Monday, December 31, 2012

Guided by the Koch brothers, Republicans have installed czars to run Michigan's cities

This is from the September 2012 issue of the excellent Hightower Lowdown.To read about Benton Harbor, scroll down to the 3 stars (***).


Why is this dictatorial coup not a huge national media story?

Here's a political storyline that might seem familiar to you: With economic pain and political discord ripping across the land, he appeared to have the ideal resume to become the Republican contender for the top job. Not just another career politico from the dysfunctional Congress, he was a son of heartland Michigan who had founded his own venture capital firm. He looked like the image-perfect "job creator," and he'd achieved notable financial success in the no-nonsense corporate world. That success, he figured, would now catapult him to electoral victory, for it demonstrates that he's a can-do fellow with the know-how to run government like a business and fix the economy.
Mitt Romney? Yes, but before him, Rick Snyder played the lead role in this made-for-TV political drama--and it hasn't worked out well at all for the people of Michigan. Two years ago, this former corporate chieftain and founder of two venture capital outfits stepped into Michigan's political arena, snatching the GOP gubernatorial nomination from the grasp of a congressman, the state attorney general, and a couple of other experienced pols. The times were right for a Mr. Fix-it--with Michigan's key auto industry in the ditch and middle-class wages decimated, working families were struggling, poverty was on the rise, and whole cities were on the brink of broke.

Backed by bales of corporate cash, Snyder won the general election by ceaselessly running a series of "job creator" ads (never mind that he had been a top executive and director of a computer corporation that relentlessly shipped thousands of American jobs out of the country until 2007, when the corporation itself was shipped to Taiwanese owners). Snyder said he had a plan to "reinvent Michigan," the essence of which he expressed in one of his campaign ads: "Eliminate Michigan business tax. Cut taxes on job creators $1.5 billion. Slash needless regulations. Help small business."
That's not a plan, it's a scam--essentially the same ol' Republican same ol', now being regurgitated by the Romney-Ryan duo. However, Michiganders were desperate enough for a way out of the state's economic doldrums that 58 percent of voters cast their ballots that November for the "Businessman with a Plan."
What they didn't know--because the campaign never hinted at it, much less spoke of it out loud--was that a cabal of corporate-funded, far-right extremists behind Snyder would soon spring a secret plan on them. It was to be a horrific "Spring Surprise" that literally would reinvent Michigan--along with negating the very idea that the American people have a democratic right to be self-governing.

Michigan goes berserk

Michigan's story keeps getting bigger, and I think, more unsettling. Michigan is wrangling with a deeply, deeply radical contention that we should not necessarily govern in America using a system called democracy anymore. ----Rachel Maddow, April 30, talking on her TV show about the shocking state program to overthrow democracy in Michigan cities.
One of our nation's finest political satirists, cartoonist Garry Trudeau, has created a buffoonish character namedTrff Bmzklfrpz for his "Doonesbury" comic strip. A caricature of despotic thugs everywhere, Bmzklfrpz is presented by Trudeau as the ruler of the aptly named Greater Berzerkistan.
Rick Snyder must've studied there, for he had barely taken his oath of office before suddenly teaming with leaders of the Republican-controlled statehouse and senate to ram into law an astonishing measure of despotic rule. It only took two weeks in March of 2011 for the ponderously titled "Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act" to be rushed through both houses of the legislature and signed by Snyder. Before the public knew it--BAM! --the governor was authorized to establish his own autocratic republic: Michiganistan.
At bottom, the LGSDFA Act is a doozy of autocratic mischief-making. It lets the governor seize control of any local government he deems to be in fiscal trouble, suspend the people's democratic authority, impose a corporatized version of martial law, and install his own "emergency financial manager" to govern by diktat (like some hybrid of Soviet czar and tinhorn potentate--a Bmzklfrpz, in other words).

The Rachel alternative

"Michiganistan" is a huge national story with profound consequences for America's historic ideal of being a self-governing people, the very essence of our nation's governing ethic. ... [read more]
The official rationale is that many Michigan cities and school districts are in dire financial straits, requiring extraordinary intervention to "save" them from their own people and elected officials. "It's about helping communities," Snyder dissembled, as he began installing EFMs.
Helping? This is the kind of "help" a fox brings to the henhouse:
  • Emergency managers begin by usurping the power of all elected officials or simply "firing" them.
  • They can then rewrite the public budget without any public participation, unilaterally eliminate various services, cancel contracts, seize and sell off public assets, privatize government functions, and dictate new laws.
  • They can even dissolve a city's charter.
This isn't merely un-democratic--it's aggressively anti-democratic.
Yes, there are some severe fiscal messes in Michigan's local governments, but the big debts that have piled up are not caused by too much democracy, bloated bureaucracies, or reckless spending by hometown officials. That's just mendacious political claptrap spewed by those wanting an excuse to impose their anti-union, government-shriveling, privatizing, partisan agenda on vulnerable people. It's no accident that the cities presently under state siege (including Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, and Pontiac) are heavily populated with low-income, union, African American, Democratic-voting households. While it's true that these places are in deep budgetary holes, there are real reasons for their fiscal woes, including:
  • The implosion of the auto industry that's central to these local economies, resulting in massive joblessness and drastically downsized family incomes.
  • The tanking of housing values, destroying the one source of wealth that working people had, creating a sudden plummeting of property tax collections that finance schools and city services.
  • The grim (and largely successful) corporate campaign to crush unions and bust middle-class wages.
  • US trade policies and tax subsidies that encouraged Michigan corporations to move manufacturing offshore, eliminating good jobs and forcing a large number of former taxpayers to leave their cities in search of work.
Oh, let's not forget another major cause that Snyder & Company don't want discussed: His $1 billion cut in corporate taxes. This increased the state's budget hole, which he helped fill by slashing or eliminating state funds and tax credits that went to local school districts, low-income workers, and seniors.
The LGSDFA coup against local democracy does absolutely nothing to address--much less fix--these actual causes of the financial crises that mayors and other elected officials face. And by the way, since when did self-styled, small-government "conservatives" become such gleeful champions of using centralized governmental power to whack the once-hallowed Republican tenet of local control? Indeed, to see the irony of their governor trampling their democratic rights, Michigan citizens need look no further than the website of the state Republican Party. Right up front, it proudly posts a list of nine inviolate GOP principles, including this gem: "The most effective, responsible, and responsive government is government closest to the people."

Spawn of the Kochs

While corporate plutocrats rant about out-of-control government regulators, they do not really hate big, invasive, authoritarian government--as long as they can own it and use it for their own needs. This is why such multibillionaire corporatists as Charles and David Koch have been pumping truckloads of money into dozens of front groups like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan. Set up 25 years ago and linked to a network of Koch-headed centers in nearly every state, Mackinac is an idea factory and advocate for shrinking people power and enhancing corporate control.
While it refuses to name its super-wealthy individual backers on the absurd grounds that disclosure "would be a tremendous diversion," the Center does have to report donations from "charitable funds," which includes money from a host of corporate foundations tied to the Koch brothers, Domino's Pizza, Amway, Coors, GM, ExxonMobil, JPMorgan Chase, and Walmart, among others.
In 2005, one of Mackinac's grand ideas was put forth in an essay written by a privatizing enthusiast named Louis Schimmel, who was the Center's director of municipal finance. Noting that Michigan already had a limited program for sending state managers to aid cities engulfed in a fiscal crisis, he argued that the law should be radically expanded to create an emergency financial manager with autocratic power to take control of Detroit's troubled budget. Specifically, Schimmel's Mackinac proposal called for four fundamental changes: (1) the financial overseer would "replace and take on the powers of the governing body"; (2) have sole discretion to alter the governing charter; (3) be immune from lawsuits; and (4) have the power to alter and ultimately abolish union contracts.
After Snyder won and the GOP gained big majorities in both legislative chambers in November 2010, the Mackinac Center moved quickly to reprint and circulate Schimmel's paper. Lo and behold, the governor's LGSDFA proposal, which seemed to come out of the blue three months later, actually came out of the Koch boys' Mackinac machine. Snyder's bill included all four of Schimmel's democracy-usurping components, as well as other authoritarian add-ons presumably drafted by the Center.
With a solid, lock-step majority in both the state senate and house, Snyder and Republican legislative leaders were able to railroad the full extremist pack-age into law. The GOP slapped down even the most token gestures to local governance--for example, a little amendment that merely would've required EFMs to hold monthly public meetings--so locals could be told what changes their czar was making-- got crushed in the senate.
Respect the rule of law? Ha! For half a century, Michigan has had a constitutional rule that a new law doesn't take effect until 90 days after the legislative session ends--thus giving affected citizens time to adjust or try to repeal it. By a two-thirds vote in each house, however, a law can be declared an emergency and allowed to take effect immediately.
With a supermajority in the senate, GOP members easily rushed their EFM measure into effect, but in the house, the party is 10 votes short of the necessary two-thirds tally. No problem--they simply cheated by pulling a quick count and lying about the result. The presiding officer of the house barked out the following in one breathless, three-second sentence: "Themajorityleaderhasrequestedimmediateeffect AllthoseinfavorpleaseriseImmediateeffectisordered."
We're to believe that in only three seconds, he called for a vote, the members got to their feet, he was able to count two-thirds of them standing in favor, and he gaveled the law into effect. Magical!

Plutocrats in action

Let's go to Pontiac, a once proud city boasting that one of America's iconic cars was named after it and made there, employing 23,000 auto workers in the General Motors factory. Today, though, those jobs have been moved out-of-state or eliminated, the Pontiac brand itself has been jettisoned by GM, the city's population has dropped, property values have plummeted, and the city government has been left in a fiscal wreck. To add to its miseries, Gov. Snyder's cutbacks in revenue sharing mean that Pontiac's funds have been slashed by a third.
The governor did give something to the people of Pontiac, though: An emergency manager. Appointed last September for an indefinite period (he's still there), he promptly relieved the city council of their powers and salaries. Then he fired the city attorney, clerk, and director of public works before acting on his own to outsource the work of various departments. Next, he offered up about half of the people's property in a fire sale of assets--including city hall, police and fire stations, the library, water-pumping stations, a golf course, and two cemeteries. More recently, he has issued five edicts undermining contracts with union workers and retirees.
Who is this guy? Louis Schimmel, the privatizer man from Mackinac!
Asked last year if the EFM law made him a dictator, Schimmel conceded with a sigh: "I guess I'm the tyrant in Pontiac."

***On to Benton Harbor, the home of Whirlpool Corporation and once the major producer of that giant's appliances. Whirlpool's executives, market analysts, and other top-paid employees still are based in Benton Harbor, ensconced in the corporation's brand-new, gleaming, tax-subsidized $68 million corporate campus in this town on the shores of Lake Michigan. But, beginning in the 1980s, the bosses have steadily emptied out all of their local factories, moving Benton Harbor's manufacturing jobs abroad to cut labor costs.
This has decimated the local economy, cutting the town's 20,000 population in half, [severe law enforcement/judicial repression contributed] destroying its tax base, and leaving it with chronic unemployment. Benton Harbor is now the poorest city in Michigan, with a per capita income of about $10,000.
The town's major asset, a public park overlooking the lake, is being absorbed into "Harbor Shores," a $500 million Whirlpool-backed resort project that includes a sprawling, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. Of course, impoverished locals can't live or golf there, but the developers (who got government subsidies for the project) are hoping that Chicago weekenders will make the two-hour trek to the place.
These people are losing their park, but worse, a fellow named Joe Harrishas taken a more valuable asset from them: Their democracy.
Harris is Snyder's EFM and literally the Dictator of Benton Harbor. A former Detroit auditor, he began by summarily stripping all power from elected officials, decreeing that city commissioners can meet, but the only action they can take is to approve minutes of their last meeting and then adjourn. When commissioners made a mild (but clever) protest by proclaiming this past spring that the city would observe Constitution Week, Harris monocratically nullified their action. What perfect symbolism! He then expressed surprise that this had upset townspeople: "All I told them was, 'Hey, guys, you have no authority.'"
With unfettered control, Harris has kicked elected officials out of their city hall offices, fired the city manager and other administrators, dismissed the planning commission and installed his own loyalists, merged the police and fire departments, and sold the com-munity's public radio station (which had criticized him). He also intends to privatize the water system (after raising residents' water rates by up to 40 percent) and has jacked up annual garbage fees by about $300 per home.
Harris is proud and happy to be a commissar for the Koch-Mackinac vision of a privatized America with a neutered democracy, and he definitely likes being in charge with no fussy checks and balances on his decisions: "I don't have to worry about whether the politicians or union leaders like what I'm doing. I love this job. I am the mayor and the commission, and I don't need them."
Meanwhile, Benton Harbor is still deep in debt--and absolutely nothing has been done to address its real problems of joblessness, poverty, inadequate education, inequality, and civic depression. As for an actual plan to boost the economy, Harris points excitedly to his idea of economic development: Selling "I <3 and="and" benton="benton" bumperstickers="bumperstickers" harbor="harbor" p="p" souvenirs="souvenirs" t-shirts="t-shirts" to="to" tourists.="tourists.">


