Monday, June 29, 2009

Upton Votes NO on Stimulus Bill, HR 1
Upton Votes NO on Pay Act, S 181


-Changes the current unlawful employment discrimination laws to include the adoption of discriminatory compensation decisions or practices, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid, and when an individual is subjected to or affected by such practices (Sec. 3, 4, 5).

-Allows the recovery of back pay for up to two years prior to the complaint in addition to existing penalties (Sec. 3).

-Prohibits employer retaliation against employees who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their own wage or that of another employee (Sec. 203).

-Increases penalties against a discriminatory employer including compensation of legal fees and liability for punitive damages against an employee (Sec. 203).

-Issues grant money for salary negotiation skills training for girls and women (Sec. 205).
Upton Votes NO on Clean Energy

House Vote on H.R.2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act

To create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Benton Harbor news from a couple of weeks ago. A travesty.

"At this very moment, over 2000 Benton Harbor residents are lined up at the housing office, and have been for 3 days and 2 nights, to apply for section 8.
If they leave the line, they lose their place, so people have been staying overnight somehow - in order to keep their homes/apts.
BANCO volunteers set up a barbeque yesterday and fed hundreds. Housing authority employees attempted to make them leave, but BANCO stayed until they ran out of food.
Will this be reported? Will Rep. Fred Upton or any other officials pay attention?"
Draw Your Own Conlusions About the Justice, Integrity, and Legitimacy of the State of Michigan's Legal System

Michigan pastor will stay on house arrest

(AP) — LANSING, Mich. - A Benton Harbor minister will remain on house arrest while he appeals a prison sentence for writing that God could punish a judge who presided over his election fraud conviction.

The Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear Edward Pinkney's appeal of his house arrest in an unanimous order dated Wednesday.

Pinkney was sentenced to five years of probation in 2007 after being convicted of paying people to vote in a Benton Harbor election. He later wrote an article saying the judge who handled his case could be punished by God with curses unless he changed his ways.

Another judge ruled that Pinkney's column violated his probation and sentenced him to prison. The state appeals court has released Pinkney on bond while considering an appeal of his sentence.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Supporters pack court as Rev. Pinkney barred from his own hearing By Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Published Jun 21, 2009 11:16 PM

A new episode has opened in the defense campaign for Rev. Edward Pinkney, a Benton Harbor, Mich., clergyman and leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO). Pinkney had been sentenced to three-to-10 years in prison for quoting Bible scriptures.

Pinkney served one year, during which he was moved to at least six Michigan prisons. Now at home but restricted by an electronic “tether,” he was not allowed to be present at his June 9 hearing before the Third District Court of Appeals in Grand Rapids, Mich. There, a team of defense lawyers sought to have the court overturn four felony counts and a revocation of probation sentence, which had been handed down by Judge Dennis Wiley of Berrien County.

An initial trial in which Pinkney was charged with voter fraud ended in a hung jury in 2006. However, the charges were re-filed in 2007 and he was convicted on four felony counts and one misdemeanor in what many claim was a sham trial.

BANCO had carried out a successful recall campaign against a city commissioner in Benton Harbor in 2005. Later, a judge threw out the recall election results and placed the commissioner back in office. The felony and misdemeanor charges were then filed against Pinkney.

Supporters from various cities throughout Michigan and Illinois packed the courtroom on June 9. Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, came from Chicago. A group of clergymen traveled from Detroit, including Rev. Ed Rowe of Central United Methodist Church and Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellerman of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. They were not able to enter the courtroom because it was packed to capacity.

The court’s security personnel informed the approximately 100 people who stood outside the courtroom that only 48 people were allowed inside at one time.

Numerous organizations were represented in the courtroom and outside including Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice; Michigan Welfare Rights Organization; Green Party of Michigan; Michigan Coalition for Human Rights; ‘Call Em Out’ of Detroit; and People’s Tribune newspaper.

In the hearing’s aftermath, attorney Michael Steinberg, the Legal Director of the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), spoke on legal developments surrounding the case. He said, “In America, a person cannot be thrown in prison for speech.”

However, this is exactly what happened when Pinkney published an article in the People’s Tribune in December 2007. Under house arrest at the time and on a tether, Pinkney was then arrested and sentenced to prison for allegedly threatening the life of Judge Alfred Butzbaugh, the original trial jurist, and his family in Berrien County, Mich.

Steinberg said Pinkney “expressed frustration and used harsh language to criticize the judge. However, individuals can criticize government officials.”

The ACLU filed an appeal after Pinkney’s sentencing by Judge Wiley. The underlying conviction and the sentence are both being appealed, along with the three-to-10 year imprisonment for the newspaper article that quoted the Bible.

Pinkney is currently out on a $10,000 bond; however, he is still confined to his home in Benton Harbor. He remains on a 24-hour tether and has been prohibited by Judge Wiley from leaving his house, preaching and engaging in politics.

Benton Harbor: The struggle continues

The majority African-American city of Benton Harbor has been severely affected by the current economic crisis. A plan to create a development project is slated to take large portions of lakefront property for the construction of luxury homes and a golf course.

BANCO and other organizations are opposed to the project because they perceive it as a mechanism for forcing African Americans from Benton Harbor.

Steinberg said the ACLU has been involved in Benton Harbor since 2003, when a rebellion erupted after the death of an African-American motorcyclist chased by police. The civil disturbances in Benton Harbor lasted for three days and attracted national attention to this southwest Michigan city.

Pinkney had become a staunch critic of Berrien County’s political and legal system. His organization, BANCO, carried out regular demonstrations against racism and injustice there. BANCO members also monitored county courts and openly criticized judges for the disparate sentencing of African Americans.

According to Steinberg, “The criminal justice system in Berrien County is broken and must be changed. The public defenders system is contracted out to the lowest bidder and there is inadequate counsel for defendants brought before the courts.

“The state provides no money for indigent defense. We [the ACLU] have filed a class action lawsuit to address the issue of the justice system in Berrien County.”

Dorothy Pinkney, Rev. Pinkney’s spouse, attended the hearing on June 9 and spoke to the crowd outside the courtroom. She brought a message in which Pinkney thanked his supporters and said, “Victory is ours—we have shown the people in Berrien County that we have support.”

Later at the St. Mark’s Church in downtown Grand Rapids, Pinkney said via a cell phone: “We not only showed up but we showed out.” His tone was optimistic and he said that he felt the convictions would eventually be overturned.

Several members of the clergy and law professors from many universities in Michigan have filed amicus briefs on Pinkney’s behalf.

Steinberg said that the State Appeals Court would issue a written decision in Pinkney’s case.

Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam also spoke in Berrien County on June 5 at Lake Michigan College. He expressed support for Pinkney, saying, “Jesus was an activist and a revolutionary.”

Abayomi Azikiwe is editor of the Pan-African News Wire and has followed developments in Benton Harbor since the rebellion occurred there in 2003. He has traveled several times to Berrien County to cover meetings, demonstrations and court hearings surrounding the Pinkney case.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Economic Struggles Need Community Change"
By Lenette Evans

We don't have to look far to realize there is desperate need and injustice in the world. Nearly half the world lives on two dollars a day. Over 850 billion people go hungry and starve everyday, millions of children are dying of malnutrition, and over 20 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

People have desensitized themselves to our economic meltdown and towards the poor and homeless. People today are living way beyond their means and spending money as if they won the lottery. Our congress, president, and media have torn our nation to shreds and packed our minds with false promises, doing nothing to help the people. But we can help ourselves too.

Our economy is having neighbors starting to talk to one another who have never talked before and asking each other for food... At local grocery stores people go in to shop and are having hard decisions to make when buying food, toilet paper, bread, shampoo, and laundry detergent and end up putting items back because they don't have the money - choosing what their priorities are like having food before needing laundry detergent.

Stores across the USA and here in Berrien County, Michigan are arresting people for shoplifting at least one every half hour. People are poor, homeless, hungry, and have lost their jobs. Michigan has the highest unemployment and many cannot even find a job at all. So when people have no job and no money they are shoplifting even if its just for a sandwich or a loaf of bread.

In Berrien County we have several hundred homeless people. The soup kitchen, local food banks, and church food pantries are doing what they can, but community donations from the public are low and shelves are empty.

Here in Berrien County we have young children and infant babies who are going days and weeks without food, clothing and proper nutrition and some of our homeless have died on the streets. There is NO EXCUSE for people in our own community to starve and die from lack of food when we have people and businesses which could and should open up their hearts and feed and clothe the poor and desperate.

