BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor city commissioners took no action Monday on former City Manager Darwin Watson’s request for arbitration.

After the meeting, Mayor Marcus Muhammad acknowledged that arbitration is part of the process when an employee has a grievance with the city. He would not say whether Watson is threatening to sue the city, though Watson was fired from the city’s employment – twice – over the summer.

On July 22 commissioners voted to terminate Watson, who had served as city manager since February 2014. He was appointed city manager by then-emergency manager Tony Saunders II. After Watson was fired, Muhammad was given temporary city manager’s powers until an interim city manager could be found.

Muhammad rehired Watson the next day as chief of staff and public works and utilities director. When Ellis Mitchell was hired as the interim city manager on July 25, Watson lost his chief of staff position but kept working as the public works and utilities director. 

Mitchell fired him from that position on Aug. 19, giving no reason. In total, Watson had worked for the city for 23 years in several capacities.

Last week Watson was appointed as a trustee of the Benton Harbor school board. He took the place of former president Stephen Mitchell, who died in September.

He told the school board trustees that he is working as a consultant with a local company.

In other business, commissioners approved an ordinance to opt out of recreational marijuana establishments. 

Commissioner Juanita Henry said it’s only temporary until the city can get an ordinance in place to regulate such businesses.

Contact:, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege