I’m a Detroit guy.
I was born there and raised there for the first ten years of my life. After that, my family moved to the suburbs, but still Detroit’s my hometown, even though I spent 20 years away from southeast Michigan. Consequently, I really, really hated what has been happening there since January. That’s when text messages revealed that Detroit’s lying, philandering mayor Kwame Kilpatrick revealed that he and the woman with whom he had been having an affair, Christine Beatty, had lied under oath about their affair in a whistle-blowing trial.
Now the chickens are finally coming home to roost, and Kilpatrick has been forced to accept a plea deal that forces him out of office and into jail for 120 days, as well as to pay some restitution to the city.
So what? You might say. Well, the reason for the whistleblowing trial in the first place was that Kilpatrick had fired Deputy Chief Police Gary Brown because he had been investigating potential wrongdoing in light of a rumored wild party at the Manoogian Mansion (the mayoral mansion) at which stripper named Tamara Greene was claimed to have performed. Inconveniently, Greene later ended up shot to death under mysterious circumstances. Brown investigated the Mayor and his bodyguards, for which he ended up being fired. He then sued the mayor.
Here’s where things get bad. The city ended up settling for $8.5 million. However, City Council was never told that the reason the city had settled was because the plaintiffs’ attorney had gotten a hold of sexually explicit text messages showing that Kilpatrick and Beatty had lied under oath to cover up their affair. To me the affair, although a betrayal of their marital vows, wasn’t in and of itself why Kilpatrick had to go. It was his wasting taxpayer money and using his office to cover up his affair and perjury. Things got even more convoluted, as can be seen here. The mayor even allegedly shoved a police officer trying to serve a warrant to one of his friends, resulting in felony charges for assaulting an officer, charges to which he is now pleading no contest.
Through it all, Kilpatrick continued to exhibit extreme arrogance. Instead of resigning for the good of the city early on, he fought every new charge and allegation tooth and nail, in the process trashing anyone who criticized him. When the City Council tried to convene hearings to remove him, he managed to successfully challenge the proceedings in court. However, when Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm decided, at the behest of Detroit City Council, to begin hearings over whether she should exercise her power under the Michigan State constitution to remove Kilpatrick for abusing public trust, the clock began ticking. When Kilpatrick’s last ditch legal appeals challenging the impartiality of the Governor failed, the writing was on the wall. He had to settle or almost certainly lose his only bargaining chip of consequence: The Office of Mayor.
So now Kilpatrick will soon be gone (although I can’t figure out why he was given two weeks to resign instead of being booted out today). I’m glad. Very glad. Detroit has enough more than enough troubles. It didn’t need this huge black eye of a scandal, which had made the national–even international–news. Worse, the ongoing soap opera of the mayor trying to hold on to his office, in essence making it clear that he wasn’t going to be removed from office until the Governor or a judge pried it from his hands, had paralyzed the city, bringing all progress towards addressing its many, many problems to a screeching halt, where it remained for nearly eight months. At the same time, it’s also sad. There was so much potential there, and Kilpatrick, the youngest candidate ever elected Mayor, actually accomplished some good things for Detroit; that is, before his own arrogance and sense of entitlement brought him down.
There should be much rejoicing in Motown today, although there will be even more rejoicing two weeks hence, when Kilpatrick finally leaves. Maybe Detroit can finally put this scandal behind it and try to recover from the damage that Kilpatrick inflicted on the city.