City after city in Michigan--including Flint, Highland Park, and even Detroit--are presently under assault by this mind-numbing, right-wing, ideological stupidity. Dangerous stupidity--Detroit Mayor Dave Bing had to surrender control of his city's finances this year to a Snyder austerity czar, who has sought to increase the number of students in each classroom to 61, and the czar's budget cuts are so severe that the fire chief says if empty buildings catch fire, he'd have to let them burn down.
Is this America? It no longer will be if these social-engineering autocrats prevail. But, good news: Michiganders are in full rebellion! As always, though, battling the bastards is never easy, because... well, they're bastards. And they're very well-funded. And sneaky. Yet the people keep pushing, as we see in this chronicle of the 2012 Michigan Rebellion:
  • Feb. 29--A broad grassroots coalition (ranging from union workers to tea party members) that was organized under the umbrella of "Michigan Forward" filed more than enough citizen petitions to put the repeal of Snyder's EFM nonsense on the ballot for this November's election.
  • April 19--At the last minute, just before the repeal question would have been certified for the ballot by the state board of canvassers, a complaint by Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility is filed to stop certification. Reason? "The font size of the [petition's] heading" is claimed to be too small to comply with state law. Font size!
  • April 9-25--Legal jockeying takes place, and digging by journalists and coalition members reveals that (1) CFR is not a real group, but a creature of the Sterling Corporation, a GOP political consulting firm--same address, phone number, and staff; and (2) a Sterling partner, Jeff Timmer, was a chief executive of the Michigan Republican Party and now happens to be one of the four voting members of the state board of canvassers. There are widespread calls for Timmer to recuse himself from the board's petition decision, but the secretary of state (a Republican) says no one can force him to do that.
  • April 26--Decision day for the board. Timmer does not withdraw, so the board deadlocks two-to-two, which kills the repeal referendum.
  • June 18--Timmer resigns from the board.
  • June 29--Citizens coalition appeals the board's rejection to Michigan's Supreme Court.
  • Aug. 3--In a four-to-three decision, the court majority (including one Republican) rules that the font size does not disqualify the petition, so the board must put the repeal question on the ballot.
This victory means that American democracy literally will be up for a vote in Michigan on Nov. 6! The Republican and Koch political networks are going all out to win--and if they do, your state/city could well be next on their Berzerkistan anti-democracy agenda.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

NAACP, Planned Parenthood, Pfizer target Black women

The liberality of Pfizer towards the NAACP has silenced
the NAACP voice to eugenic destruction of black women globally.
In fact, the NAACP conflict of interests regarding the health of
Black women and corporate money is best demonstrated by the
fact that Pfizer has it's executives on the association's national and
New York Sate Board of Directors - namely, the one and only 
Mrs. Karen Boykin-Towns.

The significant danger that Depo Provera poses to women that use
this drug has been deliberately hidden from them by Planned Parenthood
of America (PPA), which has been partner with the National Association
for the Abortion of Colored People (NAACP). The PPA has targeted black
women for the use of this deadly drug, while violating their patient rights
by deliberately misleading and misinforming them about FDA documented
risk and serious potential harm that Depo Provera use carries.
Pfizier's Depo Provera injectable contraceptive is the world's deadliest birth
control drug, and the US government has funded this product's deliberate
targeting of black women. The deadly contraceptive side effects that includes
the greater risk of use leading to increased chance of developing breast cancer,                                                                            
osteoporosis, obesity, depression, doubled risk of HIV infection, and death.
The Black elected officials and the National Association
for the abortion of Color People (NAACP) have done nothing to protect Black
women and gladly received contributions from Pfizer, the maker of Depo Provera.


We the people, the comunity, and every person must stand up for our women and children.
We all know the National Association for the Abortion of Color People (NAACP) will
not stand up for our women and children because the corporate dollars wll not
allow them to.   
We must protect our women and children at all cost. The NAACP is misrepresenting
the black community, exploiting it members and sell-outs. We must stop the NAACP and their hand-picked leaders.  We are demanding that Ben Jealous resign and members elect the president.  And, NO more picture ID's in NAACP elections.

We will protest The NAACP Image Awards February 1, 2013 in Los Angeles California
at the Shrine Auditorium, 665 W. Jefferson, 2 pm! Be there!
For more information contact:
Rev. Edward Pinkney
Every Sunday at 5 pm Eastern Time
Pinkney to Pinkney show 
Call in 347-994-3644

