Friday, May 21, 2010

Accusations fly over delays in golf course water payments delays

[How Whirlpool Continues to Steal Water]

[commentary in brackets]

By Evan Goodenow, Herald Palladium
Thurs., April 29, 2010

BENTON HARBOR - No smoking gun or leaky water pistol was revealed Wednesday over the water bill payment delays by Harbor Shores golf course developers to the city.

[No smoking gun. The commissioners dropped a bomb on Harbor Shores and Whirlpool.]

The City Commission's Planning and Economic Committee members were told by Deputy City Manager Darwin Watson that the one-year delay in the payment of $142,646 was due to the stroke and subsequent death of former Utility Services Foreman Ed Ward in 2008.

[Totally untrue. If someone died in our house, our water would be cut off.]

Watson said there was a communication breakdown during the transition period before the hiring of Michael O'Malley, water filtration plant superintendent.

[No breakdown - Whirlpool was stealing water.]

Watson said former City Managers Dwight "Pete" Mitchell and Richard Marsh filled in as utility services director for about nine months until he took over in December. Watson said neither Ward or O'Malley were to blame.

[Mitchell, Marsh, Watson, and Ward are/were in the pockets of Whirlpool and Harbor Shores.]

"Something catastrophic happened," Watson said. "You've got lag times. It's not that anybody didn't know what we're doing."

[There is no lag time when you're paying bills. Residents don't get any lag time. Why should Whirlpool?]

However, Commissioner Duane L. Seats II criticized O'Malley's oversight, noting an approximately $20,000 water payment from St. Joseph Township to the city has been delayed about a year because O'Malley hasn't sent paperwork to the township.

[Residents of Benton Harbor are requesting interest and a late fee on the payment we have not rec'd from St. Joseph township.]

"I'm behind on that," said O'Malley, who said he had to leave the meeting early to attend a baseball practice.

Seats said the payment delays were unacceptable, given Benton Harbor's dismal finances and the state financial takeover.

"It's looking like nobody knows nothing about anything," Seats said. "This is the job that pays your bills and you tell me you've got to go to baseball practice."

[Thank you, Commissioner Seats.]

Watson said Harbor Shores - a $500 million, 530-acre residential and retail project that includes an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course set to open in August - had commission approval to use the water and is no longer using it.

[They did not have commissioner approval to use the water for free. Stealing is
against the law.]

The bill was paid in April 2009, O'Malley said last week.

Watson said water for the course is now coming from the Paw Paw River, but Commissioner Dennis Knowles expressed skepticism about the project, which is backed by Whirlpool Corp.

"I strongly believe there was some skullduggery involved with this project," Knowles said. "You're talking about a multibillion-dollar-a-year corporation with a golf course in our city that we're really not getting any benefit from, yet you give them free water."

However, Wendy Dant Chesser, president of Cornerstone Alliance, one of the nonprofit organizations leading Harbor Shores, said the golf course no longer gets city water.

[Wendy is a main spokesperson for Whirlpool; anyone in that position has the Whirlpool version of "truth." What she's not saying is that Harbor Shores is now pumping water from Lake Mich. - for free.]

"If Commissioner Knowles has information otherwise, we need to sit down and discuss it," said Dant Chesser, reached by phone after the meeting. "We've been forthright and absolutely transparent in our usage."