From a Benton Harbor Resident
Standard caveats about authenticity, but the guy sounds legit to me anyway. Mike writes:
I live in the city of Benton Harbor, so I’m right in the middle of this situation. A lot of these fears are, so far, a bit overblown. As we start to operate under the new law we’ll get a chance to see if this is really all that undemocratic, but to be frank, the current crop of commissioners has been so corrupt and have mismanaged affairs for so long I hardly see what’s going on now as making things any worse. I still feel fairly well represented here, and am hopeful that things will get turned around, once this is all done, in our city’s government. I would guess that more people than not support the EFM and the new law. But that is only a guess.
“There’s a golf development in the works, and yes, it’s on city property — as reported by Rachel Maddow. That same property was supposed to be open to the town’s children in perpetuity. Pretty lousy, if you ask me.”
They didn’t take ALL of the park for the golf course–not even close–but in fact took only about 3 acres for one hole. The park still exists, and the development has cleaned the place up. It was, due to much of the corruption and lack of funds in the city, left in pretty dire straights. They’ve also cleaned up a lot of land that was very polluted by businesses that are long gone from the city. In edition, the group involved is cleaning up the downtown area, long neglected, helping to bring in a lot of new business in an area that was pretty much a mess less than a decade ago.
I’ve seen a lot of commentary from people that seems to be very disconnected from the situation I’m seeing here in Benton Harbor; the views expressed here on the new law may be right, but from what I’ve seen the state needed to do something drastic because the old model wasn’t working. The commission fought the EFM at every turn.
His comment supports what I said earlier about local news reporting:
The very first political fight I ever took part in was when I was in high school. It related to my school, and I was on the losing side of it.
One of the insights I got from that fight is to have very, very little trust in the media as they report local issues. They just don’t do a good job of it. They got facts wrong, they misquoted people, they edited selectively, they misstated school board decisions and erred all over the place about budget numbers. I knew, because for a period of several months I was at all the board meetings taking notes.
As I’ve moved to national politics, I’ve found a lot of the same, with only one difference — national policy decisions are much more easily accessible as part of the public record. The media screw things up in all the same ways, but sometimes (I’m not entirely sure how often) they can and do get called on it. Partly this is the Internet, but not entirely.
The ideal resources to find would be local supporters and opponents of the measure who could explain their side of things with reference to primary sources.
The help is much appreciated, Mike!