustavo Elizondo explains, "We have no way to provide water, sewage, and sanitation works. Every year we get poorer and poorer even though we create more and more wealth."
But at the opposite end of the globalization process from Juarez, there's another laboratory conducting a related experiment : Benton Harbor, Mich., which once hosted jobs that have moved to places like Juarez. Like the workers in Juarez, impoverished residents of Benton Harbor—which is 92 percent African-American—have been stripped of democratic rights.
In Juarez, the prevalence of fraudulent political elections stolen and brutal repression have deprived the mostly female "maquiladora" workforce in assembly plants of any meaningful voice in either their workplaces or society.
In Benton Harbor, a unionized manufacturing workforce has been cast aside and the presence of nearly 10,000 overwhelmingly poor and black people are a potential obstacle to corporations like Whirlpool implementing a plan for redeveloping the area. Benton Harborites, too, have been rendered utterly powerless.
Thanks to Public Act 4, promoted by a Whirlpool ally and signed by GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Joe Harris gained expanded powers to override decisions made by the democratically elected City Council and School Board. He literally expelled the elected mayor from his own office. Harris and other managers can also negate union contracts and other city agreements.
Gov. Snyder seems to believe that a state takeover of cities is more essential to their health than providing actual financial aid, which has been reserved for Michigan corporations in the form of $1.7 billion in tax cuts. Meanwhile, in part because of state budget cuts, Harris plans to raise water rates by about 40 percent even though 20 percent of the city's residents can't or won't pay city fees.
The Whirlpool Corp., headquartered in Benton Harbor, is playing a huge role in re-shaping the city, specifically in two major projects:
* A heavily taxpayer "incentivized" new corporate campus for 4,000 professionals, as Whirlpool began off-shoring jobs in the 1980s (its Fort Smith Ark. plant is being relocated to Mexico)
* A 530-acre Harbor Shores development including a Jack Nicolaus-designed golf course, high-end shopping, and condominiums. Whirlpool is also busy promoting an "Arts District" that attracts many affluent whites but few local black residents.
Whirlpool's role is not universally praised, as the New York Times Magazine' Jonathan Mahler reports in his December 18 cover story [www.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/magazine/benton-harbor.html?_r=1]:
To skeptics of the redevelopment of Benton Harbor, Whirlpool looks less like a good corporate citizen than another company manipulating the system, leveraging its power to maximize its tax breaks and taking advantage of the town's access to federal and state grant money. (It's worth noting that Whirlpool hasn't paid any federal corporate income taxes in the United States for the last three years, partly, the company says, because of losses due to the recession.)
But the recession explanation covers only a small part of Whirlpool's tax picture, according to Matt Gardner, executive director of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. Losses in recent years of economic troubles in the U.S. have been offset by foreign profits.
Further, in 2007, Whirlpool reported U.S. profits of $103 million, but earned an additional $701 million abroad that will not be taxed until Whirlpool brings the money back into the United States. Moreover, Whirlpool got a federal tax rebate of $28 million that year. In 2006, $231 million in U.S. earnings were topped off by another $388 million in foreign profits.
Whirlpool's central role in the town and redevelopment plans has led many Benton Harbor residents to feel that the corporation views them as distinctly disposable and mainly a barrier to their plans. As Mahler summarizes,
It's being converted into a resort town for wealthy weekenders and Whirlpool employees that, when all is said and done, its struggling black population will either be driven out by the development or reduced to low-wage jobs cleaning hotel rooms, carrying golf bags or cutting grass.
The juxtaposition of Benton Harbor's impoverished population and its two rising monuments to wealth -- all wedged into a little more than four square miles -- make it almost a caricature of economic disparity in America.
But at the same time, it offers a window into one possible future for towns across the country, places that can no longer support their own economies or take care of their citizens and may ultimately have no choice but to turn their fate over to private industry and nonprofits. The way things are going, more and more states may start to look like Michigan, and more and more towns may start to look like Benton Harbor.
The Benton Harbor scenario is actually a familiar one for other de-industrialized cities wracked by massive industrial job loss or poor cities wrecked by natural disasters. As Hurricane Katrina tore off roofs and exposed the destroyed interiors of homes, it also peeled back the genteel veneer of elite opinion about New Orleans revealing that many top corporate and political figures viewed the majority of its residents to be essentially irrelevant, if not an outright impediment, to the restructuring of the city's devastated economy.
The flight of the city's poorest citizens was viewed openly as a chance for a fresh start. It not only removed a substantial part of the Big Easy's poor, black population for whom the city's economic leaders no longer saw as their responsibility to provide employment, but it also severely diminished their voting power and ability to have a role in determining how the city would be rebuilt.
The Arts District formula being applied to Benton Harbor has also been tried out in my hometown of Racine, Wis., a factory town of 80,000 hollowed out by the loss of well over 40 percent of its manufacturing base since 1980.
The solution: replacing more than 13,000 mostly unionized factory jobs with a new art museum and a cluster of art galleries and crafts shops. New York Times reporter Robert Sharoff fully bought into this re-invented Racine, a vision seemingly derived from the work of neo-liberal urbanist Richard Florida:
This formerly gritty industrial city roughly 70 miles north of Chicago and 30 miles south of Milwaukee on the shores of Lake Michigan has been trying for much of the last decade to reinvent itself as an artistÕs colony and tourist destination. The efforts have included the opening of the $11 million Racine Art Museum on Main Street in 2003 and the creation of a gallery district centering on nearby Sixth Street.
This stunning premise that the museum and 12 art galleries could significantly fill in the economic Grand Canyon left by the destruction of 13,000 family-supporting factory jobs reflects the same mentality that can view the Harbor Shores development as a path to prosperity for Benton Harbor's impoverished African-American population.
