Having been sick for the past few days, I missed hearing on Friday that Benton Harbor, Michigan had been “seized” by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder under the authority of the much despised, un-democratic, unconstitutional, emergency financial manager law.
The EFM law gives Snyder the power to hand pick emergency financial managers (or emergency financial "corporate persons"), who then have the authority to take the following actions:
- Consolidate or dissolve local governments and dismiss the officials elected by the people.
- Consolidate or dissolve school districts, close schools, and dismiss elected school board members.
- Sell off public property. Public. Property. Parks, buildings, licenses, permits, and so forth. All of it.
- Privatize government services, with all that entails.
- Shred all contracts agreed to by local governments and schools, including union contracts.
On Thursday, Snyder’s newly appointed EFM Nazi, Joseph Harris, stripped the elected government of Benton Harbor of all powers:
Fresh from our "Isn't this America?" file, Todd A. Haywood of The Michigan Messenger is reporting that Joe Harris, the emergency financial manager of the city of Benton Harbor, Mich. has issued an order stripping all city boards and commissions of all their authority to take any action.
The order, signed Thursday, limits the actions available to such bodies to calling a meeting to order, approving the minutes of meetings and adjourning a meeting. The bodies are prohibited under the act from taking any other action without the express authority of the Emergency Financial Manager, Joseph Harris.
Before we go further, let me do a little geography lesson for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Southwest Michigan area.
Marked in red on Michigan’s southwest coast are a few of the many beach towns ubiquitous to the land bordered by the great lakes, in this case, by Lake Michigan.
Grand Haven, Holland, Saugatuck and St. Joseph are primarily populated by Caucasians (all over 80%), are also mostly populated by the wealthy who spend winters in Chicago or Detroit, and are relatively expensive to vacation in. Homes on the water are, of course, priced out of reach for all but the very wealthy.
Benton Harbor has only one thing in common with these towns. It has a very lovely waterfront area which was donated to the town as a park. Uncommon to the other towns, the population of Benton Harbor is better than 80% black, and the town is very poor. You can see where I’m going with this.