Saturday, March 27, 2010

Three Letters to the Editor worth publishing here

There is no reason for state takeover of BH


Receivership of Benton Harbor isn't necessary. Forbes magazine listed Plante Moran in the top 10 in the country as one of the best companies in the country in dealing with financial crises. Plante Moran said Benton Harbor is capable of solving its own problems and Jackie Bell is capable of performing her duties adequately. Now, who do you believe, Plante Moran or three city commissioners? Also, ex-City Manager Steve Manning stated that he, along with Plante Moran, solved the city's financial crisis without any assistance from outside sources.

Let's look at the big picture. The United States is in a depression and in receivership to China. Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, Detroit and Flint are broke. Michigan's retirement fund is millions in the red and Michigan is in receivership to Washington, D.C.

Now, I have no problem with accepting help from Lansing. Come on down and pull up a chair and let's hear what you got. But please don't send a member of the current administrative team of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, because they can't handle their own problems.

Benton Harbor's problem are no different than many other cities in the country. It has nothing to be ashamed of. Two years ago I expected sincerity and civility in our governing body. We didn't get it. Let's work with City Manager Ronald Carter Jr., Mayor Wilce Cooke and the new leadership. Together we can solve this crisis.

George Moon, Benton Harbor
Cotter is too quick to throw the book at children


Berrien County Prosecutor Art Cotter thinks he is Inspector Clouseau, Dr. Freud and Grand Inquisitor Torquemada all rolled into one. It seems the only job he isn't doing is the one he is being paid to do by the taxpayers.

Cotter is usually at the scene of a crime even before a warrant has been issued by the sheriff, which is the normal procedure. Recently, Cotter has decided to charge a 14-year-old boy as an adult for killing his grandfather, a decision he made within one day of the tragedy without the benefit of a psychiatric examination or, presumably, even a thorough investigation. If convicted, the boy could be sentenced to life without possibility of parole. Hopefully, an evaluation will take place before it is too late, and Cotter should have his head examined at the same time.

Cotter also has now taken it upon himself to usurp the roles of the Michigan Parole and Commutations Board, the Department of Corrections and the governor's office. When a prisoner is considered for parole or commutation, a prosecutor may weigh in on the matter by sending a letter of objection or approval. Instead, Cotter has decided to lead a crusade opposing the governor's early release program, even where it applies to juveniles convicted as adults.

Last year Cotter and his second in command, Mike Sepic, took the unprecedented step of personally attending the commutation hearing for Efren Paredes Jr., who was prosecuted at the age of 15 by Sepic in 1989 for armed robbery and murder on weak circumstantial evidence and the word of criminals who were given leniency in exchange for their testimony. Efren was sentenced to three life terms, two without possibility of parole. He has always maintained his complete innocence. The sheriff and virtually every police chief in the county were there at Cotter's bidding. They put on quite a show, again at the taxpayers' expense. Cotter even recited the lyrics to a popular rap song found in Efren's school locker to demonstrate his state of mind at the time. Sorry, but rap artist is one job Cotter can forget about.

Now Cotter and Sepic are engaged in an extensive propaganda campaign against Efren and others who are being considered for parole or commutation. I have retrieved hundreds of their anti-Efren letters and e-mails through the Freedom of Information Act. Cotter personally told me that he spent three days blacking out names and whole paragraphs he did not want me to see. Guess who paid for his time?

The consequences to the community of prosecutorial irresponsibility are too serious to ignore. Cotter knows he is virtually unaccountable. He recently said to me that he's "giving the voters what they want." I hope no one wants someone who would condemn a child, especially without having all the facts.

Scott Elliott, Benton Harbor
Appeals Court rooted in 21st century greed


This is regarding the decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals about Jean Klock Park. Judges Richard Bandstra, Jane Mankey and Deborah Servitto stated: "The deed doesn't define 'park purpose' or 'public purpose.'"

They further stated: "Had the drafters of the deed intended that the park be used in its passive natural state, they could have placed such restrictions on the deed."

Had, 90 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Klock envisioned that the 21st century would become a society of greed and corruption in government and business, they surely would have been far more explicit regarding their deed.

If the courts had upheld the consent judgment of Jan. 27, 2004, these court appeals would be moot.

These judgments should have been deliberated on the mores of the Klock's era, an era when deals - even million dollar transactions - were done on a handshake, an era when a man's word was his bond and worth. It should not be judged on today's immoral mentality.

How can a judge misinterpret the spoken words by Mr. Klock to "see to it that the park is the children's." (How many children have you seen playing golf at $150 per round?)

Perhaps these judges can enlighten us as to how a man of virtue, honor and good character could foresee that 90 years in the future the majority of those in government and business would be sadly devoid of those assets. How could he, at that time, foretell that in the year 2004 the city of Benton Harbor would give his away for a few more "free" dollars. (When I say "give away" I am talking about the whole park - beach and all - when it is all said and done.) He certainly would have been more exact in the wording of the deed.

In closing, I will repeat what I wrote in a previous letter: Berrien County courts are not about justice, but deep pockets. On that note, good luck to the Benton Harbor Fruit Market, because it is up against the same deep pockets that stole "the children's park."

Shirley Stinson, Benton Harbor

Friday, March 26, 2010

Opponents of park privatization appeal to state Supreme Court
By Eartha Jane Melzer 3/25/10

Benton Harbor residents that oppose the transformation of the city’s lakefront park into a private golf course are appealing a recent Court of Appeals ruling that OK’d the golf development.

