February 29, 2008

Detroit, your choice is clear. Do you have the courage to make it?

Pressure seems to be mounting for Kwame Kilpatrick to resign as Mayor of Detroit. The Detroit City Council will vote next week on a resolution calling for his resignation. Under the city charter, the council cannot oust the mayor. However, the council can request that the governor remove him based on a showing of neglect of duties or abuse of power, all amply demonstrated in this case.

The momentum is not overwhelming at this point for two primary reasons. One, the people of Detroit are not demanding Kwame's ouster. More specifically, the black citizens of Detroit are not demanding accountability for this man's actions. It does not seem to matter to black Detroiters that Kwame and his staff have repeatedly lied in the most outlandish, brazen way imaginable at every turn, as though if they told the same lie enough, it would magically become true. Its an extreme insult and it tells you volumes about Kwame's arrogance and his contempt for Detroit's citizens, an arrogance and contempt which it appears his entire staff are infected with as well. He pees in your face and tells you its rain. Literally. His lying is that bold, and black Detroiters are lying down for it. This is not the first time either. He's a serial offender in this regard.

Secondly, the corporate community of Detroit has not turned on him. They are keeping silent. Why is that? Because they bought and paid for Kwame when the corporate community got together and coughed up over $100,000 to prop up his re-election campaign when it was in deep doo doo. Their investment has been paying off well in the form of projects in the pipeline and real estate and development deals in downtown and elsewhere that Kwame is greasing the skids for, in return for their continued support politically and their patronage and contributions to his campaign war chest and his pet foundations employing his friends and family. Now these business leaders are keeping mum, and its outrageous. For the sake of their business deals, they are willing to maintain this liar in office and perpetuate the pathetic and unaccountable manner in which Detroit city government is being run into the ground. It tells you plenty about the integrity of these corporate honchos. They care nothing for the people of this city and their indifference is manifest.

The corporate community's silence highlights a nasty little fact for Detroit citizens as well. Kwame is little more than a corporate puppet. Why else would they keep silent? Kwame is bought and paid for. He is in the pockets of Detroit's corporate leadership and from deals like Watermark to the Cobo revitalization, they want him around to keep the people in line, keep the money flowing. As long as he does that, they appear willing to give him cover. But the reality here is that Detroit's citizens have been betrayed by Kwame. He is selling out Detroit in the name of influence peddling.

This debacle of failed accountability has cost the city $10 million in the settlement and legal fees. The legal bills continue to pile up, since as long as Kwame is mayor, the city foots the bills and with Council running their own investigation with their own lawyer and "advisers" to him, the expenses keep coming in. Now, word comes that the National Conference of Black Mayors convention set to meet in Detroit in April is planning to go to New Orleans instead due to the scandal.

Detroiters, the choice is clear. And if Detroiters are unwilling to make it, then you will have no basis for complaint and you will have earned the inept and corrupt city government you deserve.