Monday, December 17, 2012

Local NAACP Leader Wants Group’s Non-Profit Status Revoked

December 13, 2012 

CHICAGO (CBS) — When the president of the Chicago South Suburban Branch of the NAACP said he wasn’t supporting President Obama, he was first threatened and then suspended.
Now, he’s asking the IRS to revoke the non-profit status of the civil rights organization, saying it’s lost its way.
David Lowery Jr. is pushing back against a mindset that if you’re black you vote for Democrats.
Lowery went on his internet radio show and said neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney would do anything to help the ills of the black community.
Lowery is becoming something of a nightmare for the NAACP, turning on the organization by, as he says, “telling the truth.”
“The NAACP should stay focused on human and civil rights,” he says, “as opposed to being a political advocacy arm for the Democratic party.”
He was asked if he thinks the group is violating federal law.
“Yes, non-profits cannot be partisan or support any political candidates, one way or the other,” he said.
He said he has emails from NAACP national leaders, asking him and other NAACP local leaders to get out the vote for the Democratic Party.
“I’ve been able to see how the NAACP is being used by the Democratic Party to go out and get votes, to deliver messages–just like the one, ‘It’s a black thing’–to give out literature. All those things that a non-profit should not be doing, they are doing that, let’s be real.”
Lowery says he believes he was threatened during a phone conversation with Louis Raymond, the Illinois Political Director for Obama For America, before the election.
Lowery says he does not personally support the president because Obama is not addressing issues important to the black community.
He said the same about Romney. He says Raymond called and told him, “You know what, I know everything about you.” Lowery says Raymond added, “We’ve been watching you and since you don’t support Obama we’ll deal with you.”
Then Lowery was suspended by the NAACP. He says, it was because he told people to think for themselves. The NAACP says in the suspension letter, he violated a cease and desist order from the NAACP and that Lowery was being partisan.
“There used to be fear” in the NAACP name,” Lowery says. Now, he says, it’s more a social club with a partisan bent.
“We have gotten away from what freedom fighting is,” he said.....
Lowery started a petition at asking that the IRS revoke the NAACP’s non-profit status.
Lowery’s suspension letter said he engaged in partisan activity.
He insists, as an independent, he only told people to think for themselves.
“It’s a sad day in a national organization like the NAACP when one of their presidents has to step up and say, you know what, we’re not doing the right thing and we need to be held accountable for the actions that we are not taking in the community, as well as being partisan toward the Democratic Party.”
“I’m really trying to let the NAACP know, we need to step up in the black community. We’re suffering out here. Civil rights are dying. Black people are last on everything and the NAACP was in the forefront back in the day.
“I’m not bullying them. I’m really challenging them to step up to the plate and be the force in the black community that they can be again.”
WBBM Newsradio asked for comment from leaders of the NAACP but those phone calls and emails went unanswered.

From Rev. Pinkney:
We the people must hold the NAACP accountable for their actions and inactions. The NAACP is out of touch with the black community and sells out to the corporations.
We will boycott and protest the NAACP Image Awards on February 1, 2013: 
Shiner Auditorium, 665 W. Jefferson, Los Angeles, CA beginning at 1pm. 

Burn baby burn - Over 3529 NAACP membership cards have been burned.
Every sunday 5pm EST

From Cynthia McKinney:
|  _`\;,_               come ride with me
| (*)/ (*) 
|                  Bike4Peace Across the USA                    

Silence is the deadliest weapon of mass destruction.

"The biggest weapon in the hands of the oppressors is the minds of the oppressed." Steve Biko

"Make your spirit flexible, and nothing will ever bend you out of shape."  Wisdom by Taro Gold 

Hazel Dukes teams up with Coca Cola and tobacco

By an anonymous writer:  Our Folk are Dying

Brothers and Sisters,

Recently Hazel Dukes, NYC NAACP PRES., (nicknamed Doctor) has come out to condemn Mayor Bloomberg for raising the cry about what soft drinks are doing to the people.  Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola and soft drinks with high fructose and other ingredients seem to be addictive to some of us.  When I was in the VA hospital patients would walk around with large 40 ounce of Coke all day long. I felt the medications were making patients drink large quantities of the liquid because it seemed to be addictive.

Our folk are obese and dying of diabetes. Dukes, in her statement in the Huffington Post, said her NAACP Project H.E.L.P. may help solve the problem of obesity and diabetes through holistic education. 

Project H.E.L.P. is now part of the NAACP national campaign against diabetes, obesity, etc. THIS PROJECT IS SPONSORED AND FUNDED  BY THE COCA COLA FOUNDATION.

Hazel Dukes is the same NAACP leader who was listed as part of the black lobbyist group for the tobacco industry along with members of the Black Congressional Caucus (RANGEL, TOWNES) who enriched themselves with thousands of dollars in the 90's before cancer sticks were put in check. Many of our black folk as well as others died from smoking.


When will Black people take a stand against the NAACP? The NAACP is out of touch with our community and nothing but a sellout to the Corporations.  We can no longer give the NAACP a free pass because the NAACP is called a black organization. We must hold the NAACP accountable for their actions and inactions.

We will boycott and protest the NAACP Image Awards on February 1, 2013: 
Shiner Auditorium, 665 W. Jefferson, Los Angeles, CA beginning at 1pm. 

New Way New Day!  
Pastors, Ministers, and organizations from around the country will be participating.   
Whirlpool Corporation took over the NAACP in Benton Harbor, Michigan with money and placed their NAACP members on the school board and now we have a Whirlpool Corporation controlled school board and NAACP members working together to destroy our school system and community.  
You can google this information.

Rev. Edward Pinkney
Every Sunday at 5pm eastern time

Thursday, December 06, 2012

NAACP Image Awards Targeted for Protest

Benton Harbor, Michigan, activist Rev. Edward Pinkney plans to lead hundreds of pickets at the NAACP’s Image Awards ceremonies on February 1, in Los Angeles. “Our main objective is to wake up the NAACP, and show that they are out of touch with the community,” said Pinkney, longtime leader of the civil rights group’s local chapter. Pinkney charges the NAACP collaborated with a Whirlpool Corporation scheme to take over the Ben Harbor NAACP, in return for financial support. The Los Angeles protest will send the NAACP a message, said Pinkney: “We need you to stop taking these corporate dollars.”

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Is The NAACP Now Just Another Republicrat Corporate Front?

Oct. 11, 2012 by Larry Pinkney,

 “...the two parties have combined against us to nullify our power by a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ of non-recognition, no matter how we vote...May God write us down as asses if ever again we are found putting our trust in either Republican or the Democratic parties.” -W.E.B. Du Bois

 “No, I think the strongest suggestion is that they are working for the government, the new house niggers. And what better way is there for them to sell themselves to us than to scream Black, Black, Black, Black...” -Jonathan Jackson

Voting for the fraudulent, corporate-owned, Democratic and Republican parties [i.e. the Republicrats] is part of the manipulated pathology of insanity in this nation, and is akin to a person vainly and repeatedly attempting to commit suicide.

