James Hightower http://michiganradio.org en Benton Harbor’s emergency financial manager's days in charge appear numbered http://michiganradio.org/post/benton-harbor-s-emergency-financial-managers-days-charge-appear-numbered <p>Former Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Joe Harris to run Benton Harbor’s dismal finances nearly three years ago.</p><p>Then City Commissioner James Hightower supported the takeover when others didn’t. But Hightower, who’s now the city’s mayor, says Harris has become increasingly difficult to work with.</p><p>Hightower says he and other elected officials told the state they would support a special assessment fee on all property owners in exchange for six conditions. One of them was that Joe Harris be replaced by the end of January.</p> Wed, 19 Dec 2012 21:58:10 +0000 Lindsey Smith 10451 at http://michiganradio.org Benton Harbor’s emergency financial manager's days in charge appear numbered Benton Harbor emergency financial manager: “Citizens have to pay the piper” http://michiganradio.org/post/benton-harbor-emergency-financial-manager-citizens-have-pay-piper <p>Two weeks after voters in Benton Harbor rejected a millage renewal that represents about 20-percent of the city’s revenue, the city’s emergency financial manager is laying out a few grim options.</p><p>EFM Joe Harris says one option is eliminating the police force and contracting public safety through the Berrien County Sheriff's Department; similar to what the City of Pontiac did recently.</p> Tue, 20 Nov 2012 17:51:26 +0000 Lindsey Smith 10001 at http://michiganradio.org Benton Harbor emergency financial manager: “Citizens have to pay the piper” Benton Harbor prepares for emergency manager exit in 2012 http://michiganradio.org/post/benton-harbor-prepares-emergency-manager-exit-2012 <p>The City of Benton Harbor&rsquo;s mayor is trying to start 2012 on the right foot after two years of turmoil under a state-appointed&nbsp;emergency manager. Elected leaders have almost no authority under the state&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/7-things-know-about-michigans-emergency-manager-law">emergency manager law</a>. But the new city commission is getting ready to take back local control.</p><p><strong>Emergency manager expects to leave in 2012</strong></p> Mon, 02 Jan 2012 12:00:00 +0000 Lindsey Smith 5606 at http://michiganradio.org Benton Harbor prepares for emergency manager exit in 2012 Benton Harbor mayor-elect works to bring city leaders together http://michiganradio.org/post/benton-harbor-mayor-elect-works-bring-city-leaders-together <p>City leaders in Benton Harbor are trying to come together after a turbulent couple of years under a state appointed emergency manager. The&nbsp;emergency manager was appointed to Benton Harbor in 2010 after ten&nbsp;years of deficit spending.&nbsp;</p><p>Mayor-elect James Hightower hosted a workshop Friday to talk about the city&rsquo;s plan for future.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t keep looking back, you have to look forward,&rdquo; Hightower said. &ldquo;The first step is to bring people together, get them on the mindset of thinking strategic planning, and hear some of the best practices that are happening around the state.&rdquo; Sat, 17 Dec 2011 00:28:45 +0000 Lindsey Smith 5450 at http://michiganradio.org Benton Harbor mayor-elect works to bring city leaders together Results stand after Benton Harbor recount vote http://michiganradio.org/post/results-stand-after-benton-harbor-recount-vote <p>The <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/benton-harbor-gets-new-mayor-denies-charter-amendments">results of the November eighth election in Benton Harbor </a>stand.</p><p>Incumbent Mayor Wilce Cooke lost the election by eight votes. That&rsquo;s less than one percentage point.</p><p>During a recount this week, both Cooke and Mayor elect James Hightower picked up two votes. So the end result remains the same even though the vote count changed slightly.</p><p><em>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not trying to say there&rsquo;s any hanky-panky going on &ndash; although it could be,&rdquo;</em> Cooke said.</p><p>He&rsquo;s concerned about the absentee voting process; mainly who processed the votes and who may have had access. <em>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s some issues we&rsquo;re pursuing that I&rsquo;m not able to divulge to you; but that&rsquo;ll come out eventually,&rdquo;</em> Cooke said.</p><p>The state appointed an <a href="http://michiganradio.org/term/joe-harris">emergency manger to take over </a>Benton Harbor&rsquo;s finances during Cooke&rsquo;s second term as mayor. The emergency manager expects to have the city&rsquo;s finances back on track soon. He expects to turn power back over to the new mayor and city commission within the next eight months. Fri, 18 Nov 2011 22:34:20 +0000 Lindsey Smith 5067 at http://michiganradio.org Results stand after Benton Harbor recount vote Benton Harbor gets a new mayor; denies charter amendments http://michiganradio.org/post/benton-harbor-gets-new-mayor-denies-charter-amendments <p><strong><em>Super </em>close mayoral race</strong></p><p>City Commissioner James Hightower narrowly beat the incumbent Mayor Wilce Cooke. Cooke is likely to challenge the results, which came in 681 to 673, a difference of 8 votes. There were two write-in candidates who got a combined 8 votes. The state appointed an emergency manger to take over the city&rsquo;s finances during Cooke&rsquo;s second term as mayor.</p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 07:19:26 +0000 Lindsey Smith 4899 at http://michiganradio.org Benton Harbor gets a new mayor; denies charter amendments Benton Harbor Emergency Manager says city has “turned the corner” http://michiganradio.org/post/benton-harbor-emergency-manager-city-has-%E2%80%9Cturned-corner%E2%80%9D <p>Benton Harbor&rsquo;s Emergency Manager says the city will be able to break even this budget year. Last year the city ran more than a million dollar deficit.</p><p>Emergency Manger Joe Harris says<a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/benton-harbor-called-ground-zero-fight-over-emergency-manager-powers"> this year the city could run a $400,000 surplus.</a></p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve turned the corner. You don&rsquo;t have to keep cutting if you have positive cash flow. Now we just need to expend or invest our money wisely.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Most of those attending seemed relieved at the news. But following years of mismanagement, many residents <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/people-benton-harbor-disagree-about-what%E2%80%99s-best-city">remain skeptical</a>. Thu, 30 Jun 2011 04:01:18 +0000 Lindsey Smith 3085 at http://michiganradio.org Benton Harbor Emergency Manager says city has “turned the corner”