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Are Republicans Really For Democracy When They Pass Bills Like The Emergency Manager Bill In Michigan?

AARGH! 2011/05/22 17:22:31

SLIDESHOW: Are Republicans For Democracy

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Rachel Maddow

Benton Harbor
  1. Rachel Maddow

    Rachel Maddow

    Benton Harbor

Are Republicans Really For Democracy When They Pass Bills Like The Emergency Manager Bill In Michigan?
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Is it Democratic to strip a citizens of thier voting rights like they've done in Benton Harbor?

Time For An Uprising In Benton Harbor?

Jesse Jackson
Chicago Sun Times





Benton Harbor, Mich., is a town of nearly 11,000 people, about 90 percent of whom are African American. It is a catalogue of the misery of the industrial Midwest. It was the headquarters and manufacturing center of Whirlpool, but the last Whirlpool plant closed years ago. Now Benton Harbor has a per capita income of about $10,000 a year. And it is plagued by the ills that accompany poverty in today’s America: high unemployment, broke government, failing schools, crime, drugs and despair.


Everything has been stripped from Benton Harbor’s residents. The industrial jobs that used to provide a ladder into the middle class have been shipped abroad. The call center jobs that replaced them employ few at a poverty wage. The failing tax base means that public services are starved. The schools struggle to educate children from mean streets; these children are often hungry and without adequate health care or stable homes. The good teachers flee; the schools fail or are taken over, a shuffle that substitutes motion for real action on poverty.


But Benton Harbor may become to economic justice what the small town of Selma was to civil rights. For in Benton Harbor, the powers that be now are wreaking the final indignities on the town’s beleaguered residents — stripping them not only of their schools, but of their democracy, taking away not only their jobs, but their public parks.


Benton Harbor’s finances are a mess. How could they not be in a town stripped of jobs and hope? So, the state has stripped its residents of their democracy. In what is accurately termed “fiscal martial law,” the state has named a czar to run the city. That appointee, Joseph Harris, has issued an order essentially stripping the elected city council of all powers. No money can be spent, no taxes raised or lowered, no bonds issued, no regulations changed without his approval. Benton Harbor’s residents now live in a dictatorship imposed by a Republican governor famous for his belief that the poor should be punished and the rich rewarded.


This appointed dictator claims breathtaking powers. He can sell public assets, dismiss pension boards and take control of public pension funds and revoke labor contracts. What triggers this takeover? The law is remarkably vague. The governor may act if a payroll is missed, if there are complaints of late bill payment, if pensions are underfunded, if there is a significant budget deficit, a term that goes undefined.


This takeover is a recipe for the worst abuses of oppression, cronyism and corruption. And here, too, Benton Harbor is the example. One of the few citizen treasures in Benton Harbor is the Jean Klock Park, a half-mile of sandy dunes on the edge of Lake Michigan. It was bequeathed to the children of Benton Harbor by the Klock family in 1917 in memory of their daughter.


But developers backed by Whirlpool now want to appropriate a large portion of the park to turn it into a Harbor Shores golf resort with a 350-room hotel, two marinas, a 60,000-foot indoor water park (for members only), and a fancy golf course open to all who can afford a $5,000 entry fee and be approved by the club. The town’s citizens have resisted this development, which is under litigation.


But the new czar’s first act was to take over the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, most likely as a way to proceed with the development and sidestep the lawsuits. Why be suspicious? Because the law that the new czar is operating under was introduced by Republican state Rep. Al Pscholka, former staff aide to U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, an heir to the Whirlpool fortune.


They’ve shut down the jobs, and taken over the schools. Now they want to shut down the democracy and turn the public parks into a rich man’s playground. But in Benton Harbor, as in Selma and Montgomery, they forget even the poorest people have a sense of dignity. Dr. King wrote, “the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” In Benton Harbor, it is time for the good people to make themselves heard

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  • C. C. Rider 2011/05/23 19:32:28
    No...
    C. C. Rider
    +2
    This is only the beginning of Sharia law brought to you by the Republican party. They promised jobs for those that got in last voting and all they did was weaken out great country with trying to break the only jobs left. Any vote for Republicans is a sucide note in the making for the USA voting weaken country break jobs vote republicans sucide usa union scum
  • SAILOR 2011/05/23 17:15:31
    No...
    SAILOR
    +1
    Both parties of the demopublicans are ripping apart our country to destroy it.
  • Veritas 2011/05/23 00:09:17
    No...
    Veritas
    +3
    I live and am unemployed in the State of Michigan. This new Governor first order of business was to basically kick out the movie industry and all the new jobs that went with it. He is a menace. This park belonged to the people of that city.

    My son's art was recently featured in the State's Congressional Art Competition. We were able to have the chance to bend the ear of our State Representative (D) Sandy Levin. He really didn't have much to say and sidestepped our questions with "I'm not in agreement with this government . . . etc., etc.

