Benton Harbor, Emergency Financial Managers — May 24, 2011 at 6:58 am

Petition language for Pscholka recall approved


After failing in their first submission of petition language for the recall of State Representative Al Pscholka, recall advocates, led by Benton Harbor City Commissioner Dennis Knowles, were successful yesterday in getting petition language approved.

Unsuccessful earlier this month with its recall language, the group seeking Pscholka’s ouster covered its bases this time by submitting four separate wordings, said Berrien County Clerk Louise Stine, one of three county officials charged with reviewing recall language.

“We approved three of the four, and they picked the one they wanted to appear on the petitions,” she said.

Specifically, the wording asks that Pscholka be removed from office for “allowing emergency financial managers sole authority to remove local elected municipal government officials and elected school district board representatives from office.”

Pscholka, a former aide to Congressman Fred Upton, is the author of the bill that was signed into law as Public Act 4 or the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) law. This law extends the powers of EFMs to unprecedented levels and permitted Benton Harbor EFM Joseph Harris to essentially dismiss the City Commission and become a one-man government.

The fact that Pscholka is the Representative for Benton Harbor and that Benton Harbor was the first city to be impacted by the powers extended under P.A. 4 has many questioning the connection, particularly given Pscholka’s close ties to real estate developers in Benton Harbor. Harris’s first act after dismissing the City Commission was to reconfigure the Benton Harbor Planning Commission and the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, two bodies that have significant roles in the disposition and outcome of real estate development in Benton Harbor.