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
Monday, June 25, 2012
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Stall tactics bring shame on court
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Dear pastors and officials,
The Minster who serves merely to earn a living or to obtain honor is a hireling. The true Pastor cares for his sheep, while the false Pastor’s first thought is for Himself and his position before others.
He that is a hireling and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not seeth The wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth and the wolf catcheth them and scattereth the sheep.
The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling and careth not for the sheep. Hired workers will quit when the work costs them more than they value the pay. My question to you, for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul. God is watching
I plead DUTERONOMY 28: 15-47; because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness And with gladness of heart, for the abundance. You are serving Marcus Robinson, Whirlpool and the devil. The bible says: it shall come to pass If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his command Thee this day: that all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee.
Stop being tools in the Whirlpool-Marcus Robinson tool box. It is hurting so many.
Rev Edward Pinkney
Benton Harbor, Michigan
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
On Friday, May 25 at approximately 7pm, Pinkney and 10 others were refused access to a public sidewalk near the Harbor Shores golf course. They were surrounded and escorted by 15 police officers Lange said they needed a ticket to walk on the public sidewalk. Citizens may walk on any sidewalks.
Pinkney's group stood up for their rights as best as they could, and the situation became heated. It was clear that the police were hoping for confrontation.
Pinkney, losing all respect for Lange, will no longer support him. Pinkney says that the police are no longer working in service of the people, and he will not speak to residents on behalf of the police dept. Their behavior was disrespectful of residents and visiting activists.
On Saturday May 26 we had a peaceful demonstration and for reasons unknown, law enforcement officers harassed a demonstrator. Three individuals were given tickets for no reason at all, except possibly to get Pinkney into a confrontation. One person was given a ticket for sounding a bicycle horn in Jean Klock Park; all the tickets were given inside the park.
Pinkney plans to file suit against Lange, BH Police Dept., the PGA, Whirlpool, and KitchenAid.
The ACLU has decided to take on this case.
Saturday, June 09, 2012
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Benton Harbor, Mich.
Occupy the PGA was held May 23-27 to coincide with the Senior Professional Golfers’ Association Championship. People from as far away as New York City and Fresno, Calif., Vermont and Colorado in the U.S.; and Denmark, Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica traveled to Benton Harbor, Mich., to protest alongside local organizers from that city and around the state of Michigan.
The PGA games, held in this city of 11,000 in southwest Michigan, are a national event with media coverage and advertising sponsorship by such leading corporations as Mercedes-Benz and KitchenAid.
In Benton Harbor, a city with high unemployment and poverty rates, the PGA was touted as providing a much-needed infusion of cash, tourism and positive public relations. Over the last several years the majority African-American community has been driven out and disenfranchised by the construction of a golf course, expensive homes and a revitalized beach in the lakefront area of the city.
The Whirlpool Corporation based in Benton Harbor has been the driving force behind the gentrification. The major investor in this process is Harbor Shores Development, which took control of Jean Klock Park — a public site — and turned it into the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course.
Two participants in Occupy the PGA, Mary M. Morgan and Jan Griesinger, had been involved in a demonstration at the PGA tournament in August 1969 in Dayton, Ohio. Both women recounted how they disrupted the event due to the involvement of golfer Gary Player from then-racist South Africa.
Demands of Occupy the PGA
Occupy the PGA organizers issued a series of demands to the tournament’s sponsors, including the transfer of 25 percent of the profits from the games to Benton Harbor residents. These demands were designed both as a rallying point for the people of Benton Harbor and also to expose the plight of the residents to a broader national and international audience.
Occupy the PGA also demanded public acknowledgment at the tournament of the “theft of public park land for private profit.” The group pointed out that the takeover of park land represented the “complete undermining of democratic structures via the installment of the Emergency Financial Manager [now Emergency Manager] in Benton Harbor in December 2010.” (press release, May 9)
According to the press release, “Accompanying the demand letter is a lengthy summation of community grievances against the Harbor Shores Development, ranging from the taking of the park land to unfulfilled promises of significant jobs and tax revenue for Benton Harbor residents. The packet … analyzes the failure of state and federal agencies to protect the public interest, the unpermitted use of public water resources by the private developers, and the origin of the Emergency Manager Bill [Public Act 4].”
The Rev. Edward Pinkney and Dorothy Pinkney, leaders of the local NAACP Chapter and the Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers, view the tournament as an affront to the largely working-class and poor city. They questioned the benefits this project would bring to the jobless and impoverished residents, who are being systematically removed from the city.
The Rev. Pinkney told the press assembled for the demonstrations, “Benton Harbor continues to be a city under siege. The mishandling of public trust couldn’t be more massive, unjust, inhumane and unconstitutional. The Senior PGA needs to hear our voice. It’s time to stand up and fight for what’s right.”
The major event of the five days of activity was a “Death March” through the city to the grounds outside the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course. Participants gathered on May 26 outside Benton Harbor City Hall. After a brief rally, people lined up in single file behind a mock coffin representing the deadly policies of the state of Michigan, Whirlpool, Harbor Shores and the emergency manager of Benton Harbor.
During the march through downtown, the toll of the world economic crisis on this former industrial city could be seen. Blocks of closed businesses and abandoned homes were more the norm than active storefronts and viable dwellings. Whirlpool, the major employer in the region for many years, has largely been idled, with most of its production outsourced and its investments diversified into other sectors of the economy.
Nonetheless, when the marchers got closer to the Harbor Shores Development they saw new homes, refurbished properties and the new golf course. The beach, where the march ended, had a new shed, benches and reconstructed embankments.
Heavy police harassment
There had been a struggle over the march route between Occupy the PGA and the local authorities under the emergency management of Joe Harris. After negotiating the route, the police sought to change it just days before the events.
Police presence was heavy during the entire march. The rally on the beach was monitored by city and county cops.
On May 25, the Rev. Pinkney led a group of 10 Occupy the PGA participants through the area near the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course. The group was stopped and surrounded by 15 cops, who forced them off the public sidewalk. The situation became heated when the group emphasized their right to proceed on the sidewalk. One person was given a ticket for supposedly sounding a bicycle horn in the park.
The Rev. Pinkney says he will file a lawsuit on the matter against Benton Harbor Police Chief Roger Lange, the Benton Harbor Police Department, the PGA, Whirlpool and KitchenAid.
Benton Harbor: a legacy of struggle
Benton Harbor is a microcosm of the broader crisis of the cities in the present period. A one-time industrial hub for assembly-line production and shipping of household appliances, the city has fallen on hard times as a result of capitalist overproduction and racist gentrification.
In 1966, the city was the scene of an urban rebellion. The following year Detroit had its rebellion, which was the largest in U.S. history at the time.
Benton Harbor exploded again in 2003 when police chased a young African-American motorcyclist to his death in a crash. The city was occupied for four days by the state police in an attempt to quell the rebellion.
The Rev. Pinkney, BANCO and its supporters have been a thorn in the side of the city administration and its corporate handlers. Pinkney was arrested and indicted on trumped-up charges of voter fraud in 2006. His first trial ended in a hung jury. However, when Berrien County authorities tried him again, they gained a conviction, with a sentence of one year in jail and five years’ probation.
Later, while under house arrest, the Rev. Pinkney was charged with threatening a judge after he quoted biblical scripture in an article published in the Chicago-based People’s Tribune. He was given three-to-10 years in prison for probation violation.
After an international campaign demanding his release, a Michigan appeals court overturned the conviction. He recently completed his probationary period.
Benton Harbor was placed under emergency management in 2010. Public officials have no authority, while residents are overtaxed and left voiceless through official political channels.
However, events such as Occupy the PGA indicate that the struggle is far from over. The increasing state repression leaves the residents no alternative but to organize and mobilize in defense of their political and economic interests.
Friday, June 08, 2012
In Benton Harbor Saturday morning protestors did not say a word as they marched from City Hall to Harbor Shores Golf Course. Because they called this walk a death march. Benton Harbor resident Sondra Bynum said, "they've taken the beaches where our people used to go to for fun."
She is not happy with the PGA and either is Reverend Pinkney, who organized the protest. "They just take from the city, now it's time to take back," said Pinkney.
Organizers and protestors, who came from across the country, are asking for 25% of the proceeds from the PGA Championship to be put back into the city of Benton Harbor. Mary Morgan who came from Dayon, OH said, "we spend tax dollars in cities to support holidays and the recreation of the 1%. We do not address our city problems."
And Even though their march only featured the sound of a drum protestors made plenty of noise before the walk got underway They were shouting and singing, " we are coming for justice."
And the PGA Championship isn't the only thing that the protestors are angry about. The State law that allows emergency managers to take over a city, something that has happened in Benton Harbor, caused several to hit the streets carrying signs. Claire McClinton, who came from Flint, said, "we are fighting this undemocratic law known as public act four." And Roger Nye, who came from Muskegon, said, "I'm against Emergency Manager laws."
But no matter what their reasons for participating in the protest everyone just wants their message heard.
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
federal taxes and received a refund of $64 million.
Whirlpool received $19 billion in federal stimulus funds and then closed
plants in the U.S., including the one in Benton Harbor MI."
----Democracy Now, 5/10/12
Whirlpool Falls to Levels Below Book Value
In trading on Monday, shares of Whirlpool Corp (NYSE: WHR) crossed below their last reported book value — defined as common shareholder equity per share — of $56.56, changing hands as low as $55.82 per share. Whirlpool Corp shares are currently trading down about 3.4% on the day. The chart below shows the one year performance of WHR shares, versus its 50 and 200 day moving averages:
Monday, June 04, 2012
Sunday, June 03, 2012
Hal Sutton also missed the cut, and he walked away complaining about the greens.
Bernhard Langer initially called the green complexes among the worst he's seen, toned back the criticism to saying "some" of the greens were a bit severe...
Hale Irwin, who at 66 years old was one of the oldest players in the field, saw the difficulty of the greens but refused to be bothered by them and went on to finish third. "These greens, they can be maddening, there's no doubt about it...
Saturday, June 02, 2012
10. Inaccurate & deceitful communications: Mr. Harris has repeatedly proclaimed in public meetings, the media, to elected leaders, staff and to State Officials that the City of Benton Harbor had a “Balanced Budget & Cash Surplus”. The 2011 Audit recently revealed that the City actually had a budget deficit of approximately $565,000 dollars under Mr. Harris’ leadership in 2011. Meanwhile city contractors and/or vendors are not being paid in a timely fashion. Mr. Harris has either (A) intentionally deceived the citizens and stake holders or (B) he confirmed his ignorance regarding the true fiscal condition of the City which confirms his incompetence.
9. City Sued Due to Non-Payment: Mr. Harris negotiated and executed a very poor contract with Benton Township without input or conversation with city executive senior staff, elected leaders or key community stake holders and/or customers. The contract (A) forfeited in excess of three hundred thousand dollars of receivables due to the City of Benton Harbor from Benton Township while (B) agreeing to make monthly payments to the Township that are not fiscally cost prohibitive based upon water revenues. Mr. Harris signed this agreement and accepted a settlement of approximately $300,000 dollars for a debt owed of more than $700,000. He denied the monies were owned then agreed to a meeting with Benton Township officials to discuss the matter and at that meeting it was disclosed that Mr. Harris had settled the matter for less than fifty cents on a dollar. It was also disclosed that he accepted and deposited a check from Benton Township that he did not remember. All of this occurred while the Emergency Manager failed to increase the water rates in a timely manner as required according to the City’s State Bond Agreement. Benton Township is now suing for the unpaid portion of this terribly suspect contract.
8. Gross Fiduciary Negligence: Mr. Harris failed to exercise the City’s rights under the terms and conditions of the HUD 105 Business Development Loan program contract to collect the nearly $500,000 dollars in loan defaults accrued by three companies. Mr. Harris failed to take any legal remedy to collect the unpaid loans while agreeing to a settlement to pay the defaulted loan balances back to the federal government 100% plus interest and penalties. As per the HUD contract Mr. Harris could have (A) sued the default companies, (B) placed liens on the company’s property. There were other legal remedies available under Michigan state law that Mr. Harris could have yet refused to pursue. Consequently because of Mr. Harris’ negligence these companies were able to liquidate and sale real property and other assets and keep 100% of the proceeds without repaying a single dollar to the City of Benton Harbor on what is still a pending outstanding obligation. One of the companies sold property to Cornerstone Alliance for an amount sufficient to repay the City the outstanding 105 loan balance in full.
7. Wasteful spending: Mr. Harris has unilaterally decided to squander limited city resources during this fiscal crisis on frivolous and unnecessary items such as (1) I love Benton Harbor souvenir cups and T-Shirts, (2) Ice Rinks, (3) Ice skates, (4) unused vehicles, (5) furniture, (6) remodeling, (7) playground equipment (8) water fountains, (9) excessive raises and salary increases and much more. All though Mr. Harris is required by law to provide financial reports regularly City officials have been unable to secure any aging reports that substantiate or confirm the magnitude and/or depth of the wasteful spending and delinquent bill payment. Mr. Harris refusal to comply with Public Act 4 and provide the types of period and critical financial reports is completely unacceptable and a clear abuse of power.
6. Negligent Management of NSP Grant Funding: Prior to Mr. Harris’ arrival the City was the recipient of a NSP grant of nearly $4 million dollars. NSP was created to (A) clean up blighted neighborhoods, (B) stimulate local & minority small business contracting and (C) housing development and (D) create jobs under the HUD Section 3 program. Mr. Harris abdicated, relinquished and/or forfeited the City’s moral and contract obligations to Harbor Shores, Cornerstone Alliance and/or Michigan Works. These three entities are amongst the City’s wealthiest and most privileged people and/or companies in Benton Harbor and surely were not the type of people or organizations NSP was intended to help. Mr. Harris placed the City grant in a “use it or lose it” situation regarding the NSP funding by failing to administer, implement and obligate the grant funds in a timely manner. Consequently at the zero hour the decision was made to grant the funds to the wealthy and to complete Harbor Town and the Fire House developments both owned and managed by Corner Stone Alliance. Neither project is expected to produce any meaningful sustainable jobs or any significant affordable housing for the City of Benton Harbor or it’s residents.
5. The Closing of 200 Paw Paw (Carl Brown Economic Development Center): It is unconscionable that during the biggest economic boom the City of Benton Harbor has seen in 50 years the city economic development center and incubator is closed. There were more than one dozen small, local, minority businesses prepared to lease 100% of the facility. The city is able to provide Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to each small business sufficient to cover their annual budgeted rent requirements for the year thus making the facility operationally and fiscally viable. Therefore the City had the ability to incubate businesses, create jobs and sustain the operations of 200 Paw Paw 100% with city CDBG grant funding yet Mr. Harris chose to close the facility and the opportunities it represent for locals. It is a travesty that Mr. Harris has closed the center and it now sits dark in the midst of incredible business and job development opportunities emerging in the City. Current citizens of Benton Harbor that have weathered the difficult economic times deserve to opportunities to prosper from the city’s renaissance deserve the benefits of the Carl Brown Business Development Center.
4. Failure to secure Community Benefits Package (CBP) grant funding: Not only has Mr. Harris failed to secure what is now $400,000 (2 years) of CBP grant funding he has antagonized both the elected leaders and Whirlpool corporate executives (the Corporate Grant Donors) in the process. The big losers in this one are the youth of Benton Harbor. Mr. Harris simply refuses to discuss or negotiate with the elected leaders and therefore once again the CHILDREN go without.
3. Political liability and antagonism: Mr. Harris is condescending and confrontational in his communication style which has alienated critical elected leaders, corporate leaders, tax payers and other key stake holders in Berrien County. Mr. Harris has fueled a new era in Benton Harbor’s fiscal and cultural isolation. The most recent evidence of his alienating and antagonist style is his refusal to participate in the Berrien County CEO monthly meetings. This forum is not only a critical exchange of ideas and/or resources it is an opportunity to mend the social fiber of local municipal governments. Mr. Harris has caused the relationships with other municipal leaders and elected officials in Berrien County to become strain divisive and counterproductive.
1. Failure to prepare and/or train local elected leaders to competently manage Benton Harbor: The number one reason Mr. Harris is clearly not the man for the City of Benton Harbor Emergency Manager position is based upon his well-publicized and absolute refusal to work with the City’s elected officials. How do you profess your desire to put the city back on solid fiscal ground and simultaneously refuse to work with the people tasked with sustaining the operations after your departure? Instead Mr. Harris has resorted to name calling, very public verbal chastising and a barrage of unprofessional insulting remarks to elected leaders and staff.
Engaging, training and supporting local elected leadership should be a mandatory responsibility of an EM. Bringing the local leadership to competency and consensus is on the City’s critical path to recovery.
Since Mr. Harris arrived in Benton Harbor the city operating deficit, list of unpaid payable and pension(s) plan deficits have increased significantly. Elected leaders, citizens and stakeholders are all getting less information than they ever have received from the city finance department. The information that has been received has proven to be largely false and/or inaccurate.
Several lawsuits and unpaid vendors have now surfaced. The staff morale is at an all-time low. Staff competency and training is nearly non-existent. Relationships with neighboring municipalities and corporate leaders have been severely strained. Public procurements and new hires processes in city government under Mr. Harris’ leadership have consistently violated state and federal regulation. Mr. Harris has manipulated public procurement and hiring by lowering standards and qualifications to justify his personal preferences and selections. Many qualified applicants and candidates for Senior Executive Staff positions have been ignored and/or rejected due to Mr. Harris’s personal preferences and willingness to put the city’s needs second or third to his personal desires and wishes.
If the officials in Lansing truly have Benton Harbor’s best interest at heart then they must remove Joe Harris immediately for negligence, false statements, federal & state procurement violations, increasing the budget deficit, failure to act on correcting the pension deficits and on and on.
Out of respect for the people of Benton Harbor and their elected leadership Mr. Harris should not be replaced by any individual the citizens and/or elected leaders have had the opportunity to meet and interview and/or approved in advance.
I am confident in the Governor and/or Treasurer’s ability to find a qualified individual that will meet City Commission approval or perhaps the City Commission can recommend individuals that the Governor can accept and approve.