No matter how little a person watches TV (and I try to watch as little as possible), it’s hard to escape the latest gossip on Eliot Spitzer, soon-to-be former governor of New York. Word of Spitzer’s various indiscretions and possible felonious misdeeds are plastered all over the newspapers and the Internet as well.
The pundits are picking apart every facet of Spitzer’s dilemma. The media circles like a pack of coyotes surrounding a Chihuahua. While many in the nation are watching the titillating events in New York unfold, there are sex scandals and illegal activities of a certain politician closer to my home in metro Detroit.
Before I proceed with this tale of woe, I have to state that we have lived in this area for over twenty years. We operate businesses in the city of Detroit which employ Detroit residents. We own a building there. This is not a bashing of the city or its people. I would love nothing better than to see this city pick itself up out of the muck and mire, much like New York and Chicago have done. But I am also not one to gloss over corruption and vice just to make people “feel good.”
On January 24, the news broke here that the mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, had not only had a lengthy affair with his Chief of Staff, Christine Beatty, he had also brokered what appears to be a cover-up of the proceeds of a whistleblower trial brought against him and the city last fall by a couple of former Detroit police officers, and perjured himself in a court of law. (Incidentally, in case you were wondering, Ms. Beatty lied on the stand, too.)
The reason for increasing a $6 million dollar settlement to an $8.4 million dollar settlement seems clear: Mr. Mayor wanted to avoid the release of incriminating text messages between him and Beatty. He signed for more money to ensure a confidentiality clause in the settlement with the ex-officers. Thanks to the Detroit News and the Freedom of Information Act, the text messages were eventually released, several months after the trial ended and long after the ink on the settlement had dried. The messages in question were not only steamy, detailing the minutiae of the trysts between the two, they pointed to the fact that yes, indeed, Mayor Kilpatrick conspired to fire the cops in question.
Now, just when you think City Hall is as bad as it can be, it gets worse. Waiting in the wings is yet another investigation and lawsuit, this time regarding an exotic dancer who performed at a party at the mayor’s mansion (a party he denies ever hosting), who somehow had the misfortune to be shot to death execution-style shortly after the shindig. (Hmm… can you say ‘coincidence?’) Meanwhile, prosecutors are looking at whether or not formal charges will be pending.
Ms. Beatty did the sensible thing and resigned. Despite the fact that Kilpatrick and his cronies are close to being indicted, he’s still around even after the last two months. My opinion is that the mayor is counting on his charisma to hold him afloat. In fact, since that fateful day in January, Mayor Kilpatrick in a bold or foolhardy move has refused to resign. Instead, he has flimflammed the public by alleging the text messages, typed on city-leased equipment, are personal and not subject to the FOIA. He’s side-stepped other issues like his misuse of a city credit card, awards of city contracts to his friends, and dalliances in hotel hot-tubs with women other than his wife by maintaining a lower profile. He’s had his surrogates blame his bad behavior on him being so “young.” (Mayor Kilpatrick, who has been called the ‘hip-hop’ mayor, is in his late 30s and not a teenager. He’s definitely old enough to know better.)
Unlike Eliot Spitzer, Mayor Kilpatrick will not accept responsibility and resign. Like Spitzer and many other philandering politicians before him, he called a press conference shortly after the release of the naughty messages. Like Spitzer, Kilpatrick was flanked by his tense and apparently unhappy wife, but maintained that he was continuing his job as the mayor. Unlike Mrs. Spitzer, Carlita Kilpatrick made a brief speech herself, in essence letting the world know she was “standing by her man.”
And now, a new wrinkle to inflame anyone with an ounce of common sense in this part of Michigan. This past Tuesday night, Mayor Kilpatrick gave his annual State of the City address at Orchestra Hall. The affair, of course, is invitation only, so one can assume that only his supporters were in the audience. Even so, half of the City Council refused to sit on the stage with him, and one member refused to attend at all. After an hour of rousing rhetoric, outlining what he ‘did’ in the past and would ‘like’ to do in the future, Kilpatrick ended the speech by alleging the media has falsely attacked him regarding the sex scandal, that his family has been threatened, and that his opponents are guilty of a “lynch-mob mentality.” Oh, and he played the race card and threw a couple of n-words in the speech for good measure.
What is unbelievable is that man on the street interviews indicate that many Detroiters want him to stay.
Do they not see what is going on right before their eyes? Or are they continuing to support the man not because he deserves the support, but simply because of the color of his skin?
I’m beyond thinking that this mayor is the savior he portrays himself to be with his constituents. I’m beyond cheering for a liar and a cheat. I’m beyond giving a pass to a man who has let the allure and the authority of his office get to his head. I’m beyond hoping that this man will help in a much needed economic recovery in this part of Michigan. I’m also beyond a man who seeks to divide us along racial lines just to cover his ass.
It’s obvious that Kwame Kilpatrick will not do the right thing.
And if I ever win the MegaMillions jackpot, I’m leaving this cesspool of corruption and intrigue. Even New York has to be better than here.