The Friends of Jean Klock Park warn that if the ruling is allowed to stand it will clear the way for further corporate takeovers of public land. The group said:

“We feel more strongly than ever that the Trial Court and Court of Appeals erred in their decisions and we are deeply concerned about the dangerous precedent that has been set. The decision of the Appeals Court will most certainly clear a path for corporations and government to take dedicated public park land and use it for private commercial purposes. People who make a gift, who leave a legacy like the Klocks, should know that their legacy will be protected in the future. Unless the Michigan Supreme Court reverses the lower court’s decision, “those who do not own a foot of ground…have no piano or phonograph”, as John Klock promised at the dedication ceremony, are the biggest losers, because the park is no longer theirs.”

Jean Klock Park was donated to Benton Harbor in 1917. In 2006 the city agreed to lease 22 acres at the center of Jean Klock park to developers for 105 years. The city was given contaminated former industrial parcels in trade for the park’s lakeside dunes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What State Takeovers Mean For Our Communities

By Marian Kramer

“In Highland Park, Michigan, the state takeover of our city meant taking away the vote for folks to elect their city officials. It meant the selling off of all of our different assets without the people’s consent, without the vote of the people. It meant the City Council no longer had a decision making role. All decisions were in the hands of the dictatorship of the ‘appointed’ Financial Manager. The Financial Manager only adhered to the Governor and whatever board the Governor set up. It meant there were a bunch of layoffs. We operated with a bare minimal. They contracted out a lot of the work. We only had one or two inspectors for the whole city. They said we were broke, but millions of dollars went out to private contractors. They shut down the only public library in the city. They tried to privatize the water but we won that back. They were going to privatize the management of the water with 80% of profits going to the management company and 20% to the city of Highland Park. It meant that the citizens of Highland Park would be responsible for any financial needs for fixing equipment, etc., not the management, although they were making 80% of the profits. The whole process shows that government and the corporations work hand in hand today and the form of rule in America is not democracy for the people.”

Marian Kramer is co-chair of the National Welfare Rights Organization

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Granholm imposes an unnecessary financial takover of Benton Harbor, Michigan

BH City Manager Ron Carter: If the state could grant us $5 million Fiscal Stabilization Bond, it would solve our problems right away.

State Treasurer Robert J. Kleine: We could do that.

The statements above were made during a meeting held in the Austin Bldg. in Lansing on March 17, 2010 at 10am. The state was forced to meet after the BH city commission appealed Granholm's takeover decision. An "emergency manager" would have the powers to
hire and fire, renegotiate labor contracts, and sell property.

Presiding over the meeting was State Secy. of the Treasury, Robert J. Kleine. He sat alone in front facing about 50 people. In the front row were the state financial people; on the other side of an aisle were Benton Harbor Mayor Cooke and City Manager Ron Carter (formerly of the Lakers NBA b-ball team).

The state talked about the many mistakes BH has made over the years, all before Mr. Carter became City Mngr. I didn't find out until after the meeting that the long list only added up to $4.1 million Benton Harbor is in the red for. Not much for a municipality. One person jokingly suggested that benefit concerts could take care of that amount.

One might wonder why a governor who offers little to no leadership within the state would suddenly take over a city which has been in deep poverty for many years because of being only 4 million in debt?

Ron Carter took his turn and was impressive in his clarity and logic laying out the state of financial affairs in BH. He talked about a 62 point plan to remedy the problems, admitting that time and money were needed for some of the fixes. Carter has
identified these specifics:

1. Benton Charter Township is on their way to developing a new water plant. Carter wouldn’t try to prevent this, but suggests some ways BH could cooperate resulting in a win-win for both municipalities:

--Negotiate regarding shared capacity of water.
Water intake is expensive; BH has it and could provide for both.

--BH already has pumping stations and could share with Benton Charter Township.

--There could be cooperation on billing, meter reading, and customer service, all of which would cut expenses for both municipalities.

2. Union contracts (collective bargaining)

--BH contracts have expired. Current contracts contain terms and conditions that make the city pay more in overtime than it can afford. Labor costs could be cut, but the current contract doesn’t allow this.

3. Police and Firefighter Pension Funds, and General Pension Fund

--Fund performance has not been good for 2 or 3 years. The Fund board should consider hiring a new manager.

--The city has to figure out how to make pension fund contributions as required.

The state spoke again about why they need to move in and run Benton Harbor. Mr. Carter competently explained things in finer detail, and it seemed obvious everytime he spoke that nothing was needed for Benton Harbor but to let him do his job. Notable was his humility when uttering phrases such as, "I could be wrong, but..." Personally, I would choose him to over the state financial rep.

Carter said he didn't want to spend the next month working at these solutions only to find that the state will undo his work.

Mayor Cooke said that the main question citizens and elected officials have is if a state emergency manager would sell Benton Harbor's most valuable assets, such as its water plant. Kleine replied that would happen only if it made sound financial sense...

If the state of Michigan was in this to help, they'd save a lot of money and trouble by simply offering financial aid to the poorest community in Michigan.

After the meeting I heard a woman asking Secy. of the Treas. Kleine that if he must go into BH to use a word other than "takeover." For a city that's lost their livelihood and been beaten down by their former employer and corrupt cops and judges, they need to be built up. The word "takeover" will just heighten their sense of demoraliztion. And, it's abundantly clear that all BH needs now is a bit of "assistance."

Several people I spoke with said that Whirlpool has always orchestrated the chaos, financial and otherwise, which has characterized BH city government. Hopefully, this bully corporation will never again have this opportunity.

