Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Joe Harris replaces critic Mayor Pro Tem Marcus Muhammad


It’s not often that I’m scooped in the blogosphere on news about Michigan’s Emergency Managers but, if I’m going to get scooped, I’d rather have it be by Laura Conaway at The Maddow Blog than anyone else. Today she reports that Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Joe Harris removed Marcus Muhammad as Mayor Pro Tem and replaced him with Sharon Henderson. His order is HERE (pdf).

Screenshot courtesy of The Maddow Blog

Conaway talks about why he did this and how freaking weird it is.

At first blush, you might think Mr. Harris was moving autocratically to sideline one of his critics. The now-former mayor pro tem, Marcus Muhammad, has called for an investigation into the relationship between Mr. Harris and the powerful nonprofit that’s building the Habor Shores golf result stock-imaged above. That nonprofit is backed by Whirlpool, which has its corporate headquarters in Benton Harbor and is the biggest economic player in the sad, busted-up town.

So it would make sense that Mr. Harris would want to quiet Mr. Muhammad. But it turns out that Mr. Harris says he made the move at the request of the new mayor, who wanted to appoint his own mayor pro tem. The new mayor can’t do that, because in an order last year (pdf) Mr. Harris stripped Benton Harbor’s elected officials of all powers except the ability to call a meeting to order, approve the minutes, and adjourn the meeting. Now the unelected manager is carrying out, autocratically, the normal duties of the democracy he gutted.

Which is weird.

Harris is having to do something FOR the mayor because he took away the mayor’s ability to do it himself. So, yeah: weird comma very.