Reposted from Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow by MBNYC
Yesterday, by a vote of 6 to 2, the Benton Harbor City Commission and Mayor declared the appointment of Joseph Harris as the Emergency Financial Manager and his subsequent stripping of the Commission's ability to govern the City unconstitutional.
Whereas, The City of Benton Harbor declares the appointment of an Emergency Manager a violation of Article I §1, which states that all political power is inherent in the people and that government is instituted for their equal benefit, security and protection.
Whereas, The City of Benton Harbor declares the appointment of an Emergency Manager a violation of Article I §3, which allows the citizens of Benton Harbor the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.
Whereas, The City of Benton Harbor declares the appointment of an Emergency Manager a violation of Article VII §22, which affords Benton Harbor citizens the the power and authority to frame, adopt and amend its charter, and to amend an existing charter of the city or village heretofore granted or enacted by the legislature for the government of the city or village. Each such city and village shall have power to adopt resolutions and ordinances relating to its municipal concerns, property and government, subject to the constitution and law.
Whereas, The City of Benton Harbor declares the appointment of an Emergency Manager a violation of Article VII §34, which states that the provisions of this constitution and law concerning counties, townships, cities and villages shall be liberally construed in their favor.
Whereas, The City of Benton Harbor declares the appointment of an Emergency Manager a violation of Article IX §2, which provides the citizens of Benton Harbor the right of taxation with representation.
Resolved, The appointment of an Emergency Manager is in direct violation of the Michigan Constitution and therefore demands the removal of said Emergency Manager immediately.
Resolved, That the Benton Harbor City Commission is hereby directed to forward copies of this resolution to Governor Rick Snyder, State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, State Senator John Proos, and State Representative Al Pscholka.
Heartland Revolution released the following press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Heartland Revolution Applauds Benton Harbor’s Declaration That Emergency Manager is Unconstitutional
Benton Harbor, Michigan- Last night in an act of patriotic defiance the Benton Harbor City Council declared the takeover of their city by an emergency manager unconstitutional. Heartland Revolution Executive Director John Waltz who stood in solidarity with the city last week had this to say.
“This is the first step in many to restore democracy in Benton Harbor and I am proud of the action their elected officials took last night. Our nation’s Declaration of Independence clearly states our government is instituted by the people and clearly this right has been violated. Thus it is the duty of the citizens to bring an end to the unconstitutional takeover of Benton Harbor.”
For more information, contact: Joe Palmer
Heartland Revolution | PO Box 930 Union, KY 40191
Given that Joe Harris has stripped the Benton Harbor City Commissioners of all power except to call meetings, approve minutes, and adjourn meetings, it will be interesting to see where this goes and how much impact it will have. Stay tuned.
UPDATED: As was entirely predictable, Joe Harris doesn't give a damn about their resolution. He's going to rescind it.
Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Joseph Harris tells [WSJM] that he plans to issue an order rescinding this week's city commission vote on a resolution to declare Michigan's emergency manager law unconstitutional. Harris says that the vote has no legal validity, and notes that it was in violation of his directive to the commission that it may not vote on anything, other than to open and close meetings, and approve minutes. He tells us that he has not decided to go as far as lock the commissioners out of city hall, but he will send them a cease and desist order regarding further votes on such resolutions.
See that? He's being magnanimous. He's not going to lock them out for being bad boys and girls and he probably won't even have them arrested for breaking his rules.
But he is, however, going to tear up the paper they wrote their silly little resolution on and shower it over their heads like confetti. Maybe next time they'll know their place.
On a related note, Commissioner Dennis Knowles said that they were able to send their resolution out on City stationary but had to buy their own stamps to mail them "because they are no longer able to order supplies."
“This is the government working beyond the dictatorship,” he said. “That is what we are doing.”
“This is about democracy … it is about human rights. It is a litmus test to see if the Constitution even still exists.”
By the way, if you're looking for some good background on the City of Benton Harbor and how it got to where it is today, I can highly recommend Ryan Harvey's article at Truthout.org. It's a very well-written and well-researched piece and is essential reading for anyone trying to understand how this city, located on one of the most beautiful parts of the State of Michigan, could end up with nearly half its population under the poverty line and facing annihilation of their government. Thank you to the several folks who brought the article to my attention.
This Saturday is the Blossomtime Grand Floral parade that goes from St. Joseph to (and through) Benton Harbor. I have details and parade route maps at Eclectablog.