There are people in this community who live extremely wealthy lives. It would not be a financial burden for them to write a check and donate food, clothing, sleeping bags and school supplies to help the poor in our community. Jesus took two loaves of bread and five fish and fed 5,000 poor people. If you want blessings upon your lives, your finances, your homes, and health, give abundantly the way Jesus wants us all to do. We are to be extravagant givers to help the poor.....WE ARE "ALL" ONE PAYCHECK AWAY FROM BEING HOMELESS.... but none of us ever knows when or who will be next.

My neighbor is days away from having her electricity, water, and gas shut off because she is late paying her bills and cannot afford to pay right now. She has had threatening letters about having her home taken away if she does not pay her mortgage payment. She tries to keep her lawn mowed but cannot afford gas in her lawn mower and often her yard does not get mowed. She needs home repairs but again NO MONEY TO HAVE IT DONE.

Many times I have gone over to my neighbor to give her bags of food because she has no money and lives on welfare. She has an old car that does not run, she has severe MS and I have often seen her crying because she has no food and no money to pay bills. I have tried to help her and I have prayed with my neighbor many times and I have gone to her house to plant flowers in her garden and to rake her leaves many times. These are small acts of kindness to show my neighbor I care, and I do.

I only wish there were many good samaritans out there to help as well, and to get involved with other neighbors' lives to see THE DIFFERENCE WE ALL CAN MAKE. Recognize the needs of neighbors right here in our community. Our world, our communities, and neighbors need JESUS - so what are you doing to make a difference in someone's life today and thereafter?

Don't just be a pew sitter on Sunday and live like the devil through the week. Our community needs to Stand Up...Rise up...and Get involved - and pray for global and community change.

Lenette Evans, Saving Souls Ministries, 269-876-1848,

Please contact if you would like to donate money, food, clothing to help the poor, homeless & children in our community.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Harbor Shore's Wendy Dant-Chesser: We with White-Privilege, We with Money-Privilege, Do What We Want, Take What We Want, Say Anything We Want

Harbor Shores: A Government-Private Sector Partnership (Rep. Fred Upton-Whirlpool)


Controversial Golf Course Moves Ahead In Benton Harbor
Dustin Dwyer, Michigan Public Radio, 6/18/09

(photo)Mark Hesemann, managing director of Evergreen Development, shows off one of the holes at Harbor Shore that will open in July. Dustin Dwyer

BENTON HARBOR, MI (Michigan Radio) - The developers of a controversial golf course project in Benton Harbor say they're less than a month away from a preview opening.
They invited reporters on a tour of the more than 500-acre development as it gets ready for a full opening next year.
The development is called Harbor Shores. And parts of it are nearly finished. Ten holes on the golf course will open in July.
But much of the area is still a construction site. So for the main part of the tour, reporters were put on a bus, rather than golf carts. The bus took off down the highway, past where new homes and condos would be built, and into an area that's become a battleground: Jean Klock Park.
Wendy Dant Chesser is on the board of the Harbor Shores development. As the bus pulled into the park, she laid out the history.
"This park was dedicated to the city of Benton Harbor by John and Carrie Klock in 1917," she said. "When Mr. Klock made his dedication at that time, he said something to the effect of he wanted this land forever used in benefitting the children of Benton Harbor."
Now, much of the park will be used as holes seven, eight and nine on the golf course. But Dant Chesser says the beach and a picnic area will continue to be available to the public, and even more accessible than before. "And we contend that, in the past, because of the configuration of the park, it was not benefitting too many folks," she said. Dant Chesser added that Harbor Shores has spent $1.5 million cleaning up the park, building new access roads and restoring shelters and restrooms.
Throughout the bus tour, Dant Chesser and others with Harbor Shores press the point that this was never envisioned as just a golf course and some houses. They say it's meant to be a development tool to raise the profile of the city and improve life for everyone in it.
"They're lying," says Rev. Edward Pinkney, one of the main opponents of the development. "They're not being truthful. They've never been truthful from day one."
Pinkney says when it was proposed five years ago, people in the city were promised 2,000 jobs. Now Harbor Shores says it expects a peak of around 900 jobs during construction. And those will be temporary.
Pinkney says most of those jobs won't go to people from Benton Harbor.
"We should have had people help building the golf course," he says. "Should have had people help build these condominiums, but you won't see that."
But Harbor Shores did sign an agreement with the city that at least 40 percent of the people working at the golf course will be from Benton Harbor. That's out of approximately 100 permanent positions.
Reverend Pinkney says it's a raw deal.
But much of the work on the project has already been done. Land has been cleared, grass has been laid down, and even some of the houses are already built.
So even if Harbor Shores loses the lawsuits, it's unclear how the project can be stopped.
Dustin Dwyer,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Movie: Gospel Hill 2008

