Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What we're talking about: Rev. Jeremiah Wright at the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner



Advice for Berrien County law enforcement

A New York Times best selling book about cop Frank Serpico was made into a movie in 1973.
It's still a great film. Frank lived in Europe for about 10 years and has this to say about police in The Netherlands:

"Cops over here are respected. They relate to the people. They aren't always plotting ways to put you in jail to meet arrest quotas."

From frankserpico.com: After being shot, Frank moved to Europe to recuperate and spent a decade there, living, traveling and studying. He returned to the States in the early eighties and has been living quietly in the mountains of New York State, studying and lecturing on occasion to students at universities and police academies and sharing experiences with police officers who are currently going through similar experiences. Frank has studied various cultures and speaks a number of languages, he has studied animal and human behavior, alternative medicine, music, art, literature and philosophy among other disciplines.

He sculpts and has recently been studying African drumming and Argentine tango. In 1997, he testified at the New York City Council regarding legislation to institute an Independent Audit Board to review incidences of police corruption and brutality in New York City in the hope of getting legislation passed that will make it easier for honest officers to come forward and tell the truth. Frank continues to speak out against corruption and injustice and has recently started a production company that focuses on projects that progress strong concepts of ethics.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Attempted Takeover

exerpt from Cynthia's Statement on the Sean Bell Verdict

...The "Benton Harbor, Michigan Intifada of 2003" lasted two nights after the murder of an unarmed black motorcyclist by white police officers. Adding insult to injury, the residents of majority-black Benton Harbor are reeling under an attempted takeover of the last "undeveloped" beachfront property on Lake Michigan. The residents are under attack by the Whirlpool Corporation, that wants to develop "Benton Shores" and move all of the residents completely out of the town. The purported goal of the development is to turn Benton Harbor into one of the "hottest vacation destinations in the country," to include a members-only indoor water park, and a Jack Nicklaus golf course. According to Reverend Edward Pinkney, the valiant leader who is trying to save Benton Harbor for the people, Harbor Shores will result in a complete takeover of Benton Harbor, a city that is 96% Black. Reverend Pinkney has been in jail since December 14, 2007 on trumped- up charges including violation of probation, for writing an article calling the chief judge racist. Mrs. Pinkney called the Office of Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee to ask for justice for the residents of Benton Harbor and for her husband. Shockingly, Chairman Conyers refused Mrs. Pinkney's plea to get involved in this heroic struggle of a 96% Black community in his own state. When I visited Benton Harbor, it was clear to me that Reverend Pinkney has the full support of the area's residents, black and white, as they struggle to maintain the character of their community. Reverend Pinkney is recognized by the people as true hero and occupies a jail cell because of it.

Pressure Heats Up On Whirlpool

(emphasis added)
Sat., April 26
In the Whirlpool company newspaper (Herald-Palladium) there's a photo of the following:

Executive Director Mike Green (left) introduces U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, during a Harbor Habitat for Humanity construction kickoff celebration Friday on Crystal Avenue in Benton Township. (Luke Gronneberg / Herald-Palladium staff)

[remember when Whirlpool VP Jeff Noel advised the U of Mich. Business School recently that if you're in a community where the peace and justice groups are on your back, all you have to do to get their land, etc. is appease them somehow - like bring in Habitat for Humanity to build some houses and donate some appliances. Then you get what you want. He actually said this, or a paraphrase of it! And Granholm is on his team! Rev. Edward Pinkney is not, and look where it got him...]

Sat. April 26
More comments sought on park plan ["park plan" word usage diminishes importance of what's going on. our guess is that the commission will say no to Mr. Marsh.]

City manager wants to extend comment period by 14 days
By WILLIAM F. AST III Herald-Palladium
Benton Harbor City Manager Richard Marsh on Monday will ask the City Commission for a 14-day extension of the public comment period on the conversion and mitigation proposal for Jean Klock Park for the Harbor Shores project.
The public comment period was to have ended next Friday. Marsh said the request, if granted, will extend the period until May 17.
In an e-mail press release Friday, Marsh wrote: "This request stems from input from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service. To ensure all residents have access to the conversion plan, the city is working to post the information on its Web site."
Marsh could not be reached Friday night for additional comment. And he may have a selling job to do on Monday night, judging by one city commissioner's views.
"We already took the posi tion that we were not going to extend the time, and I support that," said 4th Ward Commis sioner Rahim Abdullah. "We've had plenty of time, as far as I'm concerned."
Abdullah added: "If the full body supports it, I will too, and it depends what the reason is. I'm pretty sure my col leagues haven't changed their minds."
The public comment period is on a revised conversion and mitigation proposal for the park.
The National Park Service has veto power over converting part of the park to three holes of an 18-hole Jack Nick laus Signature golf course, be cause federal money was used to improve the park years ago. Harbor Shores officials said an extension would be fine with them. [they can say that when they know their BH commission stooges will deny it]
"We are confident that more local dialogue will encourage positive support, which will accelerate the National Park Service's review of the proj ect," Wendy Dant Chesser, Harbor Shores trustee and president and chief executive officer of Cornerstone Alliance, wrote in a press release in response to Marsh's re lease.
"Throughout the public comment period we have worked closely with the city of Benton Harbor to share in formation and answer inquiries from the residents of the community," Chesser wrote.
"This public comment period has given us an excellent opportunity to educate the entire community on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." [yes, it only takes a once-in-a-lifetime gigantic destructive development to exterminate wildlife, animals, beach, land, and a community forever]
In the same release with Chesser were comments from Marcus Robinson, Har bor Shores trustee and president and CEO of Citizens for Progressive Change. [the same Mr. Robinson who got his job without an interview....]
"This is still the same great project with the same great opportunities," he said. "The facts speak for themselves, and I look forward to more citizen engagement."
What critics are saying:
Opponents of the project took a less favorable view of the extension request.
"That's better than nothing, but not enough," said Carol Drake of Friends of Jean Klock Park.
"It takes a lot of re-reading of this (plan) to absorb and understand it. ... This thing is so complicated, so technical, that it takes several readings, and the people of Benton Harbor don't have access to it."
For example, one part says if the developers change the use from a golf course, they have to notify the city within 30 days, Drake said.
"What does that mean? Can they change it from a golf course to residential? It is so deep, so hard, so thick," she said.
The Friends organization is holding meetings from 2 to 5 p.m. today at Benton Har bor City Hall and from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Benton Harbor Public Library for people who want to submit comments, but "don't know where to start," Drake said.
LuAnne Kozma, Michigan Director of Defense of Place, a park advocacy organization, said in a press release earlier this week that there have been numerous citizen requests to post project docu­ments online and extend the deadline by 60 days.
Friends of Jean Klock Park has posted the documents on its Web site at www.save­jeanklockpark.org, Kozma said. People should send written comments to the city manager by certified mail, with copies to both the DNR and the National Park Service, she said. But [But? Sure makes it sound like the HPalladium is rooting for HShores] Harbor Shores offi cials said they've done much over the past six weeks to get information to the pub lic.
That includes offering project area bus tours that already have attracted more than 1,000 people, posting signs for a self-guided driving tour of the site, making presentations to organizations and distributing more than 75 videos on the proj ect.
Officials said people can see the details of the project by going to the Harbor Shores Web site at www.har borshoresdevelopment.org.
The development aims to revitalize the area with the Jack Nicklaus golf course that would become the catalyst for $400 million in residential and commercial development.
Harbor Shores developers say the three proposed holes in Jean Klock Park are key to the entire project, but that's where much of the disagree ment comes as critics oppose using the park for the golf course.
The golf course is expect ed to be the magnet for the development, which is to include two hotels, 800 hous ing units and other construction on 530 acres in Benton Harbor, Benton Township and St. Joseph.
Major environmental cleanup has taken place in preparation, and officials say the development over the years is expected to create jobs and increase the tax base.
Harbor Shores is a cooper ative venture of three non profit organizations – the Alli ance for World-Class Communities, Cornerstone Alliance and Whirlpool Foundation – and the cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, Benton Township, Berrien County, and the state. [all under Whirlpool control]


Friday, April 25, 2008

Sean Bell Verdict Complicates Things for Obama

Special Edition - April 25, 2008 - blackcommentator.com
By Roberto Lovato

The acquittal, Friday, April 25th 2008, of the 3 police officers accused of killing Sean Bell in November of 2006 will complicate Barack Obama’s efforts to win the presidency in November 2008. His candidacy already mired in the racial machinations of his opponents, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, Obama will find himself having to maneuver between the need to speak out on the most egregious, high profile example of institutional racism and police brutality since the Rodney King Incident and the need to deflect Clinton and McCain’s racialized attacks aimed at fomenting white fear of blacks and other non-whites.

While it has helped him win white votes, Obama’s approach to dealing with such racism by pointing to the black and white pictures of the civil rights past will not help him with his base in the black community and other communities. With the 16th anniversary of the Rodney King incident looming on the horizon this August 29th, none of us will be in any mood to hear calls to “hope” or “change” without similar calls to “justice”.

Unfortunately for Obama’s presidential bid, calls to justice from African American and other groups often trigger fear among some (not all) white voters. The platechtonic political shifts brought on by the Republican party’s Southern Strategy were premised on precisely these racial and political calculations. With the help of political strategist Kevin Phillips, Richard Nixon pointed to black anger as a way to persuade to white southern voters that the Republican Party could best represent their interests.

At a time when blatant racial codes have given way to the subtler racism of a post-Southern Strategy era, Obama finds his historic presidential bid bogged down by the new racial codes being engineered by the Clinton and McCain campaigns-and the mainstream media. Responses to the Sean Bell verdict will surely provide new codes, more political and racial fodder to those who won’t let the Jeremiah Wright scandal rest; those who seem to make racialized remarks involving Obama right before big primary votes; those who appeal to white fear among voters by linking Obama to fabricated images of black anger.

Obama’s attempts to speak about real black anger during his Philadelphia speech appear to have been not well received if the media’s ongoing obsession with Jeremiah Wright is any indicator. Failure to use his rhetorical gifts to speak forcefully to and about real black and non-black anger about the Sean Bell verdict may re-animate doubts about commitment to that part of his base that is not white middle and working class.

Beyond Obama, all of us need to raise our voices and point at the abyss of our country’s institutional racism as was painfully and transparently reflected in the Sean Bell verdict. We might want to start by pushing Obama, Clinton and McCain-and the mainstream media- to speak honestly and continually about what the 50 bullets in Sean Bell say about justice in the 50 states of our tattered and bloodied union.

BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator Roberto Lovato is a contributing Associate Editor with New America Media. He is also a frequent contributor to The Nation and his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Der Spiegel, Utne Magazine, La Opinion, and other national and international media outlets. Prior to becoming a writer, Roberto was the Executive Director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), then the country’s largest immigrant rights organization. Click here to contact him or via his Of América blog.

Same old same old

Taxes are going down for St. Joe residents, but they get this museum. Where has all the Benton Harbor grant money gone over the years?

An architect's drawing shows a view of the future Silver Beach Carousel from a position facing north across Broad Street. Behind the carousel is the Curious Kids' Museum Curiousity Zone. To the left is the Shadowland Ballroom with its south-facing enclosed patio.

Silver Beach planners aim for 'wow' factor

Officials lay out plans for carousel, fountain, interactive Curiosity Zone for children and other features
By David Warfield 4/23/08
Herald Palladium
[Whirlpool company paper]
Silver Beach Carousel Society and Curious Kids' Museum offi­cials are promising a revamped Silver Beach that will "wow" visitors beginning in 2009.
"We hope you'll come away from it with something you'll remember for the rest of your life," said Suz Schalon, presi­dent of the Silver Beach Car­ousel Society. The development is a pri­vate- public partnership of the Whirlpool Corp., the city of St. Joseph, members of the Schalon and Gast families, the Silver Beach Carousel Society and the Curious Kids' Muse­um.
The attractions will open in summer 2009 under the name "Silver Beach," a nod to the city's past...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Were these dunes located in moneyed communities like Bloomfield Hills, no developer would dream of taking public park land for private use."

Guest op-ed: Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. on the Jean Klock Park trust

by: Hugh McDiarmid


Wednesday (04/23)

[Ed. note: Michigan Messenger is pleased to welcome Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. as a guest; he shares this op-ed about Jean Klock Park and the proposed Harbor Shores development in Benton Harbor.]

The massive Harbor Shores redevelopment project proposed in Benton Harbor would inject new economic vitality into a community that sorely needs it.

But the cost - the snatching of beautiful publicly-owned Lake Michigan sand dunes that were legally deeded for eternal use as a public park a century ago - is more than the citizens of Michigan should be willing to bear. Once this legal agreement is torn asunder, no Michigan conservation easement, land trust or preservation agreement is safe from developers with clever legal strategies and powerful political connections.

The controversy over the dunes at Jean Klock Park has split a community. Opponents rightly contend it is an environmental justice issue. The most scenic portions of a public park, utilized almost exclusively by minority residents of one of the state's poorest communities, would be appropriated by Harbor Shores to build a fancy golf course that few Benton Harbor citizens could ever afford to play.

The "compensation" land that the developer proposes in trade includes several unconnected patches of swampy brushland, and some access points to the St. Joseph River. Some of these parcels are contaminated with toxic chemicals, and others are already owned by the city.

Until recently, Harbor Shores was viewed largely as a local or regional dispute.

But what truly accelerates this issue into one of statewide significance is the troubling example it would set for thousands of similar land trusts and conservation easements throughout the state.

Those legal agreements -- setting aside key natural lands to remain undeveloped and accessible to the public -- are deeded by people or organizations with vision, passion and generosity.

That was the case in 1917, when John Klock donated the spectacular Benton Harbor dunes and lakeshore to the citizens in the memory of his deceased daughter, Jean Klock.

Twisting the Jean Klock Park trust agreement into an unrecognizable form will weaken all such trusts. "The land you've donated" -- future agreements might say -- "will be preserved forever, or until deep-pocketed developers with political connections and an army of attorneys decide they need it."

Who in their right mind will donate land to the public in perpetuity with the knowledge that their gifts to the people can be unwrapped and torn up so easily?

Were these dunes located in moneyed communities like Bloomfield Hills, East Grand Rapids or Lake Forest, Illinois, no developer would dream of taking public park land for private use.

That it is being considered in Benton Harbor is not right, not fair, and it shouldn't happen.

Hugh McDiarmid Jr. is the communications director for the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of 70 environmental, public health and faith-based organizations across the state.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More evidence of Whirlpool control of BH city commissioners

Below is the second half of an article in today's Whirlpool company paper, the Herald Palladium. It's a report on the Monday night BH city commission meeting - below is the part which relates to the Harbor Shores disaster. Once again, we see evidence that Whirlpool has it's lackeys on the commission. Will Whirlpool ever give BH a Harbor Shores business plan with financial data and other vital information? (emphasis added below)

Grant makes safe housing top priority By Julie Swidwa
In another matter, [Juanita] Henry made a motion to require Harbor Shores developers to provide the city with a business plan with financial data, a feasibility study and a performance study and performance bond. Mayor Wilce Cooke supported the motion, but the commission voted it down, with only Cooke and Henry voting in favor.
Other commissioners said they objected to the matter being brought up suddenly without going through a committee, and Commissioner Bryan Joseph said he will allow it to be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the Planning and Economic Development Committee, which he chairs.
Commissioner Eddie Marshall said he will not support Henry’s request.
I believe the finances are private funds, and they don’t have to provide financial data. You’re requiring this at a bad time. There’s other things that are more pressing,” Marshall told Henry.
Henry said she has been seeking financial information from Harbor Shores for two years and it should come as no surprise to anyone.
Harbor Shores is a proposed $430 million development that would include two hotels, 800 housing units and an 18-hole Jack Nick­laus Signature Golf Course. The city is in the midst of a 30-day public comment period regarding a plan to use 22.11 acres of Jean Klock Park for three golf holes. In exchange, Harbor Shores is offering seven scattered parcels totaling about 38.41 acres that would be designated as park land and connected by a trail system.
[...parcels offered in trade for the park are contaminated with industrial waste - Michigan Messenger]

Overflow crowd debates privatization of Benton Harbor waterfront park

[During this meeting, an audience member was overheard to say, "Better be careful about what you say, it could mean your job. Whirlpool controls everything in the county." That comment is beyond unbelievable for many obvious reasons. Is Berrien county a fiefdom?]

by: Eartha Jane Melzer, Monday (04/21), michiganmessenger

About 300 people jammed into a public hearing in Benton Harbor Thursday to speak out on a plan to transfer part of the city's public lakefront park to developers for use as a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and luxury housing development.

Benton Harbor, one of Michigan's poorest and most segregated towns, is under pressure to turn a portion of Jean Klock Park over to developers connected to the Whirlpool Corp. -- the home appliance giant that operates its world headquarters in the town. A network of Whirlpool-affiliated community groups are backing the project, and the golf course has been promoted as part of an economic development plan that would create jobs and benefit local residents. The state of Michigan has offered $120 million in tax breaks to support the plan.

At the hearing, approximately 60 speakers seemed almost evenly split with supporters tending to make shorter, simpler statements and opponents offering more passionate and detailed criticisms.

Many supporters said the park is underutilized, the city is too broke to maintain it and that "change is good." Some even said the golf development was "God`s will." Critics raised legal and environmental concerns about the plan and spoke bitterly about the inequality in negotiations between Whirlpool-connected developers and local residents.

"We trusted corporate America to take care of our towns all these years," said Benton township steelworker Dave Heinz, who pointed out that Whirlpool has outsourced most of its manufacturing and is now demanding the city park for exclusive recreation by executives. "Should we trust them again?"

Heinz said the project could actually reduce jobs available to locals. The Whirlpool-dominated local Chamber of Commerce has "chased off" companies seeking to locate manufacturing facilities in Benton Harbor, he claimed. He suggested two local factories, Modern Plastics and New Products Corp., may be forced to close if a luxury golf course is constructed across the street.

Benton Harbor's lakefront area has undergone conspicuous changes in recent years. The area around the park, which is walking distance to Whirlpool offices, has been built up with expensive homes. Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig lives in this neighborhood, as does Whirlpool heir and Republican U.S. Rep. Fred Upton.

A few locals said that many residents are now so impoverished that they cannot afford the gas money to drive across town and access the park. Others said the appraised value for the 22 acres of lake view property sought by developers -- $900,000 -- is unfairly low.

Dennis Knowles, a Benton Harbor resident said, the proposed park transfer would leave the city "gentrified, cashed out, put out, not included."

He criticized the developer's offer to trade the 22 acres and its stunning views of Lake Michigan for a series of unconnected parcels along the nearby Paw Paw and St. Joseph Rivers.

"Cancer is a reality when you look at the ecology of the parcels offered in trade for the park," Knowles said, noting that developers have acknowledged that the parcels offered in trade for the park are contaminated with industrial waste.

Advocates of the golf course development countered that fewer residents use Jean Klock Park than in decades past. Some locals expressed frustration with environmentalists who have focused on the ecological damage that a golf course would do to the dunes.

"You don't care when our kids are shot down in the street like dogs," one woman said, "but you want to fight for this cause."

Carl Brecht, a Benton Harbor business owner, claimed that the plan does not guarantee that the construction and maintenance jobs associated with the project will go to African Americans, who make up 90 percent of the residents of Benton Harbor.

The issue of jobs was also raised by Barney Brooks, a carpenter and Benton Harbor resident who said that he has been unable to find work despite extensive training, certifications and experience.

"I hate to think that that my family's future is contingent on a golf course getting built," he said, but he urged anyone to contact him if work is available.

The public hearing was required by the National Park Service, which must approve the proposed transfer of Jean Klock Park. City manager Richard Marsh said that the city will now consider issues raised by residents before deciding whether to approval the proposal and submit it to the Park Service. The public comment period is open until May 3.

The Friends of Jean Klock Park, a group opposed to the land transfer, have posted the developer's proposal, maps, and other documents relevant to the controversy on their Web site.

Some history on Jean Klock Park and discussion of the golf course proposal can be found here.

Comments can be sent to the Benton Harbor City Manager's Office, 200 Wall St., Benton Harbor MI 49022.

Monday, April 21, 2008


[This leaves a reader with any level of humanity speechless. Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment a non-profit? Laughable if it wasn't sickening. More will be coming out about how "non-profit" this group is.]

Harbor Shores tours

Self-guided discovery tour available to those who want to get a better feel for project

By Herald-Palladium staff

BENTON HARBOR — People who want to get a feel for what the Harbor Shores project is all about can take a self-guided tour of the project area.

Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment, the nonprofit organization behind the project, said a discovery tour of the 530-acre site is now available.

The tour consists of outdoor signs placed at various sites within the development.

To begin the tour, three gateway entrance signs list general project information. From each gateway, signs are posted at various locations to provide information about past use of the site and the proposed future use, including potential architectural renderings and infrastructure improvements such as road connections.

Also listed is the environmental impact the project is having on each location.

Each sign guides people to the project’s Web site, www. harborshoresdevelopment.org. Wendy Dant Chesser, Harbor shores trustee and president and CEO of Cornerstone Alliance, said officials found that people who drove around to look at the project had trouble understanding it without signs.

“They could see land being cleared but would not know why,” she said. “Now, everyone is able to see how each parcel plays a part of the overall Harbor Shores project.”

Marcus Robinson, Harbor Shores trustee, said smaller signs at places around the community tell how the partners in the Harbor Shores project are involved in many other projects and initiates.

“When you look at the history of the organizations that are partners in this project, you see groups that are dedicated to changing the community,” said Robinson, who is also Community Development Consortium president and CEO.

The Harbor Shores project is a mixed-use development on 530 acres in Benton Harbor, Benton Township and St. Joseph.

The development aims to revitalize the area with a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course that would become the catalyst for $400 million in residential and commercial development.

Major environmental cleanup has taken place in preparation, and the development over the years is expected to create jobs and increase tax base.

Harbor Shores is a cooperative venture of three nonprofit organizations – the Alliance for World-Class Communities, Cornerstone Alliance and Whirlpool Foundation – and the cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, Benton Township, Berrien County and the state.

Jack Lessenberry on Jean Klock Park development

Part of Jack Lessenberry's commentary on Mich. Public Radio on Monday, 4/21/08:

...Today, Benton Harbor is the poorest city in Michigan, a place of boarded up storefronts. John Klock’s Benton Harbor was 97 percent white. Today’s city is 95 percent black.

There are those who say the Harbor Shores development is Benton Harbor’s last best hope. They say it will boost the local economy. That rich people will come to play golf and frolic on the beach, and their dollars will trickle down to benefit the poor.

Maybe, but I doubt it. What I do know is that the property belonged to John Nellis Klock, who died seventy years ago this month. If he had wanted it to be a golf course, he would have said so.

He once had been a very poor kid, who had never been able to take his only daughter to the beach. He wanted to make it possible for other poor kids to do what he couldn’t. I think there is little doubt as to what the park’s future should be.

Berrien County Judge is Harbor Shores Developer

Judge Alfred Butzbaugh is in violation of his judicial personal code of ethics. Butzbaugh is president and co-owner of Ship Street Realty in St. Joseph, Michigan. Ship Street RE is doing all of the development for Harbor Shores. This presents a conflict of interests for the judge who not only presided over the case against Harbor Shores whistleblower Rev. Pinkney on numerous occasions, but has heard other cases involving HS. For more information on his activities go to http://wmnc.biz/index.htm

Golf Course Offers 9 (yes, nine) Jobs to Benton Harbor

West Michigan News Company, http://blog.wmnc.biz/

Howard Zinn, retired Boston University history professor, in his Peoples History of the U.S. correctly identified what happened at the public comments meeting on the takeover of Jean Klock Park. When the white man landed on the east coast, they took advantage of the Indian by stealing their property and used black and white slaves to work it and steal the fruits of their labors. It did not take long before slaves outnumbered the wealthy few, and these slave owners were in fear of a slave revolt. They had a stroke of genius: Lets pit the white slaves against the black slaves. This provided the buffer they needed to steal all the real wealth for themselves. This was the origination of what we now call "racism".

At the public hearing in BH last Thursday I watched speakers from St. Joseph and a few from Benton Harbor get up and push the Harbor Shores project, while the people from Benton Harbor got up and spoke against it with all the knowledge that centuries of abuse by the white, wealthy elite would win out again. I got up and spoke about the financial aspects of the deal. With the investment income from $120 million, you could hire anywhere from 200 to 500 full time workers averaging $30,000 per year in Benton Harbor to clean up the city and make it a fine resort area. Put that up against the 22 seasonal jobs at the golf course guaranteed by Harbor Shores of which only 40%, or 9 jobs are guaranteed for Benton Harbor residents. These 9 jobs they are offering is a slap in the face of every Benton Harbor resident. My plan helps the people who need it the most, while Whirlpool's plan keeps the residents in slave status providing a private golf course for themselves.

History really is not changing at all. There is still "racism" divided by the St. Joe river dividing the two cities. Once the white slaves realize that less than 1% of the world's population controls 60% of it's resources, the slave owners are in for a major slave revolt. --Pat Foster

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Recent Jail Harassment of Rev. Pinkney

In order to "break down an aging activist", as Larry Pinkney (no relation) wrote on BlackCommentator.com regarding Berrien County's goal for Rev. Pinkney, a variety of techniques are used. They are used in jails and prisons where abusive treatment is the norm. During this past week the jail and most likely sheriff Bailey decided to withold mail. A large package arrived and was placed in Rev. P.'s locker instead of being delivered to him. This was a package he was expecting. One can imagine his anticipation every hour of everyday, wondering if a jail employee would deliver the package to him. Jail: 269-983-7111 x7231 (you can ask for various departments and sheriff Paul Bailey)

Rev. Edward Pinkney #10017670-ISo4
Berrien County Jail
919 Port St.
St. Joseph, MI 49085

Friday, April 18, 2008

Granholm bets on a golf resort, but there are plenty of hazards

by: LoRayne Apo-Joynt Friday (04/18) at 08:20 AM http://www.michiganmessenger.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=1132

[COMMENTARY] I'm not wealthy, but I'm a member of the investor class. I'm also a consultant, which means in a roundabout way that I get paid to tell people where to put their money. And right now, I wouldn't bet on a luxury golf resort in Michigan, not as a personal investor or as a consultant.

But our governor came to a different conclusion.

There are a lot of other opportunities I'd put my money in Michigan right now, mind you. I'm even weighing purchasing some smaller starter properties as investments. But I wouldn't buy into a golf resort and here's why.

First, the number of golf courses in Michigan hit an all-time high during the big, fat 1990s, when the investor class was rolling in extra cash, the dot.com kiddies had lots of jingle in their pockets and Tiger Woods was a fresh-faced phenom ripping up the fairways, making golf history while generating new interest in the sport.

There were 950 golf courses at the height of the dot.com bubble -- there are now only 837, and any number of them could be troubled and on the bubble at this moment. If there were 950 courses and there was a continuing demand upward for more courses manifested in a waiting list for memberships and tee times, I might change my mind.

Second, it takes money to play golf. Golf clubs, golf shoes, golf bags and gloves, balls, lessons, all are investments that a seriously interested hobbyist will make in the game, not to mention the cost of greens fees, membership fees and cart fees depending on the course one plays. A public course here in my neighborhood costs $1,850 for a single annual membership. How many households in Michigan are comfortable in today's economic climate with that kind of cash outlay? Not enough -- and a private course will cost much, much more. The average Michigander today is already financially excluded from this sport, and we're still not talking about luxury resort golf.

Third, the Michigan real estate market is incredibly soft and may get softer. Sure, there's only a single two- or three-bedroom house down the street that may be in foreclosure -- but what happens if, as a billionaire investor recently suggested, as many as 5 million American homes go into foreclosure over the next two years? What happens to the real estate market in Michigan? All real estate values will sink further, not just single-family residential properties.

I'm also feeling the proof of this point personally: We bought a lot in an upscale golf development, expecting the property to appreciate in value while we continued to work toward our retirement. During the past four years, the lot's market-value increased, covering the cost of taxes on the property. But this past year was the first year that the property's value did not appreciate. This year, ownership of the lot is into our pockets for the cost of the taxes and a small amount of depreciation in expected market value. Next year will likely be worse, and I can't contemplate selling it at a loss.

Fourth, other luxury and resort properties have been selling at absolute auction. An absolute auction does not have a reserve price set on the property; theoretically, if you were the only bidder for a resort selling at absolute auction and the owner had not set a minimum amount for a bid, called a "reserve price," you could buy the property for whatever price you chose to name.

A Michigan resort located an hour south of Benton Harbor and an hour to the east of Chicago by rail is selling lakefront properties at absolute auction. This tells me as an investor/consultant that the owners are willing to take a loss on the property to get out from underneath it, in order to cut their losses. Yet another golf resort in northern Michigan went at auction, snapped up by a golf-resort conglomerate. The owner of the course said he wanted to be out completely and an auction offered this feature versus other alternative forms of sale. But typically a property this size is sold at auction, without terms negotiated, if the owner needs cash, and quickly. This is yet another poor indicator of a poor investment.

Fifth, I can't think of a single golf course that is turning away members. I see many signs and advertisements pleading for new members or for golfers, offering some of the cheapest rates I've seen in more than a decade. Add that to the large number of resort homes sitting vacant and on the market for more than 200 days on average, and you've got a glut.

And that's it, my back-of-the-envelope analysis on the luxury golf-resort market. There is no way I could spend another dime on this kind of real estate; I hate to tell my spouse our lot is going to drop in value for the next several years.

So what is it that our governor sees differently in the same market, that she would sign off and approve of another golf resort in Benton Harbor, carved out of Jean Klock Park, and likely to be used and populated by the scions of Whirlpool? Does she have some super-secret inside scoop on American's hidden desire for more laundry equipment, the sales of which will boost the incomes of the golf-playing, condo-buying investor class?

Is it possible that those 5 million impending foreclosures will encourage their owners to take up residence in a Whirlpool washer? What did I miss in my analysis that would persuade the governor that there would actually be an increasing number of jobs in this particular venture, when most other resorts are scrabbling for customers?

What could possibly change my mind to agree with her assessment?

Hmm. I wonder.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jailed Benton Harbor activist's notes were illegally seized, lawyer charges

Eartha Jane Melzer, Michigan Messenger

Thursday (04/17)

A lawyer for an imprisoned Benton Harbor community activist, the Rev. Edward Pinkney, claims the Berrien County sheriff authorized a raid of Pinkney's jail cell last month, confiscated his legal notes and sent copies of them to the judge scheduled to hear his probation violation case.

Pinkney, an associate pastor at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Benton Harbor, is well-known locally as executive director of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO) and a critic of the police and court system. He has also actively opposed Whirlpool Corp. plans to build a privately owned golf course on the city's Jean Klock Park along Lake Michigan.

He was convicted of election fraud last year for his role in organizing a successful recall campaign against a Benton Harbor city commissioner. The court found him guilty of influencing voters with money, attempting to influence absent voters and three counts of possessing absentee ballots. He was placed on probation with terms that include he "not participate in any capacity in a campaign for any public election" and "not engage in any assaultative, abusive, defamatory, demeaning, harassing, violent, threatening, or intimidating behavior."

Pinkney was arrested on Dec. 14 after a Benton Harbor parole officer claimed he had violated his probation by calling the Benton Harbor criminal justice system "racist," "corrupt" and "dumb" in the November/December issue of The Chicago People's Tribune.

On Dec. 20, Chief Judge Alfred Butzbaugh of Berrien County Circuit Court ruled that Pinkney's "racist," "corrupt" and "dumb" statements were constitutionally protected, but he denied bail after ruling that other Pinkney statements -- referencing Deuteronomy on the plagues that fall upon the houses of the wicked -- might constitute a breach of probation and also might constitute a threat against the judge. Butzbaugh disqualified himself from hearing the case because he was specifically referenced in Pinkney's statements.

"Pinkney is in danger of being the first preacher, that I know of, in America to go to jail for quoting the Bible," said his attorney, Hugh Davis.

Pinkney's notes were seized on March 21 in what prison officials described as "a routine shakedown," according to Davis.

In a letter to the Berrien County sheriff, Davis said that confiscating Pinkney's notes and forwarding them to the judge is illegal and "smacks of obstruction of justice and improper unilateral communications with the Court."

Davis has argued that all of the judges in Berrien County Circuit Court should be disqualified from hearing Pinkney's probation violation case because all of the judges have been directly and personally criticized by Pinkney for years. Judge Butzbaugh is considering the motion to disqualify the judges and has denied Pinkney bond.

Pinkney's wife, Dorothy, added commas said that police have also seized the jail-issued medicine her 59-year-old husband had been using to treat the back pain he's developed as a result of sleeping on a thin mattress on the concrete floor. She said jail staff have also confiscated Pinkney's notes detailing the mistreatment of inmates.

In a phone interview with Michigan Messenger, Sheriff L. Paul Bailey acknowledged that papers had been removed from Pinkney's cell but denied that Pinkney is being abused.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Benton Harbor Residents and Supporters Reveal Illegal 1998 Sale of Jean Klock Park Beachfront

For Immediate Release: April 15, 2008

Contact: LuAnne Kozma, Defense of Place defenseofplacemichigan@gmail.com

Public demands investigation of DNR Complicity
(Benton Harbor, Michigan) – Residents and former residents of Benton Harbor revealed today an illegal sale of the northernmost portion of Jean Klock Park by the City of Benton Harbor in 1998. In a letter to the National Park Service, the federal agency considering a further conversion of the park for the massive Harbor Shores development, residents and Defense of Place, a park advocacy organization, describe how the parkland was sold off without Michigan Department of Natural Resources or National Park Service approval. The sale calls into question the entire sequence of events and motives of the City of Benton Harbor and the State of Michigan for the sale or conversion of now three separate transactions--Marram Shores, Grand Boulevard, and the proposed Harbor Shores golf course holes—all private developments that took or are attempting to take public parkland out of the park.

The more than one-and-one-half acre section now called Marram Shores, including over 300 feet of Lake Michigan lakefront, reportedly was sold for $400,000 in 1998. Similar lakefront land in other parts of Berrien County, Michigan, recently has sold in the range of $27,000 per foot. Four large homes were built on the lakefront property.

The land, on which the Higman Park Villa once stood, was added to Jean Klock Park in 1952. The lakefront parcel expanded Jean Klock Park's beach and was included in the Jean Klock Park boundary map when the City received a federal grant in 1975 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for park improvements. Because of the requirement that parks assisted by LWCF funds be maintained as parks in perpetuity, any conversion of protected land is subject to prior approval by the National Park Service and the City was supposed to replace the parkland with similar or better parkland. Public notice of any proposal to sell or "convert" the land, a publicized public comment period and public hearing on the proposal and replacement parkland must all occur. No matter when the park loss is reported to the federal government, replacement for the lost or sold parkland must occur.

"Funny how prime Klock Park land worth $425,000 an acre in the 1990's would be appraised at only $35,000 an acre in 2006," observed Julie Weiss, a Benton Harbor park advocate, commenting on the reported sale price of less than two acres compared with the appraisal being used to calculate the value of 22.11 acres for three holes of the proposed Harbor Shores golf course. "It's manipulations like this that made me understand why the people's legacy from the Klocks should not ever be put up for sale.

The residential development, originally called Jean Klock Beach Club and subsequently Marram Shores, is part of a master plan for the Edgewater district, which called for housing in the "Jean Klock Road area of Benton Harbor."

There is strong evidence that the planned series of conversions were intended to be a one-two-three step removal of the park from public ownership, starting with homes on the lake, then homes where part of the dunes once stood, and finally, a golf course taking most of the remainder of the park. "It appears that Jean Klock Park has been the target for a residential golf course development from the start that simply had three phases, " said LuAnne Kozma, Michigan Director of Defense of Place.

The letter writers have asked the National Park Service to halt any further conversion of Jean Klock Park until the illegal loss of the lakefront parkland is fully mitigated. They also requested that the federal agency investigate the State of Michigan covering up the sale in documents pertaining to other conversions of Jean Klock Park. The State is charged with administration of the federal LWCF program.

Board tries to convince Pokagons to share

Members hope proposed bylaw changes will persuade tribe to release funds from new casino
By SCOTT AIKEN H-P Staff Writer
ST. JOSEPH — Members of a board formed to distribute money from the Four Winds Casino to local governments hope proposed bylaw revi­sions will remove an obstacle blocking the release of funds.

[Would that a "board" might form in St. Joseph to distribute some of the massive Whirlpool profits to local governments. It's not difficult to imagine which local gov. would like the Pokagons' "released" funds. Read full article at HeraldPalladium.com today, 4/15/08 - very difficult to find in archives....]

Golf's Growing Unpopularity and Environmental Destruction

More Americans Are Giving Up Golf


...More troubling to golf boosters, the number of people who play 25 times a year or more fell to 4.6 million in 2005 from 6.9 million in 2000, a loss of about a third...A two-year campaign by the [Nat'l. Golf] Foundation to bring new players into the game, he said, “hasn’t shown much in the way of results.”...Between 1990 and 2003, developers built more than 3,000 new golf courses in the United States, bringing the total to about 16,000. Several hundred have closed in the last few years, most of them in Arizona, Florida, Michigan and South Carolina, according to the foundation.


Environmental concerns over the use of land for golf courses have grown over the past 50 years. Specific concerns include the amount of water and chemical pesticides and fertilizers used for maintenance, as well as the destruction of wetlands and other environmentally important areas during construction...People continue to oppose golf courses for environmental and human survival reasons, as they impede corridors for migrating animals and sanctuaries for birds and other wildlife. In fact, the effective non-native monoculture of golf courses systematically destroys biodiversity...A result of modern equipment is that today's players can hit the ball much further than previously. In a concern for safety, golf course architects have had to lengthen and widen golf courses. This has led to a ten percent increase in the amount of area that is required for golf courses.

Excellent Documentary

Especially important for Berrien County residents to see:

American Drug War: The Last White Hope (2007)

...this documentary serves as an excellent report on the drug war in the United States and has devoted a significant amount of its time to the incident that occurred in that town[Tulia], with a great interview with Amarillo attorney Jeff Blackburn, who led the fight to free the Tulia 46.

It is so much more than that, as it gives a history of the CIA involvement in the crack epidemic in the US, and also presents facts that will leave no doubt that the government used drugs to finance the illegal war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, but they continue to use them to suppress people of color in this country. (read more by typing in the title at imdb.com)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Whirlpool's Divisive Development

by Eartha Jane Melzer

Monday 04/14/08


The corporate giant's plan to privatize a poor town's waterside park provokes citizen opposition

Julie Weiss had returned to Benton Harbor from Chicago to look after her parents and was walking on the beach at Jean Klock Park in September 2006 when she came upon a sign that said, "18th tee."

That's when the 54-year-old musician and former financial services worker learned that part of the city's Lake Michigan dune park is slated to be absorbed by a controversial private golf course and luxury home development sponsored by Whirlpool Corp., the local manufacturing giant. The state has approved $120 million in tax incentives for the project, known as Harbor Shores.

The 73-acre park was given to the city of Benton Harbor in 1917 by owners John and Carrie Klock to be used as a public park and bathing beach, in memory of a daughter who died as an infant. The park contains a half mile of Lake Michigan shoreline and is popular with picnickers, swimmers and wedding parties. It is home to a population of the threatened plant species Rose-pink and features dunes, marsh and interdunal wetland. It has become precious public real estate for Benton Harbor, where four residents in 10 live below the poverty line and 92 percent are black.

Now in a David-vs.-Goliath struggle, Weiss and a small group calling itself the Friends of Jean Klock Park are seeking to block a corporate and political juggernaut pushing an economic development project that supporters say will create hundreds of jobs. The controversy in Benton Harbor illuminates the tensions between corporate economic development and public community interests.

Weiss is an amateur historian whose father was a Benton Harbor city commissioner for decades starting in the 1970s. She watched the once-proud city descend into disrepair and desperation. When she learned that the state's plan for the area involved massive subsidies for a luxury development and the virtual giveaway of the city's beachfront, she got angry and began to ask questions.

"While Whirlpool has offered much to the community historically, the public should not abdicate its citizenship role in favor of private-sector decision making," she told Michigan Messenger. "Once the public is eliminated from the planning process, because these public-private partnerships lack transparency ... the community, our constitutional democracy, in fact, becomes weaker and weaker."

Harbor Shores is slated to cover 530 acres and include 860 units of luxury housing, a 350-room hotel and conference center with an 60,000-square-foot indoor water park. The centerpiece of the project is a 110-acre, 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course that requires stunning lake views and must be sited on 22 acres of Jean Klock Park, according to developers.

Whirlpool is used to getting its way in Benton Harbor. It was founded here in 1911 by Fredrick Upton, grandfather of Fred Upton, the Republican congressman who represents the region. Now the largest home appliance manufacturer in the world, the company has annual sales of approximately $19 billion per year. Whirlpool has outsourced most of its manufacturing, but still runs its corporate offices from Benton Harbor.

So when Whirlpool and a coalition of local nonprofits and quasi-public economic development authorities began to tout the project, Gov. Jennifer Granholm paid attention. In a May 2006 letter to Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig, Granholm promised that the state would provide "technical assistance" in the matter of permit approvals for the project, which she called "a wonderful example of sustainable development."

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation promised more than $120 million in economic incentives. Most of the state support comes from tax incentive programs that will allow the developers to pay environmental cleanup and infrastructure development costs instead of paying taxes on the increase in value of the property as it goes from empty land to luxury development. While supporters of the Harbor Shores project claim that the project will increase the tax base in Benton Harbor, according to the Berrien County Community Development Department the state's tax incentive program allows the developer to avoid increased tax payments for 30 years.

In October 2006, Benton Harbor's city commissioners and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund signed off on the project and approved the transfer of parkland to developers without much public debate.

But in October 2007, the National Park Service unexpectedly refused to sign off on the transfer. The Park Service has a stake in Jean Klock Park because it once gave the city a grant to build a bathhouse there. In a letter rejecting the land transfer proposal, the Park Service said that the deal appeared to transfer the entire city park to private developers in perpetuity and the proposal replacement parcels were not of equal recreational value.

"We can find no evidence that the public was accorded a minimum 30-day period during which they could provide comments specific to the environmental analysis of the subject conversion and replacement proposals," wrote Ernest Quintana, the Park Service's regional director.

The Park Service's action has given Friends of Jean Klock Park time to research, network and strategize. Opponents of the project have launched recall campaigns against three city commissioners who approved the Harbor Shores development, and have demanded the city find independent legal counsel to advise on the deal.

"It's borderline criminal what they are doing" in trying to rush through the land transfer, said Juanita Henry, the lone dissenter on the commission. Harbor Shores is "all about helping the real estate developers," she charged.

Wendy Dant Chesser, spokeswoman for Harbor Shores, told Michigan Messenger that although some aspects of the project have been revised -- there have been no takers on developing the water park, which was once cited as a unique draw for tourists and essential to the project -- the basic idea of building a luxury development around a golf course remains.

"We have five hotel operators that are interested in this project, and they are working on proposals for us," she said. In response to a question about the advisability of offering luxury housing in a bleak real estate market, Chesser said the market for second homes in the area has been less affected by the economic downturn.

Chesser said Harbor Shores developers have submitted a new park lease proposal to the Benton Harbor City Commission as part of a new attempt at winning National Park Service approval for their plan. The new lease proposal raises the portion of maintenance jobs promised to Benton Harbor residents from 25 percent to 40 percent. It also adds language to make clear that Benton Harbor residents can still use the beach, and it states that during the wintertime they will be permitted to use the whole park for activities such as sledding, she said.

Opponents are not persuaded. Armin Schlieffarth, a 25-year-old political science graduate who has made researching the Harbor Shores project his full-time hobby, says the jobs that Harbor Shores claims it will create are relatively low-paid service positions.

Golf is also a risky bet as economic development, the opponents say, because Berrien County and Michigan as a whole are full of golf courses, and even elite Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses are failing in places with better weather and longer golfing seasons, according to news reports.

Schlieffarth points out that the economic impact study for the Harbor Shores project -- which was produced by the Upjohn Institute, a nonprofit employment research group, and included in the proposal made to the Park Service -- was based on outdated figures from the developers. In recognition of this, this month the Upjohn Institute released an updated and more modest jobs projection with a new disclaimer stating that the report is not a feasibility study and that the group has no opinion on the land transfer involving the park.

"They are taking away land that was given in memory of a child, taking it away from other children who can't vote, and who won't be able to use it," Schlieffarth says.

Friends of Jean Klock Park has petitioned Granholm, asking her to withdraw her support for the project, without success. They also appealed to the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources, asking for an environmental impact study of the Harbor Shores project. This request was also rejected.

The Benton Harbor City Commission has opened a public comment period on Harbor Shores' revised proposal for Jean Klock Park and scheduled a public hearing for Thursday [4/17].

The state remains committed to the project. Liz Boyd, a spokeswoman for Granholm, told Michigan Messenger, "Our goal is to work with all of the parties to make sure that this project can go forward."

Friends of the park are still opposed.

"Beautiful, though tattered, public spaces like Jean Klock Park should be protected from any encroachment by tender loving care," said Weiss, who discovered the golf sign in the park and who is now working on a history of Jean Klock Park. "Less-affluent people and communities should not have to sacrifice dunes or any special public land for part-time, seasonal jobs."

If the development is not successful, she said, "the destruction would all have been for nothing."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Send a Postcard Supporting Rev. Pinkney's Application for Pardon

Please forward widely

On the 40th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., an Application for Pardon or Commutation of
Sentence was hand delivered to the Parole Board at the Michigan
Department of Corrections.

A copy of the cover letter accompanying the application is below.

Please send letters or postcards supporting Rev. Pinkney's application
to the Parole Board. These are extremely important.

Your text can be as simple as: "I support Rev. Pinkney's application for pardon."

Michigan Department of Corrections
Office of the Parole Board
Pardons and Commutations Coordinator
Post Office Box 30003
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Thank you in advance for your contribution to this effort.

April 4, 2008 HAND DELIVERED

Michigan Department of Corrections
Office of the Parole Board
Grandview Plaza Building
206 E. Michigan Avenue
Lansing, MI 48909
Re: The Reverend Edward Pinkney, MDOC No. 294671
Application for Pardon or Commutation of Sentence
Dear Board Members:
Please find enclosed the above-referenced Application for Pardon or Commutation of Sentence for the Rev. Edward Pinkney, who is currently at Berrien County Jail.
To supplement Exhibit A. I am including additional letters submitted in support of Rev. Pinkney. These letters were sent by supporters throughout the United States, including Emmy Award Winning Actor Edward Asner (Exhibit A96), The National Conference of Black Lawyers (Exhibit A29), legislators (Exhibit A1), members of the judiciary (Exhibit A11), and of various other civil and human rights organizations.
Also attached is an online Petition in support of Rev. Pinkney, which as of March 31, 2008 contained five hundred fifty-four signatures (Exhibit A Petition, 1-13).
This application further contains articles about Pinkney’s role in the Benton Harbor community, the events surrounding the recall election and Rev. Pinkney’s trial and sentencing (Exhibit B, 1-20).
he final section of the application packet contains a polygraph examination report Rev. Pinkney completed in response to the allegations against him (Exhibit C, 1-2).
Should you have any questions regarding Rev. Pinkney’s application, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Kelly A. Flint

Saturday, April 12, 2008

3 drug raids net 5 arrests

Noteworthy in today's HP article are the use of the term "net" in the title, the term "drug house" multiple times, and the fact that law enforcement is now using tasers on BH residents. "Net" implies the idea that arresting BH residents is a major goal in Berrien County. "Drug house" is such a derogatory term which conjures up all kinds of images and meanings for the reader. And, can you imagine the use of tasers in St. Joe? This new weapon against citizens has come under scrutiny by many - here's just one article from November.
(Tasers Are A Form Of Torture
- http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/25/national/main3537803.shtml)

The phony US "war on drugs" makes law enforcement actions like this possible. Lives are ruined, sometimes for good. But, that's what Berrien County has in mind. (Excellent site:

BENTON HARBOR April 12, 2008 By JULIE SWIDWA Herald Palladium
Five people were jailed on investigation of drug charges after police raided three residences in the city Friday morning.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Unit, assisted by county road patrol and Benton Harbor police, acted on search warrants after a weeklong investigation into citizen tips about alleged drug activity at the three places.

At 466 E. Empire Ave., Apt. 1, police arrested Frankie Lee Carlton III, 26, on investigation of charges of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, maintaining a drug house and possession of a police scanner during the commission of a crime; and Natasha Ann Bobo, 20, on investigation of a charge of maintaining a drug house. A 17-year-old girl also at the residence was released after the 6:45 a.m. search.

Police said they found about $60 worth of suspected crack cocaine and other evidence of drug dealing and seized $355 cash under civil forfeiture law.

Around 8 a.m., police went to 747 Colfax Ave., Apt. 1. They arrested Justin Lee Shannon, 21, on investigation of charges of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver (second offense), maintaining a drug house (second offense), and resisting and obstructing a police officer. Police said Shannon refused to comply with verbal commands, so they used a Taser to help apprehend him. Police found about $100 worth of suspected marijuana and other evidence of drug dealing and seized $37 cash.

Also arrested at the Colfax Avenue apartment was Leneice Marie Wallace, 28, on investigation of a charge of maintaining a drug house (second offense). A 12-year-old child was turned over to a family member, police said.

According to a sheriff’s department news release, Wallace also had been arrested at the same address after police executed a search warrant there on March 18. She pleaded guilty on April 8 in Berrien County Trial Court to a charge of maintaining a drug house and is currently on a deferred sentence on that conviction, police said.

The third drug bust was at 846 Mineral Ave. around 9:25 a.m. Police said they found about $320 worth of suspected crack cocaine, a small amount of suspected marijuana and other evidence of drug trafficking.

Phillip Dominique-Sharrah York, 19, was arrested on investigation of charges of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana and maintaining a drug house.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The REAL News about Harbor Shores

This study should be read by everyone who cares about the land and people of Benton Harbor.
Go to the website and scroll down a bit to:

Economic Impact of Proposed Harbor Shores Development
This report provides an estimate of the potential economic impact of the proposed Harbor Shores development in Berrien County, Michigan.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Promise of Right to Counsel for Poor Remains an Illusion in Michigan [Especially in Berrien]

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 18, 2008 (emphasis added)

DETROIT --The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan today marked the 45th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright by calling on Michigan to provide adequate legal defense for the poor.

The landmark 1963 decision held that the Constitution guarantees every person charged with a felony the right to an attorney even if he or she cannot afford one. Subsequent cases have refined the ruling to extend to misdemeanor cases and to require "competent" representation. Unfortunately, the promise of Gideon remains largely unfulfilled in Michigan.

“Every day, people who cannot afford private counsel are being denied justice in Michigan,” said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director. “Michigan must step up on this anniversary and take charge of public defense to ensure that all people in Michigan receive equal justice.”

In February 2007, the ACLU of Michigan, along with coalition partners the National ACLU and the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore filed a lawsuit against the State of Michigan and Governor Jennifer Granholm for failing to fulfill their constitutional obligation to provide adequate defense services to those who cannot afford private counsel.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Ingham County, charges that Michigan has long abdicated its constitutional duty to ensure that citizens accused of crimes receive timely, qualified, appropriately-resourced lawyers for their defense. For more than 30 years, state and local experts have reported on the deficiencies of Michigan’s public defense system, yet the state has done nothing to improve the situation. Recently, an American Bar Association report on the state of public defense across the country repeatedly cited Michigan for failing to meet the ABA Ten Principles, which are considered the fundamental criteria a system must meet to provide effective public defense.

The lawsuit focuses on three counties – Muskegon County, Berrien County, and Genesee County, where the problems associated with public defense are obvious.

In Berrien County for example, the prosecution receives almost four times the funding of the public defense system. Because of these and other inequities, public defenders are crippled by overwhelming caseloads that impede them from meeting with their clients, investigating cases, filing appropriate pre-trial motions, and preparing properly for court appearances.

In May, an Ingham County Circuit Court Judge denied the state’s request to dismiss the case.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Treatment of Inmates in Jails & Prisons (quote)

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its
prisons. -F. Dostoyevsky, novelist (1821-1881)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Speech is Stifled at City Commission Meeting

Get ready for an imagination stretch (this actually happened last week):

The National Park Service rejected Cornerstone Alliance's lease agreement for Benton Harbor's pristine Jean Klock Park for the Harbor Shores development. (Cornerstone is one of several developers, the major developer being Whirlpool in Berrien County, Michigan.)

At the Benton Harbor City Commission meeting last week (3/25/07) Cornerstone fired back at the federal government by announcing a different lease agreement, changing some of the language that was previously unacceptable to the National Park Service. (Rep. Fred Upton has been aggressively pulling strings in Washington to force the Park Service to reverse their decision.) Technically, the city of BH is resubmitting the document, but Cornerstone is in charge of and paying for the attorneys writing it.

During the Commission meeting a former Commissioner, Hurley Wallace, took his turn at the podium during the "Open Meeting" segment. He began reading the 1917 document which deeds Jean Klock Park to Benton Harbor residents for eternity. After he got through maybe two sentences, a current commissioner ordered him to stop, and he was escorted out by police chief Mingo; Cornerstone "officials" were in attendance to make their presentation.




Friday, April 04, 2008

St. Joe gets new playground equipment for 80K

"Workers from Kinder Konstruction of Kalamazoo install a climbing wall, part of the new playground equipment being installed this week at Eaton Park in St. Joseph Township. About $80,000 worth of work is being done."

Read the story and see a photograph of the work being done at Eaton Park on the front page of the Herald Palladium, April 3. This will never happen in Benton Harbor. Grants and other monies for BH have been carefully siphoned into St. Joe for many, many years. It has given that town every advantage possible, and BH merely crumbs and leftovers.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Continued Jail Harassment of Rev. Pinkney

*please forward*

Middle of the Night in Berrien County, Michigan jail

Friday, 3/28, 2am - Deputy Thompson, instead of throwing away an empty potato chip bag waiting for trash pick-up, "wrote up" Rev. Pinkney and ordered him to remove it.

3am - Dep. Thompson appeared again, holding a bar of soap, and awoke Rev. P. for the second time. He asked why the soap was placed in a certain position. Rev. P. informed the deputy it was not his. (There are no rules stating inmates cannot have soap.) Dep. T. keeps trying and failing to get Rev. P. into a fight.

Deputies are now using the N word in the jail. It seems that Sheriff Bailey has authorized this word usage. Inmates live with continual personal humiliation, intimidation, no tissue, cold and tasteless food, sour & lumpy milk, bugs crawling on the wall, dirty uniforms, no soap, and soiled sheets and towels.

Rev. Pinkney is a whistle-blower who became too well-known for truth-telling in a county where wealthy elites are accustomed to operating without it. Can ONLY operate without it. This is another Berrien County innocent incarceration, only this time it's not a random incarceration. The reason is to remove a voice of justice where greed and power have a criminal stronghold. And you can bet Whirlpool makes sure jail deputies try to break down this aging activist.

Mrs. Pinkney took 3 white t-shirts and 6 bars of soap to the jail for her husband. He was given one of each.

Checks to BANCO for Pinkney's legal fees:
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Mega Land Heist and Humanitarian/Environmental Crime

Unfortunately, not an April Fool's joke....
Cornerstone Alliance (Whirlpool) is seriously attempting to pull this off.
They make certain they can count on the BH City Commission to get what they want....
There's a photograph of Whirlpool Corp. in the Commission's meeting space!
Read between the lines when possible, and do your own research - two things that are always necessary to decifer the reporting of the Herald Palladium.

Harbor Shores public review period will begin this weekBy Julie SwidaHerald Palladium Staff Writer 1/1/07
BENTON HARBOR — A 30-day public review and comment period regarding the Jean Klock Park Conversion and Mitigation Proposal for the Harbor Shores develop­ment will begin Wednesday.
The Benton Harbor City Commission voted Monday night to approve the public re­view process, which includes a public hearing 6-9 p.m. April 17 at the Benton Harbor Mich­igan Works! office.
The plan involves leasing part of the park to Harbor Shores Community Redevel­opment Inc. for three holes of a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, the centerpiece of the proposed half-billion dollar development that would in­clude hotels, marinas and hun­dreds of new houses in Benton Harbor, Benton Township and St. Joseph.
The park conversion plan involves a lease for the golf course and a maintenance agreement for the park. It needs the approval of the Na­tional Park Service because federal money was used when the park was developed.
The proposal calls for the city to approve a long-term lease converting 22.11 acres of the non-beach portion of Jean Klock Park to public golf course use. In exchange, Har­bor Shores would pay for im­provements to the rest of the park and convert 38.41 acres of other land to parks linked to the city’s downtown and resi­dential areas by a trail system. The April 17 public hearing will be led by Phillip Schaeffer, a retired circuit court judge from Kalamazoo. Written com­ments can be submitted at the public hearing or can be sent to the city clerk’s office.
The documents pertaining to the park conversion and miti­gation proposal are available for public review at City Hall, 200 E. Wall St.; the clerk’s of­fice, 175 Territorial Road; the Benton Harbor Public Library, 213 E. Wall St.; and Benton
Harbor Area Schools Adminis­trative Offices, 777 Riverview Drive.
The documents include a de­tailed description of the pro­posed conversion and replace­ment parcels, related agreements and environmental assessments.
The documents have been reviewed by the Michigan De­partment of Natural Resources and the National Park Service. The public hearing and 30-day public review period must take place before a final proposal is submitted. During Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Juani­ta Henry proposed a longer public comment period, but other commissioners said it is time to move the proposal along. The vote to schedule the process as outlined was unani­mous.
In another matter, the City Commission approved spend­ing $4,500 for a facilitator for a three-day workshop later this month.
The decision-making and goal-setting retreat will be 6 to 9 p.m. April 18, 8:30 a.m.to 2 p.m. April 19 and a yet-to-be­scheduled date. The meetings will be led at the city’s Busi­ness Growth Center by Joe Ohren, a consultant recom­mended by the Michigan Mu­nicipal League. City Manager Richard Marsh, in proposing the retreat, said that because he and several city commissioners are new, it is necessary to invest time and resources into discussing roles, responsibilities and procedures for strengthening decision­making processes in the city.
The workshops will involve commissioners, department heads and some citizens. Marsh said the first session will deal with decision-making process­es and the second session will deal with goal-setting. After that, a third session will be scheduled at which goals will be prioritized and timelines set to reach the goals.