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E-M:/ Defense of Place comments at Jean Klock hearing

Enviro-Mich message from LuAnne Kozma <luanne_kozma@yahoo.com>

Dear E/Mer's,

The public hearing in Benton Harbor last Thursday was
attended by about 300 people. Many informed residents
and non-residents who  read the documents had potent
things to say against the conversion proposal to
destroy Jean Klock Park. There were many residents who
didn't feel comfortable coming to this hearing at all,
and some speakers spoke to that issue.

The thick packet of documents were available to people
as they walked into the room, but these documents were
only available in a few notebooks for people in Benton
Harbor to browse during business hours at city hall
and the library for 2 weeks. Nothing is online for the
public or outside world to see, except at the Friends
of Jean Klock Park website

MEC's Hugh McDiarmid gave a beautiful statement. I
hope they post it on their website and on this

I'd like to preface my comments, below, to make this
perfectly clear: There are conflicts of interest and
complicity on the part of the Dickinson Wright law
firm,  the State Attorney General's office,  the
Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and many
other parties, in this theft of the commons.

I have extensive documentation backing up everything I
say here and would be happy to provide materials to
legitimate press who contact me.

Below is the bombshell I gave that evening:

My name is LuAnne Kozma.

I'm the Michigan Director of Defense of Place, a park
advocacy organization that works to assure parks are
protected in perpetuity. 

I've read every document being shown to the public,
and quite a few documents not being shown to the

The City of Benton Harbor doesn't have its own
independent legal counsel and never has with respect
to the proposed lease and previous sales of Jean Klock
Park. Therefore, the agreements between the City and
the developer do not contemplate the long term
interests of Benton Harbor residents or future

There is a lot wrong with this proposed
conversion--and conversion means "loss"-- of  Jean
Klock Park, and this is why:

Attorney Geoff Fields, of the Dickinson Wright law
firm, nominally represented the City during the Grand
Boulevard lawsuit and for the Harbor Shores

He resigned as Benton Harbor?s outside counsel for the
Harbor Shores deal in March 2007 after Harbor Shores'
attorney, John Cameron, joined  Dickinson Wright. But
Mr. Fields never really stopped working on the Harbor
Shores deal.

I obtained documents, in a Freedom of Information Act
request to the Michigan Attorney General's office,
demonstrating that Mr. Fields worked with the AG's
office, from March through September of last year, -
after he supposedly resigned ? continuing to work on
the golf course lease agreement, proposing an
amendment to the consent judgment governing Jean Klock
Park, without the plaintiffs' knowledge, among other

Mr. Fields also assisted the Assistant Attorney
General in drafting a letter about the use of Jean
Klock Park after his "resignation." City Manager Pete 
Mitchell relied upon this letter to reassure the
Benton Harbor City Commission  that a golf course is
OK for Jean Klock Park.

Congressman Upton used the Dickinson Wright-coached
letter to try to sway the National Park Service after
they rejected the plan, asking to avoid the conversion
process altogether. In other words, none of these
documents would have been available to the public, and
we wouldn't be here tonight.

And last December, Mr. Fields wrote an email to
Cornerstone Alliance and Harbor Shores to arrange a
meeting with them and the DNR to re-negotiate the
conversion proposal, remarking that he was, quote,
"still in full attack mode," unquote.

That attack is on this community, the public and Jean
Klock Park.

See, nobody wanted the community to have these
documents. They did everything they could do avoid
showing them to you, and to avoid things like
mandatory public hearings.

This plan expects the community to give up a
spectacular park in exchange for a few lousy
swamplands in the middle of a golf course and a few
picnic tables and garbage cans.

And that's all they've added. There's nothing new

I also have a press release with me about the 1998
illegal conversion of Jean Klock Park for the four
homes called Marram Shores that never was approved by
the National Park Service and also never mitigated.
The people of Benton Harbor have not been compensated
for this loss.

I will be providing extensive written comments.

LuAnne Kozma
Defense of Place

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