Reporting Vickie Thomas
DETROIT (WWJ) – A month before his federal corruption trial is set to begin, the former mayor of Detroit is getting ready to clear the air.
Embattled ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sat down with WWJ’s City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas for a one-on-one interview in the Dallas, Texas area, where he currently resides.
“I’ve taken an incredible butt whipping but I’ve also been humbled by this experience enough to know that in order to continue to move forward, there are some things you must address. And so I want to talk to people,” Kilpatrick said.
For those who blame the downfall of Detroit on Kilpatrick, he said they should look at the state of their city now.
“That swagger that was Detroit is just not there anymore. I’m in and out of the city almost every week now. And I sense it, the cloud that’s there. It’s horrible. It’s not just economic and it’s not just jobs. It’s a spiritual energy that’s not good. A lot of people pointing their fingers saying ‘It’s all your fault Kwame Kilpatrick.’ But after four years of being gone, you know… Everybody at every level needs to take responsibility for the change and the transformation and for the revolution,” he said.
In order to save the city, Kilpatrick said Detroiters need to “lift themselves up.”
“I’m back and I wish the citizens of Detroit could feel that same type of energy because you’re fighting from the bottom. But, it’s nothing like having everything to win and nothing to lose. And so, I really hope that, I still believe that the city of Detroit and Kwame Kilpatrick are inexplicably intertwined and if I start to lift myself, I think you’ll start to see a lot of Detroiters lifting themselves as well because nobody is coming to save either of us. We’re going to have to do this ourselves,” he said.
Kilpatrick, who described himself as “never been happier,” said he doesn’t think Detroiters are ready to forgive him, and he’s not sure if they ever will.
“My life has revolutionarily (sic) changed from 2008 to 2012. And unfortunately in Detroit, they still put the images of 2004, 2003, 2006 Kwame Kilpatrick and they want you to say that’s Kwame Kilpatrick. They want to capture a line or text message and say that’s him, without saying that’s him that cut the grass and brought events and fixed streets and raised the hope… but you’ve got to take the good with the bad. I’m not coming back. I just want to fight this next battle and live the rest of my life and help people,” he said.
Kilpatrick is preparing for his next legal fight which takes place in federal court next month. The indictment describes a brazen pay-to-play scheme in which Kilpatrick and his father took kickbacks and bribes to steer city business to certain contractors, especially pal Bobby Ferguson and ex-water boss Victor Mercado. Prosecutors call it the “Kilpatrick enterprise.”
“I’m ready for this fight. Before, I felt so condemned and guilty because I was. I cheated. I lied about it and I deserved everything that happened, I thought. So people said it was unfair, I was treated this way or that way. The fact is I had a position and I let people down in that position by lying about an affair that I was having. But this time, I’m not guilty and I feel very strongly about fighting for myself and fighting for what is right and the truth,” he said.
Kilpatrick said he’s confident truth will prevail in federal court.
“I’m not going to prison. I’m not going to spend another day there. It was never a place that I should have been in the first place, and by the grace of God, I won’t go back. But, I don’t think about that, I think about winning,” he said.
Three weeks before his trial is set to begin, Kilpatrick has agreed to a no-holds-barred question and answer session with members of the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, on Aug. 16 at Hotel St. Regis in Detroit.
“This is the first time I’ve done anything like this since leaving Detroit almost four years ago… And so, I want people to hear from the horse’s mouth. The proverbial horse’s mouth instead of some of the alleged things that may be discussed in the media to hear the real facts,” he said.
“Those things that I can’t answer because of ongoing issues, I won’t. But those things that people feel that I might not, they should ask any way because I bet you I will… We can talk about my leadership as mayor. We can talk about what I believe the differences are today versus yesterday. We can talk about the future leadership of Detroit, who it might be and what might happen there and what my thoughts are. And we can also talk about some of the things that have been negative and negatively portrayed about me. And I’m looking forward to addressing some of those issues. So no, I want to talk about whatever you all want to talk about,” he continued.
Listen to Kilpatrick’s complete interview: