The thrust [of the Berrien 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 and the foremost leader
of the resistance is Rev. Edward Pinkney. --Civil rights attorney, Hugh "Buck" Davis
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The Herald-Palladium reports the Cornerstone Alliance spin on Jean Klock Park as factual alluding that there are only a “couple of people” opposing the City of Benton Harbor lease deal with Harbor Shores Redevelopment Inc. for three holes of their Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Perhaps that newspaper should investigate for the truth rather than perpetuating the propaganda.
Hopefully, the readers and federal agencies understand that the public hearing “pro-golf course use of JKP supporters” majority were actually Cornerstone Alliance members residing in St. Joseph, Stevensville and surrounding areas--and not representative of BH residents.
Those supporters are not facing “good-for-the-area” land grab developments in their local public parks. A proposal to close a portion of Lions Park or Tiscornia Park in St. Joseph for the golf course would cause a major outcry. However, the local elected leadership doesn’t listen to the residents’ voiced concerns when expressing opposition to some development.
Several BH City Commissioners repeatedly state that anyone residing outside of the City of BH should not have any say in what the commissioners choose to do with the city’s JKP.
They emphasize that their responsibility is to the BH residents who elected them. Therefore, their responsibility should also be to protect this valuable lakeshore public park gift from encroaching development.
By the commissioners’ own statements, the non-BH residents’ letters should not receive any credence. Why are the “pro-golf course use of JKP” BH city residents not regularly proclaiming support at public city commission meetings?
That paper has reported the over-saturation of golf courses in Michigan, and the failing golf course developments around the nation. The Oaks golf course, formerly located on Niles Road/M-63, became another housing development. A number of fine, outstanding and struggling golf courses exist in Southwest Michigan. How many courses will be put out of business with the Harbor Shores plans? Has consideration been given to those existing businesses, the damage that will be done, and the jobs that will be lost? Or don’t those existing business owners count? [Golf course runoff is number one cause of Great Lakes pollution. ed.]
The question causing “great disappointment” for many is why a proposed plan to enrich JKP and all of its natural beauty was not presented and sold as a tourist destination?
When were the BH residents, Commissioners and the various local governmental agencies ever publicly presented with alternative proposals for JKP? When were the publicized opportunities in the planning stages to present original plans for this invaluable shoreline parkland given?
How long have local entities plotted to get and steal this Lake Michigan land gem from the rightful BH owner residents forever losing another portion of JKP? Those are the facts that need to be reported publicly. Unfortunately, Cornerstone Alliance chose to operate backwards on these development plans making deals and promises and now trying to get the permissions. And, anyone expressing opposition to their plans is “anti-progress” and “destroying the future of the area.” Do they believe that the residents are that ignorant?
For those who keep reporting that no one uses the park, have you been there recently? I wish you could see all of the people that are having fun and using the park on a daily basis. Evidently no one told them that they were not supposed to be there.
--Bette Pierman, Benton Harbor
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
|Above are photos of when the ceiling first started caving in from extensive water damage. Due to the landlord's failure to fix over [an entire year], the ceiling eventually caved in.|
I would love nothing better than to write great stories about the Benton Harbor Baseball Team becoming State Champs, as featured on the Front Page or share the story of how Bruce “Bruno” Zech's family celebrates his remembrance (what a great story), featured on the Education Page.
But, today, after months; no, years, of working to provide a solution for our community through the Benton Spirit Community Newspaper -- print and on-line, I am forced to share the other side of being a small business owner.
Before you read the following, I want all of our readers to know about the disrepair that I have experienced at my business and the lack of cooperation that I have received from my landlord and leaders in our community. The photograph shown is one of hundreds we have in our files for the past several years and this story is yet another efforts in our attempt to get this resolved and a brief explanation of what we are still experiencing today.
I hope my story encourages others who are facing similar situations to not give up. I have not been available to some and unable to give of myself as in the past, please do not blame my heart, but try to understand the struggle of a small business owner refusing to give in and up.
I am still left with more questions than answers/solutions.
I was told by one of our community leaders that a resolution/closure would be coming my way soon. The photograph is a small fractic of seven years of running my business in substandard conditions. I have sent letters, e-mails, telephoned my landlord, his mortgage holder, the fiduciary of property where he has received grant dollars off of Benton Harbor residents' statistics, for over two years, to no avail.