Benton Harbor has been in financial straits for decades - why does Gov. Granholm choose now to intervene? It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the new city commission not giving Whirlpool what they water and MORE land?

(It appears that the new HP reporter, Evan Goodenow, is trying his best to be objective, but his editor is trying his best to mold Goodenow into a good WP company man.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Whirlpool To Shutter Plant In Evansville, Indiana
Interview with Union Local President

By Sandy Reid/People’s Tribune

The People's Tribune interviewed Darrell Collins, President IUE-CWA Local 808, in Evansville, Indiana about the closure of the Whirlpool refrigerator plant and the layoff of 1100 workers. The plant is moving to Mexico. Collins has worked at the plant for 40 years.

People's Tribune: Tell our readers about the plant closure and what it is going to mean for the community.

Darrell Collins: There will be 1100 layoffs,with 400 starting on March 26. The last layoff will be in late June. That's only a part of what's going to happen. You got probably another 6-7,000 people that will be affected by this. I know the community doesn't realize what is going to happen when all these people get laid off and stop paying taxes because they don't have a job. There's only so many places to work. Somewhere along the line, some of these politicians are going to have to figure out what's going on here.

PT: We understand that Whirlpool has gotten stimulus money.

DC: They got $19 million stimulus money, but not only that. Over the years, they have gotten several tax incentives to invest money into the property. They just continued on and on to where they are not keeping people in the plant like they are supposed to. Here's my problem. We made this company what it is. The workers did. Now they want to move to Mexico. And all these other companies want to move, go here and there. This is just the very start of what's happening. We are going to carry this fight on to the very end. We are not going to have any jobs here or anywhere. They want to create these new jobs. These new jobs don't pay enough money to support a family on. We've got anywhere from 30-50 husbands and wives working in this plant. So two people are going to lose their income. Everyone keeps promising that they are going to do something about it. But nobody is doing anything. We are going to the streets. We're going do something about it. We're expecting anywhere from 500-1500 people this Friday. We're going to line up along highway 41. And then we will do a march back to the hall. We got 10 speakers, and Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, President Jim Clark of the IUE, several speakers from the community, and our congressman will be here. We've all got the same message: its time that we do something about the problem.

PT: Was there much automation at the plant?

DC: They had several robots and arms that do stuff. They could have invested this money in a new product line. Other than greed, there is no reason for them to move. When you got somebody down there in Mexico making $3.85 hour and they aren't going to buy this refrigerator, they're moving to Mexico to satisfy their greed as far as profits. Then they're going to send that product right back to the U.S.

PT: In Benton Harbor, Michigan, workers have been fighting the reign of Whirlpool. They have around 70% unemployment rate resulting from so many plant closures and now Whirlpool is taking their lakefront property for a profitable redevelopment.

PHOTO /local 808
Whirlpool warned workers not to attend, saying “these negative activities will only hamper employees when they look for future jobs.”

DC: We put a billboard down in Benton Harbor that says, "Shame on Whirlpool." We're tired of taking this and we're not going to take it anymore. People are going to the streets. We're going to do something about this. The plant has been there 56 years. I've worked there 40 years. There's been a lot of changes. You can't tell me they can't turn this around. They've moved stuff out and back 100 times already. They can do it. All they have to do is say 'I'm the one company that is not going to do this.' But they don't care about any worker. It's all about money. They could care less that the community will be devastated when they leave. They came in today, told us about the plant closing. Then they got on a private jet and flew back to Benton Harbor.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Letter to Editor with Rev. Pinkney's commentary in brackets.

Emergency manager a critical, needed step for BH

Editor, (3/12 Herald Palladium)

I am a longtime resident of our city and a member of the Benton Harbor City Commission. I am writing to express my full support for the governor's appointment of an emergency financial manager for the city of Benton Harbor.

[Joseph expresses this opinion because he fully supports Whirlpool and Harbor Shores development. Without the state takeover, Whirlpool could not complete HShores.]

Recently Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced her decision to appoint an emergency financial manager for Benton Harbor. This decision was based on significant work done by a Benton Harbor Finance Review Team and the state Treasury Department. While it may, in the short term, reflect poorly on the city of Benton Harbor, it is an excellent opportunity to address issues that have plagued the city.

[Granholm has been working hand in had with Whirlpool and HShores developers for a long time. They want the remaining lakefront land.]

Public Act 72 of 1990, the Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act, requires that the governor make a decision within 30 days of receiving a financial review team report that identifies significant issues within the city. A report was submitted to Gov. Granholm by the Benton Harbor Financial Review Team on Jan. 27. Gov. Granholm agreed with the conclusions of the report and has determined that a financial emergency exists within the city of Benton Harbor. The governor has recommended the appointment of an emergency financial manager.

[Why does Granholm respond to a BH financial emergency now, when one has existed for many years? Benton Harbor's city government has never been on her radar screen. And, a city manager has recently come along, in concert with a more than competent city commission. Solutions to financial problems are finally possible, and she wants to do a takeover? Sounds very much like she has a (not so hidden) agenda.

And, it's common knowledge that the poor job Granholm has done calls for a takeover of the state finances.]

As you may be aware, there is significant transformation occurring in the community now. A strong, effective municipal structure is needed to catalyze these activities. The appointment of the emergency financial manager is a critical step in stabilizing Benton Harbor and making it a great place to live, work and play.

[It is critical that we stop Gov. Granholm, her cronies, and Whirlpool from taking over the city. They want the remaining lakefront land. Desperately. Whirlpool would also like to continue having Benton Harbor pay their water bills. And more.]

Bryan Joseph, BH City Commissioner

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Benton Harbor/Twin Cities NAACP Chapter is in agreement with the letters excerpted below. Many thanks to the authors for their time and effort.

Casino is the last thing that Benton Harbor needs


...Benton Harbor's problems cannot be fixed with gambling. Having a casino in the area can have nothing but a negative effect on the community, and more specifically on families. With legalized gambling so close at hand, the people who can ill afford to gamble, will. They're sure they're going to get lucky.

...A casino in Benton Harbor can be nothing but a detriment to the whole community. It will be especially harmful for kids and families.

Anita Schultz, St. Joseph

We must all say 'no' to a Benton Harbor casino


Saturday's paper examined the state of Michigan's consideration of expanding the number of casinos that may be legally operated within its boundaries, marking Benton Harbor as a possible site. The states commission, by a vote of 3 to 0, has unanimously indicated its support for expansion. If it gets the proper signatures, which seems likely considering the need for a mere 3.8 percent of the population (an amount less than the number of state employees), the law will pass to a general vote.

Benton Harbor City Manager Ronald Carter Jr. said he's doing his homework to see if a casino is something that makes sense or something that could be supported. We must do the same.

I have no doubt that a casino, in some form, world be financially viable in Benton Harbor. Any corporation selected would stand to make a considerable return, provide a contribution to the tax revenue and create jobs. The state and its voters, no doubt, will see this.

The question turns to whether a casino makes sense. To put this another way, it is whether we judge, as those living in and in proximity to Benton Harbor, a position which neither the state nor the majority of its voters can claim, it desirable or not to have a casino in Benton Harbor. I, for one, answer immediately and emphatically "no." The effects of gambling legalized and facilitated by the state of Michigan are already ruinous to the city, and the state's budget is no more helped by this venture, despite its claims.

Yet, what else of gambling? Have you never seen someone lose their house to it? Their family? Friends? Their life, in suicide? Gambling creates poverty in everything that it touches, for even the money made in gambling is impoverished by how one gets it. [emphasis added]

Matthew Curtis, Watervliet

Friday, March 12, 2010

Letter to Editor in Herald Palladium

[The HP printed the letter below, but did not print a letter from the local NAACP requesting an apology from Mr. Robinson for his verbal attack on the Nation of Islam.
Whirlpool policy would likely not allow it's publication.
Mr. Robinson's letter, below, is a back-handed attack on Marcus Muhammad, Benton Harbor city commissioner.
Robinson does diversity training for Whirlpool Corp. A month or so ago, he presented a program which was marketed as an event relating to health issues. In this poverty-stricken city, hundreds of people attended since lunch was free. What actually occurred was an event with one goal: to "brain wash" people about how wonderful Harbor Shores will be. (HS is the gigantic golf development on Lake Mich. land stolen from BHarbor.) Robinson made many claims, one being that HS would have 2000 jobs...Benton Harborites know that they will not have one of those jobs. The event was a disappointment to many.]

Regret over comments made in heat of moment (3/9/10)


Having the time to reflect on my recent critique on the quality of leadership being provided by at least two of elected representatives on the Benton Harbor City Commission, it is clear that "heat of the moment" has fueled a level of rhetoric that undermines our mutual commitment to working on the tough issues of our time without being overly tough on each other.

As president of the Consortium for Community Development, I regret any offense or harm that may have come to all earnest practitioners of the Islamic faith that may have resulted from any comment I made or language attached to my comments, directly or indirectly. The underlying points being made in last week's article we're intended to critique the arguments made by those elected representatives and nothing more.

What may be helpful in this situation is for the parties involved in this verbal conflict come together in meaningful dialogue to create a basis for greater respect and collaboration moving forward. My office has already reached out with an invitation for dialogue with the commissioners.

Marcus S. Robinson, President, Consortium for Community Development

Monday, March 08, 2010

Nothing happens in Berrien County without the secret hand of Whirlpool. Keep that in mind while reading this article about BHPD officers Hall and Collins who will go down in history as cops who cooperated with the effort to rid Benton Harbor of African-American citizens so Harbor Shores could be developed. This massive human and environmental rights disaster continues with barely a whisper from media. No organizing by midwest "peace" groups. Kalamazoo, the nearest city of size, is mostly quiet. Chicago has people involved in the struggle. From your computer you can read the Herald-Palladium and leave a comment - maybe you'd like to do it on a daily basis. Comments after this article are surprizing - the Palladium must be under pressure from citizens. Their policy used to disallow comments against the "power structure."

In an imaginary world where equality exists, Whirlpool would leave BH, restore the beach, and help repair homes - as a gift to residents. They would open a factory and offices and give every person a job. They owe BH, big time.

Prosecutor, police chief say Bernard Hall and Andrew Collins' actions will have lingering effects; pair were indicted on corruption charges involving dozens of drug arrests