The time has come to say NO to the [mis]leadership of the NAACP. Notwithstanding the futility and absurdity of voting for the Democrats and Republicans, longstanding so-called ‘civil rights’ organizations, most notably in this instance, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), feverishly engage in (for example) opposing pending voting photo-ID legislation in U.S. general elections while simultaneously and hypocritically insisting on mandatory photo-ID in order to receive a ballot and vote in its own organizational elections. This of course, like the corporate-owned Democratic and Republican parties themselves, is an unmitigated fraud.

It appears that appeasing the NAACP’s corporate sponsors, which include Whirlpool Corporation, Wells Fargo, General Motors, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, takes precedence inside the NAACP over principles, and the vigorous, unflinching, steadfast, and resolute pursuit by the NAACP against discrimination and corporate abuse and/or malfeasance. In specific regards to this matter, it also appears that subterfuge and corporate appeasement, rather than transparency, responsiveness, and resolutely serving the needs of everyday people, infests much of the leadership of the NAACP. Pertaining specifically to this, inquiries from a segment of the black media were made to the national, state, and regional levels of the NAACP, and have, since February of 2012, gone unanswered - unresponded to. Indeed, as the (Swahili) African proverb so poignantly states, “Much Silence has a Mighty Noise.” The “silence” on the part of the NAACP with respect to these inquiries would seem to say it all.

The Case of Benton Harbor, Michigan, and NAACP Hypocrisy

Reverend Edward Pinkney [not related], former president of the NAACP Benton Harbor, Michigan branch, and an outspoken and staunch opponent of Whirlpool Corporation’s subterfuge and political and economic disenfranchisement of the people of that majority black township, proved to be too much for both Whirlpool Corporation and apparently the national, state, and regional leadership of the NAACP to tolerate. Rev. Pinkney had to be ‘neutralized.’ Whirlpool Corporation’s corporate control and interests were being threatened by the effective political organizing of Rev. Pinkney.

Instead of strongly supporting Rev. Pinkney’s much needed and legitimate efforts, as the then NAACP president on behalf of the people of Benton Harbor, the NAACP, most notably Ms. Yvonne White, president at the Michigan state level of the NAACP, began to harass Rev. Pinkney in the form of repeated bureaucratic and underhanded attempts to have him removed as Benton Harbor’s NAACP chapter president. Despite appeals to the leadership of the national, state, and regional levels of the NAACP for support of Rev. Pinkney and the people of Benton Harbor, none was forthcoming. Meanwhile, supporters of Whirlpool Corporation were groomed to oust Rev. Pinkney and take over the leadership of the Benton Harbor chapter of the NAACP. After initially failing to oust Rev. Pinkney, he was ultimately replaced, via a bought-and-paid-for ‘election,’ that installed a local NAACP leadership acceptable to Whirlpool Corporation. This was of course accomplished, in no small measure, due to the subterfuge and financial chicanery of Whirlpool Corporation in concert with segments of the NAACP leadership outside Benton Harbor. The needs of the everyday, struggling, people of Benton Harbor be damned!

It is also of particular note that despite the NAACP’s political stance of opposing a mandatory voter photo-ID requirement for voters in U.S. general elections, the bought-and-paid-for ‘election’ that resulted in the installation of a local NAACP leadership acceptable to Whirlpool Corporation and the national and state NAACP leadership, included - (you guessed it) - the mandatory requirement that prospective voters in that NAACP election show photo-ID in order to obtain a ballot and vote. In fact, even though Rev. Pinkney was a former NAACP Benton Harbor chapter president, was exceedingly well known, and was himself a candidate in that ‘election;’ he was nevertheless required to return home to get his photo-ID in order to obtain a ballot and vote in that NAACP farce of an election in Benton Harbor! This represents the hypocrisy, people-disenfranchisement, and double standards by much of the national, state, and regional leadership of the NAACP! This is also an example of how the misleadership in general of much of Black America, et al, has moved backwards.

Is The NAACP Really Relevant Today? 

The NAACP’s relevance today, like that of the corporate-owned Democratic and Republican parties, is primarily as that of a corporate-owned front and/or fraud. The examples of the NAACP’s hypocrisy, its concomitant people-disenfranchisement, and its double standards are by no means limited to Benton Harbor, or the state of Michigan. Sadly, there are other examples of the same and/or similar kinds of actions and inactions at the national, state, and regional levels of the leadership of the NAACP throughout this nation.

Thus, the necessary cry that has been put out from Benton Harbor, Michigan, is ‘Burn Baby Burn’ - burn your NAACP membership cards, and tell that organization not to renew your membership via debit cards, credit cards, or in any other fashion. The everyday ordinary people in this nation and around the world are seriously hurting, and serious, prolonged, and protracted actions, that genuinely serve ordinary folk in body and soul, (not corporate appeasement) are what is called for now.

The time has come to say NO to the [mis]leadership of the NAACP. Sadly, this organization has made itself of little relevance as relates to resolutely serving the plain, ordinary, everyday people. It is, today, essentially a corporation that has inherited the proud NAACP name along with an important, and sterling past, but is overwhelmingly no longer an organization adhering to the principles and struggle for which its past stood so strongly. Unless or until the NAACP rids itself of its corporate-mentality leadership and actively links the issues, it will remain of little or no real relevance as pertains to today’s necessary and intensifying struggles against increasing injustice and corporate hegemony at home, and ongoing murderous U.S. militarism abroad.

Everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people in this 21st century are engaged in a collective national and worldwide struggle to regain our humanity. This cannot be obtained by corporate appeasement or by supporting the Democrats and Republicans. To the contrary, this can only be obtained by ditching these systemic Republicrats and creatively building a completely new and different model of human interactions that is based upon consistently serving the needs, hopes, and aspirations of the ordinary everyday people.

Remember: Each one, reach one. Each one, teach one. Onward, then, my sisters and brothers! Onward! Editorial Board member and Columnist, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil / political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book.) Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Burn Baby Burn video

Rev. Edward Pinkney demonstrates that NAACP is not worth it. Members should burn their membership cards. NAACP claims to be an organization which supports African-Americans, but it does nothing of the kind. It is willingly controlled by corporate money. People who have asked for assistance from the NAACP are left in the cold.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

No Applause for Ben Jealous

Ben Jealous was chosen to be NAACP president in 2008 only after long and contentious debate, and other finalists were prevented from speaking.  Rev. Pinkney's comments follow this May 17, 2008 article.