Despite Mahler's moving and insightful description of a de-industrialized city being re-shaped by those who destroyed the economic base, with the victims being deprived of any voice, he fails to point out several fundamental features:
* Those harmed most by past corporate decisions are treated as disposable people standing in the way of corporate-defined reconstruction.
* Democracy and public participation are early victims to this process.
* With corporate elites having shrunken government's public-interest role in planning and economic development, major "job-creation projects" must be shaped around generating profit with the needs of the majority a negligible concern.
But despite all the rhetoric about corporations rushing to the rescue of troubled cities--whether New Orleans, Benton Harbor, or Racine—massive public subsidies to CEOs advocating "free enterprise" are an essential element.
It's a formula for private benefit with public funding, for a distorted form of "development" devoid of democracy or public benefit.
Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Joseph Harris speaks at the MLGMA Summer Conference 2011, held on July 28 in St. Joseph, Mich., a town next door to Benton Harbor. (Photo courtesy Michigan Municipal League/Flickr)
"Whirlpool Steals $14 M with Berrien County Commissioner assistance"
2011-12-12 message from Rev.
Edward Pinkney of "BANCO":
When is EM Joseph Harris leaving Benton Harbor?
In September Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Joe Harris found evidence that $168 K was missing in BH so he contacted the FBI. Big mistake. Shortly after that, Whirlpool told him he would be leaving his job. Whirlpool and it's real estate corporation Cornerstone Alliance continue to threaten him about losing his job. This is Berrien County, Michigan, after all, where corruption defines the way of life.
Berrien County Commissioners refuse to help African-American Benton Harbor residents -
Regarding the $14 million HUD grant for Benton Harbor, and Benton Harbor only, let's just say it's become another grand-sized theft by Whirlpool and Rep. Fred Upton of money desperately needed in BH. HUD rules require 25% of the 68 homes in a strategic area be "low-income" -- this is the first priority to meet the grant requirement. If the HUD NSP2 (Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2) grant was being used in accordance with HUD rules, BH residents would receive housing counseling and home buying and down payment assistance. We can't think of a population more in need of this grant.
Where is the money going this time? Whirlpool and Upton agents, the Berrien County Commissioners, have divided up the grant so that roughly $7 million will go to Cornerstone Alliance for their personal use, and to build houses for upper middle class whites in Harbor Town, the resort "town" which is replacing lakefront BH.
The other $7 million goes to the Berrien County Land Bank Authority ** for acquisition "land-banking" and demolition. As 125 demolitions occur, EM Joe Harris will sell the properties to Cornerstone Alliance for $1.00 each. Yes, that's one dollar each.
Commissioners who are still silent:
* Dave Pagel
* Mac Elliott
* John LaMore
* Debra Panozzo
* Jon Hinkelman
* Zach Perkins
* Bob Wooley
* Mamie L. Yarbrough
* Bryan Bixby
* Jeanette Leahey
* Cathy Thieneman
* Andy Vavra
What is a Land Bank?
The short county website page - link below - states outrightly that [http://berriencounty.org/CommunityDevelopment/LandBankAuthority]:
* Benton Harbor neighborhoods are being "targeted"
* that really it's all about BH, and we know that does not mean lifting residents out of poverty and improving living situations as Neighborhood Stability Programs mandate
* that they are using federal money (NSP2 - HUD)
It's not stated, but if you follow Whirlpool's activities, you know this page is dedicated to eliminating BH residents by any means necessary to create a resort for the 1%. Long ago human suffering became a meaningless term for those in St. Joe and Berrien County who are motivated by greed. Someone, probably at WPool, came up with the Land Bank idea 2009 as another helpful eradication (genocide) tool.
A fraction of the information available on wikipedia (Land Banking) [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_banking]:
Land banking is the practice of purchasing raw land with the intent to hold on to it until such a time as it is profitable to sell it on to others for more than was initially paid. Land is popular as an investment as it is a tangible asset as opposed to shares or bonds.
The intended increase in value may come from inflation, conversion for use as housing, or potential for extraction of raw materials.
Typically parcels desirable for land banking are those that lie in the growth path of rapidly developing cities. The objective is to identify these parcels well in advance of the developers and wait for the value to be realized.
A documentary, first aired on BBC, criticized the services offered by many land banking companies suggesting that they were scamming their customers. The UK Land Registry issued a press release advising consumers that the Land Registry has published a guide warning against land banking investment schemes. Rudd said that the public were being "misled about the prospects of obtaining planning permission," with well-known banks and developers being falsely cited as partners in the project, and that in some cases forged Land Registry paperwork was being presented to suggest that planning approval existed where it did not.
"JUDGE WILEY IS NOTHING BUT A CRIMINAL"
2011-10-23 message from Rev.
Edward Pinkney of "BANCO":
The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.
Justice is supposed to be blind when it come to justice.
When one think of courts,one think of justice.
The famous picture of the lady with the blind fold covering one eye,but the blindfold is starting to look like an eye patch on a pirate.
Many citizens are being robbed of their day in court specially in Benton harbor, Michigan.
Judge Dennis Wiley is openly violating the constitutional rights of minorities over 85% of the peoiple who work for Berrien County courthouse know about this judge who is a drunk and a racist.
Judge Dennis Wiley on Tuesday denied a young Mexican the right to have his criminal record expunged.
The only reason he was denied he was a Mexican.
I spoke with the young man attorney afterward .
I stated, "if your client were anything but a minority he would have been successful".
Judge Dennis Wiley is wanted for crimes against humanity.
The most crooked judge in the entire judiciary.
He has shown wanton negligence in over 75% of his cases.
His conduct among others is the subject of a criminal investigation.
Judge Dennis Wiley make Berrien County a third world country with his corruption.