In the town of Julia, the residents of the black neighborhood of Gospel Hill, are being forced out of their homes to make way for a multimillion-dollar golf course development.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Excerpts from 3 articles

Michigan Pastor Denied Right to Attend his Own Hearing

A Michigan judge ruled this week that the Rev. Edward Pinkney, a Benton Harbor minister and longtime vocal community activist who recently served 13 months in jail couldn’t attend his own hearing in Grand Rapids before the Michigan Court of Appeals. Rev. Pinkney who is now under 24-hour house arrest and probation for quoting the Bible was requesting to be released from his home monitoring system so he could be present for his day in court yesterday. [6/9/09]

Pinkney’s case has gained the attention of the ACLU, religious and social justice groups throughout the country who feel his treatment and sentencing of 3 to 10 years, is not only excessive, but it is also a gross violation of the minister’s religious and civil rights. Before a full courtroom of supporters and Rev. Pinkney’s wife, his attorneys presented their arguments and now await an Appellate Court ruling that could take months. Meanwhile, a Michigan Supreme Court ruling on whether Rev. Pinkney should be denied the right to leave his house without court approval is expected any day. Full story -

Mich. Court of Appeals hears case of preacher sentenced for criticizing judge
Benton Harbor preacher is under house arrest and unable to attend appeal in his case
By Eartha Jane Melzer 6/11/09

A politically active Baptist preacher from Benton Harbor, Rev. Edward Pinkney, remained under near constant house arrest on Tuesday as a crowd gathered at the Michigan Court of Appeals in Grand Rapids for oral arguments in appeals of his politically charged conviction on election fraud charges for which he was given probation and the 3-to-10-year prison sentence he received when a judge said he violated probation by writing an article for a Chicago newspaper.

“This is truly a miscarriage of justice,” said Michael Steinberg of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which is representing Pinkney in the matter of the probation violation. “In a constitutional democracy a person cannot be imprisoned for criticizing a judge in a newspaper article or expressing his religious beliefs.”

Pinkney is a well-known figure in economically devastated and segregated Benton Harbor, where he has organized community forums, participated in local government meetings and attended court as an observer regularly for years...
In 2005, he organized a successful recall effort against a Benton Harbor city commissioner. But the recall was set aside after then-prosecutor James Cherry argued that Pinkney had violated campaign laws as part of the campaign.
He claimed that Pinkney offered people $5 to vote and that he handled absentee ballots of others, which is unlawful.
The first jury trial on these charges ended in a mistrial in March 2006, and Pinkney was convicted of the charges at a second trial in March 2007.
Pinkney’s attorneys have identified numerous problems with his trial. They argue that people were not allowed to observe jury selection, that a key witness that alleged that Pinkney had paid voters fabricated the story under pressure from the prosecution. They also argued that the law that makes holding someone else’s absentee ballot a felony is unfair. Full story -

Benton Harbor Believes in Fighting Back by Dr. Lenore J. Daniels

...Rev. Pinkney’s speaking and his activism draws from a rich tradition of revolutionary activist and human rights advocates, one perhaps foreign to many white Americans educated within the confines of a Western perspective. The shock white Americans experienced at the “discovery” of a Rev. Jeremiah Wright exposed the assumption that hidden in the depths of the Black community are individuals, activists and truth tellers like that of a man who in 1966-67-68 warned America that its lawless agenda was anti-human.

“God has a way of standing before nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, ‘You’re too arrogant! And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I’ll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name.”

The nation’s response to Rev. Martin Luther King was death!

Judge Dennis Wiley ignored “the April 22 Supreme Court order to “articulate the reasons” for keeping Pinkney under 24/7 house arrest with electronic tether” (BANCO).

