Michigan Supreme Court
Robert McClure, investigative journalist and cofounder of Investigate West,
published a well researched article titled: ‘Heart of Michigan park sacrificed for
private golf course’. Among other critical facts he exposed another case of conflict
of interest in our Request for Leave to Appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court and
Attorney General Bill Schuette's intervention in the appeal process.
Court in Supreme Court in support of Harbor Shores’ bid to build the golf
course in January 2011 has received $35,000 in campaign donations from the
City of Benton Harbor's law firm since 2010, according to the National
Institute for Money in State Politics. The firm is his fifth-biggest donor.”
Not only did Bill Schuette, 2010 Candidate for Michigan Attorney General, benefit
from generous campaign donations from an exclusive reception at the Harbor Shores
Golf Club given by Jeff Fettig, CEO of the Whirlpool Corporation (see prior update
below), but as McClure revealed in the excerpt above, Bill Schuette ALSO received a
$35,000 campaign contribution from the very law firm that represented the city of
Benton Harbor in our Request for a Leave to Appeal with the Michigan Supreme
Court. In fact, this is the first that we knew of this additional layer of conflict of
We wonder if after reading this and the prior update below if others see the same
conflict of interest that we do? If so please let us know at: info@savejeanklockpark.
January 13, 2012 Update
January 21, 2012 will mark the first year since our case went before the Michigan
Supreme Court, but was soon after declined by the court. To say it was disappointing
to make it all the way to Lansing just to be rejected is a huge understatement,
especially knowing what we knew that we never shared with the public -- that is until
Corporation held a reception for Bill Schuette, then Republican candidate for
Michigan's Attorney General, helping to raise possibly tens of thousands of
dollars for his campaign. The Host Committee alone paid $500 per couple. This
pricey soirée was held at none other than the privately owned Harbor Shores Golf
Club - the crux of the entire argument in the litigation is the existence of it's private
golf holes on public parkland.
On January 21, 2012, the VERY DAY of our Supreme Court appearance, newly
elected Attorney General Bill Schuette sent the court an Amicus Brief instructing the
court to not hear our Leave to Appeal. We shouldn't be surprised that the newly
elected Attorney General would support the developers since he was so generously
and graciously supported into office by them.
We cannot help but feel that this is yet another heinous example of justice being
blatantly manipulated by corporate and political interests.
February 4, 2011 - Court Denies Plaintiff's Leave to Appeal
decision that there would be no further review of our leave to appeal and ordered our
application be denied. The sole reason given in the Court Order was,
" because we are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed
by this Court.” The news wasn’t released until Saturday, February 5, 2011.
We are enormously displeased with the court’s decision and feel that aside from
Justice Stephen Markman, the court got it tragically wrong. Obviously Justice
Markman agrees with our arguments as in the Court Order he made direct statements
in his dissenting opinion in reference to our arguments:
it for 105 years to a private commercial entity, the Harbor Shores
Community Redevelopment, Inc., for its use as a golf course, constitutes a
breach of faith …"
our state, may well come out losers tomorrow as later generations of
philanthropists look at the legacy of J. N. and Carrie Klock and come to
question the faithfulness of government in upholding their intentions after
they too have passed. I respectfully dissent.” – Justice Stephen Markman –
January 21, 2011 - Oral Arguments Have Been Heard
On Friday, January 21, Oral Arguments were heard by the Michigan Supreme Court
in the case of Carol Drake and Clellen Bury -vs- The City of Benton Harbor and
Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Inc. We are cautiously optimistic that the
court will rule in our favor. Although we anticipate it will be sooner, the court has
until July 31 to reach a decsion.
October 26, 2010 - Supplemental and Amicus Briefs
On October 26, 2010 a supplemental brief was filed with the Michigan Supreme
Court that was followed by two amicus curiae briefs in support of our case. The first
amicus curiae was submitted by the Friends of Michigan Parks. The second amicus
curiae brief was submitted by the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center and
was joined by the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance; Defense of Place; Preserve
the Dunes; and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. Additional
links to all three documents are provided below.
the election there was a change in the Supreme Court Justices. As a result, all of the
December cases will be scheduled for January of next year, after the incoming
Supreme Court Justices take their seats.
September 15, 2010 - Consideration for Leave to Appeal
The Michigan Supreme Court took a very hard look at our case and on September
15, 2010 ORDERED that our Application for Leave to Appeal be considered by
the court, finally showing that our case does in fact have merit.
Harbor may lease a portion of Jean Klock Park to Harbor Shores Community
Redevelopment Corporation to develop 3 holes of a proposed 18-hole championship
Jack Nicklaus golf course, without violating: (1) the restriction set forth in the 1917
deed; or (2) the January 27, 2004 consent judgment in an earlier lawsuit between the
plaintiffs and the City relating to the City’s sale of a portion of Jean Klock Park to
Grand Boulevard Renaissance, LLC, for the construction of a residential
We feel more strongly than ever that the Trial Court and Court of Appeals erred in
their decisions and we are deeply concerned about the dangerous precedent that has
been set; making it easier for corporations and government to take dedicated public
park land to use for privately owned commercial purposes. People who make a gift,
who leave a legacy like the Klocks, should know that their legacy will be protected in
the future. Unless the Michigan Supreme Court reverses the lower court's decision,
"those who do not own a foot of ground...have no piano or phonograph", as John
Klock promised at the dedication ceremony, are the biggest losers because the park,
and others like it, will no longer belong to the general public.
March 3, 2010 - Application for Leave to Appeal
Michigan Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the City of Benton Harbor and Harbor
Shores Development Inc., and filed an Application for Leave to Appeal with the
State of Michigan Supreme Court.
November 3, 2009 - Michigan Court of Appeals
The Michigan Court of appeals heard oral arguments regarding the 1917 Klock deed
and 2004 Berrien County Court Consent Judgment. At that time it was noted by two
of the judges on the panel that this case was their most difficult case of that month
and that they would be taking a hard look at the written arguments in this case. Click
to read the Brief on Appeal that was filed on November 26, 2008.
in favor of the defendants, the City of Benton Harbor and Harbor Shores
Community Redevelopment Inc. We maintain that the Circuit Court, and now the
State Court of Appeals, attempted to define individual words in the Klock deed, not
the full context of the language of the deed.
July 8, 2008 - Berrien County Circuit Court
From 2005 until the summer of 2008 we worked non-stop to show government
officials and regulatory agencies how the public had been kept out of the process and
that the process itself was, and is, in violation of State and Federal laws. There has
been no transparency, no truth. After exhausting all efforts within the system we had
no choice but to take legal action. On July 8, 2008 a lawsuit to uphold the Consent
Judgment and Klock Deed was filed. On August 22, 2008 the lawsuit was dismissed.
On November 26, 2008, an appeal was filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals in
In 2003 a group of citizens joined together to prevent the sale of a portion of JKP for
a housing development. Their efforts resulted in a lawsuit, Settlement Agreement
and Consent Judgement that allowed a small portion of property to be developed in
exchange for permanent protections of the remaining park property forever.
was no reverter clause in the Klock deed and that the entire park was up for grabs. A
retired Berrien County Judge who acted as our "advisor", and our attorneys, advised
us to settle out of court as they felt the risk was too great and that the park could be
lost forever if we didn't.
Harbor for bathing beach, park purposes, or other public purposes." "Other public
purposes" could have meant gas lines oil wells, or a hospital etc.
Supposedly, to remedy that threat, new language was included in the Settlement
Agreement and the Consent Judgment that was described to the plaintiffs as an
additional layer of protection against further privately owned or commercial
development in the park. The new language included: "The Court permanently
enjoins the City from using any portion of the property depicted as "Jean Klock
Park" as depicted in Exhibit C to this Consent Judgment for any purpose other than
bathing beach, park purposes or other public park purposes related to bathing beach
or park use, except for recreational vehicle campsites.
What was unknown then, and therefore not entered into discovery,
was that for more than 20 years the former Whirlpool CEO and Cornerstone
Alliance, the Whirlpool founded Chamber of Commerce, were planning to
"transform" this publicly owned Lake Michigan park into a privately owned golf
course development. We discovered the undisclosed intentions in December of 2004,
eleven months after the Consent Judgment was signed.
|Save Jean Klock Park
Friends of Jean Klock Park | PO Box 8988 | Benton Harbor, MI 49023
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.savejeanklockpark.org
© 2009 Friends of Jean Klock Park. All Rights Reserved.