By J. Swidwa - H-P

Fri., March 5, 2010
GRAND RAPIDS - Benton Harbor and Berrien County will suffer serious, long-term repercussions from the actions of two former police officers who violated the civil rights of residents, the city's police chief and the county prosecutor told a federal judge Thursday.
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff called the victim impact statements read by Police Chief Roger Lange and Berrien County Prosecutor Arthur Cotter "very eloquent" and sentenced former Benton Harbor policeman Bernard Hall Jr. to 30 months in prison.
Hall, 34, along with former Benton Harbor policeman Andrew Collins, 27, were indicted in 2009 on corruption charges related to dozens of drug arrests in the city from 2006 to 2008.
The indictment charged that the two falsified search warrant affidavits, obtained search warrants without probable cause, embezzled money from the department, filed false police reports and unlawfully seized people's money and personal property for their own personal use.
The two fabricated controlled drug buys to secure illegal search warrants and to embezzle funds from the police department.
Collins is serving 37 months in a federal prison and was brought to court Thursday to testify in a sentencing hearing for Hall.
Hall pleaded guilty last September to conspiracy to violate civil rights. The statutory maximum sentence is 10 years, but based on a presentence investigation, the sentencing guideline range for Hall was 24 to 30 months.
Hall, through his lawyer Don Ferris of Ann Arbor, asked for a lighter sentence, saying he wasn't the ringleader, but was a follower.
As a corporal, Hall was Collins' supervisor when the two worked in the city's narcotics unit. Hall testified Thursday he had falsified just seven search warrant affidavits compared to Collin's 80 to 100, that he took money from Collins on one occasion and never kept drugs seized from alleged dealers or stole money from them as Collins did.
Collins was a one-man operation in the narcotics unit from November 2005 until Hall was transferred from the School Resource Officer division to narcotics in June 2006. Collins testified that he told Hall "early on" how they could falsify reports to obtain search warrants, and said he had been doing it to increase his arrest numbers "to, in my mind, do a better job."
Collins said he would keep drugs in his office to either plant on people during a search or to falsify drug buys to embezzle money from the department.
Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Delaney, Collins said that if Hall claimed not to know about the drugs stashed in the office, "that would be a lie."
Shaking his head, Collins said, "No. We were together all the time. We ate lunch together. I went to his house with him several times. It was me and him. We were close friends."
Collins told the court he had falsified 80 to 90 search warrants and "(Hall) was aware of most of them. He assisted with them."
Under cross-examination by Ferris, Collins said, "I was the one who hatched the idea," but said Hall knew the extent of his actions.
Hall maintained throughout the hearing that he was less guilty than Collins.
"Collins told you about shortcuts and illegal acts, and that was fine with you, right?" Delaney asked Hall.
"Yes," Hall answered.
"But you're trying to get this court to think you're really not that involved," Delaney countered.
"Because I'm not," Hall said.
Former Benton Harbor Police captain Randel Pompey was called to testify about Hall's claims that he had come to Pompey early on with concerns about Collins.
"No. I would have stopped it," Pompey told the court. "I didn't work 25 years to go to Benton Harbor to have my career ended by two guys not doing what they were supposed to do."
Pompey, a state police veteran before working in Benton Harbor in 2007 and 2008, has since become chief of the Coloma Township Police Department.
Pompey said Hall came to him in February 2008 and said Collins had marijuana in the narcotics office that had not been inventoried and packaged within 24 hours as required by department regulations.
That led to a search of the narcotics unit office in which Pompey found a lock box under Collins' desk. The box was empty, but Collins told another officer that he had thrown drugs in a trash can.
Former Chief Al Mingo and Pompey subsequently found marijuana, heroin and crack cocaine, fired Collins and launched an investigation.
"I was mad. More than mad," Pompey told the court. "I was disappointed and thoroughly disgusted."
Pompey said he worked in Benton Harbor another year and, after Collins' arrest, spent most of his time responding to complaints about police officers.
"It became, and still is, hard to work in that city. I don't think either of them recognize what they've done," Pompey said of Collins and Hall.
Pompey left the department for his job in Coloma and Mingo retired.
The new chief, Roger Lange, said in his victim statement Thursday that the actions of Hall and Collins have had "a devastating impact" on the city of Benton Harbor.
The city, already with serious financial problems, faces several civil lawsuits stemming from arrests made by Collins and Hall.
"My officers and I on a daily basis must deal with citizens who can never forget the betrayal of these two officers ... ," Lange said.
He thanked the U.S. Attorney's office and FBI Special Agent Al Dibrito for their work on the case.
In his victim statement, Cotter said the prosecutor's office has suffered, too.
"I knew when I first learned of this, that it was going to be a mess. It's a total breach of fidelity to the people of Berrien County and the citizens of Benton Harbor, and it's taken months and months of work," Cotter told the judge. "The citizens of Benton Harbor may end up paying for this."
Cotter said the actions of Hall and Collins have resulted in the reversal of 43 drug cases so far, with dozens still to be reviewed. He said he is combing through every case and that Collins has cooperated, but Hall has not.
"Mingo said he put Hall there (in charge of narcotics) because he was older, more experienced, level-headed and trusted, to make sure this younger, maybe over-exuberant officer had supervision," Cotter told the judge. "Bernard Hall violated that trust. I've been waiting, hoping, that he would step forward and right his wrong, and he hasn't. I ask you to throw the proverbial book at him."
Neff told Hall the case is much bigger than him.
"This is a whole lot bigger than you, here, and that's the part that doesn't seem to have landed with you," she said.
Neff said she is familiar with Benton Harbor.
"You live and served in a community where that trust was already very fragile. I know just how fragile that trust was between police and citizens and now, if not totally broken, it's awfully close," the judge told Hall. "Frankly, I think that lands more at your feet. You were older, more experienced, you were in charge. That's what I'm not hearing from you. I don't think the numbers make any difference."
Hall, wearing black pants and a burgundy sweater with his hands clasped behind his back, fought back tears as he told the judge, "You're right. I'm wrong for what I did. I apologize."
Delaney told the judge that her sentence will be heard "all over homes in Benton Harbor and the police community."
Neff sentenced Hall to 30 months in federal prison, three years' supervised release and $10,000 restitution. She said that for his safety, the court will try to place him somewhere separate from people who are serving time for drug convictions in the Western District of Michigan.
"I hope some level of incarceration will provide you with deeper insight," she told him. "I don't think, listening to you, that you understand the greater implications of what you've done. You could have put a stop to this, and you didn't."
Hall agreed to surrender himself and was allowed to leave court on his own Thursday.
Delaney said Hall will be notified by the court where and when to begin his prison sentence.
Full article and comments:

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Correction to this article at end. (Fettig's cash bonus not quite as large.)