Article continues - bentonspiritnews.com
Monday, July 28, 2008
|Rev. Ed Pinkney PEOPLE’S TRIBUNE PHOTO|
By Teresa Kelly, Monday, July 28, 2008
The Michigan Citizen
BENTON HARBOR — Quoting Deuteronomy 28:14-22 to a Berrien County Judge will bring down the wrath of the judicial system.
Rev. Edward Pinkney learned that lesson the hard way. The Benton Harbor Assistant pastor has gone from the bowels of the Berrien County jail to Jackson prison to serve 3-10 years for quoting Deuteronomy to Berrien Chief Judge Alfred M. Butzbaugh.
“I didn’t feel threatened by Pinkney but his connection to God,” the judge said at the June 26 sentencing, according to attorneys and supporters.
Pinkney’s trial attorneys, Hugh “Buck” Davis and Elliott Hall, the first African American Vice President of Ford Motor Company, have filed a 115-page appeals brief raising 13 arguments why Pinkney’s conviction is invalid and unconstitutional, Davis said. Although the limit is 65-pages for an appeal, the Appeals Court agreed to accept the excess with the free speech and freedom of religion issues in the case.
“As far as I know he’s the first preacher in America to get put into prison for quoting the Bible,” Davis said on a radio show.
Now, the ACLU has formally taken up Pinkney’s case, a case likely to rise from current obscurity to national interest.
Pinkney’s conviction for quoting Scripture was an “execution,” said Marian Kramer, Welfare Rights Organization and organizer of a meeting at Hannah House in Detroit, July 25 to plan a strategy for freeing Pinckney.
Dorothy Pinkney, the Reverend’s wife, provided an update on the case which begins back in 2004.
“It’s a KKK county, a group of organized crime, a criminal ring,” she said describing the Berrien Court system, county government and the control Whirlpool Corp. exercises over all.
She reminded listeners that Rev. Pinkney had been fighting injustices of the Berrien court system for years. For example, every Tuesday, wearing a t-shirt listing each Berrien County judge under the headline of Berrien County’s “Most Wanted,” Rev. Pinkney organized a picket in front of the courthouse located on the St. Joseph side of the river.
SUCCESSFUL RECALL LED TO ARREST
Pinkney’s legal problems date to 2005 when BANCO (Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizations), which he heads, successfully recalled Benton Harbor City Commissioner Glen Yarbrough.
Yarbrough, part of a historic Black family with close ties to Berrien County government but with cloudy reputations in the community—including persistent reports of substance abuse, rumors of drug dealing to minors, and known physical attacks on others—survived the recall despite rejection by voters 297-246.
He was saved because county authorities challenged the results of the recall election, raided the Benton Harbor city clerk’s office and seized the voting records at the county clerk’s office. A month later Berrien Judge Paul Maloney threw out the election as tainted by fraud.
The city council fired city clerk Jean Nesbitt who was responsible for the election.
Because Nesbitt had communicated with Rev. Pinkney during the election about the election and because he had handled absentee ballots through her office, county authorities arrested him April 18, charging him with vote fraud.
Pinkney’s first trial on voter fraud charges March 2006 was declared a mistrial when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict.
A year later, March 2007, Berrien County retried Pinckeny on the same three felony charges of improper possession of absentee ballots, one felony count of influencing voters while they were voting and a misdemeanor charge of influencing voters with money.
An all white jury—Benton Harbor is 93 percent Black, Berrien County, 20 percent—found him guilty on all counts.
The local newpaper, the Herald-Palladium said, “justice was served” and concluded, “and now he’ll pay for it.”
Two months later, May 15, Judge Butzbaugh sentenced Pinkney to one year in jail as part of a five-year probation, but suspended the actual jail time, ordering him to stay home, on a tether and observe certain conditions of probation. He was required to refrain from political campaigning, to avoid threatening and intimating behavior, to not use a cell phone and to not associate with any person known to have a criminal conviction.
JAILED FOR CALLING JUDGE RACIST
Pinkney remained on house arrest until Dec. 21, 2007, when Butzbaugh issued a warrant for his arrest. A sentence that appeared in an article in the November 2007 issue of The People’s Tribune, a Chicago-based monthly infuriated the judge.
“We must fight for justice for all any time you have a judge like Alfred Butzbaugh, who is a racist,” Pinkney wrote and added that he had been denied due process “by the dumb judge and prosecutor....I support the constitution of the United States and the State of Michigan; we are still waiting on this racist corrupt judge to do the same.”
Butzbaugh ruled the writing violated the terms of the probation and contained threats not protected by the constitution. He ordered Pinkney serve the jail term that had been held in abeyance for almost a year.
