Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cui bono in Benton Harbor?

United Front Against Austerity
Progressive Gazette
April 29, 2014

The Cornerstone alliance is a tax-exempt, public-private partnership funded by Whirlpool and a variety of other corporations, banks and unnamed private investors, that has been allowed by the State to buy most of Benton Harbor's non-residential real estate (everything from distressed commercial real estate to beachfront public parks) – and re-sell it at a profit to investors and developers, many of whom will pay NO taxes to Benton Harbor, as they are in tax-free "Renaissance Zones" like the ones Rand Paul proposed for Detroit.

THIS is what Rev. Pinkney, Marcus Muhammad and other Benton Harbor leaders have been fighting for years. They're fighting to recall the corrupt public officials who enable this process, and put Benton Harbor on the road to gentrification rather than re-industrialization and rehabilitation.

Among the new developments are the Harbor Shores golf resort, built on formerly public beachfront property. Sorry, black folks – no new community center for you!

The Alliance's "History" page says it all – free trade killed Benton Harbor (and the rest of the midwest) – and the corporate owners and investors continue to feast on the carnage!

"In adjusting to the global marketplace in the mid-eighties, Clark Equipment Company, Auto Specialties Manufacturing Company, Michigan Standard Alloys, Whirlpool Corporation, VM Corporation, and other local employers consolidated and down-sized, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs in the community. Once the county's industrial power hub, Benton Harbor was hard hit by the jobs lost, suffering above average unemployment, decreasing tax rolls, dilapidated housing, and increasing social problems. The city's aging infrastructure-sewer and water, roads and streets-were soon in need of repair, improvement, or replacement."