    The economy here is so bad that I was commuting back and forth from NYC for 15 months (my former hometown). The real estate market deterioriated to the point where we'd have to actually come up with money at closing. I made the difficult decision to return. I was the primary breadwinner and my husband played Mr. Mom for a time. The commute was just too difficult for my kids and I came back for good. Lots of regret now. Had I known it would be this difficult to find a job here, I'd have never come back. Grrrrrrrr!
  • JimmyColeman 2011/05/22 23:56:40
    No...
    JimmyColeman
    +3
    The GOP believes all people are equal; but some are more equal than others.
  • Melizmatic JimmyCo... 2011/05/23 19:23:31
    Melizmatic
    +2
    Seems like it.
  • sjalan 2011/05/22 23:31:40
    No...
    sjalan
    +4
    The piece is very self evident.

    Our way or the highway is the Republican motto.
  • Tired BN-0 2011/05/22 22:39:30
    No...
    Tired BN-0
    +2
    I only wonder how long it will be before the United States sees a second Revolution. The people will not sit still for this kind of autocratic dictatorship for long!
  • Nam Era Vet #1 DNA TLC 2011/05/22 22:24:09
    Undecided...
    Nam Era Vet #1 DNA TLC
    I keep getting emails from this Freddie Pinkney that says they are jailing innocent people for speaking out about this. I don't know becuase I don't livethere. But aparently many people up there are protesting this. I got his email if anyone wants it to get updates. But I don't know about this.
  • Mike 2011/05/22 21:42:13
    Undecided...
    Mike
    Why undecided?? The city is failing, they need a management group to solve the money problems. However, taking donated land, intented for public use is wrong, The question is just how much power should a emergency manager have. Citizens should have some imput and should have a public oppointed lawyer, to represent their rights and needs. I'm just not sure, how much power, should be allowed to the manager.
  • Biggitybay 2011/05/22 21:17:20
    Yes...
    Biggitybay
    Obama Czars = Goood, Republican Czars = Baaaad. Got it. I hear jobs and economic growth coming to Benton. Jobs that aren't bloating the government and costing the taxpayers. Those structures need to be built by someone right? Where are all those workers going to eat/sleep/drink? Somebody local has got to work at the Golf Course, Marina, 350 room Hotel and 60,000' water park don't they? That's a lot of jobs for a town of 11,000 don't you think?
  • Warren ... Biggitybay 2011/05/23 19:05:59 (edited)
    Warren - Novus Ordo Seclorum
    +1
    So you would be OK with Obama appointing a czar to disband your local government and replace it with a dictatorship? Presumably, yes. If you're going to use an analogy, use a proper one.
  • Matt 2011/05/22 21:12:04
    Undecided...
    Matt
    +1
    They couldn't engineer a hurricane.
  • Raymundo 2011/05/22 19:59:38
    Yes...
    Raymundo
    We live in a Republic! There will always be a high, middle, and lower cast system anywhere in the world, because not everyone can be billionaires. This act is just, making this place a better society to live in for everybody. Since the industrial zone has been crippled then wouldn't be better for the twin cities to ""change?""
  • Telly S... Raymundo 2011/05/22 21:06:55
    Telly Samba
    +4
    Only after the proper effort has been made to "change" places that need it more. Perhaps the law would be just if the republicans here in Michigan were altruistic rather than driven by greed. As it stands now they are exploiting this law specifically for personal gain. If you think otherwise you need to be much more thorough in you research.
  • AARGH! Raymundo 2011/05/22 21:07:07
  • Whowho 2011/05/22 19:49:07
    No...
    Whowho
    Lol thats OK let them build . The poor and middle out number the rich by what ? Maybe a thousand to one perhaps . Let them take the land and build on it " FOR US " Sure we are no more then ants to them to be stepped on . But what happens when all the ants band together ?
  • rt 2011/05/22 19:42:41
    No...
    rt
    +3
    The Republicans are doing whatever they can to move the US toward being a master/slave society
  • Edward 2011/05/22 19:33:16
    Yes...
    Edward
    remove the republicans and put the democrats in it's place ,I guess then it would be just fine.
  • Tired BN-0 Edward 2011/05/22 22:43:07
    Tired BN-0
    +3
    I don't care what name you put on the political group: Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Tea Party, Green Party... Who ever comes in and strips the people of their rights to vote is WRONG!
  • Edward Tired BN-0 2011/05/23 00:36:27
    Edward
    That's funny all I read about was obama and his czar nothing about voting
  • Eddie_DOMA_is_dead 2011/05/22 19:10:17
  • Nonstoppolitics 2011/05/22 19:08:14
    No...
    Nonstoppolitics
    +1
    Republicans are for rich people and only rich people. They always have been. Everyone else is being duped.
  • Blessed Sheep Gone Wild! 2011/05/22 18:52:12
    No...
    Blessed Sheep Gone Wild!
    +1
    the GOP used to stand for something else... now it is for the 1% with all the funds. It is sad how many people still believe that they still stand for their rights.
  • Gloria 2011/05/22 18:28:20
    No...
    Gloria
    +2
    What's more important? Wealthy people playing golf or little kids swimming in Lake Michigan? Things like this drive me crazy.
  • John® 2011/05/22 18:20:37
    Undecided...
    John®
    This has nothing to do with democracy. Somebody with no clue about democracy should not talk about it.
  • Tea in ... John® 2011/05/22 18:26:49
    Tea in the Harbor
    +6
    Removing the authority of elected officials has nothing to do with democracy?