And what tradition informs Judge Dennis Wiley’s silencing of truth?

The terms of Rev. Pinkney’s 24-hour house arrest, as Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire writes, are draconian. “Under his appeal bond he is denied the right to preach, grant interviews, write articles, address crowds or engage in politics.”
Full story -

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Minister Louis Farrakhan speaking in Benton Harbor, Friday, June 5, 2009; see all 4 parts of speech -

A Connection is made between the Pinkney and Bukowski cases:

Freedom of the Press My Sweet A**

An Open Letter from Ann Grimmett, Mich. Welfare Rights Org. member:

On June 1, 2009, I was in the Detroit courtroom of Judge Michael Hathaway in the "Frank Murphy Hall of INJUSTICE" as our beloved freedom fighter Diane Bukowski was being sentenced, insulted, lied on and generally disrespected!

I would like to think that the presence of nearly 50 people, (there ONLY to support Diane in her fight) were instrumental in convincing the "unjust judge" (much like the one referred to in Luke 18 "Parable of the Persistent Widow") to be more "just" (if you will) in his sentencing of our good sister Diane. As it turned out, Diane was given probation and slapped with several (again) "unjust" fines most likely in an attempt to "starve her out!

So much of Diane's case is very similar to the "persecution of our beloved BANCO brother Reverend Edward Pinkney, in that ALL who "concern themselves and fight for" the poor and disenfranchised are becoming TARGETS for those that are in a position of "Perceived Power."

Truth be told, if those whom these "Freedom Fighters" have defended and are defending don't stand up IN A BIG WAY for our "Freedom Fighters" we will ALL go down the tubes!! Diane is going to appeal and WE will be there to support her, to the very END!

For more information on this case, go to Free Diane Bukowski and read the open letter from Professor Charles Simmons.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Farrakhan: Human rights lacking in Benton Harbor

Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks during the Rally for Justice and Unity on Friday at the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center in Benton Township. Farrakhan said Benton Harbor has a crying need for better education.
6/6/09 HP by Julie Swidwa [notice her quotation marks around "distort his message" and "land grab"...]
BENTON TOWNSHIP - Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan told hundreds of people Friday night that they live in a world that deprives most human beings of their human rights, and nowhere is that more evident than in Benton Harbor and cities like it.
Speaking at the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center to about 400 people, Farrakhan said the mostly black city has a crying need for better education, which he said is a human right.
"A man who gives you inferior knowledge can dominate you. The only way to keep us as a tool is to keep us ignorant. Some of us don't even know that we are tools," Farrakhan said. He is the Supreme Minister and National Representative of the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad. He is an advocate for African-American interests and often a critic of American society.
The 76-year-old minister lives part time in Kenwood, a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, and part time at a Nation of Islam farm in New Buffalo. Farrakhan is recognized by some as a speaker with a powerful allure, and by others as a controversial figure.
A man who spoke before Farrakhan predicted that the media would "distort his message."
Farrakhan brought the crowd to its feet when he told the people to be tools in the tool chest of God. He said that is what Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor was trying to do.
"I am honored to be here at the call of justice," Farrakhan said. "Mrs. Pinkney, my dear suffering sister, I am honored to be here on behalf of your husband."
Farrakhan said he was touched by Pinkney's case and came to Benton Harbor to meet and support him. Pinkney also has the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is appealing his conviction on a probation violation.
Pinkney was on probation last year for a 2007 election fraud conviction involving a Benton Harbor recall election. While on probation, he wrote an article in the People's Tribune, a Chicago newspaper, stating that Berrien County Trial Court Judge Alfred Butzbaugh, who handled the election fraud case, could be punished by God "with consumption and with a fever and with an inflammation and with extreme burning."
Another Berrien County Trial Court Judge, Dennis Wiley, ruled that Pinkney's words constituted a threat, which was a violation of his probation terms. Wiley handed Pinkney a 3-10-year prison sentence.
Pinkney was released after the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered the Berrien County court to set bond. Pinkney has been out of prison since posting a $10,000 bond late last year but is not allowed to leave his home without permission from the court. For that reason, he could not attend Friday's "Rally for Unity and Justice" organized by Marcus Muhammad, a Benton Harbor resident who is running for election to the City Commission.
Also speaking at the rally, besides Farrakhan, were several other ministers and Pinkney's wife, Dorothy.
"This is not about Reverend Pinkney. It's bigger than us," she told the crowd. "He used to say 'I'm just trying to matter.' "
Before his arrest, Pinkney spent nearly every day at the Berrien County courthouse, listening to cases and offering free advice to defendants from Benton Harbor.
Dorothy Pinkney asked people to support her husband at a hearing Tuesday in Grand Rapids, where the state Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in his case.
Pinkney was arrested on election fraud charges following the 2007 recall of former City Commissioner Glenn Yarbrough, who soon regained his seat when a judge nullified the recall election. Yarbrough was subsequently re-elected, but later resigned.
Pinkney and his supporters now say he was targeted for arrest because he was against what they call "a land grab" by Whirlpool Corp. in Benton Harbor. But at the time of the recall election, Pinkney's stated reason on a petition seeking to recall Yarbrough was "for supporting (then) police chief Sam Harris."
The alleged "land grab" by Whirlpool is related to the Harbor Shores golf course development, which came about later.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The following is a comment posted on:

It's All About Federal Drug Money & African-American Incarceration, 3/11/09

"I can relate to this and can take it back to 1976 when Nick Jewell was sheriff.I saw the dirt first hand and with my own eyes.Dig into history and find out why officers Tom Diepert and Tom Exxum who worked for metro narcotics were arrested which was kept under covers.How about St Joe officer now retired Don Ives allowing county officer Steve Marshke to have drug parties at Dons house with there homosexual buddies.Tim Obrien was another story along with Eau Claire native Paul Bailey who is a racist along with his buddy officer John Hopkins whos brother was a coke dealer and allways overlooked ( I know I was there).I do not live in the area anymore (thank god) but have known or have been personaly involved on a social level with these people for almost 40 years.Benton Harbor used to be one of the most industrial flourishing towns in the nation and now it seems that all it produces is trumped up charges."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Lieutenant Herrold's thinking is a shining example of that which has been lost in Berrien County through a decades old propaganda campaign. Racism is "manufactured", as the American historian, Howard Zinn, teaches. Racism has been manufactured in Berrien by the business "elites" for their purposes. How many people would one have to interview in this county to find a person who isn't racist in their thinking? Who believes Benton Harbor needs assistance, and the people are worth helping? Who believes that it's nearly impossible to pull one up by one's bootstraps if their boots have been taken from them? Herrold is right about the river, but there is also a monstrous force with financial power keeping the divide fiercely in place. It speaks volumes about this power structure that WP CEO Jeff Noel so casually commented to the U. of Mich. Business School students several years ago that if you're a corporation wanting land from a poor community and you have the peace & justice people "on your back", all you need to do is bring in Habitat for Humanity and build a few homes to facilitate a land grab. If he dared speak those words in public, it's not difficult to imagine what's being plotted inside WP Corp. And the barbarous actions taking place daily in the courthouse go unquestioned by county residents. Combining the school systems would be a no-brainer if the populace understood that for this blip in time we exist on the planet, there is no greater purpose than to help each other in ways which actually make a difference. Thank you for your kind, generous, and humanitarian letter, Lt. Herrold.

St. Joseph should do more to help BH schools


I grew up in the area but have long since moved away. My parents routinely send me articles of friends in the news and other newsworthy articles to keep me up to date on the local area. The most recent article I received was about the Attack of the Killer Bison in St. Joseph in April. Though it was humorous, what really caught my eye were the MEAP scores on page A5.

I was embarrassed at the disparity between the scores achieved by St. Joseph and Benton Harbor school districts. The two cities are labeled the "Twin Cities." But the MEAP scores of the two schools show that the cities have nothing in common with each other. Last time I checked the only thing that separates the two cities is a river. Nothing else. It's obvious that St. Joseph has the resources and qualified teachers to motivate their children to perform far better then the state average. If the St. Joseph district has these resources, then why can't it use them to help better the children in Benton Harbor schools? After all, they are the "Twin Cities."

As the two school systems grow older and the need for new buildings becomes an issue, my suggestion would be to combine the two schools. In doing so, you could spread the resources and qualified teachers throughout St. Joseph and Benton Harbor and allowing more of the populace to perform better on MEAP tests, graduate from high school and possibly get college degrees. Right now the resources are there. The only thing that separates both cities from performing above the state average is a river. Nothing else.

Thomas Herrold
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, Ridgecrest, Calif. HP, 6/5/09
Harbor Shores campaign of propaganda and misinformation


I often wonder how the Harbor Shores juggernaut continues to find acolytes to perpetuate their campaign of propaganda and misinformation. Are people so blind that they really can't see what is happening? Paul Abrams' letter is a perfect example.

He says Klock Park "was a beautiful, clean park, ... the nicest and most beautiful in Southwest Michigan." That is true, until it was all but obliterated by Harbor Shores in the name of "improvements." Once again, he cites the "garbage-strewn parking lot," yet claims that the beach is unused. If the restrooms were poorly maintained, which is also true, wouldn't the logical remedy be to pressure the city to do its job instead of giving the beach away to private developers? The city has the funds for this specific purpose, but chooses to pretend otherwise. Oh, I forgot. The 22 acres are not being given away, they are being leased for pennies for the next 105 years.

It would appear that the majority of people around here believe that men with bulldozers are greater landscapers than God, and, that if a beach is not "packed with people," it is worthless. But, aesthetics and God aside, Mr. Abrams is still missing the point. Does he really think they are luring investors and homebuyers with the prospect of a packed beach? A typical advertisement shows a solitary couple walking along the beach at sunset. This is about private vs. public use - period.

Just imagine a championship golf event or a Whirlpool annual picnic taking place on the same weekend as a big family reunion, barbecued ribs and all. Or a wedding party or baptism with lots of noisy kids and honking cars. Will everyone be accommodated, or will someone have to be excluded, and if so, guess who? Does anyone believe that the view Harbor Shores says it must have will include picnic tables, volleyball nets and concession stands? Ain't gonna happen.

So far, I have not seen any so-called "improvements" at Klock Park that do not primarily or at least equally benefit the golf course. The city government has abdicated its responsibility and allowed the private developers to take control. How dumb do you have to be to fall for a letter that refers to the park as "some swampland," and then in the same sentence, "to the glory and usefulness it once was"?

It is unclear whether we have already lost or are about to lose our greatest natural public asset, but there are a few of us left who still believe that it's not a done deal. If you are interested in learning the truth, go to

Scott Elliott, HP 6/6/09

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Quote for the Day

It is a trick among the dishonest to offer sacrifices that are not needed, or not possible, to avoid making those that are required. Ivan Goncharov, novelist (1812-1891)

This reminds us of the long list of community service efforts and bar association honors which Judge Alfred Butzbaugh has accumulated. However, all are in conflict, ethically and morally, with his direct participation in the Berrien County Courthouse where it's routine for all-white juries to convict African-Americans from Benton Harbor. With great ease, he presides over these convictions.

Approximately three years ago, the court was observed and studied by the NY ACLU. It was also visited by an author researching a book which explores American courts where judges, prosecutors, and defenders cooperate and work together (otherwise known as being in bed together). In both of these instances, the visitors to the Berrien court were appalled, and had similar comments indicating they had never before seen this level of corruption.

U of M researchers have stated that the innocent and juvenile convictions are at the highest rate in Michigan in this courthouse, or at least very close to the top of the list. Other observers report witnessing consistent injustice by judges toward Benton Harbor African Americans. Benton Harbor residents have reported police misconduct, harrassment, drug planting, and other abuses going back years. Atty. Hugh Davis's remarks on this are worth reading again:

Monday, June 01, 2009

Removal of Wiley

If a regular citizen failed to comply with an order from the Michigan Supreme Court, they would be arrested.

Rev. Pinkney is asking people to take a minute to ask for the removal of Judge Dennis Wiley for ignoring the April 22 Supreme Court order to "articulate the reasons" for keeping Pinkney under 24/7 house arrest with electronic tether.

Please mention that the complaint you are referring to is #09-18209.
(Basically, you are supporting this complaint, filed by Rev. Pinkney.)

Simply call, email or write the Judicial Tenure Commission and the Supreme Court asking for Wiley's removal. Reason: contempt of court; defying court order, etc. He had 21 days to comply, and did nothing.

Judicial Tenure Commission, 3034 W. Grand Blvd., Suite 8-450, Detroit 48202

Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Hall of Justice, P.O. Box 30052, Lansing 48909