35-year-old chosen to lead NAACP
(CNN) -- The NAACP has chosen Ben Jealous as its new president after a contentious debate that lasted long into the night, members of its board of directors said Saturday.
Jealous, 35, will be the youngest president in the NAACP's 99-year history, The Associated Press reported.
When the 34-21 vote was announced, "no one clapped or celebrated," one board member said after the meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.
Jealous was the only finalist presented by the search committee to the full board for consideration. Some board members wanted to hear from two others whom the search committee identified as finalists, but Jealous' supporters prevented it, sources said.
Jealous steps into a challenging role.
"There are a small number of groups to whom all black people in this country owe a debt of gratitude, and the NAACP is one of them," Jealous told AP before the vote. "There is work that is undone ... the need continues and our children continue to be at great risk in this country."
Sources said Jealous, a former newspaper editor and director of an Amnesty International division, was the only finalist for the post of president, vacant for more than a year. He was the primary choice of board Chairman Julian Bond, sources said.
He replaces Bruce Gordon, a retired Verizon executive who quit in March 2007, citing friction with Bond and the group's 64-member board. Gordon said he was also unhappy with the direction of the NAACP, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.
Jealous is president of the California-based Rosenberg Foundation, and before that he directed the U.S. human rights program for Amnesty International.
In the mid-1990s, Jealous was the managing editor of the Jackson Advocate, the oldest black newspaper in Mississippi. He was later the executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a federation of more than 200 black community papers.
Jealous began his career as an organizer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund,working on health care issues, the NAACP said.
Jealous, a native of California, is a graduate of Columbia University and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, the NAACP said.
He told AP that many in his generation have a false sense of progress in racial equality.  "Those of us who are 45 and younger were told, 'The struggle has been won. Go out and flourish. Don't worry about the movement,"' he told AP.

Rev. Pinkney's comments:  
Ben Jealous has unfortunately tarnished the already fragile reputation of the NAACP by allowing his work for the US president and the corporations to override the interest of the African-American people. The NAACP is a sell-out and out of touch with the black community.  
Corruption rolls on!  We are asking 200,000 members to burn their membership cards.  Burn Baby Burn!
So far, 2,677 memberships cards have been burned. 
The NAACP Image Awards are on February 1, 2013 in 
Los Angles, California.  We the people will be there to protest.
For more information contact:
Rev. Edward Pinkney

Pinkney to Pinkney radio show
Every Sunday, 5pm EST
Call in number: 347-994-3644

Friday, November 23, 2012


California NAACP Sells Out to Big Ag on Genetically Modified Foods

When black leadership gets its legitimacy from the oppressed, but its funding from the oppressor, this is what we get. We call it the Black Misleadership Class. And why was Davey D the only black media figure we heard even asking the question? Is this the Obama phenomenon trickling down --- we don't dare question our black “representatives” because.... because.... well.... why?
California NAACP Sells Out to Big Ag on Genetically Modified Foods
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR ,managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
We at Black Agenda Report have been pointing out a long time now that what used to be black and Latino civil rights and civic advocacy organizations have turned a corner and become mouthpieces for their corporate funders.
We called out the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation in 2006, and the National Conference of Black State Legislators in 2007, along with Bobby Rush and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus for siding with AT&T, Verizon and their telecom industry benefactors over their communities who need cheap and ubiquitous broadband. By 2008 we added the Urban League and NAACP to the list, along with Al Sharpton and his National Action Network for joining the corporate crusade to first cripple, then privatize public education. In 2009 and 2010 we've pointed to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's receipt of millions in donations funneled through execs at Georgia Power as its reason for not opposing the placement of leaky nuclear reactors in poor, mostly black Georgia town where most families already have a case or two of cancer.
The list of betrayals of these kinds of outfits of their supposed constituents to their funders is routine and nearly endless. But in California the state NAACP reached a new low in putting the profits of its donors over its supposed responsibilities to the people.
With very little money to spend, local activists succeeded in placing a measure on the California ballot this Tuesday which would have required all genetically modified foods, with a few key exceptions, to be labeled as such. Most of the industrialized world already has laws and regulations like this, which is why much of the stuff on US supermarket shelves cannot be sold in Europe or Japan or even many places in South America. The people in these places call much of what we see in stores every day “frankenfood”. They may be on to something.
Genetically modifications of foodstuffs have never been about increasing yield or enhancing nutrition. They are purely about expanding profits. Genetically modified seeds can be patented and farmers charged yearly royalties for seed they used to save and plant for free each year. They require lots of profitable herbicides and pesticides – in fact some of the genetic modifications make the plants produce their own herbicides and pesticides, which of course we eventually consume.
It's not a subject discussed much in media and not a place where Big Agriculture wants to go. So what do the swells at places like Monsanto do? The same as the nuclear industry, the telecom industry and the people who want to privatize education. They dropped a big check on the California NAACP, and sure enough that august body took a stand against California's Proposition 37.
Never mind that black children are more likely than anyone else to suffer from juvenile onset diabetes, and that studies in other countries have shown clear links between GMO foods and diabetes in children. The so-called leadership model of the modern civil rights organization in this post civil rights era is to front itself as the representative of and obtain its moral legitimacy from the oppressed, but take its funding and its orders from the oppressors. That's why we call them the black misleadership class.
For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ten reasons why Joseph L. Harris, Emergency Financial Manager, should be immediately terminated (Revised Version)

Further details will be discussed at the November 19, 2012 Benton Harbor City Commission meeting. 
10.  Inaccurate & deceitful communications: Mr. Harris has repeatedly proclaimed in public meetings, to the media, to elected leaders and staff, and to state officials that the City of Benton Harbor had a “Balanced Budget & Cash Surplus."  The 2011 Audit recently revealed that the city actually had a budget deficit of approximately $565,000 dollars under Mr. Harris’ leadership in 2011.  Meanwhile city contractors and/or vendors are not being paid in a timely fashion.  Mr. Harris has either (A) intentionally deceived the citizens and stake holders or (B) his ignorance regarding the true fiscal condition of the city confirms his incompetence.

