Former Benton Harbor City Manager Darwin Watson is returning to work for the city, this time as the director of public works and chief of staff. Less than a day after the Benton Harbor City Commission fired Watson, Mayor Marcus Muhammad held a press conference Tuesday to announce he’s using his new powers to bring Watson back on board. When the city commission fired Watson, it handed city manager duties temporarily to the mayor because there was no assistant city manager.
“Now that I have assumed, via the council emergency, the position, and operating as mayor and manager, I’m hiring a director where I don’t have to assume that role,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad said the city charter has language allowing for such a move. He said Watson will be the DPW director and other department heads will answer to him, while Watson in turn will answer to the mayor. The city commission has scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday to name an interim city manager. When Muhammad was asked how that could affect the arrangement he announced Tuesday, he said he’s focusing on the present.