Benton Harbor, Emergency Financial Managers, Michigan — April 21, 2011 at 7:02 am

Benton Harbor/Emergency Financial Manager news update


A few things to report today about Benton Harbor. First, Jesse Jackson made an appearance in Benton Harbor yesterday to highlight their situation.

“Clearly we must prepare to file a major lawsuit to restore democratic rights in Benton Harbor,” said Jackson. He encouraged church and city leaders to form a coalition.


“You don’t solve an economic crisis by decapitating mayors and city council people. You don’t solve the economic crisis by replacing democracy with dictators in the name of emergency.”

According to one article, “Jackson plans to come back to Benton Harbor once a Rainbow Push Coalition group is formed locally.” Video HERE.

I’m a little dubious that Jackson is a good person to organize in Benton Harbor because I think he tends to stir up a lot of emotion without actually accomplishing the political goals that we need to achieve. That said, there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of leadership rising up at the moment so, perhaps his involvement can be a positive one.

Next, Wednesday, April 27th, there will be an End the Silence march in Benton Harbor from noon-3:00 p.m. It is being organized by Heartland Revolution and a flyer for the event is HERE. They also have a Facebook page for the event HERE.

Finally, the two first lawsuits challenging Michigan’s Emergency Financial Law were filed yesterday (though not related to the Benton Harbor EFM.)

The City of Detroit’s two pension boards have challenged part of the state’s new emergency financial manager law, calling it unconstitutional and a threat to the pension systems.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, claims the law gives the governor and state treasurer unbridled power to appoint emergency managers with “czar-like powers” that could usurp collective bargaining rights of city employees who negotiated pension plans. One pension system covers general employees, the other police and firefighters.

The 30-page complaint calls unconstitutional a portion of the new law that the suit claims allows EFMs to remove members of local pension boards “for any or no reason at all.”

The two pension boards are the Detroit’s General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System.

I’m just sayin’…