    It is the cancellation of democracy. It is the cancellation of the right to a voice in governance and as such the single most unAmerican action possible. If any nation did this we would be first in line to protest it at the UN and rightly so.

    Michigan republicans are the American Taliban.
  • John® Tea in ... 2011/05/22 20:21:04
    John®


    Seriously, it happens everywhere where liberals show their total and complete failure to operate a community. And this happens more often than you think.
  • Tea in ... John® 2011/05/22 20:23:39
    Tea in the Harbor
    +2
    Show me another place that the Governor of any state has stripped the elected officials of a city of their citizen granted powers.
  • John® Tea in ... 2011/05/22 20:50:04
    John®
    Well in Switzerland there was a community that lived beyond their means to such an extent that they were put under the control of the Canton (=state). Can even happen in the richest and most democratic country in the world.
  • Tea in ... John® 2011/05/22 20:53:43
    Tea in the Harbor
    +2
    In Switzerland? When did Swiss law begin to have anything to do with what happens in Benton Harbor and why should it?
  • John® Tea in ... 2011/05/22 21:07:01
    John®
    You asked me about an example where that happened as well. OK, it's not America, but still ...
  • Tea in ... John® 2011/05/22 21:52:15
    Tea in the Harbor
    +3
    Well, Switzerland is still the only country with active war crimes warrants for Bush, (all other European countries are required to arrest him by treaty though if he shows his face there) so they do have a good moral sense. But over-ruling the voters by fiat is about as unAmerican an act as can be imagined.

    It's no different an act than the President throwing out a Governor and state legislature because they disagree on how to use assets. I'm sure you'd approve of that too wouldn't you? Hey, Michigan is broke so if it is legal for their governor to do this the President could do the same to him couldn't he? If the voting rights for a city can be suspended why not a state?
  • John® Tea in ... 2011/05/22 22:30:01 (edited)
    John®
    Yes, since Switzerland joined the criminal UN, these things are theoretically possible. Should Soetoro set foot on Switzerland, I'll remember that. And I'm deeply ashamed as a Swiss.

    If the legislation backs it (and I bet it does in this case) it's justified.
  • Tea in ... John® 2011/05/23 00:09:53
    Tea in the Harbor
    +1
    It's against everything our founders stood for, but so are republicans so it shouldn't surprise anyone.

    You should extend your avarice to Germany as well, they have an active war crimes warrant for Rumsfelt, another moral scar the nation has to carry until he tries to travel outside the country and is brought to justice. I believe Spain has one for Rummy as well.

    Too bad the UN and the EU don't use "renditions" the way we do so the trials can proceed.
  • John® Tea in ... 2011/05/23 07:49:53
    John®
    Aha, and when all this happened when a Democrat governor were in office, we would hear a deafening silence from you.
  • Smarter... John® 2011/05/23 01:26:22
    Smarter, then you!
    Or run a country! For the past 30 years, I think all of the Presidents have forgotten that America is a Democracy...not a corporate oligarchy.
  • trentinafur 2011/05/22 18:13:04
    No...
    trentinafur
    +6
    Hell no.

    Time For An Uprising in Benton Harbor? Yep.

    Make that: Time for an Uprising Across the Country. This is part of the class warfare being played out throughout the country. And the GOP is the legislative arm of the KochArmeyWhirlpool Billionaire Boys Club that is making it all possible - in exchange for a whol' lotta money.

    Will the poor and middle class masses wake up to this before it's too late? I think Wisconsin has gotten the wake up call. What about Michigan, and Ohio, and Indiana, and Pennsylvania? Texas....well, they're hopeless. But their electoral vote count should start shrinking soon, as Texans end up either fracked by natural gas wells, or shot dead - as carrying guns in elementary schools is signed into law.
  • trentinafur 2011/05/22 18:13:02
    trentinafur
    +4
    Hell no.

    Time For An Uprising in Benton Harbor? Yep.

    Make that: Time for an Uprising Across the Country. This is part of the class warfare being played out throughout the country. And the GOP is the legislative arm of the KochArmeyWhirlpool Billionaire Boys Club that is making it all possible - in exchange for a whol' lotta money.

    Will the poor and middle class masses wake up to this before it's too late? I think Wisconsin has gotten the wake up call. What about Michigan, and Ohio, and Indiana, and Pennsylvania? Texas....well, they're hopeless. But their electoral vote count should start shrinking soon, as Texans end up either fracked by natural gas wells, or shot dead - as carrying guns in elementary schools is signed into law.
  • MichaelRigby 2011/05/22 18:04:58
    No...
    MichaelRigby
    +3
    They're playing monopoly. Its all about the money, and big business wins everytime especially when its them writing the laws and not government.

    playing monopoly money business wins everytime writing laws government monopoly
  • NarcolepticGoat 2011/05/22 18:04:33
    No...
    NarcolepticGoat
    +6
    So THAT is what they mean by 'small government'? A dictator?

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