From Berrien County jail, Pinkney waged a new campaign for justice revealing the inhumane conditions of the jail. Outraged at the conditions the inmates—overwhelmingly Black and from Benton Harbor—had to endure in the jail, Pinkney turned to scripture and wrote a letter to the judge quoting Deuteronomy 28:14-22. The passage recites the evils God will measure out to those in high places and who have great responsibility if they mistreat the people they are chosen to serve.
Butzbaugh recused himself from the June hearing on Pinkney’s parole violations saying he and his family were the target of Pinkney’s biblical threats and the case was heard by former Prosecutor Dennis Wiley.
Wiley is known for his own racism in Benton Harbor.
The night 16-year old African American Eric McGinnis disappeared in all-white St. Joseph over a decade ago only to be pulled from the river days later, Wiley was one of the three men—all Berrien County officials—to last see McGinnis alive. The three men said they watched the youth run down a street as they entered a bar on Main Street in St. Joseph.
For Pinkney, Wiley ruled the parole violation did occur and imposed a prison sentence from three to 10 years since Pinkney two prior felony convictions over a decade ago.
NEXT WEEK: Whirlpool Corp.’s beach front land grab that is the basis of Rev. Edward Pinkney’s legal issues.
Detroit Pastor, Union Theological Seminary graduate and Biblical scholar Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman testifies to Biblical meaning of Deuteronomy 28.
“But if you do not hearken to the voice of the LORD, your God, and are not careful to observe all his commandments which I enjoin on you today, all these curses shall come upon you and overwhelm you:
“May you be cursed in the city, and cursed in the country!
“Cursed be your grain bin and your kneading bowl!
“Cursed be the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your livestock, the issue of your herds and the young of your flocks!
“May you be cursed in your coming in, and cursed in your going out!
“The LORD will put a curse on you, defeat and frustration in every enterprise you undertake, until you are speedily destroyed and perish for the evil you have done in forsaking me.
The LORD will bring a pestilence upon you that will persist until he has exterminated you from the land you are entering to occupy.
The LORD will strike you with wasting and fever, with scorching, fiery drought, with blight and searing wind, that will plague you until you perish.
|by Dr. Lenore Jean Daniels|
| Wednesday, 02 July 2008, sfbayview.com |
Rev. Edward Pinkney, Judge Dennis Wiley said to the courtroom, has "too much influence."
We hear echoes of a past time. It’s so relevant to know our past. A man had been beaten by the New York police. Malcolm X appeared at the police station. He wasn’t alone. Surrounded by members of the Fruit of Islam (FOI) and a crowd from the Harlem community, Malcolm asks to see the young man. Leaving the scene is not an option. Malcolm is allowed to see the injured man and, afterward, demands that this man receive medical treatment. The police agree.
But the police are concerned about the FOI and the community people outside. An officer asks the crowd to disburse. The FOI and the crowd stayed still. Malcolm tells the officer that this crowd will not move for him. Then Malcolm waves his hand, and the FOI and the community folks disburse.
The office tells another: That’s too much power for one man. “One man” didn’t mean “one man”!
The one man wasn’t under the influence of city authorities in Harlem. The one man represented the many invisible and made them visible.
So it is with Rev. Edward Pinkney, organizer and activist – a man feared because he has “too much influence.”
You may recall that Rev. Pinkney organized people to protest the privatization of Benton Harbor, a depressed area, where Blacks have suffered layoffs from the auto industry and by Whirlpool Corp. For Whirlpool executives, politicians, judges and financial brokers, tackling unemployment and poverty in the predominately Black Benton Harbor meant removing the dispensable people! Did I mention that Benton Harbor has nice beachfront property?
The billion dollar Harbor Shores project includes a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, a multimillion dollar resort, condominiums and control of the water treatment plant.
“The project does not include Blacks,” Dorothy Pinkney, wife of Rev. Pinkney, told the San Francisco Bay View (May 21, 2008).
Thursday, June 26, 2008, Rev. Pinkney was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for “‘threatening’ the judiciary, according to Pat Foster’s report (bhbanco.blogspot.com). Rev. Pinkney was immediately transferred to Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson, Michigan. Mrs. Pinkney told me by phone that she is not allowed to see her husband for 30 days!
Dorothy Pinkney thought her husband was coming home. “We were prepared for him to come home,” she told me.
