The Arrogance of Power—The Corrupt Mayor of Motown

I usually don’t stray into strictly political issues, but today’s action by the Mayor of Detroit has me fuming. I’ve been avoiding blogging on this topic, but Kwame Kilpatrick always has a new criminal exploit fueled by his overwhelming arrogance. His latest idiocy will land him in jail for the night. Here’s the basic story.

Kilpatrick is a bright and imposing young man (elected at 31) who had an unlimited political future. Detroit has a long history of producing brilliant African American political leaders, and Kilpatrick comes out of this tradition. His mother is Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick is chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and his father was also deeply involved in local politics. He is a law school graduate, a former college athlete, and a former state representative. His youth and charisma have allowed him to communicate to both young and old citizens of Detroit and his constituents have been reluctant to turn against him. The mayor is deeply involved in a scandal that has resulted in felony charges and left the already struggling city effectively leaderless. By all accounts Kilpatrick is a very smart guy; how did he get himself into this mess?

This is the outline. There was, allegedly, a big party at the Mayor’s residence a few years ago that involved strippers and other morally and legally questionable activity. When the police department’s internal affairs division attempted to investigate, two officers were fired, and successfully sued the city for wrongful termination. The settlement was being negotiated by an unrepentant and angry mayor, when an 8 million dollar payout to the fired cops was suddenly approved.

It turned out that the mayor, who had vigorously denied an affair with his chief of staff during the trial, had used a city-owned device to send explicit and revealing test messages to his chief. In a scene right out of a bad movie, an envelope containing the transcripts of these messages was was shown to the mayor and his attorney during the fight over the settlement, leading to the immediate capitulation of the city.

The mayor’s perjury has led to felony charges. But it gets even better.

The mayor isn’t just any accused felon—-he is the mayor of one of the largest cities in the U.S., and one that is failing. He has a big job to do. He argued somewhat successfully to be allowed to travel under certain circumstances on city business. He made one trip without court approval. He then physically assaulted an officer of the court trying to deliver a subpoena. His bond was revoked and received several stern rebukes from the judge in the case but he was still given special consideration and allowed to remain free.

Yesterday, the Mayor once again left town without informing the court, but this time he actually left the country to visit our neighboring city of Windsor, Ontario. The judge was furious, and ordered him remanded to the jail.

So Detroit’s mayor is going to jail tonight. How does a brilliant career end with a night in jail?

All of his behaviors speak to an arrogance that comes with power. One of the ironies is that Detroit is impoverished. When the Mayor of a wealthy city is corrupt, the city often does just fine, but with a city like Detroit, well, we need all the help we can get. The people of Detroit gave this promising young man a chance to help them. He has repaid them with scorn and disrespect. The city can’t afford to run a recall campaign and it would be politically unwise for Michigan’s governor to remove him, so the city is stuck with him for now. Given the level of arrogance he has so far displayed, it seems unlikely he will give Detroiters what they really need: a resignation.

9 thoughts on “The Arrogance of Power—The Corrupt Mayor of Motown”

  1. It’s so idiotic that this whole sequence of events seems to have been set of by such a silly event (accusations of strippers and orgys at the mayor’s residence).

    Being an grad student at UM-AA, I hear about this scandal all this time. It’s sad that such a potentially beautiful city has been screwed over by myopic planing, reality denial, and corruption. From the 1950s, Detroit lost 50% of its population. That means that decline in Detroit’s population from the 1950s to the current time would itself represent the 12th largest city in the States.

    Oh, I just heard on the radio that Kilpatrick is in jail right now.

  2. “I usually don’t stray into strictly political issues,”

    Ummm….what? Have you read the posts on this site? I think you might be in denial.

  3. Some good friends of mine are from the motor city, and I’ve heard all kinds of crazy shit about Kilpatrick. The incident with the strippers at the mayor’s mansion resulted in his wife pistol whipping a stripper, and there were allegations that someone was murdered during the incident.

    Oh, and he has been re-elected since that happened.

    He played football in college, and has given cushy city jobs and cars to many of his friends and former players. By jobs I mean they got salaries and a car and had no responsibilities whatsoever. He basically behaves in a way more descriptive of a crime boss rather than the mayor of a major city. Funny thing is it’s not all that different than the current presidential administration. 🙂

    I think the only way you’re getting him out of office is by keeping him in jail.

  4. At least Granholm is finally going to have hearings to take him out of office…far too late.

    I’m incredibly angry because just in the 21 years since I was born, I’ve watched my neighborhood in downtown Detroit change and grow and flourish. Now Kwame’s actions are making investors and new businesses are leery of putting mobey into Detroit. Now all the racist white suburbanites will be scared to come into the city again. This is turning back the clock to before Archer,

    Also, you give Kwame and his family waaay too much credit. Being elected by people who don’t even realize that they have to pay for all your fiscal malfeasances is NOT an incredible feat.

  5. So how long will it be before he petitions for restoration of his civil rights? After all, he can’t miss the opportunity to vote for himself next time he’s up for re-election.

    Hey, I have an idea: we’ll trade you Joe Arpaio for him. I think that will be an improvement at both ends.

  6. He does not sound much different then former Washington, DC mayor Marion Barry. He was busted for crack cocaine, but acquitted. He was also thrown in jail for 6 monthes for for not paying taxes and yet when he got out, the city of Washington DC reelected him. After being reelected he was caught with cocaine and marijuana. Today he sits on the city council. Sometimes you get what you deserve.

  7. I usually don’t stray into strictly political issues,”

    Ummm….what? Have you read the posts on this site? I think you might be in denial.

    I’m not sure you know what words mean.

  8. It’s been a few years since I moved out to Oregon and I haven’t been back to MI since. I remember all too well how depressing it was to drive through Detroit about four years ago, on my way to a job in the tri-county area. It was and still is a micro-cosm of what the entire state is going through (and why I left) that just makes me want to weep. I love my new home of Portland, but at the same time really miss my home.

    That Kwame is still in office is just mind-boggling to me. I mean Marion Barry is bad enough, but as I understand it, the economy in DC isn’t nearly as bad as that of Detroit. That a city with the problems that Detroit is going through would allow this clown to stay in office is beyond belief. Not that I blame Kilpatrick for MI’s failing economy, but Detroit is and always has been an important part of MI’s economy and if your not being a part of the solution…..

  9. Not that I blame Kilpatrick for MI’s failing economy, but Detroit is and always has been an important part of MI’s economy and if your not being a part of the solution…..

    …you’re a part of the precipitate!

    Bad chemistry joke:P

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