Editor’s Note: The once thriving industrial city of Highland Park, Michigan, has been under state control for some years because of financial problems resulting from the closing of auto plants.
By Marian Kramer
I attended the Highland
Park City Council meeting on Monday, April 20. A new Emergency
Financial Manager for Highland Park was introduced. He spoke and then
they gave time to the former Emergency Financial Manager, Arthur
Blackwell, who was fired recently by the Governor for writing himself
checks amounting to $264,000. When he was hired, he said he would
do the job for $1 per year because he was raised in Highland Park,
attended school here and part of his family still lives here. If you
remember, his notorious father, the past Robert Blackwell, was the
Highland Park mayor for several years.
The Council opened up the meeting for the public to speak and no one
raised their hand, so I raised my mine. I asked if there was
going to be an investigation. Will people be put in jail this
time or will they walk free like in the past? Poor people of Highland
Park always have to suffer for the problems in Highland Park and pay
the cost for the wrongdoing of the people who enjoy our money. Well, I
found out that the people there were mobilized to support Blackwell.
Each one got up to support him.
Arthur Blackwell is just the latest on the list of Gov.
Granholm-appointed overseers. Former Emergency Financial Manager,
Ramona Pearson, and her cronies, Jan Lazar and Steve Egan, were forced
out of Highland Park, but not before they took $4 Million of our money.
Our documentary, The Water Front (waterfrontmovie.com) captures the
What Blackwell did is wrong but we should not get distracted. The
bigger issue is how the State and corporate interests are trying to
take over Highland Park. The City owns a valuable resource: its own
water department near the Detroit River and Great Lakes. While we have
been fighting water shut-offs and the highest water and sewage bills in
the country, Coca Cola decided to come in and set up a bottling
facility, with the help of Arthur Blackwell. Coca Cola is one of the
greediest and worst violators of fresh water tapping in the world. Many
companies who bottle and sell water have been wanting to take control
of this resource at the people’s expense. Like the others, Arthur
Blackwell greased his fingers while allowing Highland Parkers to go
without water and other city services.
These problems reached another level on Tuesday, April 21. Every
Tuesday, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO) broadcasts a
television and radio program called “Ask Welfare Rights” on WHPR from
7-8 PM. MWRO pays a weekly fee for our show. When we arrived to do our
program, we were told that we could not say anything about Arthur
Blackwell because he has investments in the station. I told them
I will not submit to that demand. They said if we did not then we would
be turned off. So, I told them I was leaving and would not do the
program. They should not be able to get away with this action!
Now we are clear about who is running the station: the Blackwells, the
Wheelers, and other partners in crime .
I will be looking into the question of free speech and censorship with
one of our attorneys. We are also considering community actions,
including a picket of WHPR. If you are interested in helping us wage
these battles, please contact me. Please call 313-964-0618 and
leave a message if I am not there or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.