But the deciders have other plans for the human rights fighter. Fearing his power to organize resistance to what amounts to ethnic cleanings, their campaign against Rev. Pinkney includes charges that he cited a verse from Deuteronomy – no joke! According to Foster’s report, a minister from the United Methodist Church in Detroit “was questioned on the stand regarding this passage. He stated that the meaning of the passage was ‘that God would bring down either blessings or curses upon a person based upon their actions.’” Judge Wiley also admonished Rev. Pinkney for stealing an election!
“When judges abuse their authority, we are all victims,” Mrs. Pinkney told the San Francisco Bay View.But some "victims" of this ethnic cleansing have been quick to collaborate for personal gain. The Black city officials are "deceiving the people," Mrs. Pinkney said. They are suggesting that the facelift, the urban renewal, the revitalizing project, whatever you want to call it, will improve conditions for Blacks in Benton harbor! We live now in an era where Blacks collaborate! For a salary and a position in the "big" house, on a block near Master, they will throw their own people to the wolves. Will the unemployed Black really benefit from this land-grab? Will they practice a hole-in-one at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course or move into a condominium on the lakefront? Or do the deciders think employment for Blacks in Benton Harbor means work as a caddy or as a maid at the resort? This, too, we know, follows a familiar pattern: Whites live the "good life" at the expense of Black Americans by dividing the "elite" and middle class from the working class.
Even those Rev. Pinkney dared to represent are in hiding, fearful of retaliation from the deciders if they speak up on behalf of the Reverend. Is this the 1950s? Don’t be fooled! The pattern and operation of white supremacy hasn’t weakened. It’s improved to include the collusion of the victims and the punishment of authentic community leadership.
Mrs. Pinkney is “trying to stay focused and strong for him.”
In the meantime, the “one man” with too much influence is behind bars. This is a crime that goes unpunished. And progress for Blacks, Latino/as, Asians, the working class and the poor is here! Every day Rev. Pinkney isn’t free, we participate in his confinement.
Write a letter on behalf of Rev. Pinkney, ID 294671, to Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center, 3855 Cooper St., Jackson, MI 49201-7517.
Lenore Jean Daniels, Ph.D., is an Editorial Board member and columnist for www.BlackCommentator.com and a columnist for City Capital Hues.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Thou Shalt Not Write About Judges
By Mark Anderson (originally from Berrien County)
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- In what many see as a shocking miscarriage of justice and denial of free speech, a black minister from southwest Michigan was sentenced on June 26 to up to 10 years in state prison for writing an opinion article in a Chicago newspaper about a judge.
The Rev. Edward Pinkney's sentence was handed down by Berrien County Trial Court Judge Dennis Wiley, a former prosecutor who took the case after Chief Judge Alfred Butzbaugh recused himself because Pinkney's article was partly about him. Judge Butzbaugh felt that the article, steeped in biblical references about God smiting this judge for his official actions but devoid of any personal threats, still somehow threatened him and his family, but he passed the matter on to Wiley.
"Wiley found that Pinkney had threatened ... Judge Butzbaugh and used demeaning language, violations of a probation sentence Butzbaugh imposed in May 2007 for election fraud charges," reported The Herald Palladium, a stenographic daily newspaper notorious for its unflinching belief in the official version of events. All relevant judicial edicts, the operations of the sheriff's department and other official policies and procedures have been taken at face value by the Palladium and other conventional media. No meaningful questions have been asked by the area's docile print and broadcast reporters.
So, because Judge Wiley "found" the article threatening without any apparent independent review of the entire article by an impartial party, he sent Pinkney, now 59, up the river to the state pen in Jackson for "violating" a probation sentence that sought to squelch Pinkney's free speech rights by imposing a gag order, according to noted civil rights attorney Hugh "Buck" Davis, who donated his services to Pinkney.
Davis told AFP during this reporter's July 8 "When Worlds Collide" radio show on the Republic Broadcasting Network, that this case is much more significant than many people realize.
"As far as I know he's the first preacher in America to get put into prison for quoting the Bible," Davis said.
The local media did not reprint Pinkney's "threatening" article in its entirety, nor any reasonably substantial excerpts, so there has not been a way for local citizens to objectively decide whether Butzbaugh was genuinely threatened; and even if the article could be construed as threatening, the question remains: Should judges be allowed to impose sweeping gag orders to prevent free speech, and cast people into prison when they speak out anyway? It's not as if Pinkney was a killer, rapist or other dangerous offender.
