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Benton Harbor emergency manager voids elected officials’ resolution

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
"This act is not about the finances of the city of Benton Harbor," City Commissioner Dennis Knowles says, "It’s about the extraction and gentrification of the people of Benton Harbor."

Elected city leaders in Benton Harbor are calling on Governor Rick Snyder to remove the city’s state-appointed emergency financial manager.

Snyder approved broader powers for emergency financial managers earlier this year.

Benton Harbor’s city commission adopted a resolution (full resolution available here) declaring those new powers unconstitutional.

Thursday Benton Harbor’s emergency financial manager Joe Harris rescinded that and any further resolutions adopted by elected city officials (full order available here), in accordance with an order he issued earlier this year.

Harris stripped power from elected city officials in March. That included the power to adopt resolutions, even non-binding ones.

City Commission is demanding that Governor Rick Snyder remove their state-appointed emergency financial manager immediately.

Benton Harbor Mayor Wilce Cook alleges state officials are trying to “take over the city's valuable assets”, mainly beachfront property and fresh water.

“This is a push on to disenfranchise the citizens, displace them into another area like Benton Township so that the corporate, the privileged few of these can come in and take over the city as a summer playground for them. And we’re not going to let that happen by any means necessary. The fight is on.”

Commissioners had planned to send the non-binding resolution to Governor Snyder’s office and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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