Will CEO Jeff Fettig be responsive to the Benton Harbor Commission and the NAACP, now in his backyard? (see letter to him - next post)

Do a search on the title of this article about Jeff Fettig's massive wealth-and Whirlpool's-you'll see it's been published in media across the country.

Whirlpool CEO gets 77% pay boost in 2009

By Emily Fredrix (AP) – 4 days ago

NEW YORK — Whirlpool Corp. CEO Jeff M. Fettig's compensation soared more than 75 percent last year to $10.8 million as the appliance maker began to see shoppers making bigger purchases again, according to an Associated Press analysis of regulatory filings.
Fettig, 53, received the pay hike largely in the form of a performance-based cash bonus worth $5.9 million, far higher than the $420,000 he got in the prior year, in which his total compensation was $6.1 million.
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday, Fettig received a base salary of nearly $1.3 million in 2009, up 1 percent from his base salary the previous year.
His overall compensation in the fiscal year ended Dec. 31 also increased due to more stock options and restricted stock. They were worth $5.9 million when granted, up from nearly $4.3 million in fiscal 2008.
Fettig's compensation also included $126,911 in perquisites, or "perks," including $37,192 for personal use of the company's plane, and $56,163 in defined plan contributions. He received $33,556 in "other" perks, which includes discounts on Whirlpool products, financial planning services and other benefits.
The Associated Press calculations of total pay include executives' salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year. The calculations don't include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals that companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the SEC.
Fettig has been CEO of the world's largest home appliance maker, which is based in Benton Harbor, Mich., since 2004. Besides its namesake appliances, the company's other brands include Maytag and Kitchenaid. [see top of for more, and please boycott them all]
In fiscal 2009, full-year earnings fell 22 percent to $328 million, or $4.34 per share. That's down from earnings of $418 million, or $5.50 per share, in the previous year. The performance, though lower than the prior year, was still above Whirlpool's guidance for a profit of about $4.25 per share.
Annual sales dropped 10 percent to $17.1 billion from $18.91 billion. Taking out foreign currency fluctuations, revenue fell a lesser 6 percent. A rising U.S. dollar causes international sales to lose value when they are converted back to U.S. dollars.
In the fourth quarter, North American sales gained and the company continued to see strong growth in emerging markets like Asia and Latin America.
Last year's performance was an improvement from 2008, when earnings slumped worse as cash-strapped shoppers pulled back on big purchases, like appliances. The company also posted a 2010 outlook above expectations last month and said it was starting to see signs of domestic improvement.
Whirlpool shares doubled in the year to finish at $80.66. Shares rose $1.73, or 2 percent, to close Monday at $85.89, and hit a new 52-week high of $85.92 earlier in the session.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

March 4, 2010
Correction: Whirlpool compensation story


NEW YORK -- In a story March 1 about Whirlpool Corp.'s executive compensation, The Associated Press reported erroneously that CEO Jeff M. Fettig received a performance-based cash bonus worth $5.9 million. That figure was the value of his stock and option awards. His performance-based cash bonus was $3.5 million.

Friday, March 05, 2010

March 5, 2010

Jeff M. Fettig
President/CEO of Whirlpool Corporation
2000 N. M-63
Benton Harbor, MI 49022-2692

Dear Mr. Fettig,

Since reading “Cornerstone In Crosshairs” printed in the local Herald Palladium newspaper on March 3, 2010 written by staff writer Evan Goodenow, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) would like to respond to and condemn statements made by your representative Marcus Robinson, President of Consortium for Community Development, formerly known as Citizens for Progressive Change.

According to the newspaper and public knowledge, the Consortium for Community Development is a component of Cornerstone Alliance, partly formed by Whirlpool Corporation in 1987. Mr. Robinson has made comments that we and the community feel violate First Amendment Rights of Free Speech and Freedom of Religion and we ask if his words reflect your company or if you wish to distance Whirlpool Corporation for those statements.

In the article, he made inflammatory statements regarding two elected City Commissioners regarding an appeal to a Benton Harbor state takeover. In his statements, he claimed their opposition is, “borderline incitement of civil disturbance and I believe they know what they are doing. These are calculated statements to incite,” he said. The question we would like to ask is, what did he mean and does he speak for Whirlpool Corporation?

The purpose of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. Since Mr. Robinson is an experienced consultant and educator who has worked on behalf of Whirlpool, offering training classes on issues relating to culture, diversity and in inclusion, we believe it this is in total contradiction to his position. An apology on behalf of the readers who read this newspaper is expected in an effort to make amends for these unfortunate statements.

As CEO of a international and major corporation, we believe that that the appropriate actions will be acknowledged. Your timely response to this matter will show that the Whirlpool Corporation denounces these comments and the subliminal suggestions are not acceptable. Please call me directly at (269)925-0001 if you have further questions or comments.

President of the Benton Harbor/Twin Cities Naacp, Rev. Edward Pinkney

Thursday, March 04, 2010

[Rep. Fred Upton's cousin, Aubrey McClendon, is an Oklahoma billionaire developer. He is attempting to destroy and develop Lake Michigan Saugatuck shoreline, north of Upton's Harbor Shores.]

