Monday, January 28, 2008

Oh, Kwame, Kwame, Kwame

So there's been a little tiny news story going on around here, something you all may have perhaps heard about. Our esteemed mayor has been doing the horizontal mambo with a top aide and lied about it. No big deal, you say? Well, yes, you'd be right, except the lying in question happened while under oath in a police whistleblower lawsuit.

A lawsuit which was abruptly settled this fall to the tune of NINE. MILLION DOLLARS.

According to the Free Press, which broke the story, $9 million is something like 143 cops on the street, or enough to reduce or eliminate the $300 per household trash pickup fee instituted last year.

I'm just beyond angry on so many levels. First of all, while I don't want or need my politicians to be bastions of sexual morality, I have no respect for someone who runs as a devoted family man while he's boning a family friend.

Lied under oath. Both about the affair and they fact the two of them decided to fire one of thecops in question, who, if he didn't know about the affair, was getting damn close.

I'm livid at any asshole who dares play the race card in this. As the Free Press reporter who broke the story said on the Detroit Today radio show this morning "I don't create these things, I just write them down." If he has not been repeatedly found to be using the city treasury as his own personal checkbook (we apparently paid for these two on at least one of their rendezvous, among other things), if he had come out and said "Yes we were having an affair, but these cops needed to be gone and here's why," if he didn't go around like a rap star with all his high school buddies playing security detail (item: the mayor is like 6 foot 7 and very big, yet travels with one of the biggest security details of any big city mayor), if he hadn't behaved, especially in his first term, with embarrassing lack of professionalism and judgement, then OK, I might believe this was a desire to take down a strong, promising young black man. But with the facts laid out before me? No way.

He invited this kind of scrutiny because of his own behavior. He, and his family, show a breathtaking amount of hubris and entitlement and a willingness to pay to the lowest common denominator at the first challenge. His mother, who represents the other side of the city in Congress, is a ghetto-talking embarassment. She famously exhotred a crowd of supporters to "don't let them talk about y'all's boy!" His wife drove around in a city-paid Navigator while city staff were being cut and residents couldn't get services. Tales of total lack of response from the administration are rampant.

Now, to anyone who dares to say "When will the people of Detroit wake up" paternalistic racist blah blah," let me remind you of a few things: he damn near lost the race in 2005. Two things happened to change his fortunes: A series of debates, in which smart, uptight Freman Hendrix came across as slow and temperamental while gifted orator Kilpatrick sounded contrite and stayed completely on message. Hell, I come from a family personally acquainted with Freman Hendrix and was very supportive of his campaign, and I was half ready to vote for Kilpatrick. The other was this: several enormously wealthy people with Detroit interests but who do not live here, including Pete Karmanos of Compuware and Rick Wagoner of GM, made a huge infusion of cash to Kilpatrick's campaign late in the game. IT's been two and a half years and I am still pissed about that--the dollar value of their investments in the city certainly dwarf mine, but my home is my biggest investment and by helping to get him back in office, I'll be lucky to not lose everything on it. A Kilpatrick win wouldn't hit these guys right in the net worth, but it sure as hell screwed a lot of Detroiters who actually put our hopes, dreams, and biggest investment here.

(also, I will go to my grave believing that election was dirty. Allegedly, KIlpatrick carried even North Rosedale Park, the neighborhood Freman Hendrix is from. I grew up there, and I'll just say that sounds mighty fishy to me).

And let's remember also that the election was a surprise to, well, everyone. He barely squeaked by.

I'm just so disappointed in him. I felt very much that he was chastened by almost losing the election, and was behaving himself quite a bit better in his second term. While the city still has problems, there are encouraging signs everywhere. We've had our taxes rolled back, seen police patrols in the neighborhood, and our local commercial strip is one of those targeted with this neighborhood revitalization effort. And that leaves out the Super Bowl, the riverwalk, the downtown developments that have changed the city enormously for the better.

And damn it, I wanted to like the guy. He's two days younger than me, a mayor who was not trying to return Detroit to some mythical 1950s golden age, but look at the city with clear eyes, as it is now and could be. Like me, he was born near the nadir or the bad times and grew up with a city that was gritty at best but held amazing community and opportunity. He represented Detroit well on the national stage --a good-looking, intelligent young black man who could speak the language of the streets and of the boardroom with equal facility. He was OUR mayor, the generation of people who grew to know and love a different Detroit.

And now it's all lost, if anyone has any sense. He needs to step down for the good of the city he professes to love.

What a fucking waste.



Sarah said...

I cannot stop watching the coverage of this. It's incredible.

imnotsupermom said...

I agree with ALL your comments. What a waste! I've worked downtown for over 15 years and have friends on the Michigan Avenue committee. This is such a giant step backwards....

apt said...

Very well said, Amy.
Kwame has some might big britches that are currently aflame (liar liar...).
Though I root for Detroit from afar, this is heartbreaking for the city's direction.
What's Dennis Archer up to these days, I wonder...

msuspartan99 said...

I agree with you amy... but I see today he announced his replacement for Beatty's chief of staff position. I say that sounds like he has no intentions of stepping down. As a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if he gets re-elected. Yes, you heard it here first... Kwame gets re-elected in 2009.

caramama said...

I did hear about the latest scandal, and I barely listen to the news. How very frustrating. You'd think being under oath would mean something to people.

I'm glad to hear that he's at least been doing some good for the city in his second term.

As for how people vote, I will never be surprised again. I live in the DC area, and DC re-elected Marion Barry as mayor after being convicted and serving prison time for drug charges! And did you know that in recent years he tested positive for drugs in a mandatory drug test? I don't want to even think about how he paid for things like cocaine in the 90s. From what I understand, it's not cheap.

I hope things work out in Detroit. I will keep following this story. Thanks for your perspective on this!