Judge Butzbaugh first imposed probation after a March 2007 jury trial in which Pinkney was deemed guilty of election fraud. Pinkney had launched a successful recall election in February 2005, removing Benton Harbor City Commission Glen Yarbrough from office by 54 votes after the commissioner had supported the Harbor Shores condos-golf development that some locals saw as an elite 500-acre land-grab that would annex some of the property that now makes up Jean Klock Park along Lake Michigan (a proposal for Harbor Shores to lease 22 acres of the park from the city was later floated). The father of Jean Klock named it after her when she died during childhood; the park was a gift to the city several decades ago. But since a few holes of a Jack Nicklaus "Signature" Golf Course that is part of Harbor Shores encroached upon this land in the city's only beachside park, Pinkey took issue with this and started a recall that succeeded. This, perhaps, was his real "crime." He was too effective.
"You've got free speech in this country until you start making a difference," Davis commented to AFP. "At first, he was just an 'eccentric' ... but later they saw him as a threat."
Yarbrough went to the county clerk and complained about being recalled. He was directed to the prosecutor's office. That office sued Benton Harbor's city clerk over the recall, and eventually another judge invalidated that election and set the stage for another one. And since, according to Davis, local authorities had been questioning and intimidating city residents in their effort to get some "dirt" on Pinkney to counter his rising effectiveness as a community leader and judicial system critic, the voter turnout at a second recall election was suppressed and Yarbrough was reinstated to his City Commission seat.
You would think his reinstatement would suffice, but the "machine" was not done with Pinkney. The testimony of a local prostitute in the March 2007 trial was considered good enough to "prove" that Pinkney had mishandled three absentee ballots during the first recall election. Although he was accused of skirting Michigan's questionable "gotcha" law --in which merely possessing absentee ballots that do not belong to a relative or resident of the same household is actually a felony -- Pinkney conceded that he gave three voters stamps and address labels with which to mail their ballots, but insisted he did not mishandle or deliver them to the local clerk himself.
The defense pointed out that if Pinkney planned on improperly handling or delivering other people's ballots, then why give those voters postage so they could mail in their own completed ballots?
Pinkney also was accused of buying votes when he paid some activists $5 each to hand out fliers before the first recall election. However, authorities claimed he paid people the same sum to sway them into voting in favor of recalling Yarbrough. However, Mancel Williams, a local resident, whom Yarbrough reportedly located himself, changed his story after first alleging that the vote-buying was true. However, Williams later alleged that Yarbrough paid him $10 to get him to say that Pinkney paid him $5 to directly influence votes. This is indeed odd in an age when local, state and federal officials routinely dole out funds from the public treasury, or give zoning breaks, regulatory favors and other perks to varied interests in exchange for votes and campaign contributions.
Pinkney was a well-known figure long before his election fraud trial. He was one of the most outspoken activists in Benton Harbor who worked to bring sanity back to town and seek justice in the wake of limited riots that erupted there in the summer of 2003. He often picketed the courthouse and took issue with the judicial system in general. He protested the police-state tactics imposed to stop the rioting. Virtual military-level forces were sent into this former industrial town along Lake Michigan [see AFP, # 1 & 2, January 2004, Inside the Rise & Fall of an American Town,], even though Pinkney insists the rioting was more limited than the conventional TV reporters, print journalists and their allies in law enforcement claimed it was.
This AFP reporter, having often reported on the various ways in which the North American Free Trade Agreement has seriously injured towns like Benton Harbor, grew up in the area. Benton Harbor was once a booming town, teeming with industry that supported a thrifty middle class -- the crucial ingredient for genuine economic prosperity. The current perpetual Congressman, wealthy Republican Fred Upton, a Whirlpool Corp. heir, has always supported NAFTA and other trade pacts that largely have brought disaster upon the working class in southwest and southeast Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and other areas across the nation that once thrived with the vital production jobs whose absence explains most of the serious economic downturn that has most people "on the ropes." The Congressman rarely if ever discusses the trade issues that are his Achilles heel, and local media give him a free pass on this and other crucial issues, portraying him as the "golden boy" of the area who can do no wrong.
Indeed, supplier Modern Plastics, among the few remaining local industries, was just closed by owners who directly blamed trade policy with China as the major culprit. "We could not pass on price increases to customers because they're struggling, too," said Robert Orlaske, executive vice president. "One big customer just pulled out and took its business to Mexico, China and Ohio. We're competing against China for every job. We can't compete with them, unfortunately."
Against this back drop of a once-thriving city that has been sharply declining for too long, save for some promising downtown businesses that are working hard to survive and prosper, AFP interviewed Pinkney in the fall of 2007. While concerned about Benton Harbor's status and future, he seemed sincere and credible as he explained the situation. He was under house arrest -- a prisoner in his own Union Street home -- at the time, due to his sentence from the 2007 trial. Amazingly, he was first tried in March 2006 but there was a hung jury. Yet officialdom kept him on a long leash until they could try him again a year later.
By December 2007 he was locked in the county jail for an anticipated one-year sentence as part of his original punishment. His wife, Dorothy, later told AFP that he perhaps would have been released for good by August 2008. However, the judicial system stepped in and tossed him in the dungeon, so to speak, making sure freedom would not come. His prison sentence in Jackson was reported as "3-10 years."
Dorothy is shaken that her husband has been taken away after believing that his former house arrest and his anticipated one year in the county jail were easily enough punishment for a flimsy election fraud conviction. "It was not about law at all," she told AFP. "My husband was a 'threat' and had too much influence on the public, so they had to confine him."
In her view: "They don't want him free."
Could any one of us end up in Pinkney's shoes someday if we decide to stop watching sports, drinking suds and fix our society instead? Time will tell.
Write to Rev. Pinkney at: JACKSON STATE PRISON RECEPTION CENTER
Rev. Edward Pinkney # 294671-22-4, 3855 Cooper Street, Jackson, Michigan 49201
Thursday, July 17, 2008
BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor area residents with general concerns related to civil rights violations can air them at a public forum to be hosted by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission on Monday.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Resolution reaffirms officials’ support for Harbor Shores [this phony document
would not be "necessary" if Benton Harbor residents actually supported Harbor Shores. Who in BH possibly could? --besides those profiting from it...]
[Whirlpool wouldn't have it any other way.]Commissioners voted 6-2 on Monday to approve a resolution that confirms their support for the $430 million golf, housing and resort development that is planned to stretch across 530 acres in Benton Harbor, Benton Township and St. Joseph.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
He will only drink liquids until justice for all in Berrien County is a reality,
and Whirlpool stops the takeover of Benton Harbor and Jean Klock Park.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
The following letter to the editor was found and passed on from mlive.com. It is obviously pertinent to the current state of affairs with Whirlpool, Berrien County, developers, etc. where greed is unrestrained.
"Gordon Gekko is alive and well in Ann Arbor. He and his cohort have purchased for destruction a treasured historical block in Ann Arbor. People with ample means to live comfortably have systematically targeted a classic neighborhood for destruction to profit at an incalculable cost to those who care about our community.
Some decades ago, the Today show visited Honolulu's luscious windward side with its unspoiled valleys, small, island-style homes, papaya orchards and taro plots framed by the magnificent, verdant pali (mountain cliff). Hugh Downs interviewed a Hawaiian valley dweller who spoke eloquently with the island intonation. As I recall, he said something like this:
'If I went into the city of Honolulu Academy of Arts and splattered paint on a landscape masterpiece, I would be carried off as a criminal. But if a developer came into our valley and destroyed our homes and gardens and built a bulky high-rise, desecrating our pali view, he would be acclaimed a valued citizen and an esteemed pillar of the community.'
There was a long pause during which only bird songs could be heard. Finally the Hzwaiian asked,
'Is that all?' 'Yes, that's all,' Downs replied.
Cityscape or landscape, each is precious and irreplaceable.
How does it happen that this society, this community, rewards individuals for buying up a whole neighborhood of vintage homes and destroying them for profit? Are we helpless in the face of this prospect?
The term 'developer' is a euphemism. Gordon Gekkos are destroyers."
Marilyn Seeger, Ann Arbor
Ken Sparks, lawyer for Coloma Twshp., explains the township’s legal situation Tues. night regarding the Berrien County law enforcement gun range along Angling Road. More than 100 people attended a public hearing at Coloma Township Hall on the gun range, and most seemed to think it should stay closed. The Mich. Supreme Court recently ruled that the county must comply with township ordinances before shooting could take place. Herald Palladium
Residents: Gun range should stay idle
George Schemenauer, Coloma Road North, pointed out that the township is home to more gun ranges than parks.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Call 800-691-6888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
VOICES FROM BENTON HARBOR
CORPORATE POWER AND THE PINKNEY CASE
By The People's Tribune
The arrest of Reverend Pinkney for utilizing his right to free speech and the indirect warning to The Peoples Tribune for publishing those thoughts needs to be seen for what they are. They are a step from the legal into the political arena to strip the people of their right to freedom of expression. It is a small part of the motion toward fascism in this country.
Rev. Pinkney became known as the leader of the community based on his almost daily presence at the Berrien County Courthouse. He exposed the racism of the criminal justice system and the willful inadequacy of the defense provided to the poor (mostly) Black defendants.
During this period, the effort by Whirlpool and the real estate interests to develop Benton Harbor into a playground for the rich was raging. The question continued to be, in whose interests was the development proceeding? In 2005, Pinkney led a recall of the City of Benton Harbor's most powerful Commissioner who favored Whirlpool's effort. An all-white jury convicted Pinkney of five counts of improprieties in connection with this election.
What this case represents for America
The attack on democracy and the conviction of Rev. Pinkney for standing up for the poor shows that the corporate power structure is determined to crush anyone who stands in their way. It symbolizes an entire process under way in America. The once stable working class community of Benton Harbor has been devastated by automation and globalization. The open rule of corporate power is arising to oppose their struggle. The governing bodies that once controlled by buying up the people's leaders now turn to intimidation and brute force.
This case is not about Rev. Pinkney. It is about how a corporate giant like Whirlpool takes over a town and a whole county. It is a harbinger of the future of America if people do not move to take over the corporations before they take over society.
Our first battle in this war is the defense of our leaders. A movement that does not defend its leaders cannot grow. Defend Rev. Pinkney. Donate money for the appeal. Take this newspaper out and help awaken America. Make a stand for democracy in Benton Harbor.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
PINKNEY SENT TO PRISON
In a miscarriage of justice the likes of which many of us have never observed in any courtroom, Rev. Edward Pinkney's probation violation hearing ended with the judge sentencing him to a minimum of 36 months to 120 months. A more detailed report will follow on our next step in the ongoing battle for democracy and against corporate power in Benton Harbor. Funds are urgently needed. Please send to: BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022 -- Pinkney Defense Committee
MORE LIQUIDATION OF RIGHTS
By Pastor Mary Gault
Thursday, June 26, 2008, corporate power raised it's ugly head again in the Berrien County Courthouse at the probation violation hearing of Rev. Edward Pinkney. The contrived violation was on the grounds that an article he wrote quoting Deuteronomy 28 was a threat to the life of the trial judge, Judge Butzbaugh. While on the stand, Rev. Pinkney's probation agent, when asked how he knew about the article, said that a colleague not assigned to the case brought him the article. Then he, as probation agent, his supervisor, and the prosecutor brought the probation violation against Rev. Pinkney. No testimony was given that the Judge Butzbaugh brought forth the complaint as a threat on his life. They also took offense at his calling the judge a racist and for being corrupt. Isn't it interesting that for years Rev. Pinkney showed up in the courtrooms in the Berrien County Courthouse wearing t-shirts calling the judges and prosecutors "Benton Harbor's Most Wanted," without interference?
More interesting is that Rev. Pinkney had reported to his probation agent an hour before he was arrested yet no mention was made to him of a violation nor did they detain him at that time. Rev. Pinkney's arrest came on the coattails of a very successful rally in Benton Harbor whose guest speaker was former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. One can only make the deduction that corporate and governmental powers saw this as too big a threat and decided to remove Rev. Pinkney farther from the community by sending him to prison.
The presiding judge assigned more power to Rev. Pinkney than Moses by saying he was able to call upon God to carry out this so-called threat and God would obey. As a pastor, I look at this as government ignoring the constitution by breaching our right to religious belief and ability to freely preach the word of God. This court also trampled over the constitutionally protected freedom of speech.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
From: Kevin Kamps
*NEWS FROM BEYOND NUCLEAR*
For Immediate Release Date: Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Contact: Kevin Kamps 301.270.2209 (o)
or 240. 462. 3216 (cell)
Watchdog Group Blasts Congressman'sLatest Promotion of Risky Atomic Power
New Beyond Nuclear Report Examines Longstanding
Pro-Nuclear Record of Rep. Upton
Takoma Park, MD A fresh examination of the congressional record of
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI 6th District) reveals a consistent championing of
the nuclear industry's financial wish list regardless of safety and
security issues that could threaten the wellbeing of Michiganders.
Beyond Nuclear released its new report today in response to Congressman
Upton's latest promotion of nuclear power at a press conference held at
Cook nuclear power plant in Bridgman, MI. On June 30, Upton unveiled the
Clean and Safe Energy (CASEnergy) Coalition's national initiative to
construct at least 30 new atomic reactors across the nation. CASEnergy
is a nuclear front group, created and funded by the industry's
Washington, D.C. lobby and public relations arm, the Nuclear Energy
The report - /Fred Upton, One of the Nuclear Power Industry's Best
Friends in Congress /found that Upton has marched in lockstep with the
Bush administrationb's nuclear power expansion plans, championing such
nuclear power industry priorities as the Yucca Mountain dumpsite for
high-level radioactive wastes; massive subsidies and tax breaks for the
construction of new atomic reactors; and a revival of reprocessing that
would risk nuclear weapons proliferation overseas. In addition, Upton
has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions
from electric utilities, the energy/natural resources sector, and the
nuclear power industry. The full report, a summary, and supporting
documentation can be viewed at
Kevin Kamps, author of the report, a Kalamazoo native, a board member of
Donbt Waste Michigan, and member of the Great Lakes United
Green Energy Task Force said of his findings:
"It's high time for Congressman Upton to work on behalf of the health,
safety, and pocketbooks of southwest Michigan's residents and taxpayers,
rather than the nuclear power industry's bottomless greed.
The atomic power subsidies that Upton supports will transfer the huge
financial risks from the nuclear power industry onto the backs of
hard-working American taxpayers. These billion dollar giveaways go to an
industry that has already enjoyed lavish subsidies at the expense of
U.S. taxpayers and ratepayers for the past 50 years. The tally to date
is at least $500 billion in research and development support, liability
coverage in the event of catastrophic radiation releases, high-level
radioactive waste management costs, and much more.
Given the hefty corporate campaign contributions Upton receives from
the nuclear power industry, itbs natural to question whether his
loyalties lie with Michigan residents or with those lining his campaign
Upton has failed to protect public safety and security against failures
at Palisades and Cook nuclear power plants. Now he wants to give away
billions of taxpayer dollars to help the nuclear industry build more
radioactive bull's-eyes, reactors that are vulnerable to accidents and
It's ironic that Upton called for over 30 new atomic reactors on the
very day that the Barnwell, South Carolina waste dumpsite closed its
doors to Michigan's radioactive refuse. Now those wastes will begin
piling up at Cook and Palisades nuclear plants on the Lake Michigan
shoreline, with nowhere to go.
We urge Congressman Upton to stop promoting the dead end that is nuclear
power, and instead secure federal funding for genuinely safe, secure,
reliable, and clean renewable sources of electricity, such as solar and
wind power. Michigan has an abundance of such renewable energy
resources, which, along with energy efficiency measures, would create
many thousands of well-paid jobs in the state, while protecting public
health, the environment, and the climate.
Despite Upton's pro-nuclear stance, his constituents appear to feel
differently. In the June 30th edition of "Fred's Survey of the Week",
posted on Congressman Upton's Web site, 59% of respondents stated that
renewable energy sources should contribute more than 25% of electricity
in a broader U.S. energy strategy.
Radioactive Waste Watchdog
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400
Takoma Park, Maryland 20912
Office phone: (301) 270-2209
Cell phone: (240) 462-3216
Fax: (301) 270-4000
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
(click on July - photos of judges accompany this article by Pat Foster)
On June 26 there was a Hearing in Berrien County for the Rev. Pinkney's violation of Article 15 of his probation before Judge Wiley. This Article dealt with using any form of media to "threaten" the judiciary. His alleged violation was a quote he made from Deuteronomy. A minister from the United Methodist Church in Detroit who taught theology and scripture was questioned on the stand regarding this passage. He stated that the meaning of the passage was "that God would bring down either blessings or curses upon a person based upon their actions."
Since this verse was aimed at Judge Butzbaugh, who had recused himself from hearing any further actions in the case, and Judge Wiley could think of nothing wrong with Judge Butzbaugh, he sentenced the Rev. Pinkney to prison for 3 to 10 years after admonishing him for stealing an election. Was he right?
Facts: The Rev. Pinkney started a petition to recall a council member who was voting to allow the privatization of a public park. The election resulted in his recall by 54 votes. Judge Maloney heard a case brought by the prosecutor, not the official as required by law. He looked at only seven votes, and could not invalidate one of them, yet overturned the will of the people, and reinstated this official so he could vote for the privatization of a public park. It turns out that Judge Butzbaugh owns the real estate company that is developing this park, and heard a case against the Reverend brought again by the same prosecutor stating that he allegedly paid people to vote for the recall. Out of the four people who testified against the Reverend, two have retracted saying they were pressured by the prosecutor, and the Reverend was given a lie detector test which he passed with flying colors.
By the way, do you, Judge Wiley, have a financial interest in the development of this public park? Do you have a financial interest in Ship Street Realty, which stands to make large profits from this development?