We must push for immediate suspension of all Emergency Managers. They symbolize the destruction of democracy by corporate power.
We hope the Michigan Supreme Court will hear the case of Benton Harbor’s Manager, Joe Harris. Here is a study explaining why Emergency Manager Joe Harris is a failure and must be fired.
1. Inaccurate and deceitful communications: Mr. Harris proclaims that the City of Benton Harbor has a “Balanced Budget and a Cash Surplus.” The 2011 Audit reveals that the City actually had a budget deficit of approximately $565,000 dollars under Mr. Harris’ leadership. 2. City Sued For Non-Payment: Mr. Harris executed a very poor contract with Benton Township without input from leaders or the community.
3.Gross Fiduciary Negligence: Mr. Harris failed to exercise the City’s rights, under the HUD 105 Business Development Loan program contract, to collect nearly $500,000 in loan defaults accrued by three companies. These companies liquidated and sold assets and kept 100% of the proceeds without repaying a single dollar to the City of Benton Harbor on an outstanding obligation.
4. Wasteful spending: Mr. Harris squandered limited city resources during this fiscal crisis on frivolous items including excessive raises and salary increases.
5. Negligent Management of the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant (NSP): The grant of nearly $4 million dollars was created to clean up blighted neighborhoods, stimulate small business contracting, housing development and create jobs. Mr. Harris forfeited these obligations to Harbor Shores, Cornerstone Alliance and/or Michigan Works. These three entities are among the City’s wealthiest people and/or companies and were not the type of people or organizations NSP intended to help.
6. The Carl Brown Economic Development Center was closed.
7. Failure to secure Community Benefits Package (CBP) grant funding: The big losers are the youth. Once again the CHILDREN go without.
8. Political liability and antagonism: Mr. Harris is condescending and confrontational. He refuses to participate in the Berrien County CEO monthly meetings.
9. Fiscal Failures: Mr. Harris failed to post the city tax millage on the November ballot. This error will likely create a loss for the city in excess of a million dollars.
10. Mr Harris failed to train local elected leaders to competently manage Benton Harbor.
Mr. Harris is not the man for this position. He refuses to work with the City’s elected officials. How do you profess desire to put the city back on solid fiscal ground and simultaneously refuse to work with the people tasked with sustaining the operations after your departure? Mr. Harris has resorted to name calling, verbal chastising and a barrage of unprofessional insulting remarks to elected leaders and staff. Since Mr. Harris’s arrival, city operating deficits have increased. Elected leaders, citizens and stakeholders get little information. What has been received is largely false and/or inaccurate. Several lawsuits and unpaid vendors have surfaced. Out of respect for the people of Benton Harbor and their elected leadership, elected leaders should have the opportunity to meet and interview and/or approve in advance any manager.
The people of Michigan must demand the ouster of all Emergency Managers!