9.  City sued due to non-payment: Mr. Harris negotiated and executed a very poor contract with Benton Township without input or conversation with city executive senior staff, elected leaders, or key community stake holders and/or customers.  The contract (A) forfeited in excess of three hundred thousand dollars of receivables due to the City of Benton Harbor from Benton Township while (B) agreeing to make monthly payments to the township that are not fiscally cost prohibitive based upon water revenues.  Mr. Harris signed this agreement and accepted a settlement of approximately $300,000 dollars for a debt owed of more than $700,000.  He denied the monies were owed, then agreed to a meeting with Benton Township officials to discuss the matter and at that meeting it was disclosed that Mr. Harris had settled the matter for less than fifty cents on a dollar.  It was also disclosed that he accepted and deposited a check from Benton Township that he did not remember.  All of this occurred while the he failed to increase the water rates in a timely manner as required according to the City’s State Bond Agreement.  Benton Township is now suing for the unpaid portion of this terribly suspect contract.

8.  Gross Fiduciary Negligence: Mr. Harris failed to exercise the City’s rights under the terms and conditions of the HUD 105 Business Development Loan program contract to collect the nearly $500,000 dollars in loan defaults accrued by three companies. Mr. Harris failed to take any legal remedy to collect the unpaid loans while agreeing to a settlement to pay the defaulted loan balances back to the federal government 100% plus interest and penalties.  As per the HUD contract Mr. Harris could have (A) sued the companies in default, (B) placed liens on the company’s property.  There were other legal remedies available under Michigan state law that Mr. Harris could have pursued, yet refused to.  Consequently because of Mr. Harris’ negligence these companies were able to liquidate and sale real property and other assets and keep 100% of the proceeds without repaying a single dollar to the City of Benton Harbor on what is still a pending outstanding obligation.  One of the companies sold property to Cornerstone Alliance for an amount sufficient to repay the City the outstanding 105 loan balance in full.

7.  Wasteful spending: Mr. Harris has unilaterally decided to squander limited city resources during this fiscal crisis on frivolous and unnecessary items such as (1) I love Benton Harbor souvenir cups and T-Shirts, (2) Ice Rinks, (3) Ice skates, (4) unused vehicles, (5) furniture, (6) remodeling, (7) playground equipment (8) water fountains, (9) excessive raises and salary increases, and much more.  All though Mr. Harris is required by law to provide financial reports regularly, City officials have been unable to secure any aging reports that substantiate or confirm the magnitude and/or depth of the wasteful spending and delinquent bill payment.  Mr. Harris' refusal to comply with Public Act 4 and provide the types of period and critical financial reports is completely unacceptable and a clear abuse of power.

6.  Negligent Management of NSP Grant Funding: Prior to Mr. Harris’ arrival the City was the recipient of a NSP grant of nearly $4 million dollars.  NSP was created to (A) clean up blighted neighborhoods, (B) stimulate local & minority small business contracting and (C) housing development and (D) create jobs under the HUD Section 3 program.  Mr. Harris abdicated, relinquished and/or forfeited the City’s moral and contract obligations to Harbor Shores, Cornerstone Alliance and/or Michigan Works.  These three entities are amongst the City’s wealthiest and most privileged people and/or companies in Benton Harbor and surely were not the type of people or organizations NSP was intended to help.  Mr. Harris placed the City grant in a “use it or lose it” situation regarding the NSP funding by failing to administer, implement and obligate the grant funds in a timely manner. Consequently, at the zero hour the decision was made to grant the funds to the wealthy and to complete Harbor Town and the Fire House developments both owned and managed by Corner Stone Alliance.  Neither project is expected to produce any meaningful sustainable jobs or any significant affordable housing for the City of Benton Harbor or it’s residents.

5.  The Closing of 200 Paw Paw (Carl Brown Economic Development Center): It is unconscionable that during the biggest economic boom the City of Benton Harbor has seen in 50 years the city economic development center and incubator is closed.  There were more than one dozen small, local, minority businesses prepared to lease 100% of the facility.  The city is able to provide Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to each small business sufficient to cover their annual budgeted rent requirements for the year, thus making the facility operationally and fiscally viable.  Therefore, the City had the ability to incubate businesses, create jobs, and sustain the operations of 200 Paw Paw 100% with city CDBG grant funding, yet Mr. Harris chose to close the facility.

4.  Failure to collaborate with elected leaders regarding the Community Benefits Package (CBP) grant funding: Not only has Mr. Harris failed to collaborate with the city commission, he has shirked in providing transparency and accountability. The entire process has become politically toxic. Mr. Harris' unilateral attitude has caused embarrassment to Whirlpool Corporation and the City of Benton Harbor.

3.  Political liability and antagonism: Mr. Harris is condescending and confrontational in his communication style which has alienated critical elected leaders, corporate leaders, tax payers and other key stake holders in Berrien County.  Mr. Harris has fueled a new era in Benton Harbor’s fiscal and cultural isolation.  The most recent evidence of his alienating and antagonist style is his refusal to participate in the Berrien County CEO monthly meetings.  This forum is not only a critical exchange of ideas and/or resources, it is an opportunity to mend the social fiber of local municipal governments.  Mr. Harris has caused the relationships with other municipal leaders and elected officials in Berrien County to become strained, divisive, and counterproductive. 

2.  Fiscal Failures: Mr. Harris has had a multitude of fiscal failures since his arrival to Benton Harbor.  The most recent and perhaps most significant was his failure to post the city tax mileages on the November 2011 ballot for resident vote and approval.  This error of omission will likely create an opportunity lost for the City of Benton Harbor in excess of a million dollars.
Mr. Harris is now attempting to illegally impose taxes on the resident of Benton Harbor because of his gross negligence.
Does an Emergency Manager have the authority to impose taxes?
Ans: No. Neither an Emergency Financial Manager, nor the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board, have the power to impose taxes, over and above those already authorized, without approval at an election of a majority of qualified electors voting on the question.
The EFM does not have the authority to impose a Special Assessment. This is a classic case of Taxation without representation. The people already voted NO to the mileage renewal. This is another colossal mistake being executed as a result of horrific management.

