Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from a statement by Marcus Muhammad, Commissioner-at-Large, Benton Harbor, MI.
Since Mr. Joseph Harris arrived in Benton Harbor, the city operating deficit, list of unpayable and pension plan deficits have increased significantly. Elected leaders, citizens and stakeholders are all getting less information than they ever received from the Finance Department.
The information that has been received has proven to be largely false and/or inaccurate. Several lawsuits and unpaid vendors have now surfaced. The staff morale is at an all time low. Staff competency and training is nearly non-existent. Relationships with neighboring municipalities and corporate leaders have been severely strained. Public procurement and new hires processes in city government under Mr. Harris’ leadership have consistently violated state and federal regulation. Mr. Harris has manipulated public procurements and hiring by lowering standards and qualifications to justify his personal preference and selections.
If the officials in Lansing truly have Benton Harbor’s best interest at heart, then they must remove Joe Harris immediately for negligence, false statements, Federal and State procurement violations, increasing the budget deficit, failure to act on correcting the pension deficits and default in duty.
There are ten reasons why Joseph Harris should be fired. (1) Failure to prepare and/or train local elected leaders to competently manage Benton Harbor. (2) Fiscal failures. (3) Political liability and antagonism. (4) Failure to collaborate with elected leaders regarding the Community Benefits Package (CBP) grant funding. (5) The Closing of 200 Paw Paw (Carl Brown Economic Development Center) (6) Negligent management of NSP grant funding. ( 7) Wasteful spending. (8) Gross fiduciary negligence. (9) City sued due to non-payment. (10) Inaccurate and deceitful communications.
Benton Harbor should return to the power of democratic self-rule, just as free people the world over experience government. Benton Harbor has had enough of a government imposed grossly incompetent dictator.