Skip to main content

Benton Harbor soon coming near you

The state action against Benton Harbor’s citizens has received little attention from the mainstream media. The Republican leadership of Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder, and legislative leaders passed Public Act 4, Fiscal Accountability Act, which literally takes over the administration of towns or other local government entities, such as school districts, if the state finds a financial emergency. This takeover involves the state hiring an emergency financial manager who literally runs the town without input from local elected officials. The emergency manager can nullify contracts, hire whomever he pleases, reallocate funds, fire any employee or board member and sign any contacts he deems appropriate. Local elected officials are left with no power; in effect, local government officials were suspended.

As of August, “the number of local governments and school districts under the control of the Governor now stands at seven. That number is ten if you count the de facto state control represented by consent agreements in Detroit, Inkster and River Rouge. Taken together, well over half of Michigan’s African-Americans have been stripped of their local voting rights” (Sugar Law Center of Economic and Social Justice).

What this has meant for Benton Harbor is that the emergency financial manager, Joseph Harris, has appointed new members of the town’s planning commission. Hence, it will be easier to pass through the economic development plans by large corporate interests without town consent.

What may stop state action is the attempt to place a referendum on the November ballot to vote on Public Act 4. If the voters reject the law, then the state will revert to an older law, Public Act 72, which is not as draconian as the current law. Under the old law, emergency financial managers do not have the power to break union contracts, which has proven to be one of the most controversial parts of the law.

The actions of striping citizens of their duly elected officials may be offensive to many Michigan residents. However, the radical act of taking over a town government has been cast in terms of the state being financial responsible. The words, fiscal responsibility, play well with voters. It is very unclear at this point if the majority of voters will support the nullification of Public Act 4.


Popular posts from this blog

Free Trade?

What is free trade? Free trade means that nations agree to trade goods and services without government interference – no tariffs, no underlying government regulation. The concept of free trade is supported by mainstream economics (neoclassical) which assumes that there is a level playing field worldwide; that free trade means governments do not help the private sector.

However, we know that is not the case. China’s government has put enormous investment in certain of its industries. One example is solar energy. China’s government has invested in this industry with the result that China now leads the world in the production of solar panels. There are dozens of examples of governments investing in private companies to help them in the tough worldwide competition that has developed.

America companies who put their manufacturing plants in China benefit enormous. It is called the “free rider.”  American companies with manufacturing plants keep reaping all the rewards of selling…

Mayor de Blasio admits homelessness cannot be eliminated immediately.

After three years of blaming his predecessor, Mayor Bloomberg, for moving so slowly on housing the homeless, Mayor de Blasio finally admitted that it will take years to house so many homeless people. Perhaps it isn't all Mayor Bloomberg's fault.
   To add a different perspective, let us take a look at New York State and its inability to commit resources to the city's problem. During the Bloomberg administration, the state cut funding to the homeless from $164 million in FY2002 to $110 million in FY2012, a 33 percent cut.  In addition, the state cut the funding to one of the few programs to permanently house the homeless, the Advantage Program. Not only did the state cut the program, but the state also passed legislation that the city could not use other state funds for the program.
   Then of course there is the federal government that has cut millions of dollars out of the public housing budget that houses so many of people in poverty. Thanks to the federal government, t…