Kwame Kilpatrick – The Worst Mayor In America Goes To Jail – FINALLY

The First Essential Scary Truth


Detroit will never come back.”


The Old Man used to tell me that all the time.  We’d drive downtown, through the modern day ruins of my hometown and the city my father loved; he’d shake his head in disgust and tell me Detroit would never change.  I never believed him.  In September of 2002, I got my dream shot: a chance to interview Hall of Fame Detroit Tiger’s radio announcer Ernie Harwell on his last trip to Yankee Stadium.  We were sitting in the media cafeteria, chatting away about his favorite Tiger teams of all time, who was the best player he’d ever seen, etc.  When the subject of the city came up, he shook his head in disgust.  Detroit will never come back.”  Harwell told me.


While taking the 4 train back to Union Square, it occurred to me that the Old Man may have been on to something.


But, as Nolan Finley noted in his 8/08/08 Detroit News commentary, in the early part of this decade, with the city dangling ever so precariously close to bankruptcy and receivership, a comeback did start.  The youth of the region started moving into downtown lofts, the newly built casinos started to draw gamblers from all around southeastern lower Michigan, Ontario, the Toledo Strip and upper Indiana and viola, you could walk the city from the Grand Circus Park district to Greektown to the Renaissance Center.  Granted it was only about 1 square mile and it could only be done in the broad daylight of midday, but it’s cool.  Progress has to start somewhere.


Then came the gale. 


In this case, the storm was the text message/perjury scandal of two term mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.   


Kilpatrick is so colorful he makes Koch, Giuliani and Bloomberg look like thin lipped Vermont Vicars.  He is such a scumbag he makes Marion Barry look like a stand up guy.  During his first term in office, Kwame was caught living large at several New York and Washington DC hot spots, the total was in the hundreds  of thousands and was charged to a Detroit City Credit Card.  He claimed the trips were to better the city image or for mayoral conferences.  Fine, even mayors have to eat.  But included on these checks were bottles of Cristal and food for dozens.  And then came the revelation Detroit taxpayers were footing the bill for the SUV of the first lady of Detroit, Kilpatrick’s wife.


For the man that claimed to be the nation’s first ‘Hip-Hop’ mayor (complete with posse and bling-bling), a second term seemed out of the question.  His opponent Freeman Hendrix had the support of the region as well as the vast majority of the citizenry of Detroit.  No one it seemed wanted to see the buffoon stay in office.  But Kwame played the race card.  He was getting back at the man.  (How he could claim a race based campaign when his opponent was also African-American is beyond me.  That’s like the Jewish, African and Native American populations all arguing over who is a bigger victim.)  Lo and behold, Kwame won by a slight margin.


But the fun and games were just beginning.  There were parties at the Manoogian Mansion (the residence of the mayor of the city of Detroit) and the murder of a stripper who preformed at one of these parties.  Finally, two Detroit police officers filed a ‘whistle blower’ lawsuit alleging they were let go during an internal investigation of Mayor Kilpatrick’s conduct.  Of course, all of these allegations were officially denied.


During testimony for this lawsuit, the plaintiffs accused the mayor and his chief of staff Christine Beatty of having an affair that, in part, led to the two officers being fired.  Once again, Kwame Kilpatrick denied everything, this time under oath.  The jury was so impressed by the mayor’s defense that on September 11, 2007, they awarded the police officers $6.5 million. In a move to save some face, the mayor settled the matter out of court for $8.4 million of taxpayer’s money.


January 24, 2008.  The Detroit Free Press announced it had over 14,000 text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty discussing their affair and the firing of the police officers in detail.  The City Council went ballistic.  The Governor of Michigan went ballistic.  The courts indicted him, charged him, booked him and had the Mayor of Detroit enter a plea of not guilty.  The mayor was released on bail.  And Kwame Kilpatrick refused to resign.


In March, he gave a tearful state of the city speech and blamed the man once again for his problems.  (No one really knows if he actually addressed the state of the city of Detroit, which sucks.)  Once again, the city and surrounding areas thought so much of his performance, they called for his resignation.  Except, of course, for certain ministers who called for prayer and his resignation.  Venerable news anchors got into the demand his resignation game, as did both city papers.  Kwame Kilpatrick said he would never resign and he continued business as usual; trips to various locales when he wanted, whenever he wanted and generally acting like a complete null node in public.


Except Kwame Kilpatrick is facing felony charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, misconduct in office, and obstruction of a trial and he is out on bail.  After a trip to Texas where the court wasn’t notified, the terms of his bond were modified: just give us 48 hours notice and then you can go.  So, on July 23, 2008, Kwame decided he had to cross the border to Canada and talk to the mayor of Windsor, Ontario.  Once again, the court wasn’t notified. 


This angered the legal powers that be.  Kilpatrick was called on the carpet and apologized.  The Circuit Court Judge was so moved by the mayors mea culpa he threw the sitting mayor of Detroit in jail for violating the terms of his bond.  Kilpatrick’s attorneys immediately appealed.  At 9am this morning, another judge allowed the mayor to leave the county jail, providing he posted another $50,000 bail and wore an electronic monitoring device at all times.  He is not allowed to travel anywhere.  When Kwame left the Wayne County Jail, he officially charged with pushing a state police detective a few days earlier and had to post another $2,500 in bail money.


Kwame Kilpatrick is still mayor of Detroit.  He continues to claim he will never resign.


My hometown gets a lot of bad press, some deserved, some not.  Most of the time, you learn to shrug it off.  A spate of murders?  Hey, at least we’re not Baltimore.  Devil’s Night (10/30 every year) when arson permeates the city?  Hey there are lots of abandoned buildings in town, let’s just call it urban renewal.  Mugged in your own garage?  The guy really needed a new pair of shoes and just didn’t have the cash.  These are tough economic times.  I’m glad I could help.  But this?  Jesus.  Will someone just do the right thing and get rid of this guy?  He makes all of us, former Detroiters and those who currently (futilely) attempt to make the city a livable place, (like my personal hero and friend Sreeni) look like morons.


Here’s my recommendation: bring back public floggings for the guy who invented sinuses, people who honk their horn in front of you in the crosswalk and politicians who can’t stop dropping big piles of dung all over the populous and telling us it smells sweet.  In the special rarified case of Kwame Kilpatrick, we can tar and feather the f***** first, Sons of Liberty style complete with the ghost of Rosa Parks saying ‘Same be upon you, sir,’ and then drag his ass on a hurdle to the stocks where every Detroiter, former, current or otherwise, gets one whack at the bastard.


It almost makes me long for the days of Huey Long and Coleman Young.  At least they didn’t throw out gang signs to reporters who were taking their picture as they were leaving jail.  Although it is possible he made some new friends in the shower.


As long Kwame is allowed to be mayor of Detroit, my Old Man and Ernie Harwell are 100% correct: Detroit will never comeback.



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