McClendon sues Saugatuck Township for land-rights claims

By Scott Sullivan, Editor, Wed., March 3, 2010

Aubrey McClendon, who sold the south Denison land to the City of Saugatuck 10 weeks ago, is suing Saugatuck Township for its rezoning of the north and south portions of his Lake Michigan-fronting holdings.
Saugatuck Dunes LLC, McClendon’s local land firm, filed papers Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Grand Rapids claiming the township’s 2006 redesignation of his 403 duneland acres from R-2 and R-3 residential to more-restrictive R-4 zoning was illegally noticed, constitutes spot zoning and is a regulatory taking of his property.
Perhaps most incendiary of the Singapore Dunes’ complaints alleges the township’s acceptance of “more than $35,000” from the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance—a locally-based nonprofit dunes preservation group—constitutes constructive fraud.
The suit asks the court to order and reward relief that includes:

# A declaration that the township’s R-4 amendment is void and unenforceable,

# A declaration that the Denison property zoning resorts to the default classification in the township ordinance as R-1, or, in the alternative, to zoning in effect before R-4 was adopted.

# An injunction prohibiting the township from enforcing R-4 zoning provisions to the Singapore Dunes-owned property.

# An injunction prohibiting township board members, named individually, from deliberating or making any decisions with respect to the Singapore Dunes-owned property.

# Injunctions demanding the township disgorge all unlawful payments from the SDCA and prohibiting it from soliciting or accepting future payments from the alliance.

# An injunction prohibiting the township and board from soliciting or accepting gifts unless done lawfully at an open meeting.

# Damages as allowed by law.

Township supervisor Bill Wester, apprised of the action Tuesday, called it inevitable.
“He (McClendon’s area representative Stephen Neumer) has discussed it before,” said Wester. “I don’t know why he decided to drop the shoe now, but nothing surprises me.
“All the board can do is continue to apply township rules the best way we can.”
SDCA president David Swan concurred. “We have long been of the understanding that unearmarked contributions to the township are legal,” he said. “I don’t know what (the plaintiff’s) argument is without having seen it.
“I do know that the alliance is recent recipient of a five-figure grant from a significant foundation intended for legal defense of such land-use claims,” Swan said.
Full article:

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Benton Harbor NAACP
Contact: Abisayo Muhammad
Number: (269) 861-6506


Rev. Pinkney asks Gov. Granholm to allow new City Manager to implement existing plan

In response to Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s decision to allow a state takeover, the Benton Harbor/Twin Cities NAACP Chapter expresses its full opposition to the decision. “We are in full support of the Benton Harbor City Commissioner’s appeal and are 100 percent against the state takeover,” said Rev. Edward Pinkney, president of the Local Chapter. “Controlling the finances means controlling the city, he said. “The City Manager needs to be given the opportunity to use his existing plan to bring us out of the red and the citizens of Benton Harbor should come together and stand behind him.”

Though the governor declared Feb. 27 that a state of financial emergency exists in City Hall--even as the state of Michigan has a projected 1.8 billion dollar shortfall, lost of over 1 million jobs, has endured recent protests during her state of the union address and by MSU students protesting education cuts--we believe Benton Harbor is being singled out.

Since the state review team reported to the governor that no satisfactory plan exists to resolve a serious financial problem in the city, City Manager Ron Carter has outlined a 62-item deficit elimination and financial stabilization plan; which includes plans to solve some problems criticized in the report.

Now is the time for the citizens who we represent; the poor, disenfranchised, down-trodden and forgotten to stand up and show support for our newly elected administration. They have fresh ideas that target decade-old problems, take responsibility for past errors and bring real and concrete solutions that have the potential to bring Benton Harbor in a position to becoming an up and coming cities of southwest Michigan. We agree with the Mr. Carter and respectfully ask that the state closely evaluate the progress that has been made and assist in making the existing plan a success.

For more information about the Benton Harbor/Twin Cities Chapter of the NAACP please email press secretary Abisayo Muhammad at or call (269) 369-8257.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

[On Mon. March 1] Benton Harbor commissioners vote against financial help for now

"We do not want anybody to come into this city and assert the authority of the elected official and sell off all the city's assets. This, I believe, is a land grab," shares Mayor Wilce Cook.

[What would motivate Gov. G. to "help" a poor city, an action completely out of character for our Corporate Governor? The answer is: Whirlpool & Harbor Shores. No constructive "help" - as in job creation - ever comes to BH.]

...Benton Harbor commissioners all agree their city has a financial problem. But they disagree on how to fix it. City Commissioners decided in a 6-3 vote Monday night they don’t want financial help from the state until their questions are answered.

Now, they’ll get that opportunity at a hearing in Lansing on March 17th.

A state financial review team assessed the city’s finances and found a laundry list of problems, among them, owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IRS. That team, and subsequently Governor Jennifer Granholm, recommend an emergency financial manager come knock some sense—and dollars and cents—into the city.

Monday night lawmakers voted to appeal that decision, instead wanting to know why the city’s list of 62 solutions, including 14 passed resolutions, aren’t satisfactory.

"We believe we've made substantial progress and there's been no acknowledgment from the state government," says Ron Carter, City Manager.

The review team says in its letter to Governor Granholm that Carter’s plan is not viable, and even if it was, the team has “no confidence that there would be sufficient stability” considering 15 city managers have held the position in Benton Harbor in the last 28 years.

"If you're going to send somebody down here to help us, that's fine, I go along with that,” says George Moon, a Benton Township resident who attended the meeting. “But I just hope it's not nobody from her (Governor Granholm’s) regime. They can't take care of their own business.”

Commissioners Dennis Knowles, Bryan Joseph and James Hightower voted against the appeal, saying the city needs help immediately.

"No one wants to invest in a city that's financially unstable," explains Joseph.

Other commissioners say the city doesn’t need the state’s help at all.

"Some of us was in the position to make the call for a takeover. But we didn't call for a takeover," says Commissioner Duane Seats.

Perhaps the most popular sentiment is welcoming the state’s help but under the city’s oversight and direction. City lawmakers don’t want someone else making decisions for them.

"We do not want anybody to come into this city and assert the authority of the elected official and sell off all the city's assets. This, I believe, is a land grab," shares Mayor Wilce Cook.

Since the commissioners appealed the governor’s conclusions to send an emergency financial manager to the Berrien County city, Benton Harbor officials will attend a hearing in Lansing on March 17th.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Benton Harbor's city commission no longer has a Whirlpool-owned majority. Gov. Granholm is taking desperate measures to carry out a hostile takeover of the city.

The following is an article with Rev. Pinkney's commentary in bold and brackets.

Official: Granholm committed to Benton Harbor

[Gov. is not committed to BH, but to Whirlpool]

Responding to commissioners' criticism of governor, statespokeswoman cites various grants, programs that her administration has pushed

[The Governor has "pushed" only for Whirlpool, it's real estate arm Cornerstone Alliance, and the massive development called Harbor Shores where she will have a Lake Michigan mansion]

By Evan Goodenow - Herald Palladium Sat., Feb. 6, 2010

BENTON HARBOR - When Benton Harbor city commissioners blamed Gov. Jennifer Granholm for Benton Harbor's financial mess, were they throwing rocks at a lame duck or legitimately questioning why the head of a debt-ridden state should order a cash-strapped city around?

[Questioning was legit. because Granholm put on a song and dance about how much she'd help the city, but she's failed to do anything. Her largess has been focused squarely on Whirlpool, Cornerstone, and Harbor Shores]

With Granholm close to deciding on a state financial takeover to deal with the city's $4.1 million overall deficit and what a state review panel last week found was incompetent money management, commissioners lashed out at Granholm at Monday night's commission meeting. Commissioner Duane Seats said $5 million in state taxpayer money that should've gone to the city went to Citizens for Progressive Change, a group of mostly local residents formed in response to the 2003 riot.

[Seats is right on point. BH received no money. "Citizens for Progressive Change" is not made up of BH residents, but people who Granholm assembled for the purrpose of destroying BH so Harbor Shores development could be built.]

"The governor of the state of Michigan has never come to the City Hall, but she comes to churches," Seats said, adding that the city should appeal if Granholm appoints an emergency financial manager to oversee city finances.

[Granholm needs a finacial takeover of the state - she's almost 2billion in the red.]

Commissioner Marcus Muhammad compared a possible takeover to a coup d'etat. At a previous meeting, Commissioner Eddie Marshall, noting the state's $1.8 billion projected shortfall, compared a takeover to alcoholic parents advising their children not to drink.

[Muhammad and Marshall are 100% right.]

Through spokeswoman Liz Boyd, Granholm declined a chance to respond to the criticism.

[How can she respond to truth which she's attempting to hide?]

But Boyd said the criticism was unfounded. Boyd noted that the state is forbidden from running deficits, leading Granholm to make tough choices to balance budgets such as laying off state troopers, reducing Medicaid benefits and increasing employee pension contributions.

[Granholm is worse then Engler, and nobody's worse than Engler.]

Since taking office in 2003, Granholm has had to deal with the collapse of the U.S. auto industry and housing market and the worst recession since 1945. But Boyd said Granholm, whose approval ratings are way down in her last year in office, has steered millions of dollars to Benton Harbor.

[Not to the city, but to Whirlpool and Harbor Shores development.]

In the past two months alone, the state approved the city receiving a $13.9 million federal taxpayer anti-blight grant and $14.3 million in bonding for the water plant upgrade.

"The Granholm administration has been absolutely committed to helping the community lift itself up," Boyd said. "That's always been our goal, and it is surprising that some are questioning our commitment because it's been so strong."

[The residents of BH are worse off now than they have ever been.]

In a 2008 Herald-Palladium op-ed piece, Granholm wrote that Benton Harbor had come a long way since the 2003 riot.

[BH has gone a long way backwards - Granholm has not brought one job.]

She cited state support for summer youth programs, pre-apprenticeship job training, $21 million in tax credits from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority for the Benton Harbor Housing Authority's public housing renovation and MSHDA support for Habitat of Humanity's building of 21 homes.

[The summer "youth program" was designed to help Whirlpool and Harbor Shores clean off their brand new golf course. A lot of picking up of paper, etc. from the ground was what the lucky youths learned how to do.]

Granholm also noted the state Department of Transportation's upgrades in the Arts District and Main Street and the state Economic Development Corporation's support for the Harbor Shores golf, residential and retail development project.

[The art district is all white, no jobs for BH.]

"Although much remains to be done, Benton Harbor is in a far better position today than just five years ago due to a shared vision the community has created for the future," Granholm wrote. [again, worse off than ever because of you

"My goal is to make the state of Michigan the strong and committed partner Benton Harbor needs to transform itself into a place of growth and opportunity."

[Your only goal, guv, is to enrich the corporations and make sure BH gets demolished for your mansion.]