Good Riddance To Emergency Manager Joseph Harris


After several tumultuous years, Joseph Harris, the Emergency Financial Manager in Benton Harbor, Michigan, is finally gone. He was a total failure. Joseph Harris made several false statements and made several federal and state violations. He also increased the budget deficits and defaulted in his duties. The whole experience shows why the people should be self-governed.

Welcome to Benton Harbor, Michigan! The citizens of Benton Harbor, and the State of Michigan voted to disband the controversial state Emergency Manager takeover law, Public Act 4 in the Nov. 6, 2012 general election.  However, less than two months after the election, Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican controlled state legislature began crafting a new law—another version of the same bill—which passed during the lame duck session.

A protest against Emergency Manager Joe Harris in Benton Harbor, MI. Photo/Brett Jelinek

A protest against Emergency Manager Joe Harris in Benton Harbor, MI. Photo/Brett Jelinek

The new emergency law, Public Act 436, replaced Public Act 72, which had been in effect once the emergency manager law was shot down in the general election.  The new law, Public Act 436, is also called the Local Financial government Stability and Control Act. The new law gives government or a corporation that wants to take over a troubled local government four choices: Chapter 9 bankruptcy, receivership, a consent agreement or mediation.

The new law is the same as the old law with stronger teeth. Like the old law, it undermines democracy. It gives emergency managers the authority to break union contracts and strip elected officials of their power.

The majority of African-American cities in Michigan are under the new Emergency Manager law: Flint, Pontiac, Ecorse, Allen Park, and Benton Harbor, as are three school districts in Detroit, Highland Park, and Muskegon Heights.

Benton Harbor’s new Emergency Manager, Tony Saunders II. Photo/Rev. Edward Pinkney

Benton Harbor’s new Emergency Manager, Tony Saunders II. Photo/Rev. Edward Pinkney

We are seeing the merging of government and corporations.

Tony Saunders has taken over the city of Benton Harbor Emergency Manager duties. The media claims Saunders served as an advisor for the Detroit suburb, Highland Park.  On Feb. 11, 2013, Tony Saunders sang to the Benton Harbor residents. He sang and some Benton Harbor residents danced. It was Déjà Vu all over again. It was the same old story of corporate takeover.

We the citizens of Benton Harbor, Michigan have had enough of government imposed grossly incompetent dictators. The reason Tony Saunders is here is for the continued control by the Whirlpool Corporation over the residents of Benton Harbor. We the people must fight back for control of our city.

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