1.  Failure to prepare and/or train local elected leaders to competently manage Benton Harbor:

The number one reason Mr. Harris is clearly not the professional for the Emergency Financial Manager position is based upon his well-publicized and absolute refusal to work with the City’s elected officials.  How do you profess your desire to put the city back on solid fiscal ground and simultaneously refuse to work with the people tasked with sustaining the operations after your departure?  Mr. Harris has resorted to unprofessional insulting remarks to elected leaders and staff.  Engaging, training and supporting local elected leadership should be a mandatory responsibility of an EFM.  Bringing the local leadership to competency and consensus is on the City’s critical path to recovery.

Since Mr. Harris arrived in Benton Harbor the city operating deficit, list of unpaid payable and pension(s) plan deficits have increased significantly.    Elected leaders, citizens, and stake holders are all getting less information than they ever have received from the city finance department. The information that has been received has proven to be largely false and/or inaccurate.
Several lawsuits and unpaid vendors have now surfaced. The staff morale is at an all-time low. Staff competency and training is nearly non-existent.  Relationships with neighboring municipalities and corporate leaders have been severely strained.  Public procurements and new hires processes in city government under Mr. Harris’ leadership have consistently violated state and federal regulation.  Mr. Harris has manipulated public procurements and hiring by lowering standards and qualifications to justify his personal preferences and selections.  Many qualified applicants and candidates for Senior Executive Staff positions have been ignored and/or rejected due to Mr. Harris’ personal preferences.

If the officials in Lansing truly have Benton Harbor’s best interests at heart, they must remove Joe Harris immediately for negligence, false statements, federal & state procurement violations, increasing the budget deficit, failure to act on correcting the pension deficits, and default in duty.

Benton Harbor should return to the power of democratic self-rule, just as "free" people the world over experience government.  Benton Harbor has had enough of a governor-imposed, grossly incompetent dictator.

Respectively submitted,

Marcus Muhammad

Friday, November 16, 2012

Joe Harris fails to put millage on August primary ballot

Harris ponders fix for shortfall

Seeks $1.2 million to save BH police department 

in wake of voters' rejection of millage renewals

Thursday, November 15, 2012    By Kate Genellie

[Comments throughout article in caps]
BENTON HARBOR - Benton Harbor's emergency financial manager is putting together a plan to address a shortfall resulting from voters' rejection last week of an operating millage for $1.2 million.
Emergency Manager Joseph Harris will speak at a press conference at 4 p.m. Monday at 200 Paw Paw in Benton Harbor. The public was mistakenly notified through a legal advertisement in The Herald-Palladium taken out by the city that a public hearing would be held at that time, Harris said.

Instead, he will talk to media representatives about the city's financial situation and hand out information to the public.  AGAIN, HARRIS REFUSES TO TALK TO THE PUBLIC.

"I'll be busy between now and Monday putting a plan together to address the city's crisis," Harris said.   HARRIS HAS SPENT MORE TIME CREATING CRISES AS E.M. THAN HE HAS AS PROBLEM-SOLVER AND PUBLIC SERVANT.

The plan could include levying a special assessment to make up for the lost money, he said.       HE DOES NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO LEVY TAXES.

The city needed financial help even before the millage was struck down, Harris said, because the city owes $3 million in various obligations and about $5 million more to the city's underfunded pensions.    HARRIS HAS MISMANAGED BH.  HE PREVIOUSLY STATED "BH IS NO LONGER IN THE RED."   NOW THINGS ARE DIFFERENT?  WITH HARRIS, IT'S DIFFERENT EVERY WEEK.   

"Now we don't have what we had," Harris said.

On Election Day Benton Harbor voters struck down a 9.7499-mill renewal, with a 0.2501-mill increase to make up for Headlee Amendment rollbacks and restore the millage to 10 mills. The tax expired in December and was mistakenly left off the November 2011 ballot. That millage would have raised about $1.2 million when levied this year.  THE MISTAKE WAS MADE BY HARRIS (emphasis added.)

Voters also rejected a 2.0694-mill renewal that would have raised about $242,400 when levied in 2013.

This year the city has collected $1.2 million less in taxes than it collected last year. If the larger millage had been approved in November 2011, the city would have collected the money by now. It was the larger millage that Harris focused on in an interview Wednesday.

"It was no big deal that it was delayed," Harris said Wednesday, adding that he was able to rearrange the budget to accommodate the mistake. "The big deal is it was rejected."  HARRIS SAYS IT'S NO BIG DEAL BECAUSE HE IS THE ONE WHO MADE THE MISTAKE.  HE MAY HAVE DONE IT ON PURPOSE.  (SURE, IT'S EVERYBODY'S FAULT BUT HIS.)

Without the larger millage the city's winter tax revenues are minimal.

"There's nothing coming in," Harris said. "So we need to do something, we need to do something immediately."

Harris said he's working on a plan to levy a special assessment to make up for the failed larger millage.

Harris said he didn't want to offer many details on the plan because he is still discussing it with the city's attorney and assessor.  THIS IS ILLEGAL.

Special assessments are charges for a specific city improvement or service that are levied on the property owners whose properties benefit from that service, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Harris said he's considering levying a special assessment on property owners to replace the lost $1.2 million from the larger millage, and the money would go toward the city's Public Safety Department.

If a city can't generate money to cover its costs, it has to cut, Harris said.  HARRIS HAS CUT EVERYTHING; HE HIRED HIS FRIENDS; THE CITY HALL IS MOSTLY WHITE NOW.

But in Benton Harbor, where every department has been reduced - often by half - "there is no place else to cut," Harris said.   THANKS TO HARRIS.

"We would have to eliminate the police department," he said. The Public Safety Department costs the city about $2 million per year.

If the department were eliminated, Berrien County would have to provide police coverage, Harris said.  THAT'S BEEN THE WP PLAN FROM THE START - HARRIS IS THE WHIRLPOOL TOADIE.

"We're just trying to keep our heads above water and pay our bills as they come due," Harris said. "It costs $6 million to run this city."