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Discussions Discussion Race, Class, and Civic Duty in Small Town, US
Megan McCausland, Jan. 21, 2012

The first City Commission meeting after the election didn’t even have enough attendance for a quorum. New mayor James Hightower wanted to get a financial plan in place for taking back control of the city, but most of the commission didn’t show up: http://www.abc57.com/home/top-stories/Mass-protests-scheduled—136706378.html.

Several commissioners are planning protests to disrupt the Senior PGA to be played at Harbor Shores in May. http://www.abc57.com/home/top-stories/Mass-protests-scheduled—136706378.html The tournament is expected to have a $20 million dollar economic impact on the community.

This is the kind of opportunity Benton Harbor needs. Energies spent on sabotaging it are a waste of time and energy that could be spent getting ready to help the city capitalize on the opportunity.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62635486@N05/6738269991/
Megan McCausland
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Discussions Discussion Race, Class, and Civic Duty in Small Town, US
Megan McCausland, Oct. 9, 2011

Some kids enjoy a jazz concert on Jean Klock Beach.

http://flic.kr/p/aupQHu
Megan McCausland
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Discussions Discussion Race, Class, and Civic Duty in Small Town, US
Megan McCausland, Oct. 3, 2011

Benton Harbor is turning a new page.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/10/benton_harbor_aims_to_be_poste.html
Megan McCausland
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Discussions Discussion Race, Class, and Civic Duty in Small Town, US
Megan McCausland, Sept. 28, 2011

3500 vehicles from the city of Benton Harbor entered Jean Klock Park this summer. That doesn’t count the Benton Harbor residents who used the free shuttle to enter the park. Not bad for a park that was supposedly stolen from the residents of Benton Harbor. http://www.wsjm.com/BH-Manager-Says-Jean-Klock-Park-Had-A-Successful-S/11047099

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62635486@N05/6265147910/
Megan McCausland
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Discussions Discussion Race, Class, and Civic Duty in Small Town, US
Megan McCausland, Sept. 27, 2011

Emergency Financial Manager, Joe Harris, has suggested that the Benton Harbor city commission be cut from 9 to 5 commissioners and that they be elected by the whole city, not by wards. Here’s why he says he’s proposing this:

I don’t see a lot of what I would consider qualified capable people running. But I see homeless people running, I see people who have no jobs, who have no education, who have no understanding of what it really requires in order to run a city running, and being elected by 40 some votes.”

http://www.wsjm.com/Harris-Proposing-Big-Changes-To-BH-City-Charter-Th/10785772
Megan McCausland
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Discussions Discussion Race, Class, and Civic Duty in Small Town, US
Jason Hodin, Sept. 27, 2011

Hi Megan, what’s the latest from Benton Harbor? I heard the Emergency Management Law might be applied to Flint soon. Even if the results in BH have been OK, is this really something we want spreading around the entire state?

Jason Hodin
Comments (2)
  • Megan McCausland Megan McCausland Sept. 27, 2011
    Hey Jason! Great to hear from you. I got busy, and neglected my project! Thanks for asking for the update. I'll post some articles. Things were pretty quiet in BH over the summer. Whether or not this is the answer for Flint, I cannot say. It's worked well here, I don't really have reason to believe it wouldn't work somewhere else. It's unfortunate, and it should be a last resort, but it's inexcusable to stand by and watch a city drown itself and its citizens in debt.
  • Jason Hodin Jason Hodin Sept. 28, 2011
    Hi Megan. I'm glad to see some evidence that this city manager might be doing a good job, but the whole thing still leaves a REALLY bad taste in my mouth. I don't think one should stand idly by and watch the people of BH (or any town in the USA or anywhere in the world for that matter) suffer. However, I think it's a REALLY dangerous precedent to have a top-down executive imposed suspension of government under any condition that is short of a massive security threat (i.e. an emergency curfew, a takeover of law enforcement by national guard in extreme and very specific circumstances). For example, if an elected county school board wanted to teach anti-global warming “science” in earth science class and intelligent design in Biology, I would be totally opposed. It would cause odious harm to the children by teaching them nonsense and not preparing them to be informed citizens. But I would also oppose any attempt by that state's governor to eject the duly elected county school board from office and replace them with hand-picked people. We have future elections and the courts to handle these matters. The state should pour resources into empowering the people to vote, not into taking away their democratic will -albeit the will of a small minority of total registered voters in some cases in BH. The small number of voters in those cases is all we got, which is better in my opinion than a dictator, even a benevolent one.

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