Custom Search

Kwame Kilpatrick

Kwame KilpatrickMayor Kwame Kilpatrick is in jail (finally) and the City of Detroit is in its most precarious state in decades. But who's the fool in this horrible production?

It's not the mayor, despite his serial misbehavior, his unbelievable audacity, his ridiculous clinging to power. At this point, it's us - Detroiters of all hue, economic station, political affiliation, block club and neighborhood. It's the people who live here, who do business here, who care about this place and depend on its health and vitality.

We are the fools, for letting this awful chapter in the city's 300-year history develop to this point. We are the fools, for not standing up en masse to escort Kilpatrick out of the Manoogian, and out of our public lives. We are the fools, for enduring the national and international, embarrassment time after time, while prattling idly about his right to a fair trial, the sanctity of his elected status and various other irrelevancies.

Kilpatrick has ruled us as Caesar did Rome. He has turned our fair city into a renegade's playground where his ego, rather than the rule of law, reigns supreme. Kilpatrick's spectacular fibbing and manipulations were first exposed on Jan. 24 of this year, and in the 196 days since, he has done nothing but prove his unworthiness to lead. He has cast himself, against all odds, as the victim. He has played into the racial polarization of this region as a defense for his own misdeeds, most famously in a madman's tirade at the end of his State of the City address.

As a criminal defendant, he has defied the courts' restrictions on him time and again, while publicly dismissing the case against him as trivial, hate-inspired, or otherwise illegitimate. He has assaulted a sheriff's deputy who was not even on Kilpatrick's property, or serving papers on the mayor.
In any other American city - hell, in most banana republics - half of that would be enough to inspire near rebellion in an effort to change leadership.

But what have we heard from the other political leadership in Detroit? True, some have spoken out, but most have sat on their hands, taking precautions not to offend the mayor or his allies. Where is the outrage from the state's congressional delegation, which should have spoken with one voice about the outrages Kilpatrick has perpetrated? The state delegation in Lansing has also not acted collectively, though some of its more notable members (such as state senators Tupac Hunter and Buzz Thomas) have said their piece.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm began a process to consider removing the mayor, and lately, at least, has accelerated her timetable. But shouldn't her sense of urgency have been heightened well before the mayor's continued transgressions? And now, with misdeeds on the record in the form of his bond violations, doesn't she have enough power to act without the contemplative, judicial-like process she established before?

The business community, too, has largely taken a pass on leadership, or even self-respect, with regard to the Kilpatrick problem. Last week, Roger Penske, the racing magnate who heads the Downtown Detroit Partnership, even suggested there was no role for business leaders to play here. The judicial process should be allowed to work itself out, he said.

What a docile and sheepish cop-out, from a man whose business reputation is for tough negotiating and uncompromising discipline. At a time when Detroit needs leaders - those who see tough situations and do the right thing anyway - the city is stuck with cowards too tied to the mayor's power, or too afraid to cross him, to speak out. Even if Kilpatrick goes, we need to reconsider whether some of the private interests who seem so integral to the city's future truly have our interests at heart.

The city's religious and civic leadership has also been woefully absent. Why has the local NAACP, a chapter so rich in history and strong in tradition, been all but silent about the crisis in leadership in a city whose residents are overwhelmingly African American? Wendell Anthony, who heads the branch, has said little or nothing, and certainly hasn't pushed for Kilpatrick to leave. He has stuck to the "let the law work this out," line, which falsely conflates Kilpatrick's right to a fair trial with his position as mayor. And it allies the organization with the mayor's interests, above and beyond the interests of the hundreds of thousands of others who are being victimized by his leadership.

Why has New Detroit, the organization founded after the 1967 riots to help heal racial fissures in this region, been so silent about the racial overtones that have been drowning out some of the substantive issues in this scandal?

New Detroit has not only been silent about Kilpatrick's misuse of race, it has not even had anything to say about the role race may actually be playing in some of the response to this scandal. After seven months, how can that make any sense?

Fools, we all are. And Kwame Kilpatrick has made us that way.
Going forward, if we don't stiffen our spines and assert strongly that this is unacceptable, that the mayor must go and the city must move on, it will say nothing about Kwame Kilpatrick - and everything about us.

Original Source :